Lenovo IdeaCentre A520 Review

Recently I received a brand new IdeaCentre A520 from Lenovo. This is the first time i have used an IdeaCentre product, and this is second Idea product range that i have used and owned so far (the other one was an IdeaPad Yoga 13). After two weeks of ownership, i have to say that I am very impressed with the IdeaCentre A520, in terms of both design and quality of workmanship. If Lenovo ever decides to sell Idea range of products in Australia, I would definitely be a willing buyer of this product range.

Specifications

So prior to starting this review, i will give you a brief rundown on the specification of the IdeaCentre A520 All-in-One (AIO)  that i have in my possession.

  • Intel Core i5-3230M (2.6 GHz and Turbo up to 3.2 GHz)
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 6GB DDR3 SODIMM RAM across two slots (4GB + 2GB) @ 1600MHz
  • 1 TB of 2.5″ and 9.5 mm Seagate Momentus HDD (ST1000LM024) @ 5400 RPM
  • FHD IPS LCD 10 points Multi-Touch 23 inch
  • Integrated DVD-RW Drive
  • Stereo Speakers with Dolby Home Theatre V4.
  • Integrated 720p Webcam
  • 6 in 1 Multi-Card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MS, MS-Pro)
  • Broadcom BGN WIFI Card
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Headphone jack
  • Microphone jack
  • HDMI in
  • HDMI out
  • Windows 8

In terms of preloaded software that came with the IdeaCentre A520, there wee quite a few. This is the list of the various softwares that are pre-installed in the IdeaCentre A520.

Internal Components

If you have a keen eye for computer specification, you would notice that IdeaCentre A520 uses laptop specification parts. There are obviously some advantages and disadvantages relating to the use of laptop grade parts as compared to using the desktop grade parts.

The advantages are:

  • Low power consumption
  • Low heat output
  • Low noise output
  • Compact size

The disadvantages are:

  • Higher cost for parts
  • Lower performance
  • Harder to source parts (i.e. CPU)

Upgradeability

Personally, I am quite happy that Lenovo engineers have decided to use laptop parts for the IdeaCentre A520, since i have so much spare parts lying around from my ThinkPad Collections. In addition, i would like to thank Lenovo engineers for designing such an easy to upgrade system, rather than having everything sealed up to prevent user upgrading their systems. So kudos to Lenovo engineers for that!!

To access the internal components of IdeaCentre A520, you just have to remove the top case cover of the base, by removing the 7 screws as shown in the diagram below. By removing the top case cover of the base, you get to access the following essential components of the A520 system:

  • HDD (2.5 inch and 9.5 mm SATAIII)
  • RAM (up to 16 gigs of 1600 mhz SODIMM DDR3 across two slots)
  • mSATA
  • CPU (Sandy Bridge Mobile Processors)
  • Optical Drive
  • Fan/Heatsink
  • Planar board

The Lenovo IdeaCentre’s wireless card is located in the screen assembly, and it is not upgradeable.

So far I have managed to upgrade the IdeaCentre A520’s CPU, HDD, RAM and mSATA, which are very easy to do once you remove the top base aluminium cover.

Serviceability

The IdeaCentre A520 has a very large fan/heatsink, as the designers of the AIO are bundled by concerns for weight saving like they do when designing a laptop. Using a large fan/heatsink also means that the machine are less likely to get clogged with dusts and overheat as a result. However, if you use the system in a very dusty environment, there is a good chance that the fan will still get clogged with dusts, and as such regular cleaning is necessary. The IdeaCentre A520 offers a great feature in the heatsink/fan design, where you can remove the fan from the heatsink without having to remove the entire fan/heatsink unit. I really like this feature and would like to see it in ThinkPad machines in the near future.

Build Quality

The build quality of the IdeaCentre A520 is where the machine really shine, and i can say with some confidence that it is ‘one of the best built and finished’ 23 inch AIO machines in the market. The base case and the support arm is made of aluminium, so is the internal frame of the screen. What i really love about the IdeaCentre A520 is the one piece glass screen finish, which is super lovely.

Functionality

The IdeaCentre A520 has the following great features:

  • Adjustable screen that can lay flat on the table
  • Ten point touch screen
  • Both HDMI out and HDMI in, you can use the IdeaCentre A520 as a monitor for console gaming or as a TV.
  • In some models of IdeaCentre A520 you have an inbuilt TV tuner
  • Unlike most desktop machines, the A520 has many status LED lights on the bezel that tells you about wifi, hdd, bluetooth, power on, HDMI in, which are all very useful.

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