Lenovo ThinkStation S20

  • Editors' rating
    7.7 Very good
  • $1,599.00


  • Choice of 45nm Xeon quad-core processors
  • Up to 12GB of DDR3 memory
  • Nvidia or ATI video cards
  • Supports up to four monitors


  • Limited storage options
  • Monitor not included

The market for high-end workstations to run CAD/CAM and other graphically demanding applications has long been dominated by the likes of Sun, HP and Dell. Lenovo, however, is hoping to get a look in with its new ThinkStation S20, which can be fitted with Intel quad-core processors based on the latest 45nm Nehalem technology.

First impressions are good, the S20 showing its IBM pedigree in the form of an exceptionally sturdy tower case, tool-free access and a very neat internal layout with plenty of cooling. Despite the latter, the S20 is very quiet in use, becoming almost eerily silent when idle. It also has a lot of green credentials, conforming to the latest Energy Star specifications as well as being made from over 50 percent recycled plastic.

The ThinkStation S20 has a sturdy tower case, tool-free access and a neat internal layout with plenty of cooling.

A number of different Intel Xeon processors can be specified, mostly quad-core but with the odd dual-core also available if preferred. Our review system came with a mid-range E5506 — a quad-core chip clocked at 2.13GHz, with an 800MHz DDR3 memory controller and 4MB of cache. For really demanding applications, however, you can specify the 2.53GHz E5540 with a 1,066MHz memory controller and 8MB of cache, or the even quicker 3.2GHz W5580 (1,333MHz and 8MB).

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DDR3 memory is the order of the day, with 4GB of installed on the review system occupying two of the available six DIMM sockets. Up to 12GB can be supported altogether. There's a choice of dual-display video cards — Nvidia Quadro, with ATI FirePro if preferred. If need be, you can fit two graphics adapters in the PCI Express x16 expansion slots provided for this purpose, and support up to four monitors altogether.

The storage options are reasonable if a little disappointing, with a choice of 250GB or 500GB SATA hard disks on the base models. Ours had just one 500GB drive (a 7,200 rpm Seagate Barracuda), leaving two 3.5in. bays for expansion. RAID is more or less a must-have on this type of workstation, and there's support for Level 0,1, and 5 setups on the motherboard. However, with a maximum of three internal disks you're a bit limited and might need to add a plug-in host bus adapter and external drives to beef up this part of the S20 offering.

The ThinkStation S20's back panel offers a serial port, up to two Gigabit Ethernet ports, analogue 7.1 audio ports, an eSATA port, an S/PDIF port and eight USB ports.

On the plus side, you do get an eSATA port for external storage expansion, together with the usual DVD burner plus space and an interface for one other drive, if needed. A Gigabit Ethernet port is also built-in, plus eight USB 2.0 connectors, a 20-in-1 flash card reader and comprehensive analogue and digital audio connections.

On the software front it's either Vista or XP, 64-bit implementations of which can be factory installed with minimal 'bloatware' beyond backup and security utilities, plus a trial version of Office 2007.

The keyboard and mouse are nothing special and there's no monitor unless otherwise ordered. The S20 compares well on price with other workstation vendors' offerings, and if you have deep pockets there's even a dual-socket version — the ThinkStation D20 — that also supports SAS storage. The price includes a three-year next business day warranty.



