THE BOTTOM LINE
The Lenovo Ideacentre 300 (90DA00LPUS) is a basic budget desktop PC that gets the job done with a simple feature-set and specs at a reasonably price.
THE GOOD: Inexpensive. Good selection of I/O ports.
THE BAD: Middling performance. Limited upgrade options.
The Lenovo Ideacentre 300 is a basic budget desktop PC that gets the job done without much flair. The mid-tower design looks imposing on any desk, there’s a good selection of ports, and comes in for far much less than the competition. As configured, though, it doesn’t deliver mind-blowing performance, but it accomplishes simple tasks effortless, and offers few upgrade options, which is particularly notable considering 1TB of storage and 8GB of system memory (both upgradable).
This configuration similar to what you’ll find in other mid-size tower desktops. The Acer Aspire ATC-780-AMZi5 (our Editors’ Choice Budget Desktop PC) offers double the storage (2TB), includes roughly the same port offerings, and better overall performance.
While the Ideacentre 300 may not be the same size as the tiny Shuttle XPC Nano, it does measure almost the same to most mid-tower desktops, measuring 13.98 by 6.3 by 16.14 inches (HWD). The Acer Aspire ATC-780-AMZi5 measures 15.67 by 6.89 by 17.43 inches (HWD) and the Acer Aspire ATC-605-UB11 (15 by 7 by 16.5 inches), both are more similar in size and shape, though the Ideacentre is particularly compact.
The desktop’s whole body is black, and with the exception of the glossy plastic front panel, is made of aluminum. The front is slightly tapering forward, as opposed to all 90-degree corners, which adds just a little flair to what is otherwise a standard, black rectangle. Also bundled into the Lenovo 300 package are a basic keyboard and mouse, both of which are wired, black, and plastic. The monitor is bought separately, the 21.5-inch HP Pavilion 22cwa monitor is worth considering.
Connectivity is excellent, with plenty of I/O ports. The front panel holds two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, a mic jack and a DVD±RW drive. On the back, there are two more USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI ports, and a VGA port, should you find it necessary to connect to older monitors.
For connectivity, you may not necessarily need much more than what the system offers, but there is space for a few more video output options on the 300 including one PCI-E x 16 and two PCI-E x 1 slots. Wired Internet connectivity comes via an RJ-45 port, while wireless connectivity comes via 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Where the extra size does help is storage: the diminutive Nano only includes a 32GB solid-state drive (SSD), while the Ideacentre 300 features a 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive. The Acer Aspire ATC-780-AMZi5 doubles the storage to include a 2TB hard drive, so the added storage makes sense. To access the internal peripherals, all you have to do is undo two screws on the rear to free the right side panel. There’s not much room in our unit as configured, with one free RAM slot representing more or less the entirety of expansion options.
The Ideacentre 300 is equipped with a 3.7GHz sixth-generation Intel Core i3-6100 processor, 8GB of memory, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 530. All these make it a moderately quick performer on most day-to-day tasks, including day-to-day tasks like editing in office apps, video conferencing, and web browsing.
If all you need is a basic, reliable desktop PC, configured to quickly finish basic projects, and offers good speed on most tasks thrown its way, then the Lenovo 300 is something you can look at. However, the Acer Aspire ATC-780-AMZi5 crunches solid numbers in terms of performance in the budget desktop PC category, with a sixth generation Intel Core i5-6400 processor (2.7GHz, upto 3.3GHz), 8GB DDR4 system memory and 2TB storage.
On a budget desktop, 3D and gaming performance are luxuries you can’t find here. But even given the inherent limitations, the 300 was still disappointing. It’s less powerful all around tan the competition, especially the Acer Aspire ATC-780-AMZi5. The integrated graphics engine, referred to as Intel HD 530 will Play some latest titles but with little eye candy.
For instance, if you plan on choking it around with GTA 5, the much you getting is ~21FPS in normal settings and 720p resolution. However, for the casual gamers who preach League of Legends and the likes, you can have your play at maximum settings and still enjoy smooth frame rates. Otherwise for a real gaming warrior, you’ll have to look upwards at the likes of the CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA3100A Gaming desktop.
The Bottom Line
The Lenovo Ideacentre 300 may be inexpensive, but it doesn’t really represent one of the better values out there. As configured, it is particularly good in some areas, offering enough storage, a few upgrade options, but performance falls on the middle-lane of the category. You’re getting a big, not tiny, form factor that would better justify slower performance or less impressive specs, as is the case with the miniature Shuttle XPS Nano.
The Acer Aspire ATC-780-AMZi5 remains our Editors’ Choice for budget desktops due to its affordability, super decent design, generous I/O offerings, and expansion options. Its an easy to recommend for anyone in the market for a basic, affordable desktop PC that will remain relevant for a few more years.