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Lenovo C315 Touch Screen All-in-One PC

Though billed as an “everyday desktop” the Lenovo C315 is equipped with a 20″ 1600×900 multi-touch display, ATSC tuner, and IR remote control. The system also features an eclectic mix of laptop and desktop hardware including the AMD Athlon II X2 250u, a 25W AM3 processor.

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June 21, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product Lenovo C315 – 40221GU
Manufacturer Lenovo
Street Price US$849

The Lenovo C315 is the top model of their Essential series PCs, advertised
as “everyday desktops” that are affordable, space saving, and energy
efficient. Lenovo categorizes the IdeaCentres as entertainment hubs,
the ThinkCentres for business use, and the Essential line seems to fall
somewhere in-between, for general use. This ho-hum billing is ironic as the
C315 is one of the more interesting all-in-one PCs with which we’ve crossed
paths.


The Lenovo C315.

The C315 is easy on the eyes, far less utilitarian and boxy than the Lenovo
ThinkCentre
but not as playful and stylish as the Asus
EeeTop
. The combination of dark brown trim on black is very complimentary,
giving it an air of sophistication. The arch at the bottom is a little odd but
makes it easy to pick up. The most intriguing aspect of the C315 is its 20″
multi-touch display which sits about 1 cm deeper than the surrounding bezel.
The system also has a built-in ATSC tuner and ships with an infrared remote
control. This is about as far from “essential” as it gets.


The C315 is powered by an Athlon II X2 250u processor.

There are some interesting choices under the hood as well, beginning with its
X2 250u processor, a low power desktop AMD Athlon II with
a TDP of 25W and a clock speed of only 1.6GHz, not to be confused with the X2
250, a 60W 3.0GHz chip. Except for the 3.5″ hard drive (a 500GB
Seagate 7200.12
in our case) the rest of the internals are laptop components.
The machine uses DDR2 SODIMMs, a mobility Radeon HD 4530 graphics card, and
a slim dual layer DVD writer.


Accessories. Note that the IR receiver has two inputs.


Our sample shipped with a 120W 19.5V power adapter.

 

Lenovo C315: Product Sample Specifications
Part Number
C315 – 40221GU
Display
20.0″, 1600×900, CCFL, multi-touch, anti-glare
Processor
AMD Athlon II X2 250u
(1.6GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 25W)
Chipset
AMD 690M
Memory
4GB DDR2-800 SODIMM
(website lists DDR2-667)
Graphics
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 512MB
Hard Drive
500GB 7200rpm
Optical Drive
8x DVD +/- RW DL
ATSC Tuner Yes
Networking
10/100 ethernet, 802.11g
Card Reader
6-in-1 (MMC, MS, MS Pro, SD, SD Elite Pro, xD)
Webcam 0.3 megapixel (640×480)
Speakers
2W
Keyboard & Mouse
Yes
Connectors Rear: 4 x USB 2.0, RJ45, PS/2, FireWire
400 1394 (4-pin), TV antennaSide: 2 x USB 2.0, card reader
Operating System
Windows 7 Professional x64
Dimensions
484 x 359 x 65 mm
(19.05 x 14.12 x 2.56″)
Weight 7.4 kg (16.3 lb)
Street Price
$849

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The Lenovo C315 measures 48.4 x 35.9 x 6.5 cm (19.1 x 14.1 x 2.6″) and
weighs 7.4 kg (16.3 lb).


Lenovo C315 and included peripherals.

 


The left side is home to a pair of USB ports and the multi-card reader.
The C315 can be tilted back to a 40° angle.

 


A tray-loaded dual layer DVD writer is located on the right side..

 


Rubber pads prevent the C315 from moving and scratching up desk surfaces.

 


The stand is thick and sturdy. The exhaust vent is located at the top

 


The ports at the back are as follows: AC power, TV antenna, PS/2,
RJ45, 4 x USB 2.0, headphone, microphone, and 4-pin FireWire. The system’s
memory is located just above the FireWire connector — it is the only
component that is easily accessed.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Various All-in-One Systems Compared:

Lenovo ThinkCentre A70Z-1165A3U:

Asus EeeTop ET2203-B0017:

Lenovo C315-40221GU:


Lenovo C315: GPU-Z screenshot.


Lenovo C315: device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Real-world Benchmark Test Details

  • Eset NOD32: In-depth virus scan of a folder containing 32 files of
    varying size, several of which are archives with many files within them..
  • WinRAR: Archive creation with a folder containing 68 files of varying
    size (less than 50MB).
  • iTunes: Conversion of an MP3 file to AAC (48KHz, 256kbps).
  • TMPGEnc Xpress: Encoding a 1-minute long XVID AVI file to VC-1 (1280×720,
    30fps, 20mbps).

