Its price ($3784 as of August 23, 2009) puts the Lenovo ThinkStation S20 in the upper-echelon of Power PCs we’ve tested, and its components are anything but conventional. This workstation-class desktop’s 2.93GHz Xeon W3540 CPU is comparable to a 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 940 processor, though the W3540 should run a little cooler than the Core i7 940. The system’s 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory is somewhat less than the usual 6GB included on high-end Core i7-based systems. Similarly, its storage offering–a RAID 0 array of two Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB hard drives–seems a bit skimpy.
The ThinkStation S20’s score of 136 in WorldBench 6 is a common mark for Core i7 940 systems (including some that cost far less than the S20). And though the system’s nVidia Quadro FX 4800 video card has excellent specs for running interactive models and high-bandwidth graphical tasks, its frame rates in our Unreal Tournament 3 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars game tests (58 frames per second and 35 fps) are far below those of most other systems in the Top 10 of our Power PC listings.
The system sets aside room for a single 5.25-inch device and one extra hard drive. Three free PCI expansion slots sweeten the deal slightly, though the large plastic retention mechanism covering them can be slightly unwieldy.
The system’s external connective offerings include eight USB ports on the system’s rear and two more on the front. Also on the back are a single gigabit ethernet port, integrated 7.1 surround sound, two S/PDIF optical ports, an eSATA port, and two graphics card-based HDMI ports. The front has only a multicard reader to supplement the aforementioned pair of USB ports.
The ThinkStation S20’s solid general performance is undercut by its inferior graphics capabilities. Don’t buy this workstation PC and expect to get the experience of a consumer-grade system.