System Performance

The Intel Core i7-3610QM inside the Lenovo IdeaCentre A7 may be entry level Ivy Bridge, but you'll see that it still has teeth. By opting for a mobile processor, Lenovo is able to offer a substantial amount of performance without sacrificing thermal headroom (and thus noise) in the process. I've frequently felt that even the low-voltage desktop CPUs used in all-in-ones have been excessive, and the A7's test results seem to back me up.

Futuremark PCMark 7

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

The A7 is hurt by the lack of an SSD; the slow hard drive keeps it from really breaking away from the last generation's all-in-ones in PCMark and for once I do agree. The 1TB Western Digital Scorpio Blue may offer a healthy amount of capacity, but a lot of performance is sacrificed to get it.

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R11.5

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

Shift the focus to CPU-centric tasks and the A7's prospects look a lot brighter. It doesn't need to be the fastest, it just needs to be competitive, and being able to nip at the heels of last generation's high end in the HP TouchSmart 610 while consuming 50W less is respectable.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

The 3DMarks are kinder to the A7, but I don't think they tell the whole story. The improvement over the last generation of all-in-ones is incremental, and the Kepler-and-GDDR5 combo in the Dell XPS One 2710 is really where the A7 needs to be. Dedicated all-in-one graphics need to justify their inclusion, and a mediocre GPU attached to 2GB of DDR3 just isn't enough to feed a 1080p display as you'll see.

Gaming Performance

It's when you look at the Dell XPS One 2710's performance that it becomes apparent just how much Lenovo left on the table by cheaping out with a GeForce GT 630M and then dumping an unnecessary amount of video memory on it. Even at 1366x768, the A7 struggles.

All-in-One Gaming, 768p

The A7 is able to produce mostly playable performance, but it doesn't look great doing it, and Dell's all-in-one is worlds ahead of it. Pay attention to the numbers in the 1080p chart below.

All-in-One Gaming, 1080p

The A7 offers slightly worse gaming performance at 1366x768 than the Dell XPS One 2710 does at 1920x1080. The bottom line is that a Kepler chip with GDDR5 is pretty much the minimum for gaming on an all-in-one, and while I'd concede that the GT 630M is better than nothing, I can see it becoming a problem in short order. It doesn't have much performance to spare from the get go, and that's only going to get worse with time. More than that, the 630M's memory is basically running out of bandwidth when you start pushing the resolution, making it even less ideal for a 1080p all-in-one like the A7.

Introducing the Lenovo IdeaCentre A7 Screen Quality
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  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    This AIO is definitely interesting. I like the looks of it. I think the hardware of AIOs should always be in the base instead of behind the display. The port location is strange but not a deal breaker. But they should have included an SSD of at least 128GB, maybe in turn cap the HDD at 500/750GB to offset cost. And that Geforce 630 is just insulting. If you go with an Intel CPU, give us a midway decent GPU as well. Or give us the option to go with AMD Trinity. I hope you can get some AIOs with Trinity to review (if there even are some).

    On another note: 3k+ contrast on an IPS? Holy cow, I've only seen that kind of static contrast on *VA panels. IPS topped out at 1.5k for the best panels I've seen.
  • Orvtrebor - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    At this price it does fall a little short, but overall it would work perfectly for most people.

    The hardware is more than good enough for the type of people who want small and silent low power rigs.

    Gamers will never touch a rig like this, and casual gamers (non 3D type games) will be fine with this hardware.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    With an SSD, sure, but nobody is happy paying $1500 for a machine and getting a 5400 rpm disk.
  • Orvtrebor - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I completely agree on the storage front, like I said it falls short, but at 1500 you shouldn't have to add anything to it day 1 like an ssd
  • jaydee - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    An SSD, a real graphics card (with displayport for a 1440p 2nd screen). Could do without the touchscreen (is there really a demand for that?)
  • tukkas - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    the lenovo page lists broadcom, not realtek, as the network/wfi interface -- am i missing something?

    Network Card
    Broadcom 11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    The WiFi in the review unit comes up as Realtek.
  • geniekid - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    If I'm a gamer, a 630M isn't going to be adequate. If I use this computer professionally, the mediocre screen isn't going to be adequate. If I'm a casual user, I probably do all my computing solely off my laptop.

    I don't understand who would want an all-in-one standalone that can't play games and doesn't have an amazing display.
  • Sadheal - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I think you're wrong on the IPS panel.
    3000:1 contrast ratio + serious ghosting = VA panel (mostly MVA)

    No IPS panel does 3000:1 contrast.
    MVA panel are horrible ghosters.

    By the way, 1,67 DeltaE is great (it's considered OK under 3).
  • tim851 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    The 27" iMac starts at just 250$ more. You get a better screen, better graphics card and better hard disk.

    I feel cheated by Apple enough as it is, but this is Lenovo offering a worse bang for the buck. The 250$ upmark will be almost negated if you sell this thing within 3 years, as Lenovos hold their value far worse.

    I don't like the course the IT industry is taking, with everything being either cheap and flimsy or high quality and Apple-priced. Apple has insane profit margins, there must be manufacturers willing to offer the same quality for less money.

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