Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150 Review

Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Q150 works better as a media player than a full-on HTPC, but its reasonable price and put-it-anywhere form factor make it a good candidate for situations where a full-size, full-power PC is impractical or unnecessary.
Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Q150 works better as a media player than a full-on HTPC, but its reasonable price and put-it-anywhere form factor make it a good candidate for situations where a full-size, full-power PC is impractical or unnecessary.
Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Q150 works better as a media player than a full-on HTPC, but its reasonable price and put-it-anywhere form factor make it a good candidate for situations where a full-size, full-power PC is impractical or unnecessary.

Highs

  • Small footprint and several mounting options
  • Great looks
  • Smooth 1080p video playback
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Convenient OS recovery should disaster strike

Lows

  • Poor multitasking and encoding performance
  • Lacks good backlit remote
  • No TV tuner

DT Editors' Rating

lenovo ideacentre q150 reviewLenovo’s ultra-compact IdeaCentre Q150 represents what may very well be one of the smallest and most-affordable PCs for practical use on the market. Obviously, one would expect some trade-offs in terms of performance, but Lenovo has packed some surprising media-playback horsepower into the Q150’s polished, diminutive form factor.

Hardware

Our review unit came specced with an Intel Atom D510 running at 1.6GHz and two gigs of DDR3 RAM to power the Windows Home Premium 32-bit OS. A recovery partition occupies 30 gigs of the 500GB hard drive. It has built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless LAN as well as a gigabit Ethernet port. Nvidia’s Ion GPU brings 512MB of video processing. The unit has no optical drive or card reader, but comes with a small USB keyboard and mouse. Lenovo also supplied us with one of the company’s N5901 wireless controllers, though it does not come standard.

With a street price of $350, the Q150 is even cheaper than some barebones systems.

Design

Though the Q150 has an attractive design and satisfying heft, the standout attribute is the machine’s compact size. Lenovo had to forego an optical drive and card reader to trim the inches, but thankfully there are enough ports to connect just about anything: two USB 2.0 ports and an S/PDIF optical output underneath a small flap on the front, and two more USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA-out, HDMI-out, and headphone & mic jack on the rear.

lenovo ideacentre q150 review

Accessories

Inside the box, Lenovo includes a stand for using the machine in a vertical orientation, as well as a VESA bracket for mounting it on the rear of a monitor.

The included USB mouse and keyboard work fine, but the wires are so short that you’ll almost have your nose up against your TV screen if you set up the Q150 near your A/V components. The N5901 hand-held control worked okay for point-and-clicking, but typing on it proved annoying, given the tiny keys and lack of backlighting. We would much prefer that the Q150 come with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (or at least a backlit remote for use in a dim home theater setting).

Software

Except for McAfee Security Center, we found a desktop thankfully free of bloatware upon the first boot. You’ll want to either activate or uninstall the McAfee suite right away, as you’ll get a nag screen every five minutes or so if you don’t.

Lenovo’s decision to opt for the 32-bit flavor of Windows 7 Home puzzled us, since all the hardware supports 64-bit.

lenovo ideacentre q150 reviewPerformance

As a media-playback device, the Q150 performs admirably for its small size and low-voltage components. It had no problems playing 1080p video files and high-fidelity audio files, or streaming Divx files over a Wi-Fi network. However, apart from very basic operations like word processing and light Internet browsing, any task requiring even moderate processing power revealed the Q150’s shortcomings. Despite the Atom processor’s dual cores, the Q150 struggled to keep up when multitasking or crunching lots of numbers. ITunes alone took over four minutes just to install.

Similarly, encoding from one media format to another often moved at a glacial pace, something that will no doubt frustrate those using the Q150 as an HTPC. In many cases, it would be faster to do the transcoding on one’s main desktop or laptop PC and then transfer the media files to the Q150 via a thumbdrive than to let the Q150 do all the work.

Newegg.com sells a version of the Q150 loaded with Windows XP Home for $219, and we can’t help but wonder how a lighter OS load might improve performance.

Conclusion

As a media player, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150 performs quite well. The unit’s small stature and multiple mounting options make it a solid choice for installation in a location short on space, and its good looks hold up nicely against home theater components.

On the other hand, its anemic processor delivers some bottom-of-the-barrel performance in multitasking and encoding roles, two areas that power users will sorely miss.

However, if you can live with the Q150’s limitations, the $350 price tag is tough to beat.

Highs:

  • Small footprint and several mounting options
  • Great looks
  • Smooth 1080p video playback
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Convenient OS recovery should disaster strike

Lows:

  • Poor multitasking and encoding performance
  • Lacks good backlit remote
  • No TV tuner
Product Review

Amid a new fleet of budget laptops, the ZenBook 13 sails where others sink

It’s never been truer that you don’t need to spend over a thousand bucks to buy a good laptop. The ZenBook 13 takes we’ve always loved about its predecessor and makes enough small refinements to keep it ahead of its competitors.
Product Review

Don't bother with any other 2-in-1. The Surface Pro 6 is still the best

The Surface Pro been updated to its sixth generation, now coming dressed in black and packing a quad-core processor. Outside of that, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to see where Microsoft has made some truly noteworthy improvements.
Computing

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.
Computing

Lenovo and Dell make great professional laptops, but who does it best?

Finding the best laptop for professional use at the office, on the move, and at home is no easy task. There's plenty to choose but to find the best of the best, we pitted the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. Dell XPS 15.
Computing

Despite serious security flaws, D-Link will (again) not patch some routers

D-Link revealed that it won't patch six router models despite warnings raised by a security researcher. The manufacturer, for the second time in a span of about a year, cited end-of-life policies for its decision to not act.
Computing

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.
Computing

There’s now proof that quantum computing is superior to the classical variety

For the first time in computer science history, researchers have tangibly demonstrated how a quantum computer is better than a classical computer. A quantum computer was able to solve a math problem that a classical PC cannot.
Computing

In 2018, the rivalry between AMD and Intel has become more interesting than ever

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.
Computing

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Computing

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.
Computing

Protect your digital identity with these four easy steps to online anonymity

You don't have to be a secret agent or a notorious hacktivist to care about anonymity. Consult this guide to learn tips, tricks, and best practices for staying anonymous and keeping your online activity private
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

How does Samsung's new 2-in-1 stack up against the tried-and-true Surface Pro 6?

We're the stacking Surface Pro 6 and Galaxy Book 2 up against each other in this head-to-head. Both of these devices share a similar form factor and design, but be it LTE connectivity or difference in pricing, each offers up its own pros…