A capable all-in-one with an excellent processor and practical design, but the screen is a bit of a let-down
Processor: Quad-core 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3 (side), Rear USB ports: 2x USB2, 2x USB3, Total storage: 2TB hard disk, Graphics card: 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 930A, Display: 23.8in integrated touchscreen display, Operating system: Windows 10
The Lenovo Ideacentre 700 is one of the best-looking all-in-ones I’ve reviewed, with sharp corners, angular speaker grilles and a stylish but compact v-shaped stand. Not everyone will like the matt white finish on the front, but it’s certainly better than glossy black. It also requires a bit of assembly, but this is a simple, tool-less procedure that simply involves attaching the screen to the stand using the supplied thumbscrews. It can easily be accomplished by one person and takes little more than two minutes to complete.
It would have been great to see some slightly thinner bezels surrounding its 23.8in touchscreen, but there’s plenty of back and forth tilt, so it’s easy to find a good angle regardless of your seating position. It’s loaded with ports, too, including two easily-accessible USB3 connectors on the left-hand side, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack. The likes of Apple could learn a thing or two from the Lenovo’s layout, as I’d much rather have thicker sides with easy-to-reach ports than have to reach around the back every time I want to connect a USB stick or have a look at photos from my camera.
For more permanent peripherals, such as the dongle for the supplied keyboard and mouse, there are a further four USB ports at the rear, two of which are USB3. Alongside these there are two HDMI connectors, one output for an external monitor and one input so you can turn your Ideacentre into an impromptu screen for a games console or Blu-ray player, for example. Finally, there’s a gigabit Ethernet connector to complement the on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip. On the right edge you’ll also find a pop-out DVD drive, the power button and the source switcher button for the aforementioned HDMI input.
Keyboard and mouse
The bundled keyboard and mouse set are a mixed bag. The mouse is perfectly adequate, although with just three buttons and a scroll wheel it’s very basic. The keyboard is oddly laid out, with a tiny Return key and an equally small Backspace button that can make typing a little fiddly. Worse, the Fn key is at the bottom-left of the keyboard where Ctrl would normally be, and I constantly found myself pressing Fn instead of Ctrl throughout my testing. The actual typing response is also a little shallow, but it’s perfectly adequate typing on for long periods of time. Its best feature is the slightly convex design of each key, which makes typing slightly more comfortable.
Display and speakers
The Full HD screen on the Ideacentre 700 is probably its weakest element. It’s fine, but it feels like Lenovo could have spent a little bit more money here to make it truly excellent. Its white levels are reasonably bright at 220cd/m2, but its black levels and contrast ratio are distinctly below average, as I measured a contrast ratio of just 471:1 and a black level of 0.42cd/m2. This means that images never look their best, as there’s a clear lack of detail and vibrancy. This is a shame, particularly when its colour accuracy covers an impressive 92% of the sRGB colour gamut.
In reality, it’s about as good as a budget monitor in terms of quality, so photographers will probably want to buy a slightly better external monitor to do their pictures justice. However, at £700, it’s hard to complain too much about the screen, as it’s more than adequate for web browsing and basic computing tasks, and it’s vastly superior to the display on the similarly-priced HP Pavilion 23-Q110na all-in-one I reviewed at the end of last year.
The built-in speakers are reasonably good, too. They’re loud enough to fill a room, but in order to get the best out of them I had to disable the ‘enhancements’ offered by the pre-installed Dolby Audio software. By default, this software is set to ‘Dynamic’ mode, which is supposed to adapt to whatever it thinks is most important at any given moment. Unfortunately, this rarely worked in practice, as I often found that film dialogue was overshadowed by the accompanying background music, making it difficult to hear what was being said. Thankfully, switching to the completely flat custom EQ setting solved this instantly, and anyone who even remotely cares about audio should do the same.
