Lenovo ThinkCentre M58 review

Lenovo has a long history of producing business PCs to the exacting requirements of businesses. The roots of its business lie in legendary technology firm IBM and over the past few years we’ve seen its products continue in a similar vein.

Its latest – the M58 (part code: SJDADUK) – fits the bill just as well as most of its forebears. It’s an unassuming box to look at, as most ThinkCentre’s are, painted head to toe in matte black with the usual blue and red highlights. The only nod to style arises from a sloped front panel and a honeycomb grill, but it looks smart and business-like enough.

It’s only when you begin to examine the chassis in more detail that the benefit of buying a PC designed for business use becomes apparent. First, it’s supremely solidly built: when you pick it up, there are no knocks or rattles and the finish feels as if it would survive rough treatment at the hands of IT staff. Second, it’s very easy to get into and access all of the components. Press two catches on each side at the front of the case and you’re able to swing the lid up on a pair of hinges that feel so solid enough a German car engineer would be proud of them.

And, inside, it’s the same eminently practical story. The 500GB Western Digital Caviar Blue hard disk hinges effortlessly out of the way to provide access to the four DIMM slots. The entire front panel folds out, including the optical drive, and there’s a miscellany of other nice touches, all aimed specifically at easing upgrades and repairs. All of the sockets on the motherboard are colour coded, which allows for quick and painless reconnection of cables – even the greenest of helpdesk staff could cope with it.

All of the drives are housed in tool free enclosures, and even the motherboard is mounted on quick release pillars: all it takes to remove it, the processor and its cooler in one go is a sharp tug. Replacing it is just as simple. There’s even a intrusion detection switch, while other security measures include a lug on the rear panel that lets you lock the base unit to a desk. For administrators that dislike the idea of employees being able to place sensitive data on USB flash drives, the front panel USB sockets can be completely disabled – though those on the rear remain active.

Even the basic wired peripherals are of decent quality, with the bundled Lenovo keyboard and mouse proving comfortable to use. And there’s a solid array of ports and connections available too.

On the outside of the case is a total of eight USB sockets (six rear, two front), one eSata port, Gigabit Ethernet, a nine-pin serial port and one D-SUB should cater for most business needs. On the inside, three of the four DIMM slots and two half-height PCI slots remain free.

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It’s all very reassuring and will undoubtedly benefit medium to large organisations where IT resources are tight. But it’s not just about the chassis; underneath all that engineering, a surprisingly solid specification lurks.

A 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and Intel’s GMA 4500 integrated graphics provide plenty of business-like power and, in our application-based benchmarks, it achieved a highly respectable score of 1.3 as a result. That’s plenty enough for most office applications and leaves headroom for more demanding tasks such as video editing or software development as well.

Inevitably, such a high-level specification does mean the headline price isn’t quite as cheap as our A List encumbent, the HP dc5850. The Lenovo M58 is £513 exc VAT with a basic three year parts and labour warranty, and £11 extra upgrades that to onsite cover. That’s £426 more expensive than the equivalent HP at £426 with similar three year, onsite cover.

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