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Lenovo ThinkCentre M720q Tiny Review: A Tiny Business Partner
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M720q Tiny (starting at $389.99, $764 tested) is a small-form-factor computer specially developed for the business community. Our test model includes an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 desktop processor in compact office cabinets with limited space. The M720q is designed to sit horizontally. However, Lenovo has a small stand that you can use to level it vertically if you wish. And when it’s hidden, you hardly realize it’s there. The M720q works almost silently. The ThinkCentre M720q Tiny offers support for multiple screens and various security features for our test model.
Lots of at-purchase configuration options.
Includes security features for businesses.
Chassis is compact, strong, and easily serviced.
Lots of ports.
Minimal room for internal up-gradation, beyond 2.5-inch bay.
It comes with a wired keyboard and mouse.
The ThinkCentre M720q Tiny is a matte black with some red accents: a rectangular Lenovo disc on the front and a red dot at “i” in the “ThinkCentre” display, which lights up when the device is switched on. With its solid metal body, you should be able to withstand all the moderate office violence you exert on it.
The Tiny M720q is the size of a hardcover book. Measure 1.4 in terms of 7 x 7.2 inches (HWD). It takes up almost no space on your desktop, whether it’s in a horizontal corner of the desk or vertically.
If the space is so small that there’s no space for the Slim M720 on a slope, Lenovo offers VESA support for just $12, so you can keep the case behind a VESA-compatible screen or even under a desk.
Despite its small size, the Tiny M720q can be stowed in ports. It has two USB 3.1 ports (one type A and one type C) as well as separate headphone and microphone jacks. I appreciate the solid mix of the small front panel. Both types of USB ports save you the need to connect a dongle to the back of the tray.
On the back are a full-size DisplayPort and HDMI output, an Ethernet port and four straight USB Type-A ports. Two of the rear USB ports are USB 3.1 Gen1 and two USB 3.1 Gen2, the latter being the Transfer rate doubled with compatible hardware. There are also two removable control panels for additional connections, one of which was used in this test unit with a USB Type-C connector that supports DisplayPort output for third video output. Other options for these panels are older connectors, such as VGA or serial ports or multiple USB ports.
Accessing the system is easy as long as you have a screwdriver. After removing the screw from the back, you can remove the cover to access the inside of the Tiny M720q. Unless you need to make a repair, you don’t have much to worry about because there aren’t many expansion options. The case has support for a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive or SSD and nothing else. Still, given the size of the system, it has an impressive feat to add more storage space. (In the current test unit, the M.2 SSD is installed on one level with the motherboard to allow two-driver configuration).
One point where the Tiny M720q has no space is the built-in WLAN antenna. Lenovo has included a device that you can connect to the back if you are not connecting the system to a network through a wired Ethernet network. Lenovo offers a simple series of a wired keyboard and mouse. The keyboard has thick desktop keys with great impact, and the mouse has an optical-optical shape with an optical sensor. Both are black, and the mouse has a red wheel that matches the red accents on the front of the Tiny M720q. Let’s say that most office workers look for peripheral updates for a short period of time after using the included device. The feeling is driven by the budget. Lenovo offers several security features for the Tiny M720p. One of them is Lenovo Smart USB Security, which allows IT staff to control which USB devices can access their computers. It cannot be deactivated locally and does not restrict the keyboard or mouse connection. The system also includes data encryption using a reliable platform module (TPM) and a Kensington-type lock slot, which allows you to connect your PC while in public mode to prevent someone from escaping with your small chassis.
This ThinkCentre M720q Tiny has an Intel Core i5-8400T processor, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 and 256 GB M.2 SSD. It should be noted that the Core i5-8400T core is a desktop processor, not a mobile chip used in laptops, but has a relatively low base clock of 1.7 GHz. Some mini PCs only use mobile chips, which often results in a significant reduction in power or cores compared to their desktop counterparts. This configuration with various upgrades currently costs $764, but the M720q Tiny series starts at $389.99 for the Intel Pentium Gold-based model with 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB RAM, for the Core i7 model with 32 GB RAM. (Calling my Core i5 tester on the available top chip, the Core i7-8700T, would add $120 to this test configuration; adding 8GB to 32GB would add an additional $180). It will remain competitive with Intel’s next-generation Mini PC Brigade, the Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC). Many of them require the provision of their own SO-DIMM RAM, a boot drive and their own operating system. I’ve compared the ThinkCentre M720q Tiny to other mini desktops that PC labs have recently been tested, including the very small ECS Liva Q2, the Apple Mac mini 2018, and some Intel NUC models. The Core i5-based Tiny M720q is on the CPU ladder in the middle of the group, in front of the Celeron-based Liva Q2 and Core i3-based Mac mini and behind two Intel Core i7-based NUCs.