Benchmarks and graphics performance
Performance is where the Ideacentre 700 really shines. It comes equipped with a Skylake-generation Intel Core i5-6400. This chip has four cores, a base clock speed of 2.7GHz and a maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 3.3GHz. It’s a highly capable chip, and it’s perfect for challenging workloads such as photo editing. Paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, it managed an overall score of 81 in our benchmarks, including an excellent result of 90 in the image rendering test and 92 in the video rendering task. In short, this is PC is more than powerful enough for most home users. It also has plenty of storage thanks to its 2TB hard disk. It’s by no means fast, but I never found it reducing system performance to a crawl.
The Ideacentre 700 also comes with dedicated graphics in the form of a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 930A. This is one of Nvidia’s lower-end cards that are made specifically for all-in-one PCs, but it’s more capable than you might think. It’s hardly a gaming powerhouse, but in our Full HD Dirt Showdown benchmark on Ultra settings, it managed a playable framerate of 38.5fps.
It struggled in our harsh Metro: Last Light Redux benchmark, stuttering to 7fps on maximum settings, but this is an extremely demanding test that even fullblown gaming PCs find difficult, so this kind of frame rate isn’t all that surprising. As a result, it’s not really suited to the very latest high-end PC games, but I did just about manage a playable 30.5fps in Metro once I’d dropped the resolution to 1,600×900 and the detail levels to Low. This is very respectable for an all-in-one PC, so you should still be able to play most current games with a little tweaking.
Lenovo has also installed one of Intel’s motion- and depth-sensing RealSense cameras on the Ideacentre 700, and there’s a card in the box that gives you access to a wide range of extra software to use alongside it. Once you’ve entered the key on Intel’s website, you can download full versions of Autodesk’s Sketchbook and Pixlr applications, Codemaster’s Grid 2 racing game, Corel’s Paint Shop Pro X8, and Magix Music Maker 2016 to name just a few. In Autodesk Pixlr, for instance, you can use the RealSense camera to insert yourself as a sticker into any image you like, or separate the foreground and background of your photos. Admittedly, a lot of these programs are either quite old or already free to download, but it’s still a nice extra if you’re a budding creative or want to try out something new.
There are a couple of pre-installed Lenovo games that use the RealSense camera as well, including one that has you throwing Molotov cocktails at rabbits attempting to steal your carrots. Again, it’s hardly the deep and meaningful experience you’d expect from what is a fairly exciting piece of technology, but it’s a nice diversion to entertain the kids.
The screen is a bit of a disappointment, but I’m still mightily impressed with the Lenovo Ideacentre 700. It packs both processing and gaming capabilities into a well-built chassis with plenty of connectivity options and adequate peripherals, which is a rare beast in the world of all-in-ones, and the ability to use it as an extra display is another point in its favour. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to upgrade the internals of this machine, so what you buy is what you’ll be using until you replace it. If that doesn’t faze you, it’s a great choice.
|Processor||Quad-core 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400|
|Motherboard chipset||Not stated|
|Ports and expansion|
|Front USB ports||2x USB3 (side)|
|Rear USB ports||2x USB2, 2x USB3|
|Other ports||HDMI input|
|Networking||1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi|
|Case dimensions HxWxD||461x579x210mm|
|PCIe x1 (free)||N/A|
|PCIe x16 (free)||N/A|
|Serial ATA (free)||N/A|
|Memory slots (free)||Not stated|
|Drive bays 2 1/2″ (free)||N/A|
|Drive bays 3 1/2″ (free)||N/A|
|Drive bays 5 1/4″ (free)||N/A|
|Total storage||2TB hard disk|
|Memory card reader||SD|
|Optical drive type||DVD rewriter|
|Graphics card||2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 930A|
|Sound card||Not stated|
|Sound card outputs||1x 3.5mm headset|
|Display||23.8in integrated touchscreen display|
|Keyboard||Lenovo AccuType keyboard|
|Mouse||Lenovo Wireless mouse|
|Extras||Intel RealSense camera|
|Operating system||Windows 10|
|Operating system restore option||Windows 10 restore partition|
|Warranty||One year RTB|
|Price including delivery (inc VAT)||£700|
|Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)||N/A|