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Review: How Eco-Friendly is Lenovo's Eco Series?

Lenovo is pitching one of its newest ThinkCentres as its most energy-efficient, quietest PCs yet. The Test Center takes a look to see if that's accurate.

One of Lenovo's answers to those demands is the new ThinkCentre M57 eco series. The Test Center spent a few days evaluating what Lenovo is calling "The smallest, quietest, most energy-efficient ThinkCentre" and it appears to live up to their promises.

Our test unit was the M57P (6395-29U) in Lenovo's Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF) case. Measuring 10.8 inches by 9.5 inches by 3.2 inches, the unit is barely big enough on which to place an LCD monitor. It was configured with an Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 at 3.00 GHz, 2 GB of memory, a 160 GB SATA hard drive, and Windows Vista Business.

Although loaded with a decent amount of trial and light versions of assorted bloatware, the M57P still booted fairly quick. From pressing the power button until Windows was completely up and running only took a short one minute and ten seconds.

One included application that testers found useful is the ThinkVantage Productivity Center. This program provides for several useful functions, from backing up files to adjusting Windows settings, with a simple click of the mouse.

This ThinkCentre is also security-conscious, with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip on the motherboard. Among other things, this allows for full disk encryption when used in conjunction with Bitlocker (available only on Windows Vista Ultimate or Enterprise). Intel's AMT (Active Management Technology) is also on board but, for security reasons, it is turned off by default. Another safety measure is the capability to individually disable each of the USB ports.

During our testing, the M57P averaged a power draw of 57 watts during use and 39 watts when idle -- which is on par with the most efficient PCs the Test Center has examined of late.

To facilitate the remote features of AMT, the desktop continues to draw one, single watt when turned off. Lenovo specifies the sound output level at 40 dBA. We will have to take their word for it, as the lowest setting on our meter is 50 dBA and it didn't register at all.

These measurements support Lenovo's claim that the M57P has the "best acoustic point and lowest power consumption of all Lenovo desktops." As a result of the low power draw, after a few hours of use the warmest the PC got was 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even though the M57P shows nice efficiency, it's not at the cost of system performance. Using the benchmarking program Geekbench 2 by Primate Labs, this ThinkCentre scored a respectable 3161. This score is right in line with systems having the same CPU and similar configurations.

The M57P is no slouch when it comes to certifications either. To support the eco moniker, the M57P is rated EPEAT Gold, is Energy Star 4.0 qualified, and is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified. It also has a PSU that is more than 85% efficient and its chassis is made from recycled, post-consumer plastics.

For those who put a priority on eco-friendliness, or who are seeking to conserve on both desktop real estate and power consumption, the Lenovo M57 eco series will fit the bill nicely. Available in customizable configurations, the M57/M57P has a starting selling price of $884.

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