Lenovo H330 desktop

My, how far Budget desktops have come. While Lenovo’s orange-accented H330 is definitely “budget”–it starts at just $650–it packs some impressive specs, including an i5 processor, a Blu-ray disc drive, and a 1TB hard drive. Plus, it performs like a lower-end non-budget desktop.

Our review model, which is priced at $799, sports an Intel Core i5-2500 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card. It’s also got a 1TB hard drive, which is impressive for a budget machine. There’s no built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (unsurprising, considering it’s a budget tower), and it runs a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. Our review model did ship with a Blu-ray disc player, which is surprising for a machine that’s otherwise very budget-like.

In PCWorld’s World Bench 6 benchmark tests, the H330 scored an impressive 158, which skyrockets it to the top of our budget desktop category. Our previous leader, the Micro Express MicroFlex 23B, scored 141. Of course, it’s got a Core i3-2120 processor and half the RAM…not to mention a price tag that’s $200 lower than the H330’s. This is an excellent performance score for a sub-$800 machine.

Related story: Lenovo passes Dell in disappointing PC market

Graphics performance is less-than-impressive, however. In our Unreal Tournament 3 tests, the H330 managed a frame rate of just 18.5 frames per second (high quality settings, 1920-by-1200 pixel resolution). Bumping the screen resolution down to 1680-by-1050 pixels helped a little (22.5 frames per second), but it’s not until we go all the way down to 1024-by-768 pixels that we get a playable 46.4 fps. This isn’t a gaming powerhouse, but this machine will still be able to perform basic multimedia tasks and stream video with few issues.

The Lenovo H330 is housed in a small, slim tower that is designed to stand upright or lie horizontally on its side. The tower is simple but attractive, with a shiny black finish on the front casing and orange accents. There are a few ports located on the front of the machine–two USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, a couple of card reader slots that will accept multiple formats, and of course the tray-loading Blu-ray disc player. The rest of the ports (and there aren’t a ton) are located on the back of the machine: two PS/2 ports for a mouse and keyboard, four USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, Line-In, and Line-Out.

As you might imagine, there’s not a ton of room inside for tinkering. First of all, opening the chassis isn’t exactly easy–not only will you need to break out the screwdriver, but taking off the side also removes half of the bottom of the machine (if you’re not expecting this, you may end up knocking it over). Every extra nook is taken, but there is one PCIe slot (x1) open.

The H330 ships with a keyboard and a mouse, both of which feature orange accents, similar to the tower. Both are wired, but the keyboard is PS/2 while the mouse is USB.

The keyboard features flat, regular-style keys. It’s fairly comfortable to type on, but there’s not a lot of feedback and the keys are a little too soft. On the plus side, this means that the keyboard is extremely quiet–on the minus side, it means that you may end up making a lot of typos. There’s also an orange LVT button on the keyboard, which lets users access Lenovo Vantage Technology (LVT), Lenovo’s custom suite of utilities and recovery tools.

The USB-wired mouse is typical: lightweight and optical with two buttons and a scroll wheel. The scroll wheel is orange. There’s nothing extraordinarily awesome or awful about this peripheral–it’s just your run-of-the-mill optical mouse.

Lenovo’s H330 may be a budget machine, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve–namely impressive performance and a Blu-ray player. While I’m not sure you really need a Blu-ray player on a machine that has decent (at best) graphics quality, this desktop is good choice for people who are looking for general performance, mild multimedia usage, and a small footprint.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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