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Smallest in the World: ThinkStation P320 Tiny Review

By: Steven Bassiri | SFF PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Oct 25, 2017 4:51 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Lenovo

Here are key points about the ThinkStation P320 Tiny.

 

What's Hot

 

Smallest in the World: It truly is a Small Form Factor Workstation, an SFFW or SFFWPC. It's thinner than an STX box and supports an x16 PCI-E low profile video card. Because of the P320 Tiny's small size, low power usage, and easy upgrade capabilities, I can see it becoming a popular mid-range workstation replacement. Producing a workstation in a NUC format is next level stuff, as you are much more limited in regards to GPUs. The Quadro P600 did well in our tests, and Lenovo did a nice job cooling it and the LGA1151 CPU with a single blower fan.

 

 

Low Power Consumption: The P320 Tiny uses an external power adapter that is rated for 135W, and that means the device won't pull more than that. In an office environment, power usage can become a huge issue, and a small full or mid-tower replacement such as this is a great thing.

 

Easy to Upgrade: Opening the device requires removing one screw, pushing the top forward and then lifting up the rear panel that covers the RAM and M.2 storage areas. It was very easy to access the M.2 storage and RAM bays, and there was room to add another M.2 drive in and another DDR4 SO-DIMM module. M.2 installation doesn't even require tools.

 

Workstation to the Bones: Lenovo has made good choices when it comes to onboard hardware. The low profile Quadro P600 and the 7700T (totally vPro compliant) go together very well. The BIOS has the right options to manage the device in a corporate environment and handle local security. Lenovo's workstation features, such as air intake sensor and multiple COM headers add a bit extra; I am sure Lenovo can change up features to fit the needs of different business users (I believe there are add-on units). Did I mention it also has ISV certification and a 3-year onsite warranty?

 

GPU Outputs: Workstations typically have a bunch of different monitors, and between the four mini DisplayPort outputs from the P600 and the two full-size DisplayPort outputs from the integrated GPU, you should be able to pull off up to six displays.

 

What's Not

 

Single Channel Memory: I am nitpicking, but I wouldn't build a device with only single channel memory these days. However, you can easily configure or upgrade the machine, so it has dual channel memory.

 

Under Heavy Load: While the unit stays quiet most of the time and through most loads, if you really load the CPU and the GPU at the same time, the blower will go full speed, and you can hear it. However, the P320 Tiny isn't unique in that regard; I have a Skull Canyon Intel NUC right in front of me that's getting loud as I am working on this article.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

smallest-world-thinkstation-p320-tiny-review_55

 

While NUCs aren't the most popular devices, they are slowly breaking into the desktop replacement market. These days, you don't need a full-sized desktop to get typical office work done. Intel's recent Kaby Lake microarchitecture has come so far, and many software applications aren't taking advantage of all the hardware can offer (like MS Office), so in some cases, tiny PCs can replace desktops.

 

Tiny PCs that replace full-sized towers are becoming more popular, not only because they save space, but because they also tend to use a lot less power. Power usage is a big thing when deploying hundreds of PCs into a business environment, and now we can cut it down by double-digit percentage points.

 

Until now, I hadn't seen a workstation PC this small (it's as long as a pencil). Sure, there are small workstations, but the ThinkStation P320 Tiny is the smallest ISV certified workstation.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance90%
Quality95%
Features92%
Value90%
Overall TweakTown Rating92%

The Bottom Line: If you want the smallest true ISV certified workstation on the market that offers great performance and low power consumption, then the Lenovo ThinkStation P320 Tiny is your best bet!

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