Review: Lenovo's Slim and Affordable ThinkCentre M53

This budget-priced desktop delivers surprising power and productivity without taking up space.

Instead of refreshing their traditional desktop fleets, many government organizations are converting to thin clients to save both space and money. But the pure server-dependent approach isn't right for every office. A large number of users or processor-intensive programs can bog down thin client performance. For many tasks, a user simply needs local access to a full processor.

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M53 may be the perfect solution. The 7.2-inch-by-7-inch M53 is a little square block only 1.4 inches tall, which is not much bigger than the desktop access devices deployed with most thin clients. Yet the 2.9-pound unit scored 747.9 on the Passmark Performance Benchmarks, meaning that its robust processor and local access to RAM and a hard drive offer more than enough performance to handle most office-related tasks. (Even complex Photoshop files or large Excel spreadsheets pop open with no delays.)

In addition to its Gigabit Ethernet port, the M53 has 802.11b/g/n wireless capability, making it easy to connect cubicles, conference rooms or workstations that don’t have network cable drops. There is also a Bluetooth 4.0 connection that can read many of the security token badges used by state government workers.

Security on the M53 can be layered. Information stored on a hard drive is encryptable, and passwords can be required both to boot the machine and to access the hard drive. Administrators also have the option to lock down the system and restrict USB ports to certain devices and uses (via Smart USB).

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M53 performs well considering its low price. In the long run, deploying a fleet of M53 desktops might be less expensive than moving to a thin client setup and would almost certainly offer better overall performance.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M53 Specifications

PROCESSOR: 2.41GHz Intel quad-core
MEMORY: 4GB RAM, expandable to 8GB
DISK: 500GB hard drive
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 4400
PORTS: USB 3.0 and 2.0, Ethernet, microphone, microphone/headphone combo, VGA DB-15, DisplayPort
POWERFUL: Runs the full version of Windows 7 Professional in 64-bit mode
SECURE: Full security suite includes hard drive, boot-up and administrator password protection, as well as full USB port controls
ADAPTABLE: Connects to a monitor through every type of interface, from VGA cable to DisplayPort

Dec 30 2014