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Lenovo ThinkCentre M93z Review

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M93z delivers a bevy of ports, IT-friendly utilities, solid performance and an excellent wireless keyboard, all backed up by a three-year warranty.

Our Verdict

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M93z delivers a bevy of ports, IT-friendly utilities, solid performance and an excellent wireless keyboard, all backed up by a three-year warranty.

For

  • Attractive design
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Lots of ports
  • Good performance
  • IT-friendly utilities
  • Three-year warranty

Against

  • Display suffers from muted colors
  • Hollow audio

With its ThinkCentre series of all-in-ones, Lenovo hopes to target every type of business user, from the enterprise level to the small business owner. The $1,329 ThinkCentre E93z, which we rated highly for its aesthetic appeal and performance, was designed with the home office in mind. The $1,299 ThinkCentre M93z, the E93z's enterprise-oriented cousin, features a less-powerful Core i5 CPU but boasts an array of business-friendly ports, helpful utilities for IT managers and a three-year warranty with on-site service. If you're looking to buy an enterprise-level all-in-one for your office, you should strongly consider the ThinkCentre M93z.

Design

Although it lacks the gorgeous edge-to-edge bezel of its pricier cousin, the ThinkCentre M93z nevertheless sports an elegant build with beveled corners; a glossy, 23-inch display; and a 2.5-inch-thick profile. On the front of the all-in-one, a chrome Lenovo logo below the display accentuates the M93z's all-black look. A speaker grille at the bottom spans the width of the computer. At the top, a 2-megapixel webcam is centered above the display, and features a security panel that you can physically slide in front of the camera.

Two large vents are located on the back: one at the top and another on the bottom. A handhold above the top vent lets you easily lift the all-in-one. The cylindrical stand connects to the back panel in the center, and lets you raise or lower the display or tilt it back and forth. The majority of the ports are located at the bottom of the back panel, with another bank of ports on the left side of the computer and a DVD Multiburner on the right.

At 22.36 x 15.78 x 2.69 inches and 28.6 pounds, the M93z is heftier than the small-business-oriented $1,329 ThinkCentre E93z (21.0 x 14.7 x 2.0 inches and 23 pounds). The $1,299 2013 Apple iMac (20.8 x 17.7 x 6.9 inches with the stand and 12.5 pounds) and the $1,099 Acer Aspire U5-610 (22.6 x 16.6 x 1.4 inches and 15.8 pounds) are both significantly slimmer than the M93z.

Display

The M93z's 23-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel touch display offers generous viewing angles but suffers from somewhat muted colors. When we watched a high-definition trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2", the eponymous hero's red-and-blue costume looked flat, and the explosive special effects failed to pop off the screen. 

When we measured it with our colorimeter, the Lenovo ThinkCentre M93z's screen only managed to display 91 percent of all the shades in the sRGB color gamut. That's weak compared to the E93z, which is capable of displaying 107 percent of the gamut (more than the standard). The M93z also suffered from poor color accuracy, returning a Delta E rating of 15.2, where 0 is perfect accuracy. In comparison, the E93z had a much truer Delta E of 6.2.

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The display is also quite a bit dimmer than the competition, averaging 127 lux (110 nits) when we measured the brightness with our light meter. The ThinkCentre E93z (172 lux, 150 nits) is slightly brighter, while the Aspire U5-610 (243 lux) and 2013 iMac (483 lux) seem positively luminous by comparison. Moreover, although Lenovo touts the screen's anti-glare technology, we noticed quite a bit of reflected light when we used the computer with the mid-afternoon sun coming through a window.

Thankfully, the screen proved responsive to touch input. Gestures such as edge-swiping and scrolling worked seamlessly, and we could use all 10 fingers in Microsoft Paint.

Audio

Audio from the M93z's Dolby-powered speakers was clear, but sounded hollow. Prince's iconic falsetto rang out clearly on "Kiss," but the bass line seemed nonexistent. When we queued up Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams," the peppy '80s beat sounded similarly flat.

The Dolby Advanced Audio v2 suite lets users select from presets for Music, Movie and Game, or create their own custom preset. Adjustable settings include a graphic equalizer, volume leveler and surround virtualizer. Unfortunately, fine-tuning these settings didn't noticeably improve the sound quality when we listened to our music.

At 81 decibels (as measured from a distance of 23 inches), however, the M93z can get quite loud. The E93z maxed out at 70 decibels, while the 2013 iMac and Aspire U5-610 registered 78 and 77 decibels, respectively.

Keyboard and Mouse

The ThinkCentre M93z ships with the same wireless keyboard and mouse as the E93z. The full-size keyboard features a full number pad on the right and reversed function keys in the top row. The smile-shaped keys offer plenty of vertical travel and tactile feedback, and number crunchers will appreciate the inclusion of a discrete button to open the calculator. The keys offered a solid 3mm of key travel (a typical laptop has 1.5mm, while a good ThinkPad has 2mm) and required 55 grams of force to press down, which is fairly typical for laptops or inexpensive desktop keyboards, but felt snappy when combined with the deep travel.

The optical mouse is on the small side, but performs reliably. It features a soft-touch grip that's comfortable to hold, and the mouse buttons don't feel too stiff. A red scroll wheel rests between the buttons.

Ports and Webcam

The M93z features a wide array of high-speed connections. Two USB 3.0 ports are on the left side of the computer, as well as a headphone/microphone combo jack, a separate microphone jack, and an 11-in-1 card reader. Located on the back are four additional USB 3.0 ports, a VGA port, a DisplayPort and an Ethernet port. A DVD read/write driver is on the right side of the computer.

Pictures and video captured with the all-in-one's 2-MP webcam looked grainy but colorful. When we took a picture of our face in the office, the red and black stripes on our plaid shirt appeared true to life, as did our complexion. However, details such as individual hairs in our beard were lost in a blur.

