Lenovo ThinkCentre E93z Review

Lenovo's ThinkCentre series of all-in-one computers has long been highly regarded for its emphasis on reliability, performance and business-friendly features. The ThinkCentre E93z ($1,329 as configured) continues that tradition with a Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM, dedicated Nvidia graphics and a beautiful 21.5-inch full-HD touch screen. Read on to find out why the ThinkCentre E93z should be the next all-in-one PC you purchase for the office.

Design

Although it's a business all-in-one, the ThinkCentre E93z has a gorgeous flat-panel design. The front consists of a single piece of glossy, black bezel that frames the 21.5-inch touch screen. Rounded corners and a slim two-inch profile add to the E93z's sleek look.

Devoid of obtrusive design elements, such as a speaker grille or Intel stickers, a tiny ThinkCentre logo on the top-left corner and a larger Lenovo logo centered below the screen serve as the only adornments. A 2.1-megapixel webcam sits above the display.

The back panel, which sports a matte-black finish, recedes at a 45-degree angle for several inches before flattening out. The articulated UltraFlex Stand connects to the all-in-one in the middle, with a large hinge that allows the display to tilt back and forth. The arm of the stand also lets you raise or lower the E93z.

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An upward-facing bank of ports lines the right of the hinge, with another bank of ports located on the left side of the E93z and the DVD R/W drive on the right. A vent runs the length of the back panel, while the speaker grille is located beneath the display.

At 21.0 x 14.7 x 2.0 inches and 23 pounds, the ThinkCentre E93z isn't quite as svelte as the $1,299 2013 Apple iMac (20.8 x 17.7 x 6.9 inches with the stand and 12.5 pounds) or the $1,099 Acer Aspire U5-610 (22.6 x 16.6 x 1.4 inches and 15.8 pounds). Nevertheless, this Lenovo feels significantly slimmer than most business all-in-ones.

Display

The E93z's 21.5-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel touch screen impressed us with its vivid colors, crisp visuals and wide viewing angles. When we watched a 1080p trailer for "300: Rise of an Empire," the Greek soldiers' colorful cloaks really popped, and we could make out individual hairs in the hero's beard. Colors remained accurate, even when we stood almost parallel to the screen.

We had no trouble using the touch screen to navigate Windows 8 with our fingers. Gestures such as pinch to zoom and edge swiping worked smoothly, and we could use all 10 fingers to doodle in Microsoft Paint.

Using our light meter, we measured an average brightness of 172 lux. Although this will suffice for office use, it's significantly dimmer than both the Aspire U 5-610 (243 lux) and the 2013 iMac (483 lux).

Audio

The E93z's Dolby-powered speakers delivered rich and loud audio. When we listened to Daft Punk's score to "Tron: Legacy," the bass and treble were almost perfectly balanced, and the music easily filled our small office at maximum volume. The Dolby Advanced Audio suite lets you select from presets like Music and Movie, as well as fine-tune individual settings using the graphic equalizer, volume leveler and surround virtualizer.

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Objectively, however, competing all-in-ones provide louder sound than the E93z. On our Tom's Guide Audio Test, in which we measure the volume of a steady tone from 23 inches away, the E93z registered 70 decibels. The 2013 iMac and Aspire U5-610, in comparison, maxed out at 78 and 77 dB, respectively.

Keyboard and Mouse

The ThinkCentre E93z ships with a full-size keyboard and optical mouse, both of which are wireless. The island-style keyboard features a full number pad on the right and function keys — including volume control, media playback and search — in the top row. Typing on the keyboard proved enjoyable, thanks to its generous vertical travel and tactile feedback. We especially appreciate that Lenovo included a discrete button to open the calculator.

The optical mouse is small but comfortable. The mouse buttons proved reliable, and the cursor mapped accurately to our hand movement. Annoyingly, the scroll wheel is disabled by default on third-party applications, such as Google Chrome, if you're using Lenovo Mouse Suite scrolling. Although you can manually add applications to the list of exceptions in Mouse Suite, we found it more convenient to just enable universal scrolling.

Ports and Webcam

The E93z sports enough ports to handle a bevy of peripherals. On the left side are two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone/microphone combo jack and an 11-in-1 card reader. An additional four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI-out port, an HDMI-in port and an Ethernet port are located on the back panel. A DVD read/write drive is on the right side of the all-in-one.

Unfortunately, the 2.1-MP webcam failed to impress. Colors appeared reasonably accurate, but we couldn't make out details such as the text on packaging behind us. Fortunately, however, Lenovo's much-touted VoIP-optimized digital array microphone worked perfectly. When we chatted on Skype with a friend, she reported that our voice sounded distinct and distortion-free.

Performance

Powered by a 3.1-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4770S processor and 4GB of RAM, the ThinkCentre E93z handles strenuous computing with aplomb. We didn't experience any stuttering or hang-ups when we simultaneously browsed the Web with a dozen tabs open, ran a full system scan using Norton Internet Security and composed a document in Microsoft Word 2013.

