Lenovo is doing great things in the business computing market. Actually, the company range of IBM-inherited ThinPad laptops and ThinkCentre desktops are still the best money can buy if your needs are strictly corporate. No other company – Dell included – offers such impressive build quality and support tools compared to Lenovo. The company’s latest desktop PC, the ThinkCentre M58p, is its greenest, most secure and most manageable ThinkCentre desktop PC yet. So that really is saying something!

The M58p (from £688) is built to last. Encased in a wholly-black chassis that’s as heavy as it looks, the M58p is no beauty queen. In fact, if there was a worldwide competition to find the prettiest computer, the M58 wouldn’t even make the knockout stages. But frivolous eye candy is not what this machine is all about – it’s built for serious business and cutting costs. Most significant is an exclusive technology called Power Manager that lets you monitor and remotely control the amount of electricity used by all Power Manager-enabled desktops in a PC fleet. For example, PCs can be programmed to shut down evenings or weekends. Through the use of Power Manager and Intel vPro technologies, the ThinkCentre M58p provides the lowest total cost of ownership of any ThinkCentre PC.

The eco-friendly features don’t stop there. Further solidifying the ThinkCentre M58p as one of the industry’s leading ‘green’ computing solutions is the gold status achieved from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool organisation, or EPEAT. The M58p has also passed the stringent testing of GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, which probed for the presence of up to 2000 potentially harmful contaminants, in addition to receiving the GREENGUARD Certification for Children & Schools, which takes into account children’s higher sensitivity to pollutants.

In addition to energy consumption, another key factor for businesses investing in computing solutions is security. Lenovo hasn’t missed a trick here either, and the ThinkCentre M58p is also one of the most secure desktop machines on the market. The first ThinkCentre PC to support Hardware Password Manager (HPM), the M58p allows for oversight of user, supervisory, BIOS and HDD passwords. Previous ThinkCentre password managers only allowed for password management at the software level. Additionally, you can disable/enable USB and PS2 ports for complete peace of mind. Sadly, HPM requires a separate software purchase and won’t actually be available until April. There is also an embedded Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) security chip.

The Windows Vista Business-powered ThinkCentre M58p is available in a choice of three enclosures: tower, small form factor, and ultra-small form factor. Regardless of which machine you opt for, you’ll have to budget extra for a monitor. The desktop PC comes with a range of processor options, including Intel’s E8000-series Core 2 Duo and Q9000-series Core 2 Quad CPUs. The system also offers Intel’s Q45 chipset with ICH10-DO and is quieter and cooler than any previous ThinkCentre across all form factors; it’s actually up to 6dB quieter than the ThinkCentre M57/M57p and the hard drive and the processor power module run 6- and 11% cooler, respectively, than the M57/M57p. Embracing new technology, the M58p is also the first ThinkCentre with an onboard DisplayPort (no HDMI or S-Video).

Other technical specifications worth divulging include 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz (expandable up to 8GB), 500GB SATA hard disk drive, and a SATA DVD+RW DL recorder. Graphics are driven by Intel’s Integrated Graphics 4500 chipset. There’s a spare 5.25-inch drive bay to load a second optical drive or backup drive, along with a 3.5-inch bay for attaching a memory card reader or floppy disk drive – should you want to! Also at the front of the machine are two USB 2.0 ports, along with headphone and microphone ports. At the rear of the machine is a single analogue VGA port, serial port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, Gigabit Ethernet jack, and another six USB 2.0 ports. There are also three audio-out jacks, but sadly there are no FireWire or eSATA ports for hooking up external backup drives. There’s no built-in Bluetooth or Wi-Fi either, but these features are only really suitable for consumer PCs anyhow.

The ThinkCentre M58p is perfectly tailored to the specific needs of business users. It comes with a raft of tools to help you manage and secure just one or a fleet of hundreds. The complexity of IT management is also helped in several ways. For instance, Active Management Technology 3.0 from Intel provides advanced levels of PC remote management to power the PC when the OS or hard disk drive is inoperable, or the PC is turned off. Lenovo’s unique ThinkVantage Technologies allow a manager or user to restore data in less than 10 minutes and recover from viruses and other software failures. It also provides capabilities not found in traditional backup and restore programs.

Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) allows IT managers to better discover, heal, and protect their networked computing assets. AMT stores hardware and software information in non-volatile memory. With built-in manageability, Intel AMT allows you to discover a computer’s assets, even while the PC is powered off. With Intel AMT, remote consoles do not rely on local software agents, helping to avoid accidental data loss. Furthermore, the built-in manageability of Intel’s AMT provides out-of-band management capabilities to allow you to remotely heal systems after OS failures. Alerting and event logging helps detect problems quickly to reduce downtime. A System Defense Feature helps protect your network from threats at the source by proactively blocking incoming threats, reactively containing infected clients before they impact the network, and proactively alerting you when critical software agents are removed. Intel AMT also helps to protect your network by making it easier to keep software and virus protection consistent and up-to-date across the enterprise. Third-party software can store version numbers or policy data in non-volatile memory for off-hours retrieval or updates.

The ThinkCentre M58p will never outperform a regular consumer desktop PC, but it does offer excessive performance for the typical business user (how much power do you really need for MS Office and Web browsing?). All chassis designs share the same internal component choices (processors, motherboard chipsets, and to an extent, graphics), so you can use the same drive image on all desktop models. Having said that, the ultra-small form factor model uses a laptop-style optical drive. Tool-less entry (no screwdriver needed) offers unmatched serviceability and upgradeability with completely tool-less components, allowing quick access to hard drives/floppy drives, optical devices and adapter cards. The inside of the ThinkCentre M58p we had in for review was uncluttered and comfortably serviceable.

The ThinkCentre M58p was designed specifically for the rigorous demands of large businesses and educational institutions. However, it’s equally up to the task of running your small business. The design goal for the M58p was to be the greenest, most secure, most manageable and quietest ThinkCentre ever. Lenovo should be praised for its efforts, as with advanced technologies such as Power Manager and support for Hardware Password Manager, the M58p is one of the most complete business machines you can purchase. The ThinkCentre M58p comes with a limited, 3-year onsite warranty with next business day service.