This month is a massive rush of new hardware. Users fond of high-powered portables are probably losing their minds; while Windows 8 and RT are of questionable value to desktop users, hardware designed to take advantage of them is flooding onto the market. Likewise, the SoCs powering smartphones continue to advance at a breakneck pace that hasn't really been seen since the dawn of the Pentium era. It's easy to forget that for how powerful portable technology has become, the potential for desktops and desktop workstations is downright monstrous.

For the foreseeable future, there will always be a need for CAD, video, and 3D rendering workstations. Basic desktop users see grossly diminishing returns on performance after about four logical cores (eight threads), but workstation tasks can still soak up every last ounce of performance you can throw at them. For major businesses where time very truly is money, that means needing the fastest hardware you can find and maintaining uptime for as long as humanly possible. That, in turn, means finding a workstation that's both reliable and easy to service. Lenovo hopes to address these needs with the ThinkStation D30, a dual-socket workstation capable of sporting up to sixteen cores and dual NVIDIA workstation cards (including the Quadro 6000 and Tesla cards for Maximus support).

In Lenovo's lineup, the D30 really is as big as it gets. We've seen more modest workstations from Dell and HP and even tested Intel's powerful Xeon E5-2687W, but this is the first dual-socket monster we've gotten our hands on. Our review unit is configured with a pair of E5-2687W processors along with a single NVIDIA Quadro 5000 graphics card. I want to be clear: this level of performance is probably available from other vendors (at what cost is another matter entirely), and Lenovo does have to contend with Dell's excellent desktop workstation designs as well as HP's stellar enterprise-class notebooks.

Lenovo ThinkStation D30 Specifications
Chassis Custom Lenovo
Processor 2x Intel Xeon E5-2687W
(8x3.1GHz, Turbo to 3.8GHz, 32nm, 20MB L3, 150W)
Motherboard Custom C600 Board
Memory 8x2GB ECC DDR3-1333 (four per CPU)
Graphics NVIDIA Quadro 5000 2.5GB GDDR5
(352 CUDA Cores, 513MHz/1026MHz/3GHz core/shader/RAM, 320-bit memory bus)
Hard Drive(s) Seagate Savvio 15K.3 300GB 15000-RPM SAS 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) TSSTCorp SH-216AB DVD+/-RW
Power Supply 80 Plus Bronze ATX PSU
Networking Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet
Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC662
Speaker, line-in, and mic jacks
Front Side Optical drive
Card reader
2x USB 2.0
Mic and headphone jacks
Top Side Handle
Back Side Serial port
8x USB 2.0
2x Gigabit ethernet
2x USB 3.0
Mic, line-in, and headphone jacks
DVI-I
2x DisplayPort
6-pin FireWire
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 8.27" x 23.7" x 19.09"
(210mm x 602mm x 485mm)
Extras Card reader
vPro
Warranty 3-year onsite parts and labor
Pricing Starts at $1,399
Review system configured at $10,852

I've reviewed beefy, expensive hardware before, but never anything that went into the five figures. Enterprise-class systems often have absurd premiums attached to them, though, and those premiums help cover the cost of onsite service as the need arises. The Intel Xeon E5-2687W has an OEM price of nearly two large on its own, a TDP of 150W, and is basically the most powerful workstation chip Intel currently produces. Lenovo shipped our review unit with two, and each has 8GB (4x2GB) of ECC DDR3-1333 attached to it running in quad-channel for a total of 16GB of RAM.

On the GPU side is NVIDIA's Quadro 5000. The Quadro 5000 is a cut-down GF100, but remember that big Kepler, the GK110, was just released into the wild as a Tesla card and still has no workstation GPU equivalent. It has a maximum rating of 152 watts, substantially lower than desktop Fermi ever really hit, and has a nearly $1,800 price tag at retail. For this card, Lenovo only charges a modest upgrade premium, while the Xeons are marked up roughly 1/3 more than they list for.

