Conclusion: Everything's There, It Just Needs Touching Up

At its core, the Lenovo IdeaCentre A7 is a fairly strong all-in-one offering. I may sound like a broken record, but the sentiment is vital: by focusing on notebook-class hardware and putting it in the base, Lenovo was able to tighten up the thermals and keep noise from becoming a serious issue. The aluminum shell of the A7 is classy and the smart cooling system helps keep the whole thing from becoming too hot or too noisy.

What we have with the A7 is a baseline that needs some tweaking. The majority of my complaints about the software are going to get basically wiped away with Windows 8, so it doesn't merit too much discussion. Including a decent IPS display is appreciated, but the calibration from the factory is horrible and should've been corrected before the system shipped. That's an easy enough fix, too. On the hardware side, the GeForce GT 630M is tired and should probably be taken out behind the barn; an all-in-one shouldn't be caught dead running any GPU that isn't powered by GDDR5 unless it's an Intel IGP. Worse, electing not to use Optimus actually robs the IdeaCentre of features it could've enjoyed at virtually no cost. I'm also disappointed in Lenovo cheaping out on the networking hardware and the hard drive, especially for a system that starts at $1,450. For shame.

That said, as much as I want to ding Lenovo on the price (and I always do on the notebook side), the IdeaCentre A7 is actually competitive on that front. 27" all-in-ones start at $1,299, so a starting price that's $150 above the curve for an IPS multitouch display and an aluminum shell is justifiable. You have to keep in mind that all-in-ones can't be compared strictly on hardware like desktops; noise and build quality are both factors. So while yes, you can visit NewEgg and grab a generic 27" AIO with slightly better specs for less, you risk getting a potentially noisier, less well-designed machine.

Ultimately the IdeaCentre A7 is a strong contender that gets a lot right. There are a few things I think they could do better, and it's not the homerun I was hoping for, but depending on your needs I feel like it's a reasonable choice and probably something I'd shortlist. The graphics hardware is in dire need of a generational upgrade, the hard disk can be slow, and the port placement is a bit bizarre, but everything else is basically there, and the price is at least competitive if not the mind-blowing deal we're hoping for. If you're shopping for an all-in-one, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.

User Experience, Heat, and Power Consumption
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  • Kibbles - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    From the way the hinges appear, it looks like the base can sit flush with the monitor? If so, is there some kind of mount on the bottom of the base so you can wall mount it? Reply
  • SunLord - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    It seems the hinges are so you can move the display down at a steep angle and use the 10point multi touch screen or that's how it looks like it's meant to be on the lenovo website Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    ... Yet Lenovo leave those problems in.
    I mean really, I didn't even know there were 27" 1080p IPS panels, but if there are, they must be destined for low end TVs only. I'd much rather see a 24" 1920x1200 panel.
    As you said, why not a Geforce 650M?
    Dodgy Realtek networking aside, what the hell are they doing putting a 5400 RPM HDD in ANYTHING these days?
    Especially in a high cost machine.
    Reply
  • Snotling - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Yeah, penny pinching @ho!es. 7200RPM drives cost almost nothing more, that's just screwing with the uneducated buyer.

    The display's low resolution for its size also gets a +1

    I couldn't care less about the G630M, those machines are not in any way designed for gamers anyway.
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Its a 2.5 inch drive and 1tb 7200rpm drives dont exist in standard height. The next best is 750gb 7200rpm which is quite a drop. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Considering that this is not a standard case, I don't see why 15mm vs 9.5mm is an issue. Cost might be, but probably not height. Also, I don't see 750GB as "quite a drop", the people I know who would use an AIO don't use a lot of data on their PCs, they have no big movie collections, and their photos/music/data is easily stored in 320GB drives. :) Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Its a numbers game and 15mm drives are noisy, power hungry and less reliable, also at that point you may as well go slim 3.5 inch. Reply
  • royalcrown - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - link

    I have 1.5 tb on an external drive with my Imac. Reply
  • Calista - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I agree with Dustin, why would any sane designer add the HDMI-ports to the side while only adding a single USB-port easily accessible. What's most likely to be added to the HDMI-input? I would say a gaming console - something we don't move around very often. What's most likely being connected to the HDMI-out? A second screen of course. Something we definitely don't move around very often.. USB-sticks, external hard-drives, cell phones, cameras etc - those are the things that we may add or remove many times a day. And often connecting many at the same time.

    Same with the hard drive - the added cost of adding a small SSD could be as little as $75 but could mean a world of difference performance-wise. I'm all for keeping a conventional HDD as well for added storage. If needed - increase the size of the base a few cm.

    I don't have any issues with the resolution, a lot of people with less than perfect eye-sight find 1920*1080 on a 27" screen just fine.

    Something else I wish they would have added is mic in/out on the front *as well* as to the back. Perfect for hooking up a headset while still being able to have proper speakers connected to the back.
    Reply
  • Calista - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Ok, a laptop could be connected to the HDMI-in as well. And if so a side placement make sense. But HDMI-out on the side...? Reply

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