When we ran Geekbench 3, a benchmark for overall performance, the E93z turned in an impressive 12,790. This blows away the 5,473 achieved by the Acer U5-610, which uses a 2.5-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-4200M processor and 8GB of RAM. The 2013 iMac, which packs a fourth-generation 2.7-GHz Core i5-4570R processor and 8GB of RAM, was closer to the Lenovo, with a score of 10,405. 

The E93z finished our OpenOffice spreadsheet test quickly, matching 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 34 seconds. The iMac and Aspire U5-610 completed the same test in 4:47 and 6:13, respectively.

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The all-in-one's 7,200-rpm 500GB hard drive also edged out the competition. The E93z copied 4.97GB of mixed multimedia in 2 minutes and 14 seconds, for a rate of 38 MBps. That narrowly beats both the 37 MBps achieved by the 2013 iMac (1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive) and the 24 MBps turned in by Aspire U5-610 (1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive).

Graphics and Gaming

Although it's hardly a gaming machine, the ThinkCentre E93z can handle less graphically intensive games like "World of Warcraft," thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GT 720A graphics card with 1GB of video memory. 

When we ran the 3DMark Ice Storm GPU benchmark, the E93z scored 49,399. This falls just behind the score of 50,783 turned in by the Acer Aspire U5-610 (Intel HD Graphics 4600). 

On the Cinebench OpenGL test, the E93z notched 38. The 2013 iMac, which uses integrated Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics, scored 35 on the same test.

When we ran "World of Warcraft" with the settings on autodetect and the resolution at 1366 x 768p, the E93z averaged 90 frames per second. Even with the graphics turned up to Ultra, the game remained playable on this all-in-one, at 39 fps. On the same settings, the Aspire U5-610 and iMac averaged 36 and 74 fps, respectively.

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When we switched the resolution to the E93z's native 1080p with the graphics on autodetect, the system managed a cool 50 fps. Cranking up the graphics to Ultra caused the frame rate to dip to 29 fps, just below our playability threshold. The game was also unplayable on the Aspire U5-610 on these settings, averaging just 16 fps. The iMac, on the other hand, squeaked by at 34 fps.

Software and Warranty

The ThinkCentre E93z features plenty of preinstalled applications, most of which are from Lenovo. Windows 8-specific programs include Lenovo Settings, which lets you configure the all-in-one's webcam, audio and power settings; and Lenovo Companion, which serves as a portal for links and applications like a Getting Started Guide, Lenovo Picks (a link to apps in the Windows Store), and a how-to guide for speeding up your PC.

The E93z also ships with desktop-based applications from Lenovo. Lenovo Solution Center lets you scan the all-in-one for drivers and software updates, manage your security, and perform maintenance. Lenovo Solutions for Small Business includes a Software Monitor that lets you know if your security software has been compromised, a USB Blocker that lets you determine which classes of USB device can access your computer, and an Energy Saver that will automatically turn off the E93z at the end of the workday and turn it on as you arrive. Other Lenovo-branded utilities include a password vault, power manager and display management utility.

Third-party applications include a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security, Cyberlink PowerDVD, a PDF reader from Nitro, Evernote and AccuWeather. Microsoft-branded applications include Skype, OneDrive and a trial version of Microsoft Office 2013.

The ThinkCentre E93z ships with a one-year parts-and-labor warranty, including on-site service.

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Configurations

Lenovo offers a variety of configurations for the ThinkCentre E93z. The $1,329 model we reviewed features a Core i7-4770S processor, 4GB of RAM, 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 720A graphics and a 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive. Other configurations include a $795 version that ships with a Core i3-4130 processor, 4GB of RAM, integrated graphics and a 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive. A $982 configuration features the same components but adds a 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 720A GPU.

Online shoppers can also fine-tune these configurations. Available upgrades include Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 8GB of RAM, a 128GB or 256GB SSD, and a Blu-ray R/W drive.

Verdict

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkCentre E93z impresses with its elegant design; gorgeous, full-HD touch screen; full-bodied audio and zippy performance. Plentiful USB connections and an excellent wireless keyboard round out an already-stellar package. We just wish the display were brighter.

To be fair, our $1,329 Core i7-powered configuration costs more than the 2013 Apple iMac and Acer Aspire U5-610, but both of these machines use less-powerful Core i5 processors and lack the business-friendly features of the E93z. If you're looking for an all-in-one for your office that doesn't compromise on performance or aesthetics — but won't break the bank — the Lenovo ThinkCentre E93z is an excellent choice.

Follow David Eitelbach on GooglePlus. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • Baddowman 1
    Hi,I thought that this is one of the best reviews I have seen on the Lenovo E93Z. Unfortunately here in the UK you cannot purchase an E93Z to the specification you reviewed. An i5 with integrated graphics, a 500GB + 8GB flash, 5400rpm SSHD is about top of the range. The Display information you provided was of interest as there is not very much information available, I am disappointed with the brightness levels though. The horizontal and vertical viewing angles were not included, or the display technology (not IPS?) . When buying PC's on the internet, producers should provide sufficient specification details to make an intelligent decision on purchase.
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