April 3, 2012
- Extremely thin profile
- USB 3.0 & optional Blu-ray
- Good home entertainment performance
- CPU could be better
- Fan gets noisy at times
Touting an extremely slim profile, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 is a compact desktop PC with roots in entertainment. It has connections and features that allow it to fit right in with your HDTV and become an entertainment hub for videos, music and more. While it's definitely not the speediest system out there, it does the job well.
The look of the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 is very modernistic and features glossy black sides with silver accents. It can be mounted on the back of a VESA-compatible monitor or sit alone on its unique stand. It also has a detachable optical disc drive, which can be either a DVD+/-RW combo drive or Blu-ray drive depending on your configuration. The drive just attaches to the side of the computer to add only about 0.75-inches onto the width.
With the optical drive attached to the side, the Q180's dimensions are 6.1 x 7.6 x 1.6-inches (wdh) but without the drive, it is only 0.9-inches in height. It's definitely small enough to be stashed away in your home entertainment setup, which is where it is meant to be used. One could also use it as a stand alone desktop PC, but that's not really where you get to use its full potential.
Aside from the standard wired keyboard and mouse included, which are rather basic themselves, Lenovo also includes a unique wireless multimedia remote. The remote has a backlit full QWERTY keyboard with a set of multimedia buttons along the top. It also has a small integrated mouse with two click buttons. Built into the handle is a touch-sensitive vertical strip for scrolling. The remote makes using the PC from your couch a little easier, but it still isn't the easiest thing to use. It's better to use regular wireless mouse for most of your use, but the remote comes in handy for quick tasks and controlling the volume, etc.
The front of the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 has two USB 3.0 ports, an 8-in-1 memory card reader and headphone/microphone jacks hidden behind a flap. The backside has four USB 2.0 ports (one is used by the optional optical disc drive), HDMI-out, VGA-out, gigabit Ethernet and S/PDIF for digital audio out. There is also built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity. We had no issues connecting it to our HDTV via HDMI and the resulting image looked great. The frontside USB 3.0 ports ensure that this PC will have support for future peripherals that take advantage of the speed USB 3.0 has to offer.
The internal specifications of our IdeaCentre Q180 that Lenovo sent us included an Intel Atom D2700 dual-core (2.13GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive and AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics with 512MB of memory. Our SKU (31102BU) also had a DVD+/-RW combo drive attached via a small USB adapter on the backside. Other configurations include 2GB of RAM, 320GB or 750GB hard drives and a Blu-ray disc player.
During our performance tests, we found the Q180 to perform the tasks it was designed to do quite well. Playing back streaming HD media from various sources, including Hulu and Amazon Instant, worked well with only a few quick stutters near the beginning of playback. We definitely recommend the configurations with 4GB of RAM as that will really help keep the performance optimal during playback. If the PC would have had an Intel Core i3 CPU, as well, perhaps performance would be better overall.
Using PCMark 7 as a benchmark, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 received a score of 1058, which isn't stellar, but it's rather expected for a PC of similar stats. Video playback tests came back with an average result of 23 frames per second. You can view the results of the entire PCMark 7 benchmark online.
The AMD 6450A graphics system works great for watching online media and playing Flash videos, but don't expect to do any intense 3D gaming with this PC.
We should also mention that after streaming media from the Internet for about an hour of time, the PC's fan did get relatively noisy and was noticeable. It isn't obnoxiously loud, but in a quiet scene, it might be noticeable.