Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 Review

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Now that most of the Mother’s Day giveaways are over, I finally have the time to write a Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 review on my geek dad blog. I’ve been using the Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 tower computer with dual ThinkVision L1951P LCD monitors on and off for over a month now. In case you didn’t know, Lenovo is not a new company. Think IBM. Lenovo acquired the Personal Computing Division of IBM in 2004. A Lenovo computer is essentially an IBM PC. BTW, back in my IT days, IBM computers were the standard issue at Intel and U.S. Bancorp. I was just a peon back in my IT days so I was not a part of the decision making process, but my understanding was that IBM was selected for reliability, support, and long-term availability of replacement parts.

Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 tower computer with two ThinkVision L1951P LCD monitors
Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 tower computer (6674-APU) and ThinkVision L1951P LCD monitors (2448HB6)

According to Lenovo, their products go through a rigorous test process to improve reliability. The tests include Batch Test, Strain Gauge Test, Electrostatic Shock Test, Emission Test, and Acoustic Test. All of their testing have resulted in computers that require fewer repairs.

Lenovo ThinkCentre Repair Action Rate vs Industry
ThinkCentre Repair Action Rate vs Industry graph

The Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 tower computer (6674-APU) is a PC designed for small and medium businesses. It’s mulit-core AMD Athlon II processor and 2 gig of memory can handle the needs of most office users. The computer (as configured for review on my geek dad blog) features the AMD RS760 + SB710 chipset, 250GB serial ATA hard drive, DVD RW drive, Microsoft Windows 7 Professional, Gigabit Ethernet, ATI Radeon HD3000 DX10 graphics, Realtek high definition audio, eight USB 2.0 ports, built-in speaker, audio jacks, serial ports, PS/2 ports (keyboard, mouse), PCI slot, two PCI-e x1 slots, PCI-e x16 slot, five bays, mini tower case with 280W power supply, and on-site warranty (one year parts, one year labor). Prices start at $389 for the Lenovo ThinkCentre A63.

Lenovo also sent me two 19″ ThinkVision L1951P LCD Monitors (2448HB6) for review. The displays feature 1440 x 900 native resolution, 250 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 16:10 aspect ratio, 5 ms response time, analog and DVI-D ports, tilt and height adjustable, 27 preset modes, 20 user programmable modes, Kensington lock slot, Energy Star 5.0 compliance, TCO 5.0 compliance, High Definition Content Protection (HDCP) support, and three year rapid replacement warranty. The Lenovo ThinkVision L1951P is currently priced at $240.

AMD Athlon II X3 435 2.90 GHz Processor
The triple-core AMD CPU scored a 6.8 on the Windows Experience Index (scale of 1.0 to 7.9). It’s not as powerful as a quad core processor, but it is faster than a dual core and is more than capable of handling the applications of a small or medium size business.

VGA and DVI Video Ports
As I’ve written before in my How to Setup Your Computer for Dual Monitors blog post, the dual monitor hardware support (VGA and DVI) is one of the best features of the computer system. The dual display setup should increase productivity for just about everyone. It’s also very cool and very geeky. After I give away the review system, I’m going to setup my primary computer with two monitors. On the negative side, two monitors take up more space.

2GB DDR3 Memory
The ThinkCentre A63 features two gigs of memory (1066 MHz/1333 MHz with 2 DIMM slots), which is plenty for the average office worker. In the event a user needs more RAM for memory-intensive applications, there is a free DIMM slot available.

ThinkVision L1951P LCD Monitor
The two ThinkVision L1951P LCD monitors Lenovo sent me for review measure a full 19″ diagonally instead of 18.5″ like a lot of other 19-inch monitors. The sturdy ThinkVision L1951P displays are tilt and height adjustable. I’ve never used a monitor that was height adjustable and I’m liking it. The ThinkVision monitors are energy efficient (Energy Star 5.0 Certified Portfolio and EPEAT Gold Certified Portfolio). The displays also come with an impressive three-year rapid replacement warranty. On the negative side, the 16:10 aspect ratio resulted in black bands when watching DVDs and TV shows on the computer.

No Memory Card Reader
The lack of a reader for memory cards is a downer for me. Some people transfer files from their camera and cell phone with a USB cable. I happen to be one of those geeky dads that prefers to transfer photos by inserting the memory stick into the computer’s memory card reader. I don’t like keeping track of the USB cable and once, my camera battery died in the middle of the file transfer.