Interestingly our review unit came with a single 2.5" SAS mechanical hard drive instead of an SSD, and I'm not entirely sure why they went this route. The drive has a $300 premium on its own; SSDs with similar capacity can be had at a similar price, but Lenovo's SSD storage options are severely limited. On their configuration page, only a 128GB SSD is available, and that's $200 more expensive than the SAS HDD. If Lenovo wants to be more competitive, they need to offer better choices for the storage subsystem than one 128GB SSD. When editing video, storage speed can become very important in a hurry; if your system is bottlenecked by your storage subsystem, your CPU won't be able to stretch its legs, and I can see that issue exacerbated on a 16-core, 32-thread demon like this one.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • theduckofdeath - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    That is really not a clever thing to do, then you can just as well build the whole system yourself, because whenever you silk call the manufacturer for support they definitely will start the conversation with " start by removing all of those parts you bought from someone else, reinstall the whole thing, and then you call us back. Okay?" :-) Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    *would, not silk Reply
  • Haribol - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    Honestly that is a rip off. If you shop around on sites like e@GAy etc..you will find a good deal. Why pay retail? I have seen systems for half the price Lenovo.com is selling them for. If you search for D30 you will see numerous systems, check it out if you are interested. And sometimes you can call the sellers and bargain. As long as they make some money they will sell it and it will be 30-50% off lenovo's website. I recently got a D30 and price was 50% cheaper then Lenovo's website. Same warranty and hardware on lenovo's website. The key is using your intelligence and shopping around. Generally regarding the warranty they will tell you to take off everything that didn't come with the system from the factory. Reply
  • Haribol - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    Honestly that is a rip off. If you shop around on sites like e@GAy etc..you will find a good deal. Why pay retail? I have seen systems for half the price Lenovo.com is selling them for. If you search for D30 you will see numerous systems, check it out if you are interested. And sometimes you can call the sellers and bargain. As long as they make some money they will sell it and it will be 30-50% off lenovo's website. I recently got a D30 and price was 50% cheaper then Lenovo's website. Same warranty and hardware on lenovo's website. The key is using your intelligence and shopping around. Reply
  • Zink - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    quite Reply
  • rwei - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    16 cores? 32 threads? Dang.

    But then I read Johan's article.

    Man you just got one-UPPED.
    Reply
  • sna2 - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    actually you can make a 80 cores workstation today using 8x10 cores xeons thats 160 threads

    check supermicro X8OBN-F motherboard

    and X9QR7-TF
    Reply
  • Ozymankos - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    The system tested today is a standalone workstation and not a server to be used in a cluster or a supercomputer
    Therefore,it is less important to have user-serviceable power supply,as it is likely that this PSU will last for a long time for a single unit
    It has 2 octocore processors,with double the processing power of the similar Dell workstation/server
    Adn the price is only 50% higher ,so it is a good workstation for most people
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link


    Note that absolute CPU clock can have a major impact on Viewperf results, as I found out
    when testing a 5GHz 2700K with a Quadro 4000. See:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/viewperf.txt

    In many cases it leaves the results given here in the dust (eg. 83.31 for LW, 16.63 for ProE).
    The reason is some of the tests are single threaded on the CPU side or so lightly threaded
    that a higher clock makes a huge difference. If you want to run ProE, then yes have a good
    GPU, but shove it in a consumer machine with a single good oc'd 4-core or 6-core i7 and
    it'll run much quicker than one of these OEM workstations. YMMV for other apps/tasks, but
    for Viewperf it's interesting how oodles of cores at a lower clock so often loses to just one
    4-core i7 at a high clock.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • sna2 - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    I really cant understand the pricing of workstations ...

    here is the same exact system self made ...

    1- SUPERMICRO X9DA7 (C602 with SAS and dual Lan and usb3 ) : 524$

    2-2x Intel Xeon E5-2687W : 2x1800$ : 3600$

    3- 8x2G exx Registered : 160$

    4- NVIDIA Quadro 5000 2.5GB GDDR5 : 1750$

    5- Seagate Savvio 15K.3 300GB : 350$

    6- DVD : 50$

    7- SeaSonic X-1250 1250W GOLD : 250$

    8- Windows 64 pro : 130 $

    9- best case 500$ worth

    total 7314$

    there is no justification whatsoever for 3000$ more !!!
    Reply

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