Lenovo C260 review: This inexpensive all-in-one PC performs more like a tablet

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC
At a Glance
  • Lenovo C260 All-in-One PC

    PCWorld Rating

The best all-in-one PCs bundle solid desktop features in a sleek display—no unsightly tower required. But because they include a display, they often cost a lot more than traditional desktops, a problem Lenovo seeks to address with its C260 all-in-one, a 19.5-incher which goes for $480 (Amazon was selling this model for $450 as of this writing).

The C260 is pleasing enough to look at. It’s compact, with a medium-sized black bezel surrounding its 10-point touchscreen (at this price you don’t really expect the edge-to-edge glass we see in higher-end models). And at first glance, its feature list—which includes four USB ports, gigabit ethernet, HDMI out, a DVD burner, and an integrated 720p webcam—sounds good.

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC

Frankly, we'd have happily traded the optical drive for better wireless networking hardware and more USB 3.0 ports. 

But you get what you pay for, and the C260 skimps in many ways to achieve its low price. It might be adequate for someone with truly minimal computing needs—email, light web browsing, or simple word-processing tasks—but others will find at least some of the many compromises annoying.

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC

Boo! There's just one USB 3.0 port, and no HDMI input for connecting a videogame console or set-top box. 

Performance is the obvious starting point. Powered by a Pentium J2900 CPU with integrated Intel HD graphics (the latest branch on Intel’s Bay Trail family tree) and 4GB of DDR3/160 memory, the C260 eked out a dismal Desktop WorldBench 9 score of 28, despite having a relatively fast, but low-capacity hard drive. It’s only 500GB, but it spins its platter at 7200 rpm (we’ve seen all too many inexpensive PCs with 5400-rpm drives).

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC

The Lenovo C260 produced one of the most anemic Desktop WorldBench 9 scores on record. 

Granted, our 100-point baseline PC consists of an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, discrete graphics and a solid-state drive, but very few of the PCs we’ve tested have scored below 50. The Pentium chip, which lacks hyperthreading, likely is the major culprit, although the minimal amount of RAM combined with integrated graphics almost certainly contributes as well (the system can be upgraded to 8GB of memory).

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC

Intel's Pentium J2900 CPU might be better suited to a tablet than a desktop PC.

This is not a unit you’d want to use for multitasking, which would severely challenge its memory resources. Even YouTube videos with lots of movement showed signs of strain, including pixelation. I also found touchscreen response to be less than snappy.

The YouTube issues, however, may also relate to another significant drawback: The unit’s Wi-Fi client adapter is a 1x1 model that supports only 2.4GHz, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. A 1x1 adapter like this can support just one spatial stream for transmission and one for receiving. This adapter is also limited to operating on the very crowded 2.4GHz spectrum, which will be problematic in environments where lots of other wireless networks are operating.

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC

A halfway decent wired keyboard is better than a crummy wireless one, but did I mention this machine needs more USB 3.0 ports. Oh well, at least it has gigabit Ethernet.

That’s why we recommend using the less crowded 5GHz frequency band for media streaming (most PCs we review these days are outfitted with adapters that support both the 2.4- and the 5GHz bands, and new models increasingly support the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard). Anyone trying to stream media would be well advised to use this computer’s hardware gigabit ethernet port.

Lenovo C260 all-in-one PC

You'll be limited to the playing very simple machines on this all-in-one. 

There are other irritants as well: Only one of the C260’s four USB ports supports USB 3.0—the others handle only slower USB 2.2 connections. And unless you pay extra to upgrade to a wireless keyboard and mouse, two of those four ports will be occupied by the wired peripherals that come with the unit.

The C260’s audio sounded OK, and its webcam worked fine for Skype calls. But multitaskers, people who depend on Wi-Fi for streaming media, and anyone seeking tools for any computationally intensive work should seek a more powerful system.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Penny pinchers in need of a very inexpensive all-in-one desktop PC will be happy with the Lenovo C260 only if their computing needs are truly minimal.

    Pros

    • Inexpensive
    • Fits in tight spaces
    • 19.5-inch, 10-point touchscreen

    Cons

    • Underwhelming performance
    • Doesn't support 5GHz Wi-Fi
    • Wired mouse and keyboard
    • No HDMI input
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