Lenovo ThinkServer TS150 review

A great first server for small businesses, with plenty of features and full support for the latest Xeon E3 CPUs

Price
£1,294
  • Affordable; Easy access for upgrades and maintenance; Excellent management capabilities
  • No hot-swap capabilities as standard; No embedded OS deployment tools;

The ThinkServer TS150 is perfect for a small business seeking its first server. It offers an impressive range of features at an affordable price, and it's also the first production tower available using Intel's new Kaby Lake Xeon E3-1200 v6 processors.

The price we've shown is Lenovo's estimated street price for the 70UB001MEA model, which proudly sports a 3.3GHz Xeon E3-1225 v6 CPU, but all eight members of the new E3 family are on offer, with speeds ranging from 3GHz up to 3.9GHz. Whichever you choose, you get four cores, 8MB of L3 cache and support for 2,400MHz ECC DDR4 memory. Chips ending with a 5 also include integrated HD P630 graphics.

The T150 is solidly put together, and its side panel can be padlocked shut or secured with a Kensington lock for extra physical security. A slimline DVD drive sits at the top of the front panel, with two 5.25in device bays below. Lenovo also includes an internal USB RDX drive for local backup. A set of eight USB 3 ports are provided fore and aft, each of which can be individually enabled or disabled within the BIOS. At the rear, there's a VGA port and Lenovo's usual DisplayPort connector.

Inside the case, everything is neat and tidy, with easy access to the key areas for upgrade and maintenance. Our review system included a single 1TB SATA drive in the lower cold-swap carrier, but the motherboard offers six SATA connectors in total, and the case has mountings for four LFF hard disks and a single SFF drive.

Thanks to the motherboard's onboard SR 121i RAID controller, you can set up mirrors, stripes and RAID5 arrays; Lenovo can also supply an optional RAID 520i PCI-Express card, which adds support for hot-swap SAS3 drives, but the physical design of the server doesn't really lend itself to a hot-swap role.

To keep everything cool, there's an active CPU heatsink, plus a 9cm cooling fan at the rear - don't worry, both are quiet enough to keep your inner librarian happy. Using the SPLnFFT iOS app, we recorded very low noise levels of only 36dB from a distance of 1m.

Unlike Dell's and HPE's entry-level servers, the TS150 doesn't come with embedded OS deployment tools. However, with the help of the bundled EasyStartup disk, we had Windows Server 2012 R2 loaded and ready for action in 20 minutes. And while the TS150 can't match HPE's brilliant iLO4 remote-management chip, it does support Intel's vPro and AMT (active management technology).

Initially configured from the BIOS setup screen, this shares the embedded Gigabit Ethernet port and allows you to remotely monitor and control the server hardware from a web browser: it meant we were able to view settings, check the hardware status and manage power states from the other side of the building.

What's more, with the right app, additional remote-management options become available. We tested this using Intel's free Manageability Commander utility: after providing the server's AMT IP address and credentials, the Commander connected to the server and presented us with plenty of useful tools. We could view the server's sensor data, check its event and alert logs and achieve full remote control of the BIOS screen and OS, via the built in remote-desktop tool.

The ThinkServer TS150 packs a lot into a compact and quiet chassis, with plenty of room to expand and good remote-management features. It's an affordable option for small businesses and includes a generous three-year on-site warranty. In short, if you want a server based on the latest Kaby Lake Xeon E3-1200 v6 CPU, Lenovo is the place to go.

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 274.

Verdict

The ThinkServer TS150 packs a lot into a compact and quiet chassis, with plenty of room to expand and good remote-management features. If you want a server based on the latest Kaby Lake Xeon E3-1200 v6 CPU, Lenovo is the place to go.

Tower chassis 3.3GHz Intel Xeon E3-1225 v6 8GB 2,400MHz ECC DDR4 (max 64GB) Lenovo SR 121i RAID Supports RAID0, 1, 10, 5 1TB SATA hard disk (max 4 LFF, 1 SFF) 4 x PCI-Express slots 8 x USB 3 Gigabit Ethernet 250W fixed PSU 175 x 435 x 376mm (WDH) 3yr on-site NBD warranty

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