Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra Workstation ReviewJune 9, 2023 0 By Lorena Mejia
The Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra workstation packs big performance in a wee small package (SHOP HERE). The “Ultra” part must be for ultra-fast because it supports 12th generation Intel Core “I” processors, M.2 NVMe storage, plus PCIe 4.0, and DDR5 memory modules. All in a case that is only a little under 4 liters. At the top end, it supports one of NVIDIA’s high-performance mobile A5000 GPUs!
Ultra-compact for portability and yet still packing a punch. It’s kind of like Ant Man! Maybe not that small but still it’s about the size of the He-Man or Wonder Woman lunch box you used to have. Maybe still do. You can pick it up with one hand and stuff it into a back pack. Granted, part of the small size is because the power is provided by an external brick. That said, they do have a certain target audience as it is on the more expensive side when you compare it to a standard non-portable system.
It’s designed for professionals but could easily be a great gaming rig. Think architecture, film production, gaming development, also remote locations like oil rigs wind turbine farms—that kind of thing. Basically, those who have large files and need support from some high-performance applications. This Lenovo ThinkStation P360 offers independent software vendor certifications or ISV certifications from some of the major players like ANSYS, Autodesk, Avid, Bentley, Dessault Systems and Seimens.
On the front of the system a power on button at the top followed by a storage drive activity LED, headset audio connector, a USB 3.2 Gen1 connector and a Gen2 connector right next to that. With those you can connect to a 4K display depending on the endpoint connection. You can also charge USB-C compatible devices through those connectors. Below those, not one but two USB-C Thunderbolt connectors offering speeds of up to 40Gb/s. It definitely shares some of the design ques from the P-Series workstations with the honey-comb pattern perforated front panel offering superior air flow to the internal parts.
On the back of the system there are a lot of ports! Top to bottom we have a Wi Fi connector for the antenna, which is great for remote locations, IoT applications, and for an immediate hookup. Of course, if you want a better connection, there are two RJ45 Ethernet connectors with one offering 2.5Gb/s and the other 1Gb/s. A little slot for a Kensington style lock, which is definitely a useful feature considering the portability of this unit. That small latch we’ll get to that in a minute. To the side of that, a row of 3x DisplayPort out connectors. A bank of 4x USB 3.2 Gen2 connectors, and that little port there is to connect the power brick. Furthermore, ours has and NVIDIA GPU card installed and you can see 4x additional mini-display ports on the upper left. There’s also the possibility of installing another PCIe card in the lower right.
The innards of this system are easily accessible just by pulling on that latch and removing the inner motherboard cage. The motherboard has a unique design with components on both sides of the motherboard. The motherboard is to accommodate not only the small size but for air flow over the components with two direct front-to-back pathways.
The motherboard has the CPU, and 2x SO-DIMM memory module slots on one side with a x16 PCIe 4.0 slot for the optional GPU. Flipping it over you can see two more SO-DIMM slots plus a x8 PCIe 4.0 slot. A black anodized aluminum heat sink hides the 2x NVMe x4 PCIe 4.0 M.2 storage slots. This Lenovo ThinkStation P360 only came with a single M.2 drive and supports capacities of up to 4TB each.
A single 2.5-inch drive with a capacity of up to 1TB can be installed in a small drive cage that mounts in those slots right where the PCIe x8 slot is located. Everything on this system is easily accessible. Beyond that, once you pull the motherboard cage out of the case, you can still set it on a side and not worry about damaging something. We are quite impressed with how easy it is to disassemble and remove components. Chances are highly likely the only thing you might be adding to this system is more memory. That is “IF” you get one that already has an NVIDIA GPU.
This unit will support up to 128GB of non-ECC and ECC SO-DIMM modules with an ECC compatible CPU. Most of the competition in this small form factor category supports about half the memory at up to 64GB. Think Intel’s NUC and the Z2 G4 workstations. Still very cool systems in their own right but no match for the performance on the Lenovo P360 Ultra! Compute on the edge, data analysis on site as opposed to uploading to the cloud, so a true edge machine. WiFi for use with IoT, or Internet of Things is provided by an optional WiFi plus Bluetooth 5.1 M.2 card. This unit can quickly tackle large files with a compatible application that’s ready to go on the fly. It does have a little speaker to go along with its small size and features and audio chip with high0-definition audio using the RealTek ALC897-Q codec. It also supports the latest operating systems from Windows plus a few Linux options.
The Lenovo ThinkStation P360 has integrated graphics from an Intel UHD Graphics 770 or UHD Graphics 730 card, which is part of the Alder Lake CPU System on a Chip design. That’s the code name for the 12th generation CPU architecture. Using just the integrated graphics, it can power up to 4x displays using the 3x display ports on the back and one of those 2x thunderbolt ports up front. With the addition of a discrete GPU, this system can support up to 8 monitors when you include those supported by the integrated graphics card. If you want top-tier graphics support for superior graphics support and potential gaming, you will need to install one of the optional NVIDIA GPUs.
One of our units is outfitted with an A5000 mobile card with 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a power draw of up to 115W. This is a mobile card so not the same power or memory as that on the full-sized workstation version, which has up to 32GB of DDR5 memory. The other system uses a full-size RTX A2000 with 12GB of GDDR6 memory. That GPU is a production version that you will find installed on the larger workstations as well. This platform comes in several preconfigured options. Honestly there are too many options to list here. Just like Burger King, you can have it your way.
Other cards supported include the Nvidia T1000 with 8GB memory and the T400 with 4GB memory. The various graphics cards support 3x or 4x display ports depending on your choice. We will mention that SLI is not supported.
The exceptional performance of this little system is definitely resulting from those 12th generation Core I processors. It’s compatible with i3, i5, i7 and i9 processors, and features the Intel W680 chipset. Both of our systems have an Intel Core i7-12700 processor featuring a total of 12 cores, but get this, with 8x Performance cores or P-cores and 4x Efficient Cores or E-cores. Yup, we were thinking the same thing. What are P-cores and E-cores?
There are 20 threads as only the P-cores offer multi-threading capabilities with 2 threads per core, while e-Cores only provide a single thread per core. So that’s how we get 20 threads with only 12 physical cores… With the top-of-the-line i9 12900T supported on this system you get 8x P-Cores and 8x E-Cores for a total of 16 physical cores and 24 threads. Anyways, as the name suggests, you get the best performance out of those P-cores with hyperthreading, even multithreading. The E-Cores have only single threading capabilities, help deal with normal background tasks, and are more power efficient, than those P-cores. Power consumption is a large consideration given the limited power available on this system. Both of our units feature a 300W external power supply unit. But, depending on your needs and how the system is outfitted, there are two other options, a 230W or 170W external PSU brick. All of them offer an efficiency rating of 90% and are compatible with a standard grounded electrical outlet.
This is a great little unit if you have a need for something that’s small, portable and powerful. It does have a surprising amount of performance for both work-related applications and gaming given its small size. If you are looking for the Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra, then check out our website. We can deliver this system in a number of configurations to suit your workload or gaming needs!