Lenovo ThinkStation E31 review

Lenovo has squeezed the high-end Xeon processors and NVIDIA Quadro 600 graphics into a small-form-factor workstation. It makes for a powerful, but noisy machine.

Built for business

Lenovo has kitted out the ThinkStation E31 with a reasonable business specification. Intel's Xeon E3-1230 V2 is based on the 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture, but it sits towards the bottom of Intel's quad-core range: its 3.2GHz stock speed boosts to a maximum of 3.6GHz across one active core, and Hyper-Threading is also included.

A benchmark score of 1.03 makes the E31 one of the highest performing devices and ensures that the Lenovo will cast aside all but the toughest of business applications. The rest of the specification falls in line with what we'd expect: 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 1TB hard disk, and a DVD writer at the front of the machine. Gigabit Ethernet and a TPM 1.2 module are both included, but there's no wireless internet.

Lenovo ThinkStation E31 - Standing

Lenovo ThinkStation E31 - Standing

The ThinkStation doesn't take up much room, but it is a loud machine

Lenovo has included one concession to more demanding computing with NVIDIA's Quadro 600. It's not the most powerful part it's based on the GK108 core which, on the consumer side, underpins the GeForce GT 630 but it's got more graphical grunt than you'll find in the average integrated chip. A score of 51fps result in our low quality Crysis test, followed by 33fps in the medium quality benchmark, outpace anything Intel's top integrated cores can manage.

The powerful processor looks to be on the limit when it comes to cooling, though the chip's peak temperature of 83 degrees is a tad on the high side, especially for a business machine. The graphics card's peak of 72 degrees is better but, when the two are beavering away simultaneously, the machine is loud: during our stress tests we noticed an irritating level of noise coming from the ThinkStation.

Mike Jennings


Mike Jennings has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has been fascinated by computers since childhood, when he spent far too long building terrible websites. He loves desktop PCs, components, laptops and anything to do with the latest hardware.

Mike worked as a staff writer at PC Pro magazine in London for seven years, and during that time wrote for a variety of other tech titles, including Custom PC, Micro Mart and Computer Shopper. Since 2013, he’s been a freelance tech writer, and writes regularly for titles like Wired, TechRadar, Stuff, TechSpot, IT Pro, TrustedReviews and TechAdvisor. He still loves tech and covers everything from the latest business hardware and software to high-end gaming gear, and you’ll find him on plenty of sites writing reviews, features and guides on a vast range of topics.

You can email Mike at mike@mike-jennings.net, or find him on Twitter at @mikejjennings