Lenovo Builds a Desktop for the Enterprise

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Review: Corporate desktop PCs have become just another commodity. Can Lenovo energize the market with the M57p to bring opportunity and profits to the channel?

Believe it or not, there was once a time when the corporate worker felt special or justly rewarded for receiving the latest PC, but nowadays the desktop PC has become just another tool to get the day's work done. While high-end PCs can no longer be considered a special prize for the loyal worker, PC manufactures still need to generate some type of excitement to move their products. Some have turned to targeting the needs of the corporate IT department to move their products, while others have focused on lower costs to make corporate finance departments happy.

Click here to read about Lenovo's first workstations.

Take for example Lenovo, whose latest iteration of its ThinkCentre series of PCs includes the M57p, a model that offers a small footprint, energy efficiency, high performance and enhanced management capabilities. Add to that upgradability and a tool-less design, and the M57p may very well become the "feel good" PC that will win over IT departments and still keep the bean counters happy.

To see if those claims hold water, eWEEK Channel Labs evaluated a top-of-the-line M57p, model number 6073-A2U, a unit that retails for around $1,100.

The M57p 6073-A2U is equipped with a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, 160GB SATA hard disk drive, DVD+/-RW SATA Optical drive and onboard graphics using an Intel GMA 3100 chip set.

Lenovo's intention with the unit is to balance performance with serviceability. Performance could be greatly enhanced by switching to discrete graphics and adding another gigabyte of RAM (for Windows Vista Users), but costs would probably increase by 20 percent or more.

The M57p does offer an open low-profile PCI Express X16 slot, along with four 240-pin DIMM sockets for solution providers looking to add discrete graphics and additional RAM. The PCI Express Slot has a maximum rating of 35 watts, so add-on video cards should be selected with care. The M57p can be configured with a maximum of 8 GB of RAM, which should meet the needs of any desktop operating systems for quite a while (32-bit versions of Vista support a maximum of 4GB RAM).

Construction quality of the system is excellent, Lenovo designed the system with a steel chassis that can support 100 pounds and eschews fragile plastics wherever possible. That proves to be an engineering feat, considering the diminutive size (12.5 inches wide, 13.4 inches deep and 3.9 inches high) and weight (16.4 pounds) of the unit. Those servicing the M57p will like the "tool-less" design. The unit employs a "hood"—simply push two buttons and the top of the case swings up to reveal the innards. All internal bays share a similar arrangement, using a tool-less design, and swinging up and out of the way by just manipulating the appropriate buttons, latches or levers. The design makes serviceability a top feature and the units are backed by a three-year warranty.

Another element that drastically improves support and serviceability is the inclusion of Intel's vPro processor technology, which adds out-of-band management. vPro allows technicians to remotely boot and control workstations, all that is needed is an Ethernet connection and the appropriate management software. Intel provides some of the management software for free, but most administrators will want to use a higher-end management application to control the PCs and the many other elements that make up a network. Either way, Lenovo has laid out the groundwork with vPro to bring a manageable desktop PC into the enterprise with very little fuss. Solution providers looking to build up managed services will want to pay close attention to what vPro can do for them and their customers.

Performance was tested using PassMark Performance Test 2.0. To normalize test results, 2GB of RAM was installed into the system, which netted an overall PassMark rating of 703.2. While most of the subsystems performed quite well, it was evident that the onboard graphics held the system back. Power usage peaked at 98 watts during testing and fell to 54 watts when the system was idle.

The system offered a Windows base experience index of 2.8. Once again the score was hampered by the integrated graphics, which was the lowest scoring component on the Windows experience index.

Although the unit's onboard graphics did not achieve scores on par with discrete graphics, the system does offer enough performance to run the Windows Aero enhancements and should prove more than adequate for typical PC tasks, such as running office suites, Web browsing or e-mail. Those looking to run CAD or video-editing applications should seriously consider selecting a system with discrete graphics and avoid any systems that offer only onboard graphics.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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