ReviewsExclusive Review of the Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 Windows Home...

Exclusive Review of the Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 Windows Home Server


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This morning a nice box from Lenovo arrived containing the new Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 Windows Home Server.

We posted the unboxing shots here and so I won’t repost them all now, but go and have a look at them if you haven’t seen them yet.

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There are two different models of the D400, the 3013-1AU and the 3013-1BU. The only difference between the two is the 1AU comes with 1TB of storage and the 1BU comes with 2TB.

The rest of the specifications they both share:

PROCESSOR : Intel Atom 230 Processor (1.60GHz 533MHz 512KB)

MEMORY : 1GB capable of supporting up to 2GB

GRAPHICS : Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950

DRIVE BAYS : 4 SATA drive bays on the front

CHIPSET : Intel 945GC Express Chipset

FRONT PORTS : One USB 2.0 with a USB copy button for the Easy USB transfer function

REAR PORTS : Four USB 2.0, one eSATA, one Ethernet

POWER SUPPLY : 200 watts

DIMENSIONS : 200mm x 208.6mm x 212mm

COLOUR : Black bezel

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Apart from the D400 itself, there is a manual, an installation poster, a power cable, Ethernet cable and the usual 3 software DVDs.


It’s interesting to note that there is a mistake on the installation poster – it shows a screenshot from the Server Recovery DVD instead of the Client Installation DVD – but no real harm done.


Like most Windows Home Servers, it is just a simple case of connecting up the D400 and popping the Client Installation DVD into a computer on your network and then following the steps to install the software.

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Here are the usual installation screenshots for those of you who might be interested:

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When you first launch the Windows Home Server Console you will be asked for the password for the Hardware Health and Performance Monitor Service.

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The first screen you will see is the Lenovo Home Server tab which gives you a single page view of the status of your Windows Home Server.

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There are a couple of other Settings tabs specific to the D400:

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Out of the box, the D400 comes preinstalled with Windows Home Server Power Pack 1, so as Power Pack 2 has been out for a while now, and Power Pack 3 should be here soonish you will want to update your Home Server first. This is just a case of going to Settings button and clicking Update and waiting while all the update download and install for you.


You can use the Hardware Health and Performance Monitor settings page to set a refresh interval for monitoring data, configure performance threshold settings, specify email destinations to which alerts should be sent when temperature, voltage, and fan speed abnormality is detected or the pre-configured threshold is exceeded.

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The IP Configuration settings page allows you to view the home server’s current IP configuration settings or change the IP configuration manually. This is a nice feature that saves you from having to use Remote Desktop to get access to these kind of changes.

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The D400 also comes with two other pieces of software that need to be installed if you want to use them. These are the LightsOut client utility and the Lenovo Home Server Easy Access Utility.

Lights Out is an application that was developed by a fellow WHS MVP, Martin Rothschink that allows you to set the home server into suspend mode or wake the system at a chosen time with the aid of a calendar event.

The default Uptime screen displays a chart showing recorded uptimes in the home server, such as when a backup took place, which home computer was active, or when the home server woke up from
sleep mode.

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The Lenovo Home Server Easy Access utility is a piece of software you install on your client computers that enables you do use a one-click file copy from your computer directly to your Home Server.

The software that comes on the Client DVD doesn’t work with 64 bit Windows but you are pointed to the Lenovo website for an updated version.

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So, 5 minutes later I have downloaded and installed a version of the software that works fine on my 64bit Windows machine.

You will see a new icon on your desktop called Lenovo Home Server EasyAccess.

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When your first double-click on it you will be asked about connecting to the server.

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In the Computer view on your computer, you will now see your home server listed under Network Locations.

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If you double-click on this you are taken to a list of all your shared folders, so this saves you the effort of having to double-click on the Shared Folders icon or from the task tray.

Now if you highlight some files on your computer, right-click to bring up the context menu you can now click on Upload to HOMESERVER (or whatever you home server is called), and then select the folder to copy them straight to your home server.

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This feature is great – and will save a lot of time if you do a lot of copying!


The USB backup button on the front panel allows you to backup data from a USB storage device to the home server. Windows Home Server copies all files into the Publics shared folder first then classifies the files according to media type into their corresponding shared folders, namely Music, Videos, Photos. When Windows Home Server cannot determine file type, the file is automatically stored into the Others folder.

So all you have to do is plug in a USB hard drive and press the USB backup button on the front of the D400 to begin (it will now be glowing blue). If you have a lot of hard drives that are not external USB drives you should consider buying an adaptor, they can be very useful.


I did a little test and was very impressed with the results, and it was quite quick. This is much easier that plugging in a drive to your WHS, and then having to map drives and manually copy files over.


So Lenovo have gone with the low powered Atom 230 Processor which is a single-core 64 bit processor. While this is not as powerful as the processor on the new HP MediaSmart EX49x series, it should certainly get the job done.

The D400 looks very similar to the Acer Aspire H340 in that is a black cube. It does have a semi transparent door which makes it look a little retro.

It is not the quietest home server on the market, so you might want to think carefully about where you place it. That being said, it certainly isn’t the loudest device I have ever had running either.

The Easy USB file transfer button on the front of the D400 is a nice touch – just plug in your USB drive and press the button and it will copy the contents to your Windows Home Server. Now this isn’t exactly a new feature, the Acer Aspire H340 does the same thing, but it is nice to see it being used again as it can really save time if you do a lot of data importing this way.

The Lenovo Home Server EasyAccess client software is great – it is very easy to install and use and it will really save a lot of time if you do a lot of uploading to your home server, which I am sure you will do, because that is one of the reasons for having a home server.

