Lenovo ThinkCentre M93p Tiny
Extremely compact form factor, one could say it’s tiny. Five USB 3.0 ports. Multi-monitor support. Windows 7 Professional pre-installed, Windows 8 Pro also included. vPro manageability.
Need adapter for HDMI. No 5GHz Wi-Fi. No Internal expansion.
The diminutive Lenovo ThinkCentre M93p Tiny works equally well in small, medium, or gargantuan sized businesses. It takes up almost no space on your desk, but is still a full-featured desktop instead of a thin client box.
Enterprise IT purports to be all about cloud and centralized server-based computing, but thin clients and centralized computing isn’t necessarily the right fit for all businesses. For the majority of small, medium, and large business out there, Lenovo ThinkCentre M93p Tiny gives your users a compact, hide-anywhere desktop PC that has full Windows PC power without the complexity issues of thin clients, and without the theft and reliability concerns that laptops bring. It’s a good fit for businesses of all sizes, and dovetail with Lenovo’s larger chassis PCs, which share disk images and support hardware. The M93p Tiny is our latest Editors’ Choice for business desktops.
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Design and Features
The M93p Tiny essentially is the same chassis as the previous Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p Tiny ($580). Both are about 1.5 by 7 by 7 inches (HWD), which puts them in the ultra small form factor (a.k.a, one-liter category). To put this into perspective, the Apple Mac mini (Late 2012) ($1,049) is approximately 1.3-1.4 liters in volume, Lenovo’s normal small form factor chassis is 11 liters, and a desktop tower is 25 liters. This means that there is no internal expansion room to speak of aside from a spare memory slot to expand the existing 4GB. Inside the chassis you’ll find an Intel Core i5-4570T processor with Intel HD Graphics 4600, 4GB of memory, and a 2.5-inch 500GB hard drive. You (or your IT folks) can configure the system with a larger capacity hard drive or a smaller, but faster SSD. There is a mini PCIe slot in the M92p Tiny, and in this case it’s configured with an Intel Centrino-N 105 Wi-Fi card, which gives the system wireless connectivity, though only on the 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n bands.
The M93p Tiny came with Windows 7 Professional pre-loaded, but also comes with a license and recovery DVD for Windows 8 Pro. This means that the system is ready for Windows 8 when and if your company decides to switch operating systems. The system has vPro certified components, so you can integrate the system with your enterprise standard network and device management infrastructure. You don’t have to use vPro (it doesn’t make much sense to use vPro in a small 5 person office), but it is a good option for the growing business or small remote office in a larger corporation. Even a typical five-person business can take advantage of the fact that the M93p can share disk images, so you can keep spare hard drives ready in case of malware or Windows problems that inevitably crop up. This is a plus for the M93p Tiny over the current business Editors’ Choice Polywell B8500 ($899), which is better suited for SMB situations that don’t scale. The Polywell B8500 we reviewed also had less USB 3.0 ports, no Wi-Fi, and a much louder cooling fan, which may be a problem in quiet offices.
The system can disappear behind a monitor with an optional VESA mount, or you can mount it below a desk, so it’s almost invisible in practice. You can even lock it the PC chassis itself away, since one of the USB ports can make the keyboard emulate a power button with a control key command. The M93p Tiny rivals thin clients, which use small boxes to connect to a centralized applications server. In fact, it’s better, since thin clients don’t do any of their calculations locally, so thin client users will be subject to work stoppages if servers go down. With the M93p and other full PCs, you’ll be able to complete your work locally even if the central server is down. The M93p Tiny is more flexible than all-in-one desktops like the Dell OptiPlex 3011 ($1,419.28), since you can use large screen monitors with the M93p Tiny. In fact, the M93p Tiny can drive up to four monitors using both DisplayPorts and dual display adapters.
The M93p Tiny has the chops to last for years in general office service. While the Polywell B8500 is admittedly a bit faster on multimedia tests like Handbrake (0:35) and Adobe Phootshop CS6 (3:06), due to its fourth-generation Core i7 processor, the M93p Tiny (1:02 Handbrake, 4:53 CS6) certainly can keep up and even match performance for older Core i7-powered systems like last year’s EC winning Dell Vostro 470 ($949) (1:04 Handbrake). The M93p Tiny scored a decent 2,789 points on the day-to-day PCMark 7 test, though it fell a little behind on that test compared to the Dell Vostro 470 (3,483 points). This is likely due to the M93p Tiny’s internal hard drive, which can be swapped out for a speedier SSD if your workers need day-to-day speed. Essentailly, the M93p Tiny has the power to last the three to five years shelf life of a business PC.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M93p Tiny follows its older sibling, improving on some of its shortcomings like Wi-Fi and increasing the number of USB 3.0 ports. The M93p Tiny may not be as fast as the Polywell B8500 on the benchmark table, but it is quieter, more conducive to IT management, and more versatile than that specialized system. For these reasons, it takes over as our recommended Editors’ Choice for business desktop PCs.
Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology. More
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