Lenovo ThinkStation P900 review May 2, 2015 22:57:35 GMT
Post by Anthony on May 2, 2015 22:57:35 GMT
The P900 is the top-end model from Lenovo’s updated ThinkStation desktop workstation range, which now come with the latest Intel Xeon processors, DDR4 memory and the most up-to-date Quadro graphics cards from Nvidia.
From the front it looks very similar to the P500, featuring the same ‘Flex Bay’ at the front, a fancy term for a good-looking customisable front panel that juts out, housing four USB 3.0 ports, a card reader and the power switch. But the case is considerably deeper, stretching back well over half a metre, accounted for by the wide range of hardware expansion it supports.
Although prices start at £1640 ex VAT for a single-processor P900, a modest configuration with a single 1.6GHz Intel Xeon chip, Lenovo cranked almost every dial to the absolute maximum with the review sample it sent to us, cramming in as much high-end rendering hardware as it could.
Dual 3.1GHz Xeon E5-2687W v3 processors are the star attraction, each of which has 25MB cache and ten cores, 20 with hyper threading, for a grand total of 40.
There’s also a whopping 128GB of DDR4 memory, the most we’ve ever seen in a single workstation. An 8GB Nvidia Quadro K5200 is the final part of the P900’s main hardware, a graphics card we’d personally choose over the top-end K6000, given that card’s slim performance improvement doesn’t quite warrant the large extra premium it carries.
A particularly welcome saving, because the retail cost of this fully loaded P900 configuration comes to £12,157 (inc VAT), placing the P900 in the same elite class of workstation that’s occupied by monsters such as HP’s Z820 and Scan’s 3XS GW-HTX35. Along with mortgage deposits.
And you could add yet more hardware. As well as the aforementioned Quadro K6000, you can have a Tesla K20 or K40 fitted, or opt for dual Quadro K5200 cards.
Another notable aspect of the P900’s hardware is Lenovo’s inclusion of M.2 storage via a SanDisk 512GB SSD, coupled with a 4TB hard disk. If you’re unaware of this technology, M.2 is a new connector for PCs that hooks up to four lanes of the PCI Express bus, enabling better potential speeds than are possible from a traditional 2.5-inch SATA SSD
As we’ve seen before, having 40 cores means great rendering times for heavily multithreaded applications, such as 3ds Max,maya, blender etc and also tasks such as video encoding.
This is evident from our benchmark results. The P900 chewed through our 1080p 3ds Max render in, just 5 minutes 53 seconds, just shy of the HP Z820’s record 5 minutes 51 seconds, and the CINEBENCH 15 CPU score of 3,038 points is the best we’ve seen.
But in other tasks, the results are slightly different. The P900 still did fantastically well in CINEBENCH OpenGL, managing 168 FPS, but it’s not record breaking. Neither is the SPECviewperf result, Scan’s K6000-equipped GW-HTX35 just pips the P900 in every test. Although the P900’s performance is nothing to complain about, it seems the 3.1GHz processors slightly struggle to keep up with chips that run at a faster clock speed.
In all, the P900 is a fast system that’s better thought of as a specialised tool for those who work on particularly complex multithreaded rendering projects, rather than as a general purpose workstation. What’s quite surprising is that it didn’t break every record going. We were expecting to be totally blown away across the board, but it seems the reality of the P900 is more complicated.