Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p Ultra-small Desktop PC

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Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p Ultra-small Desktop PC

April 4, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p Ultra-small Desktop PC
Manufacturer Lenovo
MSRP US$799 (base model)
US$939 (sample configuration)

Through the years Lenovo (formerly IBM) has developed a reputation for rock solid personal computer systems. Their ThinkPad line is particularly famous for its Spartan qualities that appealed to both business and home users alike. For the white collar masses who find themselves chained to desks and cubicles for much of the day, there is the ThinkCentre series, with the M91p being the current flagship model. To suit specific needs it actually comes in three different forms, a traditional bulky microATX tower, a slimmer low profile case, and an even tinier ultra-small form factor enclosure.

The ultra-small form factor ThinkCentre M91p box.

The machine itself.

If the USFF version of the M91p looks familiar, it's probably because they've recycled the case from last generation's model, the M90p (the even older M58p also had a similar chassis). Like most PCs built for commercial use, it has a boxy no-nonsense shape with a matte black finish, giving off the impression that absolutely no fun is on the agenda. While its appearance is mind-numbingly dull compared to the many sleek home computers marketed to regular consumers, its dimensions are appealing to all. It takes up less than one square foot of space when placed horizontally and is only about three inches thick.

The hardware inside is also impressive, not compromising on performance despite the diminutive size. Not only does the USFF M91p utilize Sandy Bridge processors, they belong to Intel's "S" line, low power quad core chips with a TDP of just 65W. As the M90p used dual core Clarkdale CPUs, the M91p is more powerful but doesn't increase the energy footprint. Energy efficiency is a big selling point for corporate PCs as even a small power savings can be significant if there are a high number of systems in operation. The motherboard is also based on the Q67 chipset which supports advanced security and management features like Intel's vPro and AMT (Active Management Technology) as it's important to be able to lock things down on a business PC.

AC power adapter, keyboard, and mouse.

As the M91p is equipped with a 65W processor and lacks discrete graphics, the provided external 150W AC adapter is sufficient to run the entire system. Small desktops are typically powered by internal FlexATX units which aren't as efficient, generate noise, and take up valuable space inside the chassis. Like most proper pre-built PCs, the machine ships with a simple mouse and keyboard. There's an internal speaker as well so all you need to get it running is a display.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p Ultra-small Desktop: Specifications (from the product web page)
Processor Intel Core i5-2500S (2.7GHz, 6M Cache)
Operating System Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
Mechanical Package Eco USFF 1x2, Intel Q67, (WW except Russia)
Memory 4GB PC3-10600 1333MHz SODIMM (1 DIMM)
Graphics Integrated Intel Q67
Storage 500GB, 7200 RPM SATA
Optical Drive DVD Recordable (with DVD Playback & Burner Software) for Win 7
Networking Integrated Gigabit Ethernet Intel Q67
Warranty On-site 1 Year Part / 1 Year Labor
Note: Component upgrades over the base configuration in bold.

The base model of the M91p has an i5-2400S processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 250GB hard drive, so our sample's configuration is a substantial upgraded. The i5-2500S in particular is a big step up, capable of hitting 3.7 GHz with Turbo Boost (the i5-2400S can only reach 3.3 GHz). It's also a highly coveted chip that is not available in retail channels. Noticeably absent from the specifications are features like eSATA and USB 3.0, surprising as the latter is standard on most Sandy Bridge boards.

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