Lenovo ThinkStation P5 Workstation ReviewOctober 30, 2023
The Lenovo ThinkStation P5 Workstation tower is a mid-tier to high-end unit featuring the Sapphire Rapids Intel Xeon W-2300, up to 512GB of DDR5 memory, 10x drives including M.2s and room for 2x double-wide GPUs (SHOP HERE). The design represents a slight change from previous Lenovo workstations with a front bezel that has been reinterpreted by Aston Martin. Aston Martin, not only known for fast cars but also as the car that James Bond uses, well… and abuses. The Lenovo definitely has a high-end look to it with a very saturated red color paired with a dark grey. The perforated front panel is borrowed from the air intake grill on what I think is the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in hyper red.
In Spectre, James Bond drives the DB10. Funny thing is the DB in the name is actually from this guy David Brown who bought Aston Martin in 1947. You’ll notice his initials on the names of the cars in general starting with the DB2, no not the DB1, they named that one retroactively after the DB2. The name gained real recognition with the DB5, which is that sweet little silver two-seater that first appeared in Goldfinger or more recently with the Daniel Craig movies, if that’s a little too dated for you. In fact, that little DB5 was in all of these movies. Getting a little off track—again.
Bottom line, Lenovo liked the styling on the front grill of the DBS Grand Tourer Superleggera. What does the “s” stand for? We have no idea. Sport, Super, Superlative, or maybe just Speeeed? Makes for a great story. One more design attribute, is the handle on this unit for the side cover. Also influenced by Aston Martin’s recessed door handles but we’ll get to that.
The Lenovo ThinkStation P5 is designed to support creatives, engineers and a spectrum of compute-intensive applications. Those involved in AE and C are going to love this system too, with support for BIM, or building information modeling, plus 3D CAD and complex visual effects. It can also be used for AI and Machine learning, plus edge and IoT applications, with the power to analyze data on site. On the front of the chassis there is a power ON button at the top, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen2 (10Gb/s), 2x USB-C ports also 3.2 gen2 (10Gb/s), a combo audio jack, a four-digit diagnostic display button and that last a tiny LCD diagnostic display. There is also a flex bay.
There are even more ports on the back of the system with an audio line in and Line out port, optional serial port but only on select models, a 1GbE RJ45 port. And a bunch more USB ports including 2x USB-A 2.0, and 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports. That little one at the bottom, also a USB port but a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 with two lanes of 10Gb/s to realize a potential 20Gb/s data rate speed. There are additional options for networking including an optional WiFi LAN with Bluetooth 5.1 support. Power is supplied by a single 750W or 1000W PSU.
Released in Q1 of 2023, that would be this year, the system features Intel Xeon W-2400 series processors. Those came out at the same time as the Intel Xeon W-3400 CPUs. And we know what you are thinking… no, not really compatible for a few reasons. These W-2400 CPUs are a step up from Intel’s Core x processors and designed specifically for high-performance workstations. The W-2400 series supports DDR5 memory and up to 64 PCIe 5.0 lanes for expansion and support of super-fast I/O devices and NVMe storage options. They deliver 6 to 24 CPU cores and up to 2TB of memory across 4x memory channels.
We will add a little something on the Intel Xeon W-3400 series CPUs, even though they are not supported. W3400 series CPUs double that cores count and more with 12 to 56 physical cores and 112 PCIe 5.0 lanes, plus support for up to 4TB of memory across 8 memory channels. Both the W-2400 and W3400 deliver ECC memory, Intel vPro technology, WiFi 6E, 3rd generation Intel® Deep Learning Boost, and Intel Standard Manageability. Oh, and also overclocking, but do read the fine print as always… These new releases also come with a new chipset, the W790, and also new motherboards, of course. Just wanted to illustrate that the W-3400 series have more PCIe lanes, and more memory channels, which are not supported on this motherboard. They are supported on Lenovo’s P7 workstation.
Operating systems supported include Red Hat Enterprise Linux certified only, Windows 11 Pro for workstations and Window pro for Workstations 64. The Lenovo ThinkStation P5 Workstation also supports a range of ISV certified applications. The Independent software vendor certification means they worked with several software manufacturers to ensure compatibility. You know, like Adobe, Siemens, and AutoDesk to name a few. The preinstalled Vantage app will help you maintain the most current updates and potential fixes, plus scan your computer hardware and diagnose potential problems. You can access that by typing “Vantage” in the Windows Search box.
