Lenovo ThinkStation S20 Workstation Review

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The Lenovo ThinkStation S20 arrives like any other system - safely tucked in a cardboard box, surrounded by styrofoam for protection. The S20 feels solid and is heavy but not surprisingly so. Just like the Lenovo ThinkStation S10 and IBM workstations that came before it, the S20 is a plain black box with a very simple, clean, corporate and industrial "feel" to it. While some people may want more flare in their design, many others prefer the understated and practical approach that Lenovo takes with its business-oriented devices. Right off the bat, you can see evidence of Lenovo's practical approach with that big handle on the top, front of the case. It is removable, but you'll be glad it's there when you have to move the machine.

Just as you might expect, Lenovo offers standard, no-frills peripherals to go with its workstations. For an extra fee, you can get the Lenovo keyboard and mouse shown below. Both are very capable devices. In addition to the mouse and keyboard, Lenovo also includes a power cord, a couple of guides/manuals, and a driver CD.

Gaining access to the S20's insides is very simple thanks to the cleverly-designed side panel, which by the way is lockable. If it's unlocked, all you have to do is pull up on the blue handle and then pull the panel off. We wish other manufacturers made their cases this easy to get into to. This is the type of design that on-site field technicians really appreciate. Tool-less design makes working on machines easier and faster, which means less downtime for end-users. Another thoughtful inclusion by Lenovo is the "System Service Information" diagram on the inside of the side panel. This shows the layout of the motherboard, lists Lenovo's support web site URL and includes a scannable barcode.

Once you've opened up the S20, you get a good look at the clean layout and decent effort at cable management. We've definitely seen more immaculate and "stealthy" wiring jobs, but going overboard in this case would make fixing problems take longer. You can also see the simple-to-use hard drive rack-mounting system on the right in the second picture below. The third image shows the tool-less 5.25" bay in action.


At the back of the S20, you can see the provided rear I/O options: 1 eSATA port, 8 USB 2.0 ports, 1 serial port, 1 SPDIF in, 1 SPDIF out, 1 RJ45 LAN jack, and 6 analog audio jacks.

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