Lenovo ThinkStation S10 power desktop

As of December 3, 2008, the ThinkStation S10 is priced at $2479 ($2798 bundled with a 24-inch widescreen ThinkVision L2240p display); a good chunk of change to be paying for a computer that’s outperformed by less expensive systems.

The system’s included 4GB of DDR3-1066 RAM is a common, but generous, touch. However, the ThinkStation S10’s storage offering–consisting of two easily-removable 250GB, 7200-rpm Hitachi DeskStar hard drives–isn’t so ample. Since the Vista Business operating system and most of your critical files will sit on one of those drives, that’s not a lot of room–especially if you use the other drive for backups.

Positioning it as a workstation machine, Lenovo has given the S10 a midrange 512MB nVidia Quadro FX1700 graphics card. A little pricier than regular consumer GeForce cards, Quadro boards have drivers specifically optimized to support high-end software, such as computer aided design (CAD) tools. For mainstream gaming however, the ThinkStation S10 gets smoked by numerous other Power desktops on our gaming benchmarks, offering a barely playable 39 frames per second on our Doom 3 benchmark and a low 60 frames per second on our Far Cry benchmark (both at 1280-by-1024 resolutions, with anti-aliasing). The system’s result in WorldBench 6 was just 109, or 14 percent behind the average power desktop result.

When it comes to out-of-the-box upgrade options, you only get a single 5.25-inch bay and an empty hard drive bay to work with. In place of adding more space for either, Lenovo chose to mount what appears to be a PCI-card retention mechanism of some sort underneath the hard drive bays. To be honest, we’re not really sure what it’s used for, and the lack of a printed manual for the ThinkStation S10 doesn’t help the situation. Whatever function this mystery device serves is too great a sacrifice in upgradeability to make it useful.

The free PCI slots, including two free PCI Express x16 slots, are covered by a strange combination of a retention mechanism and a tool-less installation holder. We never thought we’d say it, but we’d prefer screws to this.

The case’s rear is adequately stocked with eight USB ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, 5.1 audio, and an optical S/PIDF connection. There’s no FireWire 400 port on the back of the case, butone appears on the case’s front, along with two additional USB connections. A generic two-button mouse and an ugly media-themed keyboard round things out.

Lenovo’s ThinkStation S10 is definitely a workstation machine, but even considering just that, it feels like it under-delivers for the price.

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