Lenovo ThinkCentre M55 9BM

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Lenovo ThinkCentre M55 9BM

Pros

  • Small size, low noise levels, tool-free case design

Cons

  • Limited upgrade potential

Bottom Line

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M55 9BM is a compact and quiet business PC that keeps maintenance simple and makes upgrades easy. Its design and functions are well-suited to an office environment and we think it's a good choice for any business searching for a uniformed PC roll-out.

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The Lenovo ThinkCentre M55 9BM (88089BM) is the embodiment of Lenovo's business PC philosophy, and it comes with some nice hardware too. It's a compact, plain box, and has almost everything an office PC needs to keep you productive. It's also a reasonably quiet machine.

With an Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and an 80GB hard drive, this system is capable of running Windows Vista Business Edition, but Lenovo has stuck to Windows XP Professional. This is quite deliberate on Lenovo's part and, at the very least, assures driver and software compatibility in the short term, while many Vista systems are still having issues.

We ran an MP3 encoding test to see how well the CPU holds up when encoding WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, which is a good measure of its performance. We used CDEX, a feely available encoding application, and a total of 53 minutes worth of music. The Lenovo ThinkCentre M55 88089BM completed the task in two minutes and eight seconds, which about what we expected from this configuration. Based on the installed components, we expect this system to handle most business applications and other general tasks with relative ease.

Although Lenovo has kept the same chassis-style as previous ThinkCentre machines, the 8809BM has been shrunk to make the system even less obtrusive, which works well for cramped office conditions. It still offers all the usual connectivity, including two USB ports and audio ports at the front of the case for quick connections, as well as six more USB ports at the rear. The rear port cluster also offers a serial port and parallel port for older devices and the gigabit Ethernet port can be found here as well.

The tool-free case is a computer technician's dream. Its design can be loosely likened to vehicle maintenance: to open the main section of the chassis, a release button on either side of case must be pressed and the whole lid swings up like a bonnet. This provides quick access to the motherboard and expansion slots, while much of the other hardware is hidden at the front. Unlocking a second mechanism allows the hard drive, optical drive and system fans to be rotated into a serviceable position, somewhat like a truck cabin rolls forward to expose the engine. All of this can be done in a matter of seconds and requires no tools whatsoever.

Upgrading is possible, but limited. One PCI slot and one PCI Express x1 slot are free, and only one of the two RAM slots is taken. Increasing the available storage space will require a replacement hard drive or an external storage solution, as only one hard drive bay that's available is taken by the installed 80GB drive.

For cooling, the system uses two 60mm fans to suck air through the front panel and blow it over a passive heatsink on the CPU towards the rear of the case. The two fans are theoretically able to share the load without having to spin as fast as a single fan and thus noise levels are reduced. Overall we found the system to run fairly quietly.

For management, Lenovo has a software package called LANDesk, which can be purchased separately, and allows remote access to the PC, so patches or updates can be done off-site by network administrators. Despite this offering, an implementation of Intel's new V-Pro technology for remote management would be welcomed.

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