Lenovo ThinkCentre M57 review

Price when reviewed

Consumer PC manufacturers could learn a great deal from Lenovo’s latest business offering. The ultra-small form factor chassis looks normal enough, but its ingenious design sees it unfurl like a toolbox, giving unimpeded access to every element of the internals in seconds.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M57 review

There are no screws involved: pushing the buttons on either side unlatches the lid, which hinges upwards at the rear; a quick tug of the plastic loop on the hard disk bay brings that swinging up at the front, too, and this allows you to reach the CPU heatsink, memory slots and all other components with more ease than with most tower cases.

It also makes changing drives child’s play. A pull of that plastic loop brings the hard disk sliding out of its slot, while the notebook DVD writer is even simpler. A quick-release catch unclips it and the drive slides out of the front – the cage has a connector built in so you don’t need to unplug any cables.

Airflow is concentrated on the main components, with a fan at the front-left pulling air in and over the CPU’s passive heatblock, and there’s another at the rear to draw it through the case. It’s the loudest of all the PCs here, but 29dBA is still quiet by consumer desktop standards. The two (occupied) DDR2 memory slots sit next to the CPU to benefit from the cooling, leaving just the power supply, with its own fan, on the right.

It’s a wonderful design, with the only drawback being the lack of expansion options. A PCI riser card gives one free slot, but that’s all. It shouldn’t matter too much, though, as the M57 comes with a 160GB hard disk, plus an eSATA port for external storage expansion.

It uses a low-end Core 2 Duo E4500 and 2GB of RAM, which puts it at the foot of the performance ladder, performing roughly on a par with the larger NEC and Fujitsu PCs. It can’t match the even smaller HP for raw muscle, and doesn’t offer the options (including vPro) of the PCs with larger cases, either.

But the great design, three-year on-site warranty and reasonable price more than compensate for this and earn the M57 a Recommended award.

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