Big desktop performance in a, literally, Tiny package

This is the third in a series of green IT product reviews.

Keeping an entire organization up to date with computing equipment can be a real challenge. The individual expense of a standard desktop system when multiplied by dozens or even hundreds of users is daunting. And that doesn’t even take into account the electricity each one devours, and the effort needed to lug the heavy things to each location. At no other time do economies of scale become as prevalent as when you are equipping an organization with something that everyone needs.

The ThinkCentre M92p Tiny from Lenovo is a full-function desktop system in an extremely small form factor. Not for nothing does Lenovo call it "Tiny.”

The case itself is only 7.375 inches by 7.25 inches by 2.5 inches, and can have a footprint of as little as 2.5 inches wide by about 9.5 inches deep including any cables attached to the back. And the whole thing weighs just 5 pounds, which made handling it during setup that much easier.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p TinyLenovo ThinkCentre M92p Tiny

Pros: Small footprint, low power consumption.
Cons: Very little room for upgrades.
Performance: A-
Ease of Use: A-
Features: A-
Value: A
Price: $749

Reviewer’s Choice

PREVIOUS: This UPS will scare off phantom power loads

Despite its size, we were pleased to find a decent number of ports and features on the M92p . There were both VGA and DisplayPort adapters, a Gigabit Ethernet port and four USB 3.0 ports. A dongle to convert the DP to DVI came standard with the M92p. There also is an RMA connector for the included wireless antenna to screw onto.

The optional slim DVD rewriteable drive (which was included with our review unit) comes attached to a bracket that the computer slides into. This bracket also provides a wall-mounting option in case that is needed. The drive was connected through the M92p’s only USB 2.0 port, but the drive provided an additional two USB 2.0 ports to make up for it. Of course, the keyboard and mouse need to take up two ports, but that still leaves four ports for other uses.

As expected, the M92p used significantly less power than a typical desktop computer. With components such as a 500G low-power SATA hard drive, we knew the difference would have to be significant. When we plugged it into a power meter we found that the Lenovo only drew 20 to 25 percent as much wattage as a mini-tower form factor desktop with equivalent capabilities. This 75 percent energy savings day in and day out will translate into quite a significant cost savings, especially when dealing with multiple systems.

Of course, we expected some power savings with a computer as small as the M92p Tiny. What we did not expect was how well it performed. Using the PassMark Performance Test benchmark suite, we arrived at a rating of 1,380. This is actually better than many full-size desktops we have reviewed, and was totally unexpected. The Intel Core i5 3470T processor and 4G of memory really held their own in these tests. A particular surprise was how well the integrated graphics adapter handled complex 3-D images using DirectX 10. This is an area where many low-power systems fall short, but not so with the M92p.

The one weak spot of this computer is typical of computers with smaller form factors – upgradeability. Many components were integrated into the motherboard. There was no room for improving other components without tossing out the current ones. For instance, the 4G of memory was in the form of two 2G modules that took up both available slots. Of course, this is the nature of this particular beast, and anyone who is looking at this form factor should be aware of its limitations in this area.

The retail price of $749 was another pleasant surprise. This is definitely less expensive than a larger desktop that can do the same things, and again the savings is significant when purchasing multiple units.

The ThinkCentre M92p Tiny from Lenovo is definitely worth a look for any network administrator who needs to replace many computers at the same time. For its power and efficiency it earns a Reviewer’s Choice designation.

Lenovo, www.lenovo.com

TOMORROW: An eco-friendly LCD monitor that’s big on performance.



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