capsule review

Lenovo 3000 J115

At a Glance
  • Lenovo 3000 J115 7387 Tower w/Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz Processo

    PCWorld Rating

    Targeted at the small-business market, this system lacks the toolless chassis features of Lenovo's ThinkCentre models.

The Lenovo 3000 J115 comes only in a tower case with an appealing gray-green, flat plastic front panel that displays colorfully lit buttons; it reminded me of a German kitchen appliance. If you want a desktop or ultracompact Lenovo system, you'll have to choose from the company'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 ($1238 as of 05/09/2007) has a surprisingly bare-bones, old-fashioned case. You must 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 standard-issue fans will likely cost less than Dell's, however, should you need to replace them out of warranty.

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 says 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 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 tested last month, these systems 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 $139 for a dual-head ATI X300SE. The 22-inch Lenovo monitor we tested with the J115 does not allow height adjustments or swiveling--only tilting.

Lenovo offers 24/7 tech support and next-business-day on-site warranty service, but Dell and HP offer same day on-site service. Lenovo offers same-day on-site service on its ThinkCentre models, but not on the 3000 series. Lenovo, however, promises 1-minute-or-less access to tech support at no extra cost. In our most recent reliability and service survey, Lenovo earned average scores for reliability and an insufficient number of responses for rating service.

Lenovo's reliability marks--which are better than Dell's and HP's--should earn its system some buying consideration, and I did like the look of it. But the OptiPlex 740 has a better design by far. If you're partial to the Lenovo brand, I'd recommend a system from its ThinkCentre line, which has many of the interior features and service options offered by the OptiPlex.

Alan Stafford

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Targeted at the small-business market, this system lacks the toolless chassis features of Lenovo's ThinkCentre models.

    Pros

    • Attractive case front
    • Keyboard has useful quick-launch keys

    Cons

    • Bare-bones, off-the-rack case
    • Integrated graphics models are VGA-only
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