Lenovo ThinkStation S10 Review

by Reads (34,334)

by Kevin O’Brien

The ThinkStation S10 is Lenovo’s top-end WorkStation for demanding professionals. This computer can be configured with options as high as Intel’s quad core QX6850 processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, dual SAS 15k RPM hard drives, two NVIDIA FX4600 Quadro video cards, and even a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card. Most users configuring this particular model will probably never notice the $800 starting price when individual upgrades can raise the price to $1,800 or more. Read on to see if this machines high price tag is worth it.

Specifications:

Our review model had the following specifications:

  • Windows Vista Business (64-bit)
  • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 Processor (3GHz, 8MB L2, 1333MHz FSB)
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX4600 Graphics Card
  • 2GB (1 x 2GB) ECC DDR3 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 1TB RAID 0 (2 x 500GB Seagate 7200.10 drives)
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card
  • DVD Burner 16X Max
  • 9-in-1 Media card reader
  • Additional Firewire Expansion Card (2 External ports, 1 internal)
  • Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 11.8″ x 9.4″ x 3.2″
  • Weight: 32lbs
  • 650W Power Supply
  • 3-Year Limited Onsite Warranty Standard
  • Price as configured: $3,370.50

Build and Design

The case design for the ThinkStation S10 is very basic, but also stylish at the same time. It is a standard tower design with two exposed 5.25” bays, and one 3.5” floppy bay. It also features quick access to headphone/ microphone jacks, two USB ports, and 1 fullsize Firewire port located right under the optical bays. The front bezel is designed with a honeycomb structure which gives it a nice modern look, and is polished off with its standard IBM black finish all around.

 

Build quality is excellent, with a very solid feeling all around, enough that it could be used as a second chair if needed. The front bezel is a sturdy plastic, as well as the carrying handle. While I would have liked to see more steel, the stock weight of 32lbs was quite enough already. The side panels are thick gauge steel, all riveted in place except for the service door, which has a nice handle release. This workstation could easily be used to fend off almost any attacker, and still work the rest of the night crunching numbers.

Upgrades and Expansion

Power users looking to tweak internal components, or upgrade parts down the road will love the case layout and design. Almost all main components can be upgraded without the use of a screwdriver, including the RAM, hard drives, expansion cards, and optical drives. All of these components use plastic assemblies that lock in the devices with clips and snaps, instead of screws for easy maintenance.

The motherboard and case offers two 5.25” bays, one 3.5” bay, three hard drive bays, four RAM slots, two PCI card slots and three PCI-Express x 16 slots. Depending on the configuration of your S10, you may or may not have quite a few open slots or bays for additional components.

Keyboard and Mouse

The included keyboard and mouse is very simplistic, but fine for regular office use. No multimedia keys or fancy features are found on the USB keyboard. In some ways I wish it offered at least volume and mute keys, but that could be corrected with the purchase of different keyboard.

The mouse is a standard three button USB optical mouse with scroll wheel. Performance was adequate, although I would have preferred larger Teflon pads for easily sliding on desk surfaces.

Performance

System performance of the Lenovo ThinkStation S10 was outstanding, which was known from the start given its specifications. The Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core QX6850 processor, NVIDIA Quadro FX4600 graphics card, Intel RAID 0 hard drive setup and 2GB of 1333Mhz DDR3 memory really help speed things up. Startup and shutdown times were very fast, and normal office productivity applications loaded almost instantly. One nice advantage of having such a powerful workstation is they are also very handy at playing many of the latest games with ease, including very stressful ones such as Crysis.

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance).

PCMark05: 9999

3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance (higher scores mean better performance).

3DMark06:10327

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi. (Lower numbers mean better performance.)

wPrime: 13.869s

HDTune results:

Ports and Features

  • 2 DVI, S-Video
  • Two 1Gb LAN Ports
  • 10 USB Ports
  • 4 Fullsize Firewire Ports (2 Rear, 1 Front, 1 Internal)
  • 1 Serial
  • PS2 Mouse and Keyboard
  • 9 in 1 Card Reader
  • Motherboard Audio: Optical Audio Out, Line-In, Line-Out, 5.1 Speaker Out
  • Sound Blaster audio: Optical Audio In/Out, Line-In, Line-Out, 5.1 Speaker Out, Front Headphone/Mic

Front: Card Reader, 1 Firewire, 2 USB, Headphone/Mic

Rear: AC Power, 2 PS2, Serial, 8 USB, 2 LAN, 1 Optical, Motherboard Audio connections, 2 DVI, S-Video, 2 Firewire, Sound Blaster Audio connections.

Left: Side panel release

Heat and Noise

One downside to such a powerful machine is the amount of power it consumes which relates directly to the heat output and fans needed to keep the system cool. The ThinkStation S10 can be a very loud computer when its fans are throttled up to max, which can be heard when first powering it on. After the S10 powers up the fan noise levels off and you are left with a mild drone sound from the five active fans inside the case. Under most situations, including heavily stressing the machine, the fans stay at the mild drone speed without ramping up.

Considering how loud this workstation can be compared to a notebook or power friendly desktop, I would probably recommend that you install it below your desk, or inside a cabinet with adequate ventilation to mask most of the noise.

Heat output is substantial, but given its specifications expected. Under normal conditions the computer draws 160-170 watts at idle, and up to 280 watts under load. Shedding this excess heat can warm up a small office if left on overnight, enough that you notice the difference upon opening the door. In a room that is 70F, the main fan outlet pushes out a steady 85F temp when the computer is idling, and 92F when under a full load.

Internal case temperatures are managed very well by the five internal fans, or six if you include the one on the video card.

Full Load with CPU and Video Card Stressed (280w consumed):

  • CPU: 71C/71C/75C/77C
  • GPU: 63C
  • Both Hard Drives: 32C
  • Motherboard: 49C
  • Case Exhaust: 33C

Idle (160w consumed):

  • CPU: 43C/40C/38C/38C
  • GPU: 55C
  • Both Hard Drives: 33C
  • Motherboard: 46C
  • Case Exhaust: 28C

Speakers and Audio

Speakers were not included with the ThinkStation S10, although some were offered as an option for $15. Given the vast amount of ports on our review model, you could hook up enough speakers to annoy the entire office if needed.

For private, office music listening, the case has multiple headphone jacks, included on the front and rear of the case.

Power consumption

Power consumption of the ThinkStation S10 was far from being outlet friendly. Compared to the ThinkCentre M57 Eco, this workstation draws four times as much power at idle, and four times as much under load. At idle this machine consumes 160 watts of power, quickly ramping up to 280 watts under load.

During an average 8-hour work day, the ThinkStation S10 consumes 1.48kWh of electricity. In our area where each kWh costs 11.6 cents, this machine costs us about 17.2 cents per day to operate.

Conclusion

The Lenovo ThinkStation S10 is an excellent workhorse in a demanding office environment. If your budget can handle it, the configuration options allow you to build a system that can easily cope with most heavy tasks. With great build quality and plenty of expansion possible, it is easy to see this machine last a long time in an office setting.

Pros

  • Very, very fast
  • More ports than I have ever seen on a computer
  • No screwdriver required to upgrade or replace many components
  • Very sturdy case

Cons

  • Power hungry
  • Louder than your average desktop


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