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The CRN Test Center's 2014 Products Of The Year

The technological leaps and bounds continue as the CRN Test Center faces the tough task of selecting the best products to come through its labs this year. This is one winner's circle with a big wow factor.

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Winner: Lenovo ThinkCentre E93z

Performance numbers from the Lenovo ThinkCentre E93z caused testers to do a double take; no one expected an all-in-one to perform like a workstation. But its 3.1GHz quad-core processor landed the unit in fourth place on the CRN Test Center's all-time performance list for desktops behind three of the fastest workstations we'd ever seen. The successor to Lenovo's E92z comes with a choice of Intel fourth-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 Haswell processors. The tested unit had a Core i7-4770S, and an Nvidia GT720A graphics controller for its 21.5-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 10-point multitouch panel with edge-to-edge glass.

On the right edge are volume controls and an input button, which allows the E93z's display to be used as a monitor for laptop, tablet or other device through its HDMI input port. There's also an HDMI output port for adding a second display. On the left edge are two USB 3.0 input ports (one with standby power), a headset jack and a 7-in-1 multicard reader. Four additional USB 2.0 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port are on the rear. A pair of down-firing speakers put out clear sound without distortion at high volume. An HD webcam includes a physical shut-off switch.

Service providers and IT staff will appreciate the tools-free assembly of the CPU's VESA mount to Lenovo's new ultra-flexible pedestal base. Handles on either side help reposition the display. The versatile stand easily lowers the bottom edge of the display to desk level and to as high as 5 inches above. The flex stand is a $15 option if ordered with the computer. With a starting price of $839, the ThinkCentre E93z is a solid value for a small business looking for a PC for general productivity. For the higher-end user, the quad-core tested unit with 450-GB hard drive, DVD-RAMBO drive, 4 GB of RAM and Windows 8 Pro carried a list price of $1,329. All systems include a one-year warranty and recovery discs.

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