Our first test procedure is designed to determine the overall system power
consumption at various states (measured using a Seasonic Power Angel). To stress
CPUs we use either Prime95 (large FFTs setting) or CPUBurn depending on which
produces higher system power consumption. To stress the GPU, we use ATITool
or FurMark, which ever application is more power demanding.

Then we run a short series of performance benchmarks — a few real-world
applications as well as synthetic tests.

All nonessential pre-installed software is removed prior to testing, and certain
services and features like Superfetch and System Restore are disabled to prevent
them from affecting our results. Aero glass is left enabled if supported. All
tests are conducted with WiFi disabled (as well as other wireless connectivity
features) unless necessary, and screen brightness is set to a reasonable level
unless otherwise noted. We also make note if energy saving features like Cool’n’Quiet
and SpeedStep do not function properly.

TEST RESULTS

AC Power Draw

System Power
Test State
EeeTop ET2203
ThinkCentre A70Z
Lenovo C315
Off
1W
1W
2W
Sleep
2W
1W
4W
Idle
(screen off)
17W
25W
47W
Idle
(typical brightness)
33W
(65/100)
40W
(40/100)
56W
(5/7)
Idle
(maximum brightness)
39W
49W
61W
x264 Playback
44W
60W
61W
CPU Load
70W
83W
69W
CPU + GPU
Load
84W
83W
83W

Despite the use of laptop hardware and a low TDP desktop processor, the Lenovo
C315 idles using significantly more power than similar all-in-one PCs we’ve
tested. It drew 16W more than the ThinkCentre
A70Z
which is based on Intel desktop hardware but without discrete graphics,
and 23W more than the
Asus EeeTop ET2203
which is based on Intel mobile hardware. Though the
processor runs at a paltry 1.6GHz, with a discrete graphics card, the C315 had
no trouble with high definition video. It played a 1080p x264-encoded clip with
just 18% CPU usage while consuming 61W from the wall. When placed on heavy load,
the C315 was comparable to the ET2203 with regards to power consumption.


Lenovo C315 on load: CPU-Z screenshot.


Lenovo C315 idle: CPU-Z screenshot.

The cause of the high idle power consumption appears to be the CPU operating
voltage. Though Cool’n’Quiet and C1E were enabled, the CPU voltage did not change
between power states. When idle the clock speed dropped to 800 MHz, but in our
experience this does little for power savings when not accompanied by a reduction
in core voltage.

Performance

Performance Benchmarks
Model
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 (laptop)
Lenovo C315
Asus EeeTop ET2203
CPU
SU7300 1.3GHz
X2 250u 1.6GHz
T6600 2.2GHz
GPU
X4500MHD
HD 4530
HD 4570
RAM
2x2GB
2x2GB
2x2GB
HDD
320GB 5400rpm
500GB 7200rpm
500GB 5400rpm
Boot-up*
1:25
1:02
1:14
NOD32
11:30
10:43
10:05
WinRAR
5:35
6:26
4:20
iTunes
8:04
8:06
4:59
TMPGEnc
10:47
10:27
6:24
PCMark05
3196
3839
4953
3DMark05
1616
5440
5950
3DMark06
907
2736
3176
*start button to when the desktop loads fully

In our real world benchmarks, the C315 performed very similarly to the ThinkPad
Edge 13
, a laptop powered by the Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor. The SU7300
is a low power chip that is slow even by notebook standards. The Core 2 Duo
T6600 in the EeeTop gives it a pretty good edge over the other two machines.
The T6600 is more representative of mainstream notebook performance. Needless
to say, a typical desktop CPU would cream all three of these systems.

Subjectively the C315 was not noticeably slow, as is the case with most dual
core PCs. The numbers don’t lie though — it is the slowest non-Atom desktop
we’ve tested. As a general purpose PC, it definitely fits the bill, but for
demanding jobs like video encoding, it will take a lot longer to complete than
your typical desktop or all-in-one.

Thermals & Acoustics

Lenovo C315
Activity
CPU Temp
HDD Temp
SPL @0.6m
Idle
37°C
37°C
26~27 dBA
x264 Playback
37°C
37°C
26~27 dBA
CPU Load
40°C
38°C
30~31 dBA
CPU + GPU Load
44°C
38°C
30~31 dBA
Ambient temperature: 21°C.

While the C315’s relatively poor performance can be forgiven as most PCs aren’t
really put through many demanding tasks during the course of an average day,
there is really no excuse for its poor acoustics. The system idled at a high
26~27 dBA at 0.6m, but most of the noise wasn’t caused by fans as is often the
case. The machine had a terrible hum caused mainly by, from what we could tell,
the Seagate 7200.12 hard drive inside. The system’s fan kicked into gear only
when the system was on full load; it kept the processor very cool, perhaps overly
so.


The C315 idles at 26 dBA@0.6m when the hard drive isn’t seeking. Note
the ridiculous spike at 120 Hz (~7200 rpm).

