Design and Layout
All-in-one PCs like this one are the ultimate in instant gratification. In terms of setup work, all you have to do is attach the heavy-duty V-shaped base to the bottom of the monitor. That task takes all of 30 seconds and the thumb screws mean you don’t even need a screwdriver to get the job done. Then it's just a matter of plugging in the keyboard and mouse and turning the thing on. Two thick rubber feet prevent the screw heads from gouging your desk surface.
The stand is plenty sturdy and connects to smooth and strong hinges on the back of the monitor, so you can easily adjust your viewing angle up or down to suit your preferences. You can’t, however, raise or lower the unit in any way, so either you live with the height or hack your own adjustments somehow.
Lenovo shipped a standard wired USB mouse and keyboard with the B50. There’s nothing notable about the mouse, but the keyboard is very much a svelte device and the key layout is a bit different than, say, some of the company’s laptops. For instance, on the B50’s keyboard, the Function key is at the outermost key column; on a lot of keyboard that’s where the Control key resides.
It’s hard not to gripe about the wired input devices. For a sleek all-in-one machine like this Lenovo, the dangling wires are both a nuisance and an eyesore.
You can connect peripherals to one of the three USB ports on the rear. Here you’ll also find two HDMI ports (one in, one out), the Ethernet jack and the power plug, too. Tucked on the left side (but still out of sight) are two Super Speed USB ports, jacks for a microphone and headphones, and a flash card reader that works with six card formats. The right side features the glowing power button and also the Blu-ray drive.
Like laptops, a lot of all-in-ones have a deserved reputation for lackluster sound quality. The B50’s speakers are mounted to the bottom of the monitor and although volume is certainly sufficient for most purposes, they don’t crank out a lot of decibels. For both music and gaming, the speakers do have a good range of highs and lows and will suffice for most needs.
From the Lenovo web site you can choose from two flavors of the B50 Touch. For $1099, you can snag the version equipped with the Core i5-4460T (1.90GHz 1600MHz 6MB), which also includes 8GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 4600. This Haswell CPU includes Intel’s Turbo Boost capability that can intermittently ramp up to 2.7GHz for a little extra oomph when necessary.
For $300 more you’ll see a definite upgrade, starting with the Core i7-4785T (2.20GHz 1600MHz 8MB) and 12GB RAM. The turbo speed on this chip hits 3.2GHz.
Graphics get a bump, too, thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce GT 840A with 2GB of dedicated frame buffer memory. But as you’ll see, this particular video card isn’t going satisfy anyone who does a lot of hardcore gaming that requires high-speed video processing.
On the software front, it's pretty standard fair. Windows 8.1 is included along with an array of Lenovo-branded apps and games. Of course, we should mention that Lenovo has taken a lot of well deserved heat lately for pre-installing intrusive, and potentially dangerous, ad-ware on some of its machines in the US. The company has since reversed course, however, and released and automatic removal tool to eliminate it from their systems.