Lenovo ThinkStation E31 review
Lenovo’s compact workstation is powerful and versatile - an attractive proposition at this price
Workstations are typically large, ugly towers, but the increasing efficiency of desktop components means system builders are able to cram more than ever into small-form-factor machines.
Lenovo’s latest, the ThinkStation E31, is one such example. It follows on from the A-Listed ThinkCentre M90, and several sensible design touches have been carried over from the older machine. There’s still the spring-loaded switch on the back that unhooks one side panel, for instance, as well as the formidable build quality that should ensure the E31 will withstand the toughest of offices.
Lenovo has made changes elsewhere. Last time, the motherboard was attached to the lid of the machine, but in the E31 it’s relocated to the bottom of the chassis, where it’s hidden beneath a removable plastic shroud. It’s easy to remove, and this ease of access extends throughout the machine: the hard disk is held inside a plastic, tool-free caddy that can be lifted away from the chassis, and the optical drive slides into a metal cage that tilts upwards for access.
There’s not a huge amount of room in E31, but Lenovo has still managed to fit in a few upgrade paths. Two memory sockets are free underneath the plastic shroud and, while the PCI Express x16 slot is occupied by an Nvidia Quadro 600 graphics card, there’s still a PCI Express x1 slot free – ideal for a wireless card.
Intel’s 3.3GHz Xeon E3-1230 V2 provides processing power, with its V2 suffix indicating Ivy rather than Sandy Bridge technology. It’s a quad-core, Hyper-Threaded part and, while it sits towards the bottom of Intel’s range of Ivy Bridge Xeons, there’s plenty to like – a Turbo Boost clock of 3.7GHz and 8MB of L3 cache, for instance.
The Xeon propelled the Lenovo to a benchmark score of 1.02. That’s about the speed we expect from consumer-level Core i7 chips, and it’s enough to put paid to the majority of business applications. It’s aided by 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk.
That particular Xeon doesn’t include an integrated graphics core, so Lenovo has turned to the Nvidia Quadro 600 – a professional chip based on a host of cards dating back to the GeForce GT 440. It’s no high-end card, but it still ran through the SpecViewPerf 11 benchmark at an average of 18fps. It’s a step down from the 26fps scored by the Quadro 6000M in the HP Z1, but it’s still a reasonable amount of graphics power.
|Price ex VAT||£735|
|Price inc VAT||£882|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||3 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||1,000GB|
|CPU family||Intel Xeon|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.30GHz|
|Graphics card||Nvidia Quadro 600|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia Quadro 600|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Number of graphics cards||1|
|Hard disk||Seagate Barracuda|
|Dimensions||337 x 369 x 100mm (WDH)|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Software supplied||Lenovo ThinkVantage, Lenovo SimpleTap|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||37W|
|Peak power consumption||141W|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||51fps|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||1.02|