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The Lenovo H320 is a worthy entrant in the higher-end slim-tower PC category. It boasts a fast, previous-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, a discrete graphics card, and a Blu-ray drive, all for $749. We have the same reservations about this system as with the Gateway SX2851-41 regarding the impending obsolescence of its CPU and the less-than-inspired design, but at least in the current PC environment, the H320 is competitive. We recommend it to anyone interested in an upper-tier slim tower for general home computing or for bringing content into your living room.
The H320′s design is similar to that of most other Windows-based slim towers. Its trim chassis measures 11.5 inches high, 4 inches wide, and 15.5 inches deep, putting it in between HP’s larger Pavilion Slimline and Gateway’s smaller SX-Series case in terms of overall volume.
Like the SX-Series chassis, the design of the H320 is suitable for living room display, but Lenovo got carried away in applying external decals. Not only does it come with Windows, Intel, and Lenovo logos on the front, but Lenovo has also plastered the top and right side of the H320 with labels highlighting the machine’s various features. Of course, the glut of stickers is not new to PCs. It’s also comparatively easy to take them off. For slim towers such as these with serious living room aspirations, though, it’s time for vendors to lay off the visual bloatware and put more thought into compelling system design and no-hassle setup.
From a value standpoint, the Lenovo H320 competes very well with HP’s Pavilion Slimline S5660f. The S5660f is an older model at this point, but even the more recent S5670T will require you to spend $50 more for the same configuration as the H320. We can’t think of anything else we’d expect to find for this price, although in a quarter or two we expect Intel’s new Sandy Bridge Core i3 2100-series CPUs will emerge at this price point. Even without those new CPUs, though, this system will play HD movies from the Web or the included Blu-ray drive, and most PC games, with little difficulty.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs
Rendering Single CPU
Among other small PCs, the Lenovo H320 40411FU is a very strong performer. Its Core i5 650 CPU is a dual-core chip that comes with Intel’s HyperThreading technology to help it simulate two extra processing threads as necessary. That can’t help the H320 compete on applications that use true quad-core chips like the Phenom II X4 in HP’s s5660f, but with its fast 3.2GHz core clock speed, the Core i5 CPU in the H320 posted some impressive scores. On Photoshop CS 5 image processing, iTunes audio encoding, and even when playing a QuickTime movie while encoding audio files in iTunes, the Lenovo H320 posted the fastest scores in its category.
As mentioned earlier, the H320 is also a more competent gaming PC than we’re used to at this price. It won’t let you play every game at maximum image quality, but it played the Dragon Age II demo at 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution smoothly. The Crysis 2 demo was, perhaps unsurprisingly, more challenging for this PC. We had to drop the resolution down to 1,280×720 pixels, and even then the frame rate was only passable. As long as you keep your expectations reasonable, gamers should get some enjoyment out of this system, at least with current titles.