We needed a cheap, disposable off-the-shelf Windows 8 PC for some testing. We found this Lenovo H430 at Office Depot for only $399. (Looks like the price has gone up $30 since last week.) They had them in stock at our local store.
It's a pretty nice little computer for ~$400. It has decent specs with an Intel Core i3-2130 3.40 Ghz CPU, 6GB RAM, and a 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM hard drive. It uses the onboard Intel HD Graphics display adapter. It comes with Windows 8 x64. It has a one year parts and labor warranty (user replaceable, depot or on-site).
At the price you'd expect it to otherwise have some cheap innards, but they appear serviceable (Realtek HD Audio card, Realtek ethernet and wi-fi adapters, Sony Optiarc DVD RW, Genesys USB card reader).
Ours has two available PCI Express X1 slots (a third one is occupied by the wi-fi adapter) and one available PCI Express X16 slot. We installed a serial card in one of the PCIE X1 slots, and Windows 8 booted right up with no drama and recognized it just fine.
The SATA controller has extra connectors so you might theoretically be able to add another hard drive. (Looks like there might be room, but not not sure if there's power or if you can rig up another drive bay).
It has lots of connections, including wi-fi and an HDMI output. It would make a great home media/file sharing server. Except the Mrs. won't let me put it in the living room even though its remarkably quiet.
It's surprisingly free of pre-installed junk software and some of what it has is actually useful. It has a 30 day trial of McAfee Internet Security, Microsoft Office trial, Kindle and eBay apps, Adobe Reader, Evernote, Microsoft Skydrive and Lenovo Cloud Storage and Cyberlink PowerDVD player.
It also has Lenovo Rescue System, with simple one-click system image backups to the hard drive or an external USB drive. You can't backup to a network share, but you can copy the HD backup to one. If all else fails, you can launch a startup utility that restores the factory image from a hidden partition, a common feature these days. (We used this to wipe the PC for repeated clean testing and it works great.)
Windows 8 reports the "Windows Experience Index" (on a scale of 1 to 9.9) as follows:
Gaming Graphics: 5.3
Hard disk: 5.9
Not bad for a $400 PC. It feels really fast, but new PCs always do.
For about $150 more you can get a model with a 3rd generation Core i5-3330, 8GB RAM, and a 2TB hard drive. Their website says it has USB 2.0 connectors, but it wouldn't surprise me if some are actually USB 3.0.
Best I can tell, these are retail only and not sold directly by Lenovo.
Conclusion: I would recommend this PC for an inexpensive but powerful up-to-date PC. It's all most normal users would need. Ask me again in a couple of years.
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