capsule review

Lenovo 3000 H210 Value Desktop PC

At a Glance
  • Lenovo 3000 H210

    PCWorld Rating

    The H210 is one of the better sub-$500 systems we've seen in recent times, but it doesn't handle games very well.

Part of the allure of the $479 Lenovo 3000 H210 comes from its use of a 2.5-GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200 processor. Many competitors opt for a cheaper AMD CPU, and the difference certainly shows in the performance. The H210 also comes with 4GB of DDR2-667 RAM, even though Lenovo opts for the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium for the operating system; it's a curious oversight, given that the 32-bit Vista can't handle the entire 4GB of memory due to its address-space allocations. On the storage front, a single 500GB Western Digital hard drive gives you a good amount of room for the kind of work you'll be doing on this PC.

There's no way the integrated Intel GMA 3100 graphics chip can offer playable frame rates for anything but the most basic of games (we're talking Minesweeper). The system refused to run our Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark in any capacity, and offered a paltry 15 frames per second in Far Cry at 1280 by 1024 resolution, with no antialiasing; normally we run the test with antialiasing on, but the H210 would have none of that. On the plus side, the system's WorldBench 6 score of 99 represents an above-average performance for the value PCs we've tested. It's a great score for a system of this price, beating out the eMachines ET1161-03, which is $80 cheaper, by a good 20 points.

Lenovo tosses a generic two-button mouse and a dull keyboard into the H210's package, but basic peripherals are common with inexpensive systems. A total of six USB ports, in addition to a media card reader on the front of the machine, is about as fancy as the H210 gets. It has no FireWire, no eSATA, and no integrated surround sound--a few connections that we love seeing on systems of all shapes and sizes.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the asymmetrical arrangement of the H210's front ports isn't pleasing to anyone's eye, nor is it helped by the fact that the area is set off with a secondary black panel. The bay for the H210's DVD read/write optical drive looks as if it were carved in as an afterthought. A stealth cover of some sort would do wonders to pretty up the front of this PC.

The H210's internal expandability is average at best. It offers no room to install any additional 5.25-inch devices, so you're stuck with what it gives you unless you want to outright replace the optical drive. What's more, the case supplies only enough space for you to add one more hard drive, which you attach by physically screwing the drive onto the side of the chassis. A single PCI Express x16 slot, as well as two PCI Express x1 slots and one PCI slot, sits open. At least you have a little room to work with, which is more than what we can say for some value PCs.

The Lenovo 3000 H210 is one of the better sub-$500 value PCs we've seen recently. But while it's a great option for general performance, the system sputters and stalls the minute you try to fire up games, whether they're current-generation hits or five-year-old classics.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The H210 is one of the better sub-$500 systems we've seen in recent times, but it doesn't handle games very well.

    Pros

    • Above-average performance
    • Above-average performance

    Cons

    • Average expandability
    • Average expandability
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