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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Hardware Review: Lenovo ThinkStation P300 SFF

March 19th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

Although it was first introduced in May 2014, we finally got around to reviewing the Lenovo ThinkStation P300. Lenovo positions this system as “entry level,” but the build quality and performance proved to be anything but.

Ever since they first came on to the market several years ago, I’ve always been a fan of a small form factor (SFF) desktop workstation, and the P300 fits nicely in this category. Its metal enclosure with plastic front bezel measures 13.25”H x 14.5”D x 4’W. Like what many of its competitors are offering, entry into the chassis requires not tools to remove a side panel with access to the internals. The interior has a nice layout and PCI and memory slots are easy to access, even with fat fingers. That said, though, there is no wasted space and the airflow is efficient with air being drawn through the front grille.

Lenovo ThinkStation P Series Product Tour

Measuring Performance

When we received the ThinkStation P300, we had reserved expectations for performance, largely because of the machine’s relatively low price. The objective (formal documented generic benchmarks) and subjective (actual design and engineering software applications) tests we ran surprised us, exceeded expectations, and didn’t disappoint in any respect.

However, keep in mind that the tests were performed with the ThinkStation P300 “out of the box,” as we received it – nothing was tweaked or optimized to distort the performance numbers (such as enabling multi-threading) in a positive or negative direction. I actually get more out of the subjective testing because it’s more “real world,” but the raw numbers from the benchmarks are also useful as a means of objective comparison with other machines in the class. Your evaluations will probably differ from mine, but they do provide a point for comparison.

For objective testing, we ran two benchmarks NovaBench (geared more toward overall performance) and SPECviewperf 11 (geared more toward graphics performance).

SPECviewperf 11.0 Results Summary

Viewset           Composite

Catia-03          24.55

Lightwave-01  69.31

Maya-03          23.34

Proe-05            17.02

Sw-02              39.38

NovaBench 3.0.4 Results Summary

System RAM Score: 173

RAM Speed: 7672 MB/s

CPU Score: 818

Floating Point Operations/Second: 205,977,928

Integer Operations/Second: 965,664,320

Graphics Score: 189

3D Frames/Second: 563

Hardware Score: 70

Primary Partition Capacity: 917 GB

Drive Write Speed: 179 MB/s

Total NovaBench Composite Score: 1250

The Composite Score was particularly impressive because it was actually superior to an evaluation we performed on a so-called high-end (expensive) workstation a couple of years ago.

Subjective Test

For subjective testing, I ran Autodesk Alias Design, Inventor, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and 3ds Max. I used data sets of standard models that I have created over the years for this testing, including a model with 70,000+ parts, renderings of complex surfaces, and animations. The ThinkStation P300 performed relatively well and did not grind through any of the subjective tests. In other words, quite suitable and acceptable for most prospective design and engineering customers.

Specifications As-Configured

Model No.: 30AK000SUS

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

CPU: Intel Xeon CPU E3-1241 v3 @ 3.50 GHz

Memory: 8GB

HDD: Western Digital 1 x 1TB@7200RPM SATA SATA RAID 0

180GB SSD @ 7200 RPM  + 1TB HDD SATA

Optical: DVD Multiburner

Slots/Ports: USB 2.0 (2), USB 3.0 (6), DP (2), Multicard (YES), VGA

Graphics Adapter: NVIDIA Quadro K600

Resolution: 1920×1080

Monitor: Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p wide flat panel (30” diagonal)

Price Range: Starts at $656.10, not including monitor

Price As-Configured: $1059.99, not including monitor

Final Thoughts

Although the technical computing world (along with just about everything else) is going mobile, there is certainly just as strong a case to be made for stationary desktop workstations. And even though the price premium for mobile workstations is shrinking, it’s definitely still there and a price that demands to be paid for mobility. On the other hand, the price/performance and build quality of the ThinkStation P300 make for an easy decision if mobility is not a primary consideration. Overall, a good value. Highly recommended.

Lenovo ThinkStation P300 Report Card

Pluses: Price/performance ratio; good build quality; quiet operation; small form factor; easy internal access.

Minuses: None significant, especially for the price point.

Overall Grade: A-

For More Information on Lenovo P Series Workstations: 1-855-253-6686

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