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41 Posts

11-16-2009

New York

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K300 & K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-03-11, 15:01 PM

For some reason, it seems hard to find reviews and user comments about Lenovo K3 series machines.  Every time an HP engineer sneezes, Amazon gets another 25 user reviews.  But although Amazon and other resellers have some K300's and K320's in stock, I've never seen a decent user review.

 

I know from reading this board that at least five members have K3's and are hopefully enjoying them.  We'd all benefit if you'd post a bit about your experience so far.  And if you find any good external reviews, please post a pointer here. 

 

Here are some of the topics that would be helpful:

 

Overall, how much do you like the machine?

How stable has the hardware and software been?

Is it as fast as you'd hoped?

How are the graphics?  For games, HD videos and/or video editing?

How quiet is it?

Have you made any modifications?

Is there any software you had problems running ? 

Is the power setting switch useful, or just a gimmick?

Do you actually use the power setting switch, or just leave it on one setting?

Do you think it was a good value, and would you recommend it?

 

Please say if you have a K300 or K320, and which model (1AU, etc.)

 

Thanks, and happy computing!

 

Brian

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41 Posts

11-16-2009

New York

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Re: K300 & K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-03-11, 15:33 PM

For starters, here's two fun videos about the K300.

 

The first is from COM.PUTER.TV.   While it has been taken down from the webpage, I found it on youtube.  It has a lot of detail about the computer, but almost nothing critical:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7GrPe-X8oQ

 

While we're watching videos, check out Lenovo's fancy but remarkably uninformative video:

 

http://www.lenovovision.com/amp3/mediaplayer/../landing.htm?fid=ideacentre_k320_01-2010

 

 

 

 

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41 Posts

11-16-2009

New York

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Re: K300 & K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-04-12, 0:56 AM

Okay, I've had my K320 1BU for about three weeks, and time for me to stop playing and post some comments. The 1BU is the Intel i5 machine, with 6gb/640gb/GF310 graphics/tuner. The Lenovo 1EU is almost identical, except with 4gb and perhaps no tuner.

 

Overall, how much do you like the machine?

 

Overall, great. It is light years ahead of my old Pentium machine, and works very well.

 

How stable has the hardware and software been?

 

Mostly okay. No problems with the hardware at all. The Windows 7 is fine, I really like the new interface. It does, however have occasional hiccups and freezes that require reboots. I guess there is no way to avoid that with a Microsoft machine. Also, the NVIDIA graphics card has trouble returning from full screen mode and resets itself. It does this almost instantly so not a problem.

 

Is it as fast as you'd hoped?

 

Here I have a bit of concern. The machine does just fine on HD video in any mode, so no problems there. And it does video editing that I could never even dream of on my old machine. However, video editing, especially converting formats, does slow it down more than I had hoped. It can take up to ten minutes to convert ten minutes of uncompressed AVI into MP4. I had thought with all those cores, it would chew video up for lunch. Also, the graphics are just acceptable for a relatively high-end machine, with 20 to 40 frame rates on games that I thought would fly based on their hype, and some jerky pauses if the machine is doing anything else while I play a game. If I make sure everything else is off, including the automatic backup, it is pretty smooth, but any other CPU intensive activities are really noticeable. I'm not a tuning wiz, but I think the problem is with the hard drive, because when I notice problems, the CPU is still just at 30% or so and only a third of the memory is in use.

 

Also, I don't notice any huge "Enhanced Experience" improvement. It takes a standard two or three minutes to boot up completely. If this is EE, I'd hate to see native Windows!

 

How are the graphics? For games, HD videos and/or video editing?

 

See above.

 

 

How quiet is it?

 

Almost silent in all modes. Really great.

 

Have you made any modifications?

 

No, other than removing junkware.

 

Is there any software you had problems running?

 

Surprisingly, almost none. After all the fuss about Windows 7/64 not running old 32 bit programs, it ran all my favorites just fine, even programs over ten years old. I only had problems with two commercial programs that I was able to download free upgrades for. No need to upgrade to Windows 7 Pro and run the XP virtual machine.

 

Is the power setting switch useful, or just a gimmick?

 

Mostly gimmick, but it does seem to work. I leave it on blue (auto) most of the time and it just hums along. I put it on "Turbo" when I'm hitting a game hard, and maybe I see a bit of improvement.

 

Do you actually use the power setting switch, or just leave it on one setting?

 

See above. The blinking colors are pretty and my kids like it. You can turn it off easily. Several of my friends think it looks really cool.

 

Do you think it was a good value, and would you recommend it?

 

Overall, I think it is a really fair value for around $800. I don't think the disk drive and other hardware are keeping up with the i5 chip. If you are looking for a real hard core gamer or video machine, I'd spend $1200 plus elsewhere, but for the price it works well. Since the i7 versions have most of the same hardware, I really wouldn't wait or bother with the additional expense.

 

The build looks really good, and I think I'll be really happy with the machine for about three to four years, then I'll pass it on to the kids.

 

Any questions?

 

Brian

 

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2 Posts

05-17-2010

silicon valley

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Re: K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-05-17, 22:39 PM

Brian, if you still read these posts, I read your review, and I am concerned about the stability of your 1BU.

You said that it sometimes reboot, and freezes,  and takes 2-3 minutes to boot up?

That is a big problem.

 

When you turn it off, have you try hybernate? How long does it take to hybernate, and how long does it take from hybernate to fully up?

 

thks

 

 

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41 Posts

11-16-2009

New York

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Re: K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-05-18, 14:24 PM

Thanks for the followup!