Built-in Speaker
The built-in speaker of the ThinkCentre A63 can output decent sounding audio. No one will mistake it for a Bose speaker system, but the speaker was more than adequate for playing music via Pandora. Businesses will find the built-in speaker handy for online conferences. The feature also saves money and desk space because you don’t need to purchase external speakers for the computer.

Expansion
There is plenty of room for expansion in the ThinkCentre A63. It features two PCI-e x1 slots, a PCI-e x16 slot, a PCI slot, two 3.5″ internal bays (one already in use), one 3.5″ and two 5.25″ external bays (one 5.25″ bay already in use), two internal USB connectors (one already in use), and four SATA connectors (two already in use).

A look inside the Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 tower computer
Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 tower computer (6674-APU)

Tool Free Design
The Lenovo systems can be upgraded without tools. Slots and internal bays can be flipped up to easily slide components into place. Nice. Back in my IT days, most of the support tickets were on the software side. However, I can tell you a poorly designed computer case can eat up a lot of time when you have to remove just about every component to add more memory. A computer, like the A63, is designed to reduce IT resources. I think this is a big selling point for a business with a small IT department.

Legacy Support
For users who have old devices, the ThinkCentre A63 includes two serial and two PS/2 ports (keyboard, mouse). A parallel port would be a nice to have. I have an old laser printer with a parallel port, which no one seems to support anymore. I could replace my printer with a WiFi model, but my old printer is still working just fine.

Software Included
The system comes with ThinkVantage Tools (Power Manager, Rescue and Recovery, System Update, and Recovery Media), Diskeeper 2009 with HyperFast, Lenovo Online Data Backup, Roxio Creator Business Edition, Norton Internet Security (30-days trial), and Microsoft Office 2007 (60-day trial).

Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 Tower Computer Specs (6674-APU)

  • AMD Athlon II X3 435 45nm processor 2.90 GHz (1.5M total cache)
  • AMD RS760 + SB710 chipset
  • 2GB DDR3 memory (1066 MHz/1333 MHz with 2 DIMM slots)
  • 250GB serial ATA hard drive
  • DVD RW drive
  • Windows 7 Professional 32-bit operating system
  • Two video ports (VGA, DVI) [this is a really cool feature — daddy likes!]
  • Marvell Yukon 88E8057 Gigabit Ethernet with RJ-45 port
  • ATI Radeon HD3000 DX10 graphics
  • Realtek high definition audio
  • Full-size keyboard (USB)
  • 400 dpi optical wheel mouse (USB)
  • Eight USB 2.0 ports (2 front, 4 rear, 2 internal)
  • Serial port (2nd serial optional punch out port via cable)
  • Two Front audio ports (headphone, microphone)
  • Three rear audio ports (line-in, line-out, microphone)
  • Two PS/2 ports (keyboard, mouse)
  • Full-height PCI slot
  • Two full-height PCI-e x1 slots
  • Full-height PCI-e x16 slot
  • Two 3.5″ internal bays
  • One 3.5″ and two 5.25″ external bays
  • Mini tower case (15.8in x 8in x 17.3in) with 280W power supply
  • On-site warranty (one year parts, one year labor)
  • Greenguard certified

Lenovo ThinkVision L1951P LCD Monitor Specs

  • Full 19-inch wide (481 mm) viewable image size
  • Native resolution of 1440 x 900
  • 250 cd/m2 brightness
  • 1000:1 contrast ratio
  • 16:10 aspect ratio
  • 5 ms response time
  • Analog and DVI-D video signal connectors (love the dual monitor ports)
  • Tilt and height adjustable (nice!)
  • 27 preset modes
  • 20 user programmable modes
  • Kensington lock slot for security
  • Energy Star 5.0 compliant
  • TCO 5.0 compliance
  • Supports High Definition Content Protection (HDCP)
  • Power consumption: 18 watts typical (23 watts max)
  • Up to 30% less power consumption than conventional monitors of the same size and resolution
  • 50% less mercury content than conventional monitor of the same size and resolution
  • Three year rapid replacement warranty

[Disclosure: I received a dual monitor computer system for review from Lenovo. The review PC will be given away on this geek dad blog. Giveaway details and dates have not been finalized.]

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