Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra Redefines Compact Desktop Workstations

Desktop workstation computers are usually bulky and heavy because they are optimized solely for maximum performance and expandability. The ThinkStation P360 Ultra takes the opposite direction and is primarily optimized for space. Lenovo tries to cram as much computing power as possible within that sub-4-Liters space.

This computer is a Small Form Factor (SFF) workstation that claims to be 15% smaller than the competition and has key energy-efficiency certifications such as ENERGY STAR or EPEAT Gold. The 8.7 × 7.9 × 3.4 inches dimensions make it certainly smaller than Intel’s NUC 12 Extreme which is 14.1 × 7.4 × 4.7 inches big.

Inside, you will find an Intel gen12 desktop CPU (16-core max) with a maximum RTX A5000 GPU configuration (16GB VRAM). That’s very much like a mobile RTX 3080. The mobile nature of the GPU better matches the cooling and power envelopes feasible on such a small computer.

Note that the GPU board connects to the motherboard via a proprietary connector, which means that only Lenovo can supply a GPU upgrade. That said, I would not be surprised if customers would in fact never upgrade the GPU, like laptop users.

Four DDR5 RAM slots for the primary system should be enough for most people interested in an SFF workstation. It should be easy to configure 64GB of RAM that way.

Like other SFF computers, the 300W power supply is external, and I would be curious to see if the highest CPU and GPU options would be limited by power. But extra speed and power also means more heat, so it’s probably fair to think of this workstation as having better cooling than a laptop workstation like the ThinkPad P15 Gen2 we reviewed.

The ThinkStation P360 Ultra has lots of ports. It is also considerably more affordable (and speedy) than a similarly priced ThinkPad workstation. At the same time, it is relatively (trans) portable if you include a ThinkVision M15 mobile display, for example. I wish there were a couple more USB-C or Thunderbolt 4 ports, though.

You can easily extend the connectivity at a fixed location with a Thunderbolt 4 dock to access extra storage and accessories linked to that workspace. Having a one-cable setup is extremely agreeable if you connect / disconnect often.

In conclusion, it’s easy to like the SFF nature of this workstation and its relative affordability. It would look amazing on any desk, making it easy to create a neat environment and provide some level of mobility. That said, it’s for the space-conscious crowd rather than your typical workstation customer, so we’re looking forward to hearing about real-world experiences.

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