System Performance

The Intel Core i7-3610QM inside the Lenovo IdeaCentre A7 may be entry level Ivy Bridge, but you'll see that it still has teeth. By opting for a mobile processor, Lenovo is able to offer a substantial amount of performance without sacrificing thermal headroom (and thus noise) in the process. I've frequently felt that even the low-voltage desktop CPUs used in all-in-ones have been excessive, and the A7's test results seem to back me up.

Futuremark PCMark 7

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

The A7 is hurt by the lack of an SSD; the slow hard drive keeps it from really breaking away from the last generation's all-in-ones in PCMark and for once I do agree. The 1TB Western Digital Scorpio Blue may offer a healthy amount of capacity, but a lot of performance is sacrificed to get it.

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R11.5

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

Shift the focus to CPU-centric tasks and the A7's prospects look a lot brighter. It doesn't need to be the fastest, it just needs to be competitive, and being able to nip at the heels of last generation's high end in the HP TouchSmart 610 while consuming 50W less is respectable.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

The 3DMarks are kinder to the A7, but I don't think they tell the whole story. The improvement over the last generation of all-in-ones is incremental, and the Kepler-and-GDDR5 combo in the Dell XPS One 2710 is really where the A7 needs to be. Dedicated all-in-one graphics need to justify their inclusion, and a mediocre GPU attached to 2GB of DDR3 just isn't enough to feed a 1080p display as you'll see.

Gaming Performance

It's when you look at the Dell XPS One 2710's performance that it becomes apparent just how much Lenovo left on the table by cheaping out with a GeForce GT 630M and then dumping an unnecessary amount of video memory on it. Even at 1366x768, the A7 struggles.

All-in-One Gaming, 768p

The A7 is able to produce mostly playable performance, but it doesn't look great doing it, and Dell's all-in-one is worlds ahead of it. Pay attention to the numbers in the 1080p chart below.

All-in-One Gaming, 1080p

The A7 offers slightly worse gaming performance at 1366x768 than the Dell XPS One 2710 does at 1920x1080. The bottom line is that a Kepler chip with GDDR5 is pretty much the minimum for gaming on an all-in-one, and while I'd concede that the GT 630M is better than nothing, I can see it becoming a problem in short order. It doesn't have much performance to spare from the get go, and that's only going to get worse with time. More than that, the 630M's memory is basically running out of bandwidth when you start pushing the resolution, making it even less ideal for a 1080p all-in-one like the A7.

Introducing the Lenovo IdeaCentre A7 Screen Quality
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  • ananduser - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Add the windows license on top and you're at least 350$ more. That coupled with the inability to install windows without that shoddy bios emulation bootcamp does. In essence, not a good deal.
  • tim851 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Both the iMac and the Lenovo come with an OS - why would I add a Windows licence to the iMac? I'd reckon most people buying AIOs couldn't care less what OS they run.
  • ananduser - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    If you put it that way you're correct. People completely OS agnostic could get the imac for 250$ more. But I could also say that the same OS agnostic crowd could top 250$ more over the imac and get something better like the HP Z1.
  • royalcrown - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Wow...You obviously don't own an Imac. The "Shoddy" bios emulation you speak of runs windows perfectly, Ubuntu, linux mint, BSD etc..; It also boots from usb drives and external usb and firewire.

    Im writing this on an imac running Windows 7 x64 right now. How is it shoddy when it runs for days without crashing ?
  • Juddog - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    The idea itself is actually pretty nifty; a nice big 27" touch screen with Windows 8 sounds pretty cool.

    This isn't a machine to play games on, it's a machine you'd put in the kitchen or the kids room, so the graphics really doesn't have to be that fast. You can upgrade the graphics card to a GT630 2 GB from a GT630M 1 GB on the website, along with getting an SSD boot drive at the high end.

    That being said, I agree with some of the points above; a faster hard drive and a repositioning of the ports would be fairly cheap to implement and the graphics card options are pretty limited. This is one of those products that I feel would be great in a lobby somewhere, or combined with an in-home entertainment solution. For example having something like this in your kitchen linked up to the lighting in your house, or to the temperature control, or to music devices placed throughout the house etc..
  • Conficio - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I like the looks of this and finally an IPS panel. While I'd love to have an option for higher resolution, it would be fine with me for a dorm or single room apartment.

    I'd love to see some price reducing options:
    * Ditch the extra GPU hardware. As many don't game at all. For seniors and many more it is a waste of money and energy.
    * Offer i5 dual core processor. There is plenty of people that don't need a quad core for reading e-mail and watching the picures/videos of the grand kids. (Just make sure it is HD4000, so the graphics are not degrading too much).

    Other improvement suggestions:
    * Put headphone plugs in front
    * Put USB in front two at least for keyboard + mouse or side (more of them)
    * Improved Wifi with 2x2 or 3x3 streams(most home users are fine with Realtek NIC for wired)
    * make the core PC upgradable, so that it can be replaced and the monitor re-used
    * faster/better hard drives SSD options
  • OBLAMA2009 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    $1500 is a lot for notebook performance and a low resolution monitor
  • The_Kristoffer - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    When are you going to publish the rundown of Haswell? I've been waiting for, what feels like, forever!
  • tukkas - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Dustin, what is you preferred 27 inch aio at this point? lenovo, dell, hp? anything else?

    thank you
  • royalcrown - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    I don't really see the point of this Imac clone; If they are gonna do it at least give people a COMPELLING reason to buy like dual 7xxx gpus or something. Buyers who wanted a mac but want better gaming performance could go for this. Till then it's a so so knock off.

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