Lenovo ThinkStation E31 review

13 Sep 2012

Lenovo’s compact workstation is powerful and versatile - an attractive proposition at this price

Price when reviewed: 
882(£883 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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.

Lenovo ThinkStation E31

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.

Lenovo ThinkStation E31

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £735
Price inc VAT £882
Overall rating 5
Performance 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000GB
RAM capacity 4.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 3.30GHz
Processor socket 1155

Memory

Memory type DDR3

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia Quadro 600
Graphics chipset Nvidia Quadro 600
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Seagate Barracuda
Capacity 1.00TB

Case

Dimensions 337 x 369 x 100mm (WDH)

Rear ports

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

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 51fps
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.02
Responsiveness score 0.94
Media score 1.09
Multitasking score 1.03

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