Typically, the ThinkCentre M720q Tiny offers a lot of push for basic operations and even easy media editing. The Tiny M720q is also important for a mini PC that doesn’t sit on the floor, but on your desk or behind the screen (where it is closest to you and your ears) and runs relatively quietly. It’s not entirely quiet and without a fan, but it uses a large fan, so it doesn’t have to run as fast and powerful as a smaller fan would do to keep the temperature under control.
Productivity, Storage, and Media Tests
PCMark 10 (Productivity) and PCMark 8 (Storage)
PCMark 10 and 8 are comprehensive performance packages developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). Our PCMark 10 test simulates a variety of real productivity and content creation workflows. We use it to evaluate the overall performance of the system for office-centered tasks, such as word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing and video conferencing. The test produces a patented numerical evaluation. The larger numbers are better. PCMark 8 has a memory test to evaluate the speed of the PC unit subsystem. This score is also a patented numerical score. The larger numbers are better again.
The M720q Tiny achieved significant points in PCMark 10, closer to the Intel NUC based on Core i7 than the demanding ECS Liva Q2 based on Celeron. For PCMark 8, the Tiny M720q was the only system that passed the PCMark 8 memory test, so we don’t list it here. This is because Intel NUC applications are basic systems that are provided by a boot drive (results depend on purchase and installation), while the small Liva Q2 flash boot drive does not have the ability to run a test. There is no macOS version of the test. The M720q Tiny PCMark 8, with 5049 points, is perfect for a PC equipped with an M.2 PCI Express SSD as a boot drive.
The following is the Maxon Cinebench R15 test, which is fully processed and threaded to take advantage of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench emphasizes the CPU instead of the GPU to display a complex picture. The result is a patented score that indicates a computer’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
Not surprisingly, the Tiny M720q landed well ahead of the Celeron-based Liva Q2 and Core i3-based Apple Mac Mini and behind two Intel Core-based i7 NUCs. The Tiny’s Core i5-8400T processor has the above six processor cores but doesn’t support multiple threads. Intel NUC Core i7 chips have the advantage of clock speeds and although they are only quad-core chips, they also support up to eight processing threads, which gives them an advantage over Cinebench.
We also perform a customized comparison of Adobe Photoshop for image editing. In early 2018, we used 10 complex filters and effects for a standard JPEG test image in the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop. We measure each operation on time and add the total execution time in the end. Like the Handbrake, lower times are better here. The Photoshop test loads the processor, memory subsystem and RAM, but you can also use multiple GPUs to accelerate filtering, so systems with high-performance graphics or cards may experience a rebound.
The Tiny M720q was not so fast in the Photoshop test and lagged behind Apple’s competitors. This may well be the result of your slower clocks.
3DMark Sky Diver and Fire Strike
3DMark measures the relative graphic muscle by rendering sequences of very detailed and playful 3D graphics that highlight particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which adapt to different system types. Both are benchmarks in DirectX 11, but Sky Diver works better for mid-range laptops and laptops, while Fire Strike is more sophisticated and designed for high-end computers to showcase their products. The result is active points.
Like all systems based on integrated Intel graphics, the Tiny M720q was unable to achieve significant 3DMark results. For comparison: The reinforced Intel “Hades Canyon” NUC8i7HVK uses integrated AMD Vega graphics and rotation circles around the M720q Tiny. Meanwhile, Intel’s “Bean Canyon” NUC8i7BEH has Intel Iris graphics and also surpasses the Small M720q. Intel Iris graphics solutions are built into the processor but have a small amount of built-in eDRAM module to improve graphics performance.
The following is the second synthetic graphics test, this time by Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the overlay test also shows and releases a detailed 3D view and measures the control of the system. In this case, it is done under the nickname of the Unigine company, which provides a 3D workload scenario that is not 3DMark, to obtain another estimate of the machine’s graphics performance. Here are two overlapping results that will run with the default setting of 720p low and 1080p high.
Like other small desktop computers with integrated graphics, the Tiny M720q failed to achieve a playable frame rate (30 fps or more) in both overlay experiments. With its integrated graphics and lack of space for the GPU update, the Tiny M720q does not bother the players’ heads. That is not the strength of this kind of system.
The ThinkCentre M720q Tiny is the perfect choice for offices with little space or looking for a standalone computer for digital displays or a public workstation. (Note that the ability to stream three displays in our test system depends on the specific functions of the graphics that are built into the CPU usage you choose.) The configuration options are wide enough to accommodate almost any budget and small computing scenario. In addition, in situations where physical access to the system is a problem, it provides useful security features that protect your data and your system itself. In addition, the metal housing is durable and easy to maintain. Creative professionals should be looking for a larger PC with dedicated graphics, but busy and tight offices that rely heavily on daily productivity applications and prefer desktops and peripherals rather than laptops will look similar in Lenovo’s latest look on smaller desktops.
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