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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Includes on optical disk drive
Low build quality
Mediocre processing speeds
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S may be a suitable PC for light use, but it lacks the build quality and processing power to serve a heavy user over the long term.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S is a compact and affordable desktop computer designed for family, school, or work use. It includes almost everything you need to get started—you just need to bring your own monitor. I tested the Lenovo IdeaCentre 310s for a week to see how it performs compared to similar options on the market.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S has a much slimmer profile than a traditional desktop PC, clocking in at only 3.5 inches wide, 13.5 inches tall, and 11.7 inches from front to back. It’s not nearly as compact as a mini computer like a ChromeBox or Mac Mini, but it will tuck nicely away under a desk or table. You could even sit the 310S on top of your desk, and its unassuming appearance and monotone color scheme blend in well with other peripherals.
The 310S has a retro look. It actually looks a little bit like an older DVD player turned on its side. The CD slot for the ODD (optical disk drive) sits in the upper lefthand corner, while a power button, four USB ports (two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), a microphone jack, a headphone jack, and a multimedia card reader sit in the upper right. On the back, you’ll find an HDMI port, VGA port, Ethernet port, and analog audio ports. You’ll also find two additional USB 2.0 ports, as the IdeaCentre has six USB ports in total.
The computer is easy to open up. The side panel is held in place by two small screws on the back of the 310S. Once you remove those screws, you just slide the side panel off to access the internals. On the inside, the components look and feel basic, and there appears to be a lack of attention to detail in the placement of the components. There’s a tiny CPU fan crookedly installed, but it doesn’t do much to help keep the system cool. The 310S has a small amount of ventilation on the back and on the side panel, but it lacks sufficient ventilation overall. It runs slightly warm, especially after a long period of use.
The Lenovo IdeaCenter 310S does not have a dedicated graphics card, but rather an AMD Radeon 5 integrated GPU. You’ll be able to play very basic games, edit photos, and watch HD videos, but you cannot use this for any sort of high-level gaming or graphic design. It has HDMI and VGA ports for video.
The 310S runs on a 3.1GHz AMD A9 processor, and it has a 1TB SATA HDD that spins at 7,200 rpms. It only has 4GB of RAM out of the box, which is on the lower end of the spectrum for a desktop, but you can expand the RAM to 8GB since there’s a second RAM slot inside.
Although the 310S runs reliably overall, it received mediocre scores in benchmark testing.
The IdeaCentre 310S doesn’t have a problem running several applications at once, and it seamlessly navigates back and forth between different open windows. You can watch a video, check your email, write up a word doc, and jump over to a work program without experiencing any major delays. However, the boot-up time is on the slower side, and some programs take a bit longer than you’d expect to open up.
Although the 310S runs reliably overall, it received mediocre scores in benchmark testing. On PCMark10, it earned an unimpressive score of 1,790. It scored higher in essentials (3,530) and productivity (3,332), and lower in digital content creation (1,324) and other graphics related areas like photos (1,579) and videos (1,665). On GFXBench, the graphics benchmarks weren’t much better. The Lenovo scored 24.95 FPS on Car Chase, and 27.63 FPS on Manhattan 3.1.
The IdeaCentre 310S comes with a mouse and keyboard, but the peripherals (especially the mouse) are low quality. The wired mouse is cheaply constructed, and it lacks ergonomic shaping, any sort of grip, or a comfortable feel. The full-sized wired keyboard is better quality than the mouse, with good height and throw on the keys. The keyboard also has rubber feet on the bottom, so it grips onto the desk.
Although disk drives are becoming less of a common feature in PCs, the 310S has an ODD (optical disk drive) that doubles as a DVD burner. This may be useful for some people who want to play or create CDs and DVDs.
You can expand the RAM to 8GB since there’s a second RAM slot inside.
You won’t find built-in speakers on the 310S, but there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a microphone jack on the front. On the back, there are also pink, green, and blue analog audio ports for mic in, line out, and front speakers out. You can also just connect a monitor and use its speakers. You have multiple options for connecting an audio source, albeit basic options.
The computer itself runs loud at times, but this is likely because of the tiny CPU fan. The IdeaCentre also lacks a SSD, and only has a 1TB SATA hard drive.
In addition to an Ethernet port for hardwired internet, the Lenovo 310S has 802.11 AC wireless. It also comes with an antenna to help extend the Wi-Fi range, although the antenna is somewhat flimsy. The connection is reliable though, and I haven’t experienced any connectivity issues. The 310S is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible, so you can connect devices like wireless Bluetooth keyboards and headsets.
There’s no webcam included with the Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S, but you can easily add an inexpensive desktop webcam. You can typically buy one for as little as $20 to $30, depending on the quality and features you’re looking for.
The 310S runs on Windows 10 Home, which is an efficient OS that’s ideal for this type of PC. The Lenovo also comes with a 30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365, as well as a 30-day trial of McAfee LiveSafe.
There are some additional bloatware programs included, and you may want to go through the “fresh start” installation, which re-installs Windows 10 without some of the bundleware.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S sells for between $275 and $400, and it comes in a few different configurations, with different processing capabilities and storage capacities. For the model I tested, the price usually falls in the range of $300 to $400.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M720 (view online) has a more powerful, 3.7GHz Intel Pentium Gold processor, 500 GB of HDD storage, and 4GB of DDR4 RAM (but it supports up to 64GB). The ThinkCentre lacks some of the features you’d want to see in a home PC for entertainment, like HDMI and built in Wi-Fi connectivity, but it serves as a suitable option for business. The IdeaCentre 310S has less processing power, but it’s better for a family, with features like an optical disk drive, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and HDMI connectivity.
A bare bones PC that will serve basic needs, but doesn’t particularly shine in any area.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S will serve as a starter computer or as a short-term solution when you need a PC in a pinch, but there are better options available.