thinkstation-hero Getting to evaluate a FANTASTIC high end workstation like the Lenovo ThinkStation S10 is a one of the great things about working with great teammates.  Even though Keith Combs, will not share his 8GB of memory with me he did send me a very simple email and said do you want to evaluate a Lenovo ThinkStation S10.  I was like hell yeah!

I was able to get the S10 for a little over 30 days to evaluate.  My initial thought as I began to work with system was AWESOME.  I was really looking forward to more testing of the system.

The Goal

I decided to take a look at 2 overall workloads on the machine.  The primary test I wanted to evaluate how well the system could handle video encoding, based on the interview work we have done recently.  Secondly, we wanted to test the overall Windows Server 2008 installation experience with Hyper-V.

tc-4l The System Configuration

  • Intel® Core 2 Extreme Processor QX6850
  • 4GB
  • 146GB 15000RPM SAS HDD,
  • PCI/PCIe Tower (5x6)
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX4600 768MB PCIe
  • DVD Recordable
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • IEEE 1394
  • Windows Vista Business
  • and enough ports to choke a horse!!!

First Impressions

The great thing about working with a new computer is opening it for the first time, plugging all the cables in and the margaritas.  So as I was firing up the blender Keith was unpacking the very large shipping box and getting the system turned on.  As he was turning it on, I thought he had brought another blender with him.  The initial startup of the system can be very loud as all the system fans startup on the initial boot.  The system then does quiet done quite a bit after just a few seconds but the primary boot.  Just that initial can catch you by surprise a bit. 

With that much horse power I do expect the system to need that much cooling.  So I was interested to see how the machine would do, when I did get it up and running in my home office.  My office has a desk with a built-in cabinet for the computer.  I will admit that my office did get a little bit toasty with the machine running in the office.  This was expected, and this particular machine is better suited for an business location.  Although it certainty could do the job in the home.

CapturePerformance and Software

I used the pre-loaded Windows Vista Business as my base system.  I then applied SP 1 to the image.  I also went ahead and installed Sony Vegas 8.0d and Camtasia 5.1 for my video encoding process.  So I had the base system, which by the Window Performance Index was a 5.9.  which by the way is the highest number you can achieve.  That is very impressive out of the box experience kudos to Lenovo!

Video Editing Tests

For these tests, I compared the S10 to the HP 6910p Notebook.  I know what your thinking that it is not a fair test, and I agree.  I fully expected the S10 to out perform the 6910. So why the test?  Simply put, my current video editing platform is the 6910 and I wanted to quantify how much faster the S10 would be.  Not only for my own education but also to help prove the case, that we as a team need dedicated workstations to perform our jobs. 

I have to tell you I was extremely impressed! I did several tests with files from 120MG to 1.3gb HiDef video interviews and screen casts.  I tracked all the tests in my handy dandy notebook.  I did most of the encoding tests 3 times to come up with an average. 

The results, as expected, the S10 outperformed the HP on the average by 57% faster for all encoding jobs.  To put that in hours, on the 1.3 GB file, I had to restart it on the 6910, and then it still took over 2 hours.  While on the S10 it was done it just a little over an hour.  Additionally during the video encoding process, the HP’s processor was pegged at our near 100% during the entire process.  While the S10 stayed in the 75%-85% range, this would enable the ability to accomplish other tasks during encoding instead of having to wait for processing to begin.

Windows Server 2008

What was great about this test was how easy Windows Server 2008 went smoothly.  It was also very fast, the whole install took less than 1/2 hour.  Very impressive, not only from the system but also from our software.  I am also happy to report that Lenovo already has a driver and update site setup for the S10.  It made getting the drivers and updates very easy. 

During the process of downloading I noticed Lenovo had and auto updating tool.  I downloaded it worked pretty well.  Although I am still a little curious why it did not find the update for the video card, but overall Lenovo's site had plenty of 64-bit drivers to make their systems work very well.  I was able to get the Windows Server up and running in no time.

Hyper-V went on also without any problems and my primary VPC (about 13gb) booted well and with no hitches.  The virtualized image worked very well, and overall I think Hyper-V will be how I do all my virtual work in the future.  (Get to build a new platform..yeah!) I really did not stress the system too much on this test but was happy with the overall performance of Hyper V and Windows Server 2008.  When you look at the horsepower of this system, out the box this system could be a great Windows Server 2008 virtualization solution.

Summary

This system is an extremely powerful high end workstations.  In particular the 15000rpm drives performed remarkably well.  In addition this system, does compete well in the price category, when compared with similarly configured systems from other OEM's.   If your looking for a high-end workstation, I would seriously consider this system.   Take a S10 for spin!