So do I like the D400? The answer is yes, I do. It doesn’t have all the media capabilities of the new EX49x series from HP, but if you are looking for a good, solid Windows Home Server with some great features, you really should take a look at the D400.

The D400 3013 1AU retails for $499 and the 3013 1BU retails for $599, No news yet on release dates or prices for anywhere other than the US so watch this space.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. From the specs of the hardware & prices. Why would anyone buy this instead of the Acer? Acer is cheaper and has more RAM. I can understand people choosing the HP over this because the hardware is more powerful and has better pre-installed Add-ins.

    • Steve

      Given that the D400 literally just came out, there are bound to be deals and I would guess the price will drop to be competitive.

      The only additional selling point that the D400 has over the Acer is the additional client software, which is nice and useful.

      Sorry if that isnt a straight answer, but I dont really have one to give.


  2. This is nothing I would buy. Too slow processor, not enough ram and WHY build a server without a proper fan? An "HP 495 spec-server" with a nice big QUIET fan will kill all competition! I really expected more from Lenovo 😮

    • I am sure there are going to be people who dont want to spend the extra money on the EX495 and may not need all the extras that it brings and so will consider the Lenovo. And the fan noise isnt that bad.


      • Totally agree. Just think the higher end market is taken by HP and lower end is being eaten up by Acer. Lenovo is going to have a hard time chipping away at Acer. Its basically the same hardware…actually less so, but at least $100 more. Been seeing deals for Acer for $260-320.

        I woundn't be surprise if Acer & Lenovo comes out of the same factory in China 😉

        Good for us to have more choice but don't think Lenovo is really adding anything.

        • Good guess, they are both from the same ODM – Wistron !!

          The question is why would Lenovo not put the 2 GB Chip in the machine. A 1 GB WHS just does not make any sense.


      • Andrew,

        Thanks for another quality review however I am still at a loss as to which WHS to go for after reading through all of your reviews on the HP, Acer and Lenovo.

        From what I can see the HP Ex490/5 have more power through their Intel processors as aposed to the Acer and Lenovo using the Atom 230 processor.

        You mention that the HP EX 490/5 servers come with extra software that the Acer and Lenovo do not have but I canot find any information on what this extra software is. It would be helpfull if you could you clarify this for me so that i can make a decision on wether I would use them or not.

        Mainly I intend to use the WHS for backing up and accessing my files and photos along with streaming audio/video media to my Xbox 360 and possibly a media extender through a wired network.

        I appreciate any advice you can offer on a sutable home server and answers to my questions above.

        Best Regards,

        Graham Cannell

        • Hi Graham

          thank you 🙂

          My advice would be to go for the HP EX49x series if you were planning on doing lots of streaming and transcoding of media files.

          The extra software in question with the HP's is the media conversion software specifically.

          Hope that helps?


  3. Stupid question here, I am looking for a home server and like the price of this and the large hd that comes with it. You said that the HP model is better at handling media, I was wondering if you could explain what you mean please. I am kind of new to all this so I am sorry if the question is to general. I am looking for a good solid home server that will handle Itunes, some video and back up my four computers and allow me to get files from remote location. I have found a good deal on the HP 487 and wonder if that is better then this model in your view. THank you

  4. Hi Bill

    The HP models come with media transcoding features, which basically means that they will convert media files to different playback devices for you, such as an iphone or zune.

    Personally I think the EX487 is a great machine and you would be wise to seriously consider it.


  5. I have not seen an HP server in the pricerange that supports a network printer – I will not buy a home server without this feature. The Lenovo does, and the Acer does but I see people delisting the Acer – do they not sell the Acer anymore? Tigerdirect now carries the Lenovo and NOT the Acer.

    • Jay

      As far as I know the Acer is still available – but it has been out now for quite a while so it could just be that places are running out of stock.

      As for supporting a network printer, you should be able to get any WHS to work with a printer as long as you have Windows 2003 drivers.


  6. Andrew, I just read your review and found it to be very informative.

    A couple days ago Lenovo advertised a coupon code through that dropped the price of the D400-3013AU (1TB version) to $320. Before really knowing much about Windows Home Servers, I quickly looked for user reviews and didn't come across much from paying customers – just from the kind of review sites that typically get free products to review. Despite some concern, I placed the order anyway because the coupon code was supposed to expire after 200 uses.

    I have run across numerous user reviews for the Acer AH340, which seems to be nearly identical to the Lenovo but with 2GB RAM. The reviews are favorable, but further investigation make me wonder if a HP MediaSmart EX49x would be better suited for at least one of our family's needs – the desire for simple two way transfers with our TiVoHD's.

    Now I don't really need to use the storage server for video conversion, as I may very well prefer doing that at the PC level anyway. Also, I may end up preferring to use a Python-based program called pyTivo for TiVo transfers, which would require manual installation regardless of whether on the Lenovo or the HP.

    So, as long as the Lenovo could keep up with the HP for streaming HDTV video, the remaining concern is maximum capacity, as Lenovo says 8TB and HP says 15TB/17TB (EX490/EX495). Can you explain this difference?


    • The HP machines are pretty much some of the best ones on the market – mainly because they come with pretty much everything you need out of the box.

      That being said, if you are not interested in media conversion and some features you will use other software for then the Lenovo is a good bargain at that price.

      Regarding the storage size, I cant say I have added more than 8TB to the Lenovo, I would guess thats more to do with internal storage supported by the motherboard because it is NOT a Windows Home Server limit.


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