 

First, the timings.  With the machine on Turbo mode, here's the timing for a cold start:

 

00:00 Push power button

00:10 Lenovo screen appears

00:19 Starting Windows appears

00:46 Logon appears (quickly typed)

01:24 Desktop appears,  tray icons  start loading

01:53 First program available for starting

02:20 Tray Icons finish

 

The desktop is reasonably fast, but if I try to start programs while the tray icons are still  loading, both seem to slow down.  But I'm not unhappy with this, because I seldom do cold starts unless I'm installing software.

 

Hibernation seems to take about 30 seconds each way, not bad.  I usually use sleep, which takes about 10 seconds down and 5 seconds up (almost instant).   I was a bit critical of the Lenovo EE because it was hyped so highly, and the startup seemed about the same as my Lenovo laptop with XP.  But again, I'm not really unhappy with it, just an observation.

 

Now about the freezing.  When I first started using the machine, I had a lot of trouble with full screen video.  I've since  found out that most of the  problems were caused by Flash, both from YouTube and from my kids' website video games.  I thought that it was a problem with the video card, but it turns out that Flash DOESNT WORK on 64 bit operating systems.  Go figure.  I finally went to the Flash website and downloaded a beta version for 64 bit machines and it seems  to have solved the problem.

 

However, back when I was  having trouble with Flash, the problem would hard lock the machine and I'd have to do a power  button turnoff.  Usually that worked,  with the "Windows did not shut  down correctly" message.  But after a few times, something got corrupted in the registry, and installing and uninstalling programs started to get dicey.   I was getting messages that install files were corrupted, or something like that.  The machine  became more unstable over a week or two.   I tried restoring the machine to a previous time but that didn't help.  Finally, I moved my data files off the machine, did a full factory restore (which went very smoothly), and then restored my files and reinstalled my programs.  Took a while, but it worked.  And now with the new Flash, the problem hasn't recurred, and I'm very happy.

 

Again, overall I have no complaints and am very happy with the machine.  I guess I thought it would be a bit faster in turbo mode after all the gaming hype, but it is good for what I want to do.  I'm not a gamer, but I run some  simulator software and capture movies for edit, and it chunks along at an acceptable rate but not like I've seen on my friends hard-core game machines.  Am I right that it is hard-drive limited?   When I look at the performance numbers, it seems like the cpu's never get above about 50%, while the drive is madly spinning away.  That's why I think it would be a waste to put an i7 in this platform unless you were doing something that was entirely memory and CPU, but not I/O.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Brian

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2 Posts

05-17-2010

silicon valley

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Re: K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-05-19, 0:26 AM

Hi Brian,

 

Thanks very much for the details.

I feel inclined to also get the 1BU, the one you have.

 

In the past I always got a 2nd tier brand. 1st tear brand are like either a Mac or Dell.

So I am still debating should I save the money and get this one from amazon, or buy

a Dell studio xps 8100, which will cost 1100+tax.

 

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1 Posts

07-03-2010

Austin

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Re: K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-07-03, 14:47 PM

I have just purchased this system for video editing with Sony Vegas. I am wondering if I should upgrade the harddrive to something bigger for better performance based on your experience. Also, did you have to get a Firewire card for video capture for this machine? Any recommendations? Thanks for sharing your experience. Appreciate it.

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2 Posts

07-13-2010

Phoenix

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Re: K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-07-13, 17:54 PM

I have the 1BU system (I5).  The supplied TV tuner works fairly good using over-the-air channels.  Signal quality is dependent on antenna quality and location.  I have an indoor antenna and am able to pick up the major local digital channels.  I haven't tried it with cable. 

 

Adding a drive is relatively easy.  My 640GB drive is in a tray and there is a spare tray.  I've added a 1TB drive in the extra slot.  Used Western Digital.  Had to buy the data cable for the SATA connection.  I can't remember if I was able to use existing power connections... and I'm not at home today so can't check.  If you're going to just replace the existing drive, no additional cables would be necessary other than what would be needed to clone your old drive.

 

I'm dual boot, Fedora 13 and Win 7, with Fedora my primary OS.  I boot Win 7 every couple of months to install fixes, then go back to Fedora.

 

Jeff.

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41 Posts

11-16-2009

New York

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Re: K320 Reviews - Share your experience!

2010-07-13, 18:16 PM

Jaladhi - Thanks for the comment on Amazon.  Sure is a lack of reviews of Lenovo desktops over there!   What model did you end up buying?

 

Overall, I'm still really happy with my K320 1BU (Core i5 chip).  I'm not a serious gamer, but I like to play with simulators (Microsoft Flight Sim, Trainz, etc).  It was way, way better than my old P4, but  not what I would call blazing  speed.  I use FRAPS for frame counting and for video capture. You can see an example of what I do at http://www.frogandbrian.com/zephyr .  I was getting frame counts around  20-30 with capture on, and quite a bit of jerkiness in scenery, but perfectly usable.

 

One thing I suspected,  in addition to the disk drive,  was the relatively weak video card.   Now again, the GF310 blows the pants off my old integrated graphics, but it is hardly state of the art.   I did  some research and decided to upgrade to a GF320 (the one that ships with the 1CU/i7 machine.  It was the fastest card I could find that would still work on the 75W bus,  and not  need a new power supply.  I installed it and compared it to the GF310 with some free benchmark software from http://www.passmark.com.   Unfortunately, while the card was almost twice as fast, I only saw improvements of about 20% in the overall performance, so I sent it back (not worth the extra $120).

 

I'm not  sure you'd see much benefit  from a larger hard drive.  I haven't compared specs in detail, but I think the drive in the K320 is reasonably fast. But when you are doing disk to disk video conversions, you can only suck bits so fast.

 

So in summary, the K320 is a fine, well built machine for around $800, and will allow you to do most home video in a reasonable time frame, but if you need a video rocket  or hard core gamer, spend more elsewhere.

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