To open the side panel, you have another Aston Martin influence with the recessed latch. it’s the small things… Unfortunately, Aston Martin didn’t have much say on the interior of the chassis. But, wouldn’t that be nice if they did! Perhaps some nice camel colored leather with red stitching and a little carbon fiber. Still, it does look very clean, and we do like the red accents, which indicate the removeable bits. That said, those red accents have pretty much been Lenovo’s aesthetic for years now.
This particular platform features the Intel Xeon W7-2495X with 24 cores and 48 virtual threads. It supports up to 48MB of L3 cache and a TDP of up to 270W with a more consistent range of 225W. Standard operating frequency is 2.5GHz but it will boost to a maximum turbo frequency of 4.8GHz and we think that is where we tip into that extra wattage on the TDP.
There is a single 1TB NVMe SSD, 32GB of DDR5 RDIMM memory modules and an NVIDIA RTX A4500 GPU. It also comes with a 15-in-1 card reader in that flex bay plus a keyboard and mouse. This is more of a mid-range performance model with both a high-end CPU and that Ampere-based NVIDIA RTX A4500 GPU. Still, there is definitely some room for expansion with more storage, a second GPU plus an NVLink bridge, and additional memory. With 6 to 24 physical cores supported, there are options to install a CPU tailored to whatever applications you might use.
The CPUs fall in to categories of W3, W5, W7 and W9-2400 series CPUs. As already mentioned, there are 8 memory module slots with 2x DIMMs per channel supported. It can be outfitted with up to 512GB of memory using 64GB Registered DDR5 memory modules in all slots. Memory speeds up to 4800MT/s are supported but the CPU may limit that to a top speed of 4400MT/s.
Storage on the Lenovo ThinkStation P5 Workstation is up to 6 devices with the default storage bay inside at the bottom of the chassis in front. That one will take 1x or 2x 3.5-inch drives. An optional storage bay, also internally accessible at the top, front of the chassis can accept a single 3.5-inch drive. That FlexBay accessible from the front of the system will take a single hot-swappable E1.S storage drive or NVMe M.2 drive. There are also two NVMe M.2 slots on the motherboard. That Flex Bay can also be outfitted with a 15-in-1 media card reader.
For even more storage, a PCIe-mounted ThinkStation Quad Add-In-Card M.2 SSD Adapter can be installed. That will provide 4 more M.2 drives for 10 drives total and 8x more TB of storage!
6x PCIe 5.0 slots on the system board provide options for additional wired or wireless network controllers or HD controllers if you want more RAID options than what is supported by the onboard controller. You can also install more storage, a Thunderbolt 4 card or up to 2x double-wide GPUs. You will need to add a GPU for monitor support, which will also determine how many monitors you can attach. Only the 2x x16 slots on the system board feature PCIe 5.0 and a x16 link. Those would be used for GPU support or one of those Quad M.2 cards to take full advantage of the bandwidth. The other slots, 1x x8 and 3x x4 slots are PCIe 4.0.
Our NVIDIA RTX 4500 card is designed for workstation applications and features 20GB of GDDR6 memory. Memory bandwidth is at 640GB/s, and it has 7,168 Ampere-based Cuda Cores. With 224 3rd gen tensor cores and 56 RT or Ray Tracing Cores. It has a PCIe gen 4.0 interface and can support up to 4x monitors using the 4x DisplayPort 1.4a connectors.
The Lenovo ThinkStation P5 Workstation will also support NVLink technology so if you install another RTX A4500 you can link them together with an NVLink bridge and enjoy 40GB GDDR6 memory acting as a single unit. Two GPUs can also enable up to 8x monitors. For a mid-range workstation, the Lenovo ThinkStation P5 has a number of high-performance features with Intel’s Xeon W-2400 CPUs, DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0. A few high-performance GPUs helps too. This system is also very well designed. The Aston Martin influences have definitely elevated the aesthetics.
If you made it this far, THANKS! We’ll continue to bring you more hardware reviews of the latest workstations and servers, including the Lenovo ThinkStation PX Workstation. The ThinkStation PX is Lenovo’s top of the line workstation with dual 4th gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors, so stay tuned. If you are looking to learn more on this system, or any other system, contact us today!