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Lenovo IdeaCentre A520 review

Katharine Byrne
14 Nov 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
802
inc VAT

A good all-in-one PC with lots of ports, but its lacklustre display and aging hardware hold it back

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Specifications

2.2GHz Intel Core i3-2328M, 4GB RAM, 23in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 8

For many users, all-in-one PCs are a lot smaller and more approachable than traditional PCs, and they’re usually cheaper too. Lenovo’s IdeaCentre A520 may not be the prettiest all-in-one we’ve ever seen, but this chunky PC still puts up a good fight against its slimmer rivals.

Lenovo IdeaCentre A520

Its large silver base will take up a fair amount of room on your desk, but you’ll find a great range of ports round the sides. Some are a little fiddly to get to, as most of them are located right round the back of the base, but there are two USB3 and two USB ports, an HDMI output for connecting the A520 to an external display, an HDMI input so you can use the screen for other devices, such as a games console, a DVD optical drive, a multi-format card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port and separate headphone and microphone ports. You’ll want to take advantage of these, as its front firing speakers were a little hollow and tinny compared to other all-in-one speakers.

We were a little disappointed about having to sacrifice a USB port to use the bundled wireless mouse and keyboard, but at least it still leaves you with a good number of ports for other devices, which is more than can be said for its larger, expensive cousin, the Lenovo Horizon 27. The keyboard itself was very pleasant to use, and its springy keys gave a good level of tactile feedback. The mouse was also a good fit for our hands and was very responsive.

Lenovo IdeaCentre A520

One of the most surprising things about the A520 is Lenovo’s decision to use now aging Sandy Bridge hardware rather than more recent Ivy Bridge or Haswell components. Newer doesn’t always mean better, though, as its 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-2328M processor and 4GB of RAM still managed a reasonable score of 37 in our multimedia benchmarks. This is plenty of speed if all you want to do is browse the web and perform simple office tasks.

Where the A520 loses out against all-in-ones with newer components is in its graphics performance. Most modern integrated graphics chips will be able to handle 3D games if you turn the settings down, but the A520’s Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip couldn’t manage a playable frame rate in the laptop version of our Dirt Showdown test, which uses High quality settings at a 1,280x720 resolution.

We couldn’t even get a playable frame rate when we set the quality to Low at this resolution either, so playing games at the A520's native 1,920x1,080 is out of the question. It should still play older games at a reasonable speed, but you’re better off sticking with simple 2D games from the Windows 8 Store like Jetpack Joyride if you need to get your gaming fix.

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