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Lenovo ThinkStation D30 Review
The Lenovo ThinkStation D30 is a monster workstation for really big projects that need to be done, right away. With dual 8-core power , ISV-accepted Quadro graphics, and more expansion room than you know what to do with, this is the workstation to get.
(5) Editor’s Choiceout of
- Lots of expansion space and internal connectors
- Dual eight-core Xeon processors with Hyper-Threading
- Nvidia Quadro graphics
- 1,120-Watt power supply
- Only two USB 3.0 ports
- Only 300GB hard drive out of the box
The Lenovo ThinkStation D30 is the big stick in your golf bag. It’s a powerful, expandable, professional level workstation that users will use to create digital media like animated movies, explore for gas and oil, or create designs for large items like bridges and aircraft. It has a staggering amount of computing power, two eight-core processors, both with Hyper-Threading and Turbo-Boost technologies. The ThinkStation D30 a behemoth in every sense of the word, and it’s our latest Editors’ Choice for dual-processor workstations.
Design and Features
The ThinkStation D30 is a full-size, traditional tower. It measures around 19 by 8.5 by 24 inches (HWD), so you’ll need either a wide (and sturdy) desk or lots of space on the floor for the system. Like other Lenovo ThinkStation designs, the front panel is perforated with a honeycomb-like pattern, the front top of the system has a convenient handle, but you’re going to use that handle mostly to position the system, as it weighs over 60 pounds fully loaded with components.
The front of the system has the tray-loading DVD burner, two USB 2.0 ports, a card reader, and audio ports for mic and headphones. On the back, there are a bunch of ports: Serial, eight USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, audio, two Ethernet ports (which can be connected to separate networks). The Nvidia Quadro 5000 card sports a DVI port, two DisplayPorts, a special connector for the Quadro 5000′s 3D Vision Pro transmitter, and a FireWire 400 port.
Inside the system are two free PCI slots (for older expansion cards your company just can’t stop using), a free PCIe x16 slot, and a free PCIe x4 slot. If you don’t need FireWire 400, you can free the PCIe x16 slot that card is plugged into. The system has seven free SATA connectors on the motherboard, and some of those can be used with SAS drives, like the 300GB 15,000 rpm drive used as the C: drive. The system can accommodate four more hard drives in swappable sleds that don’t need a screwdriver to use. Likewise, this capacious chassis has two optical drive bays free, and plenty of prewired power leads snaking through the internal space. There are also eight free memory slots for more ECC DDR3 memory. This is a lot more space than systems we’ve seen in the past, including the Apple Mac Pro series, the EC-winning Lenovo ThinkStation C20, and ThinkStation D20. Essentially, the D30 has enough internal space to accommodate the hardware for virtually any project you need to do with a workstation, whether that is creating the next Oscar-winning animated masterpiece, making sure those 15,000 pictures get resized and autocorrected before the deadline in the next hour, or searching for gas or gold or both in the deep reaches of darkest Peru.
The ThinkStation D30 has very little pre-loaded software on it. When you’re computing billion dollar projects on a PC, you don’t want popups from trialware ruining your engineers’ concentration. As such, the pre-loaded software is limited to the operating system, ISV-certified drivers for the graphics card, and a few utilities like Lenovo Factory Recovery, Google Chrome, etc. The system comes with a three-year standard warranty, but you can extend that to five years upgraded with optional services like same day/next day turnarounds or on site repairs.
This is one of the highest performing systems we’ve had in the Labs. Each of the eight-core Intel Xeon E5-2687W processors has Hyper-Threading, so each CPU can handle 16 streams at the same time. Multiply that by two processors, and you’ll have a system that can handle 32 streams of data simultaneously. This is a far cry from the first multi-threaded processors in PCs a scant 10 years ago.
The system returned a mind-boggling 25.31 points on the CineBench test, which measures the system’s CPU-based 3D rendering prowess. To put that into perspective, high-end Core i7 processors in systems like the Velocity Micro ProMagix HD180 Max only manage 11.06 on the same test, and more pedestrian processors like the one in the Apple iMac 27-inch (Late 2012) top out at 7.36. Other benchmark tests are top-notch as well: The D30 has some of the fastest times we’ve seen on the Photoshop CS6 test, and the Handbrake video encode test isn’t too shabby either. While the 3DMark11 test is oriented more to consumer grade graphics cards, it’s nice to see high scores for the ThinkStation D30 on that test as well.
Sometimes, you just need to bring out the big stick, and the Lenovo ThinkStation D30 is that big stick. The sheer power of the dual eight-core Xeon CPUs plus the ability to add on more powerful Nvidia Quadro cards means that this is a system to scorch project deadlines in minutes rather than hours, or hours instead of days. Our last dual-processor workstation Editors’ Choice was the Lenovo ThinkStation C20, which amazed us by putting dual Xeon CPUs in a more compact chassis. The Lenovo ThinkStation D30 now usurps that mantle, as the dual-processor workstation Editors’ Choice. It wins with power, expandability, and a ruthless devotion to get your project done before any of your rivals can.
By Joel Santo Domingo, PCMag
- Type: Workstation, Business
- Processor Family: Intel Xeon
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage Capacity (as Tested): 300 GB
- Graphics Card: Nvidia Quadro 5000
- Primary Optical Drive: Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional