Barebones system likely to appeal to SMBs

Barebones system likely to appeal to SMBs

The Lenovo 3000 J115 comes only in a tower case with an appealing grey-green, flat plastic front panel that displays colourfully lit buttons; it reminded us of a German kitchen appliance. If users want a desktop or ultracompact Lenovo system, they'll have to choose from the vendor's ThinkCentre line. The 3000 series is intended to be more appropriate for small businesses, while the ThinkCentre models are aimed at enterprise computing.

But behind its trendy, attractive facade, the J115 has a surprisingly barebones, old-fashioned case. You need to remove two thumb screws to slide the side panel off; and hard drives, optical drives, and expansion cards are held in by screws, so to swap an optical drive, you'll have to remove both of the case's side panels. Removing anything else inside the PC (aside from RAM) requires tools.

The J115 uses small, traditional fans - one in the power supply, located against the back of the case, and one mounted on top of the CPU's heat sink. It's not a loud system, but it puts out more noise than the Dell OptiPlex 740 we tested at the same time.

The Athlon 64 X2 processor in this system can take advantage of AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet technology, which allows the PC to adjust the speed and voltage to meet the user's needs. AMD said that Vista systems can take advantage of the technology without a driver, whereas XP systems require one.

In our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests, the J115 scored a 68, just a point behind the identically configured OptiPlex 740. These three are the first Vista value systems we've tested. Compared with the power Vista systems we have tested previously, these are quite slow - the fastest system we tested then scored a 129 on our benchmark.

The J115 model we tested allowed only a single, VGA-monitor connection. Lenovo charges $US139 for a dual-head ATI X300SE. The 22-inch Lenovo monitor we tested with the J115 does not allow height adjustments or swivelling - only tilting. We did like the look of the J115 model, but Dell's OptiPlex 740 has a better design by far. If users are partial to the Lenovo brand, we recommend a system from its ThinkCentre line, which has many more interior features and service options.

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