This tiny PC has plenty of ports and power for the price, but its lack of upgrade options make it less versatile than other ultra-compact systems MINI PCs ALL save on space, making them perfect companions for messy desks. But while the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 is comparatively tall compared to other mini PCs we’ve tested, it’s still incredibly slight. Measuring just 155x22x193mm, it’s roughly the same size as an iPad Mini standing on its end and comes with a VESA mount to screw it onto the back of your monitor if you don’t want to lay it flat or use the included stand.
Lenovo has made good use of the available space to cram in plenty of ports. Most of these are on the rear, and include four USB2 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an optical S/PDIF audio output to connect to certain surround sound systems.
There’s only a VGA and an HDMI output to connect to a display, but as you can plug an HDMI port into a DVI monitor with a adaptor, this isn’t too much of a problem. You certainly won’t be short of USB ports, as the PC has another two USB3 ports on the front of the PC along with a multi-format card reader and separate headphone and microphone jacks underneath the elegant, if slightly flimsy, silver plastic flap.
This gives you plenty of scope for adding extra storage to the Q190’s 1TB hard disk, but you’ll need to save two USB ports for a keyboard and mouse, or one if you use a wireless set; the Q190 doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth.
The Ql90’s main downside is its lack of upgrade options. The plastic chassis is completely sealed, so you’ll have to make do with what’s already inside the box for the duration of the PC’s lifespan. This will come as a disappointment to some, but fortunately the Q190 is already considerably more powerful than many PCs in this price range.
The Q190 comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a1.8GHz Intel Core ¡3-3217U processor, a model that was common to several Core i3 laptops last year. It struggled slightly with our multi-tasking test, but an overall score of 31 in our multimedia benchmarks is still good for a system of this size and price. This puts the Q190 just behind a bang-up-to-date Core ¡3 laptop, so it’s more than capable of handling everyday computing tasks. The limited amount of memory shouldn’t be a problem, but you may run into problems when running virtual machines.
The processor’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip is beginning to show its age, however, as it isn’t powerful enough to run the latest 3D games. It failed to produce 15fps in the laptop version of our Dirt Showdown test, which we run at 1,280×720 with 4x anti-aliasing and High detail, and even less demanding 3D titles weren’t particularly smooth. We were just about able to play Trine 2 on Low quality at 1,280×720, thanks to an average frame rate of 17.6fps, but it was still too jerky to be much fun.
The PC’s built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi makes the Q190 easy to connect to your home network, giving it plenty of potential as a home media centre for streaming services such as ¡Player and Netflix. You’ll have to stick with Full HD video, though, as the PC struggled when we tried playing our 4K test footage.
For those willing to brave the Q190’s basic BIOS, there’s also the possibility to wake the PC from LAN when it’s in Sleep mode. This is particularly handy if you’ve mounted the PC to the back of your TV or monitor, as you can wake it up from a tablet or smartphone.
Unlike other mini PCs, such as those based on Intel’s NUC platform, there isn’t an option to wake the PC from LAN when switched off.
The IdeaCentre Q190 has a few drawbacks, and its 4GB RAM limits how many intensive tasks you can perform at once, but at just it’s ideal for those who want a neat and tidy mini PC and don’t want to pay for the equally powerful PC Specialist NUC Lite, so wins a Budget Buy award.