Performance

Our review configuration of the ThinkCentre M93z shipped with a 3.1-GHz Intel Core i5-4670S processor and 4GB of RAM, which is more than enough power to handle everyday computing with ease. Anecdotally, we didn't experience any slowdowns when we simultaneously wrote this review in Microsoft Word, browsed the Web with a dozen tabs open in Chrome and streamed music on Amazon.com.

On Geekbench 3, which tests overall performance, the ThinkCentre M93z notched a score of 10,427. That's on a par with the 10,405 achieved by the 2013 iMac (2.7-GHz Core i5-4570R CPU, 8GB of RAM) and easily trumps the 5,473 turned in by the Acer Aspire U5-610 (2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-4200M CPU, 8GB of RAM). The ThinkCentre E93z, which uses a more powerful 3.1-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4770S processor and 4GB of RAM, managed a score of 12,790.

When we ran the OpenOffice spreadsheet test, the M93z matched 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 57 seconds. That follows close on the heels of the E93z (3:34), and blows past the iMac (4:47) and the Aspire U5-610 (6:13).

The all-in-one's 500GB, 7200-rpm hard drive copied 4.97GB of mixed multimedia in 2 minutes and 14 seconds, for a rate of 38 MBps. That matches the ThinkCentre E93z, and edges out the 37 MBps achieved by the 2013 iMac (1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive) and the 24 MBps notched by the Aspire U5-610 (1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive).

Graphics and Gaming

The M93z's integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 chip isn't powerful enough to handle games much more advanced than "Plants vs. Zombies." When we ran the 3DMark Ice Storm GPU benchmark, the all-in-one notched a score of 46,540. The E93z, which features an Nvidia GeForce GT 720A graphics card with 1GB of video memory, scored 49,399, while the Acer Aspire U5-610 (Intel HD Graphics 4600) provided a score of 50,783.

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On the Cinebench OpenGL test, the M93z turned in a score of 23. This falls well below the E93z's score of 38. The 2013 iMac, which uses integrated Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics, was just behind the E93z, with a score of 35.

When we took a spin in "World of Warcraft" with the graphics on Autodetect and the resolution at 1366 x 768p, the M93z averaged 37 frames per second. Turning up the graphics to Ultra brought the frame rate down to 24 fps. The 2013 iMac notched 47 fps with the graphics on Ultra and the resolution at 1280 x 720p, while the Aspire U5-610 averaged 26 fps.

When we pumped up the resolution in "World of Warcraft" to 1920 x 1080p, the M93z fell far below the threshold for smooth gameplay, averaging just 16 fps with the graphics on Autodetect and 12 fps with the graphics on Ultra.

Software and Warranty

The ThinkCentre M93z ships with a bevy of preinstalled software, and of these programs, Lenovo's applications and utilities proved the most useful. Lenovo Support provides links to a User Guide, Tips and Tricks, Knowledge Base and Discussion Forum. Lenovo Companion helps new users learn how to navigate Windows 8, with shortcuts for 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 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 M93z at the end of the workday and turn it on as you arrive in the morning. Other Lenovo-branded utilities include a power manager and display management utility.

The M93z also includes a number of IT-specific features, including Intel vPro and Active Management Technology, which lets IT managers encrypt data, protect the computer from unauthorized access and connect to the all-in-one remotely; and Intel Anti-Theft Technology, which can detect when the computer has been moved and will prevent the operating system from booting, even if the OS has been reinstalled.

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Third-party applications include a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security, Cyberlink PowerDVD, a trial version of the PDF suite Nitro Pro 8, Evernote Touch and AccuWeather. Microsoft-branded applications include Skype, OneDrive and a trial version of Microsoft Office 2013.

The ThinkCentre M93z ships with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty, including on-site service.

Configurations

Lenovo offers a range of configurations for the ThinkCentre M93z. The all-in-one starts at $1,063, and that configuration includes a 3.4-GHz Intel Core i3-4130 processor; 4GB of RAM; a 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; and Windows 8.

Our $1,299 review unit features a 3.1-GHz Intel Core i5-4670S CPU; 4GB of RAM; a 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; and Windows 8 Professional. Almost all of the components can be upgraded if you buy the M93z online, including up to a 3.9-GHz Core i7-4770S CPU; 16GB of RAM; a 1TB, 7,200-rpm hard drive or 128GB SSD; and Windows 8.1 Professional.

Verdict

With the ThinkCentre M93z, Lenovo once again demonstrates why it's the go-to brand for business PCs. With its excellent wireless keyboard and mouse, a plethora of ports, IT-friendly features, three-year warranty and speedy performance, the $1,299 M93z is an excellent choice if you're looking for a reliable all-in-one for the office. Its stylish look certainly doesn't hurt, either.

However, the all-in-one's 23-inch, 1080p touch screen didn't impress, and the audio also failed to match our expectations. We were more impressed by the 21.5-inch full-HD display on the M93z's smaller business-oriented cousin, the ThinkCentre E93z. However, the E93z lacks the M93z's port selection, IT-specific utilities and rock-solid three-year warranty. If reliability is your most important consideration when purchasing an all-in-one for your business, you can't go wrong with the Lenovo ThinkCentre M93z.

Specs

CPU: 3.1-GHz Intel Core i5-4670S
Operating System: Windows 8
RAM: 4GB
Hard Drive Size: 500GB 7,200-rpm
Hard Drive Type: HDD
Display Size: 23 inches
Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Optical Drive: DVD Multiburner
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics 4600
Video Memory: Shared
Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model: Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
Touchpad Size: None
Ports: 6 USB 3.0, VGA, DisplayPort, Ethernet, headphone/microphone combo jack, microphone jack, 11-in-1 card reader