The Bottom Line
Oct 8 2012 - The slim H520s may be considered part of Lenovo's Essential lineup of computers but it is a very capable system when it is properly configured. With a quad core processor, dedicated graphics and Blu-ray drive it certainly performs very quickly and has features other mainstream slim desktop lack. There are a number of drawbacks though including the lack of wireless networking and just 8GB of memory. Still, if you want a high performance small desktop, it is hard to find one similarly equipped these days.
- Strong Performance
- Dedicated Graphics Card
- Blu-Ray Drive
- No Wireless Networking Standard
- Memory Limited By Just Two Memory Slots
- USB Ports Not On All Models
- Intel Core i7-3770 Quad Core Desktop Processor
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 2TB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Blu-Ray Reader and Dual-Layer DVD Burner Combo Drive
- AMD Radeon HD 7570 Graphics Card With 2GB Memory
- Intel HDA 5.1 Audio Support
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Two USB 3.0, Six USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.2" x 12" x 4"
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Lenovo Essential H520s
Oct 8 2012 - While many other companies have shifted away from performance oriented slim desktops, Lenovo continues to offer some very strong small systems with its new Essential H520s. For roughly $1000, the slim desktop can be equipped with the top of the line Intel Core i7-3770 quad core desktop processor. This combined with 8GB of DDR3 memory allows the system to run smoothly regardless of the applications that a consumer might want o use it for including desktop video editing. The only real problem here is the motherboard only features two memory module slots which restricts the system from getting any additional memory upgrades to get beyond the 8GB it comes equipped with.
Storage features are also quite impressive on the high end Essential H520s. It comes with a very spacious two terabyte hard drive that provides plenty of space for applications, data and particularly large media files such as HD video. The drive offers some solid performance thanks to the 7200rpm spin rate and high data density. The only way more performance could have been produced is if if the system also implemented a solid state drive but that would reduce capacity and is not very common in the small desktop systems. If you do need additional storage space, there are two USB 3.0 ports available for use with high speed external storage. It should be noted that these ports are not standard and many less expensive models do not feature them. The system also features a Blu-ray compatible drive that allows the system to playback the high definition movie format. The drive also has the ability to playback or record CD and DVD media. There is also a card reader for the most common flash media cards.
In terms of the graphics, Lenovo also made the decision to offer dedicated graphics cards for the Lenovo Essential H520s. For this model, it features an AMD Radeon HD 7570 graphics card with 2GB of memory. This is a modest budget card that does allow for 3D gaming at lower resolution and detail levels but certainly much better than the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the processor. The graphics card also gives it to ability to accelerate more non-3D applications than the integrated option has. Those wanting a more powerful graphics card will be disappointed to learn that this configuration pretty much maxes out the power supply such that it can't support one much faster than what is already installed.
One real surprise with the Essential H520s is the networking. Wireless networking is pretty standard in the slim desktop market segment but this version lacks even that. The reason has to do with the expansion slots. There are only two slots available and both are occupied by the graphics card and the USB 3.0 ports. The only option for the system to have Wi-Fi would be if one of these two slots were available. As a result, this model does not have it but many without a graphics card will.
In terms of competition, Lenovo is pushing the higher end of the market. At the $1000 price point, the closest would be the Alienware X51. It certainly offers an equivalent level of performance in a larger overall case. It also trades off higher graphics performance for less base storage and lacking features such as the Blu-ray drive.