We reviewed the 500GB 7200.12 and found it to bethey a fairly loud drive, but
the way Lenovo has mounted it inside makes it even louder. There were some other
tonal elements to the acoustic profile that contributed to the overall SPL.
The drive was also continually seeking during operation though we could not
find any system processes responsible. In the brief moments when the seeking
stopped, the noise level only dropped down to 26 dBA.

INTANGIBLES

LCD: The display has fairly well-balanced colors, not washed out like
many LED-backlit screens found on cheaper laptops. It’s crisp, clear, and the
glare coming off the surface isn’t bad for a glossy model. The viewing angles
are good, especially the horizontal — the far side of the screen doesn’t
begin to darken until you’re 45 degrees off center.

Touch: After the initial novelty of the touch screen wore off, we found
the feature to be rather pointless. The accuracy isn’t great and having to hold
your arm up against the screen is tiring. We don’t see anyone accustomed to
a keyboard and mouse preferring to use touch instead. The one thing it is good
for is drawing, but again, fatigue sets in after awhile.

Build Quality: Like most Lenovos, the C315 is well constructed with
no obvious weak points. The entire machine feels solid, though this is much
less important in a desktop than a laptop.

Webcam: The webcam produces images with average picture quality for
a 0.3 megapixel model. It’s not too grainy, but it has a low frame rate that
results in a lot of blur when movement is involved. On the bright side, its
performance in low light is better than average.

Speakers: The 2W speakers are underwhelming, sounding hollow with a
tad tinny as small integrated speakers tend to be.

Keyboard & Mouse:


Included keyboard and mouse.

The keyboard is solid with excellent tactile feedback. Our only complaint is
the LEDs are actually quite bright. The mouse is reasonably quiet and comfortable
but a little on the skinny side.

Remote: The remote control is a typical Windows 7/MCE style unit with
excellent range (more than 20 feet), though line of sight with the receiver
is required. The receiver interestingly has a second input.


Included remote and infrared receiver.

Pre-installed Software: This time around, there wasn’t too much pre-bundled
software. A trial version of Office was installed as well as Cyberlink Power2Go
and McAfee Security Center. There weren’t many Lenovo utilities with the exception
of those pertaining to the touch screen feature.

Audio Recordings

  • Lenovo
    C315 at 0.6m

    — idle/x264 playback (26~27 dBA)
    — CPU load, CPU + GPU load (30~31 dBA)

Comparable System sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Lenovo C315 is perhaps the most affordable all-in-one PC featuring a touch
screen with a non-Atom processor. (A slightly lower model than the review sample
with a 320GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM can be found at the Lenovo website on
sale for $749.) It has other merits as well, being well built, attractive, and
possessing a crisp, clear 20″ high definition display that has less glare
than most LCDs. With discrete graphics, the ATSC tuner and IR remote control,
it makes a fairly decent home theater PC, though a better set of speakers would
be a must. Oddly enough, the IdeaCentre, which is supposed to be a more entertainment-oriented
all-in-one, lacks both a TV tuner and remote control.

The C315’s main draw, the touch screen, really doesn’t belong on a desktop
PC in our opinion. Fatigue sets in quickly when you hold your hand two feet
in front of you for lengthy stretches and it is rather difficult using your
finger to make precise contact and movement on a high resolution screen. Though
the experience would undoubtedly improve with practice, we don’t see it ever
being easier and/or faster than a mouse and keyboard for anything except drawing.
Perhaps it may become more practical in the future, but currently the technology
seems infinitely more useful on mobile devices like tablets and phones that
are too small for a keyboard and mouse.

The machine has a few major failings with noise being at the top of our list
— it is easily the loudest all-in-one we’ve tested and unbearable by SPCR
standards. The hard drive seems to be the main culprit, producing a hum at 120
Hz that almost drowns out any other noise being generated elsewhere in the machine.
A move to a 5400 rpm hard drive would help alleviate this problem, and the performance
downgrade would likely go unnoticed given the system’s relatively slow processor.
Some form of mechanical decoupling is probably needed to really bring
the HDD noise down. The Athlon II X2 250u, while certainly faster than any Atom,
is significantly slower than any desktop Athlon X2 or modern Core 2 Duo except
for CULV (consumer ultra-low voltage) models. The C315 also doesn’t appear to
lower the operating voltage of the CPU when idle, resulting in rather high idle
power consumption.

Our thanks to Lenovo
for C315 all-in-one PC sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest

Lenovo ThinkStation E20:
A Quiet Entry-level Workstation

Asus UL30A & Lenovo ThinkPad
Edge 13 CULV Notebooks

Lenovo ThinkCentre A70Z
& Asus EeeTop ET2203 All-In-One PCs

Asus UL80Vt: A CULV Laptop with Hybrid
Graphics

Asus EeeBox EB1501 ION Mini-PC
Lenovo’s All-in-one: IdeaCentre
A600

* * *

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