Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 review

A dull all-in-one, but serviceable if all you demand is regular desktop computing

Darien Graham-Smith
13 Sep 2010
3
Price when reviewed 
700

With Apple’s 21.5in iMacs starting at over £850 exc VAT, Lenovo’s identically sized IdeaCentre B305 looks a bargain. Indeed, despite the much lower price it trumps Apple’s offering in a few departments: you get a larger 640GB hard disk and a multitouch screen, as well as the more debatable benefit of Windows 7 instead of OS X.

You only have to look at it, though, to know that this isn’t an aspirational machine like the Apple. Yes, it’s admirably thin, with a pleasingly narrow bezel around the screen. But the screen itself would never pass Steve Jobs’ critical eye. The Full HD resolution is fine, and optical touchscreen technology means there’s no distracting resistive overlay, but the picture has a cold, grey cast, and although the glossy finish helps contrast, colours are distinctly drab.

The case looks cheap, too, with its shiny plastic finish and a silver bar beneath the screen combining power and brightness buttons with drive and network activity LEDs. The bright orange highlights of the keyboard and mouse don’t help, and in use both peripherals feel light and insubstantial. Irritatingly, the Windows key is set to the right of the spacebar, rather than in its usual position to the left.

Inside, a triple-core Athlon II, coupled with 4GB of DDR3, enabled the B305 to achieve a score of 1.21 in our application benchmarks – no better than we’d expect from a cheap Core i3 laptop. More interestingly, it’s partnered with an ATI Radeon HD 5450, which provides enough graphical grunt to play 3D games at low resolutions (we saw 54fps in our Low quality Crysis test at 1,366 x 768). But it’s nowhere near powerful enough to run games smoothly at native resolution.

Lenovo IdeaCentre B305

If you’re thinking the B305 might at least make a decent media station, there’s more disappointment in store. Although Lenovo’s US store offers the system with a TV tuner and a Media Center remote, the UK version sold by Dixons is equipped with neither. Nor is the optical drive Blu-ray capable; it’s a DVD writer only, so if you want to get the best from the Full HD screen you’ll have to rely on downloads.

You can at least use the touchscreen to control Media Center, and thanks to a handy screen on/off button the B305 can serve as an unobtrusive jukebox. Unsurprisingly, though, the integrated 3W speakers have very poor separation and not much volume, so you’ll want to hook up external speakers to the stereo jack connector.

Beyond that rather narrow use, the touchscreen serves no very obvious purpose. Lenovo bundles an application launcher and a “touch password” manager that lets you identify yourself to Windows by stabbing pictures rather than typing a phrase, but we see very little practical use for that. As usual, the touchscreen feels more of a gimmick for the showroom than a feature worth paying for at home.

Despite its many limitations, however, the B305 is perfectly fine for office and internet tasks. Storage is good at 640GB, and it isn’t badly endowed in terms of connectivity either: you get two USB 2 ports on the left-hand side and a further four at the rear, of which only one is taken up by the keyboard (oddly, the mouse uses a PS/2 connector). There’s also mini-FireWire, a multiformat card reader and both Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n wireless networking. There’s nothing fancy such as USB 3 or eSATA, though, nor any type of video connector, so you won’t be hooking up your console to it. And, while there’s a Bluetooth indicator on the bottom of the case, it’s worth noting that the UK B305 doesn’t actually have a Bluetooth module installed.

The IdeaCentre B305 is a perfectly usable machine, but it’s neither very beautiful nor a particularly versatile system: all it really has over a traditional desktop or laptop is the combination of a compact frame and a relatively spacious screen. But for students or bedsit-dwellers, that’s a big plus, and you’ll struggle to find an all-in-one that does all this significantly more cheaply.

Warranty

Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity640
Screen size21.5in

Processor

CPU familyAMD Athlon
CPU nominal frequency2.20GHz

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots free0
Conventional PCI slots total0
PCI-E x16 slots free0
PCI-E x16 slots total0
PCI-E x8 slots free0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots free0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots free0
PCI-E x1 slots total0

Memory

Memory typeDDR3

Graphics card

Graphics cardATI Radeon HD 5450
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetATI Radeon HD 5450
Graphics card RAM512MB
HDMI outputs0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Hard disk

Hard diskWestern Digital WD6400AAKS
Capacity640GB
Hard disk usable capacity596GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Cache size16MB

Drives

Optical driveSlimtype DVD A DS8A4S
Optical disc technologyDVD writer

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
DVI inputs0
HDMI inputs0
VGA inputs0
DisplayPort inputs0

Additional Peripherals

Speaker type2
Sound cardRealtek HD Audio

Case

Case formatAll-in-one
Dimensions528 x 66 x 417mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply rating130W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)6
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portyes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Modemno
3.5mm audio jacks2

Front ports

Front panel memory card readerno

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardLenovo

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition

Noise and power

Idle power consumption70W
Peak power consumption95W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.21
Office application benchmark score0.98
2D graphics application benchmark score1.40
Encoding application benchmark score1.09
Multitasking application benchmark score1.38
3D performance (crysis) low settings54fps
3D performance settingLow

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