Top 10 budget desktop PCs

Aimed at the value conscious consumer, these budget desktops will tackle your computing needs -- without breaking the bank

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Lenovo ThinkCentre M58p
ThinkCentre M58p Review, by David Murphy, PC World September 10, 2009

Rating:

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CPU: Core 2 Duo E8500; CPU speed: 3160GHz; Graphics adapter: Intel GMA 4500; Monitor: No; Hard drive size: 250GB; WorldBench rating: Superior

Pros:
Supersmall size makes it suitable for any space
Unexpectedly fast processor

Cons:
Everything else, including poor graphics
Extremely limited upgradability

REVIEW:
For a mere $1050 (as of 8/23/09), you can have a small PC that's roughly the size of two college textbooks sandwiched together. The performance of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M58p is impressive given its size; but considering all that the machine lacks, it seems more of a gimmick than a general-purpose computer.

Under its little hood, the M58p sports a mighty engine: Its 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 processor is one of the faster CPUs among machines on our Top 10 Value PCs chart. What this system gives up in multicore processing, it makes up for in raw speed. The 2GB of DDR3-1066 RAM is similarly fast. However, our test configuration's 250GB of storage isn't much (even for a value PC), and a lack of upgradability makes that pill even tougher to swallow.

As an enterprise-oriented machine, the M58p can do very little graphics-heavy work with its integrated GMA 4500 chip set (as in our test configuration). Had the system run any of our standard gaming benchmarks in any playable capacity, I would gladly report the scores. Fortunately, in our WorldBench 6 suite of tests, the M58p earned a score of 117, in the upper echelon of results among the top value PCs we've tested of late.

It shouldn't matter that this system is geared for business use, however--for its price, the M58p's connection omissions are unacceptable. It gives you six USB ports, one gigabit ethernet port, and a single DisplayPort connection on the rear, a sad mix compared with that of rival value PCs. The front of the system offers two USB ports. That's it.

The chassis of the M58p is as drab and unexciting as it is small. While popping the case open is easy, you can do absolutely nothing to upgrade the system, save for the addition of a single, small PCI device. Accessing the included hard drive is a simple task, too, but any tweaking you do in this area must be a replacement, not an addition.

Our test configuration also came with a generic two-button mouse, teamed with a bargain-bin keyboard.

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M58p is a fast little PC, no question. But what are you going to do with this tiny system? It's no media center PC. It's aimed at business use, sure, but you can't really operate resource-hungry applications on it without consuming the 2GB of available memory. The M58's price just doesn't line up with its slim offerings.

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