Product Form Factor Tower
Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices speaker
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Xeon W3520 / 2.66 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 2.93 GHz
Number of Cores Quad-Core
Data Bus Speed 1066 MHz
Chipset Type Intel X58 Express
Processor Main Features Intel QuickPath Interconnect
Processor Socket LGA1366 Socket
Cache Memory
Installed Size L3 cache - 8 MB
Cache Per Processor 8 MB
Type L3 cache
Per Processor Size 8 MB
Installed Size 8 MB
Memory Speed 1066 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC3-8500
Features mixing of different types of memory modules is not supported, unbuffered
Configuration Features 2 x 2 GB
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Data Integrity Check ECC
Rated Memory Speed 1066 MHz
Interface Type Serial ATA-300
Type none
Max Supported Size 12 GB
Form Factor DIMM 240-pin
Slots Qty 6
Empty Slots 4
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 10 - 80%
Min Operating Temperature 50 °F
Max Operating Temperature 89.6 °F
Type none.
Hard Drive
Interface Type SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Speed 7200 rpm
Type HDD
Interface Class Serial ATA
Installed Qty 1
Capacity 500 GB
Storage Controller
Interface Type Serial ATA-300
Type Serial ATA
Installed Qty 1
Type keyboard, mouse
Hard Drive (3rd)
Type none
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD-Writer
Type DVD-Writer
Interface Type Serial ATA
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 1
Type Xeon
Processor Number W3520
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.66 GHz
Floppy Drive
Type none
Card Reader
Type 20 in 1 card reader
Storage Removable
Type none
Brand Lenovo
Product Line Lenovo ThinkStation S20
Model 4105
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet
Form Factor integrated
Ethernet Controller(s) Broadcom BCM5755
Monitor Type None.
Color raven black
Features U-Bolt anchoring, USB port control, administrator password, boot sequence control, boot without keyboard or mouse, cover key lock, hard drive I/O control, hard drive password, power-on password, serial port I/O control, unattended start mode
Compliant Standards ACA, BSMI CNS 13438 Class B, C-Tick, CB, FCC Part 15 B, GOST, IRAM, JEITA, NOM, RoHS, SABS, SASO, TUV GS, UL, VCCI, cUL
Manufacturer Selling Program TopSeller
Type workstation
Hard Drive Capacity 500 GB
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Microsoft Office Preloaded Includes a pre-loaded image of select Microsoft Office 2010 suites. Purchase an Office 2010 Product Key Card or disc to activate preloaded software on this PC.
Graphics Controller
Form Factor plug-in card
Interface Type PCI Express x16
Graphics Processor NVIDIA Quadro FX 380
Video Memory 256 MB
Video Interfaces DVI
Dimensions & Weight
Width 6.9 in
Depth 19 in
Height 18.8 in
Form Factor tower
Manufacturer Form Factor tower
Built-in Devices speaker
Manufacturer Warranty
Service & Support Limited warranty - parts and labor - 3 years - on-site - response time: next business day
Type 3 years warranty
Processor Socket LGA1366 Socket
Data Bus Speed 1066 MHz
Chipset Type Intel X58 Express
Audio Output
Form Factor integrated
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Type none
Keyboard Name Preferred Pro USB
Interface USB
Expansion / Connectivity
Slots 6 (total) / 4 (free) x DIMM 240-pin
1 (total) / 0 (free) x CPU
2 (total) / 1 (free) x PCIe 2.0 x16 - full-length, full-height
1 (total) / 1 (free) x PCIe 2.0 x4 - full-length, full-height
1 (total) / 1 (free) x PCIe x1 - full-length, full-height
1 (total) / 1 (free) x PCI - full-length, full-height
Technology optical
Interface USB
Features scroll
Physical Characteristics
Form Factor tower
Weight 31.97 lbs
Type power supply
Min Operating Temperature 50 °F
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Max Operating Temperature 89.6 °F
80 PLUS Certification 80 PLUS
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
OS Provided Microsoft Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
Type Adobe Reader, Corel WinDVD, Lenovo System Toolbox, McAfee VirusScan Plus (30 days of virus definitions), Roxio Creator Business Edition, Roxio My DVD, ThinkVantage Rescue and Recovery
Video Output
Interface Type PCI Express x16
Graphics Processor NVIDIA Quadro FX 380
Graphics Processor Series NVIDIA Quadro
Video Interfaces DVI
Video Memory
Installed Size 256 MB
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
On-Site Warranty on-site
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Location on-site
Full Contract Period 3 years
Response Time next business day