Lenovo ThinkStation C20

07 October 2010

Beautifully designed workstation, which has the most compact dual processor capable chassis in the industry, but our test machine fails to take advantage of its true potential

Product ThinkStation C20
Company name Lenovo
Price £1,886

Getting the most out of a small space is a skill much sought after by London flat dwellers, but when it comes to workstations those boffins at Lenovo have got it licked.

The Chinese company’s new ThinkStation C20 is a marvel of modern engineering and manages to pack two high-end Intel Xeon CPUs into a stylish, slimline chassis.

Lenovo claims it is the world’s smallest dual CPU workstation and we wouldn’t argue with that.

Compartmentalisation is the name of the game and the machine’s power supply and hard drive are sectioned off from the rest of the components, while the DVD drive is spun through 90 degrees to fit it into a chassis that measures a mere 130mm in width.

Despite its compact dual CPU credentials, our test machine only came with one, an Intel Xeon E5640 Processor (2.66GHz). The relatively low clock speed of this Quad Core chip meant it played second fiddle to Dell’s Precision T1500 under a number of our CPU tests, but the system’s additional memory gave it an edge in our multitasking CAM test. The Xeon E5640’s bigger cache (12MB compared to the 8MB of the Intel Core i7 870) was probably responsible for its boost in our simulation test.

For graphics, despite its age, the Nvidia Quadro FX 1800 continues to be a solid performer for mid-range CAD and left the Dell Precision T1500 standing in our 3D test. Faster cards are available, but Lenovo is yet to offer Nvidia’s new high-end Quadro 4000 or 5000 boards.

Having a single processor in a dual CPU capable machine is not the most cost effective way to invest in a workstation and on price performance our test machine scored poorly. Yes, you can always upgrade to a second processor as your needs change, but this is becoming a less common practice. And when you have the world’s smallest dual CPU workstation, it’s a real shame not to take advantage from the off.
Greg Corke

To view the benchmark scores please click here

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