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Editor’s Pick: Lenovo Debuts Workstation for 2D CAD and Entry-Level 3D Applications

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

If you’re the new kid on the block, you generally get the antique workstation because managers aren’t about to invest any more in you until you prove yourself – well, maybe. Running your own shop means you delay new equipment purchases because every buck spent comes right out of your hide. And if Ebenezer Scrooge looms over your budget like a crow securing roadkill, you may opt to skirt the scowl and make do with those old workstations a little longer than you should. Bucks cause these scenarios, but Lenovo might have something that will affect your lot in life positively.

Lenovo is just now rolling out its new low-cost ThinkStation E32 workstation. Actually, workstations. The E32 comes in minitower and SFF (small form factor) versions. The E32 is aimed at 2D CAD drawing and entry-level 3D designers. It’s certified for a number of applications from Adobe, Dassault, PTC, Siemens, and SolidWorks. And it comes with a 60-day trial version of Autodesk AutoCAD LT pre-loaded. Also pre-loaded is your choice of operating system: Windows 8 or 8 Pro or Windows 7 (32- or 64-bit).

The E32 minitower and SFF are essentially the same units. The minitower measures 16.9 x 6.9 x 16.7 inches while the SFF version comes in at 14.8 x 4.0 x 13.3 inches. In other words, the differences between the two are the sort of things that size dictates. For example, the SFF has three bays for hard disk storage while the minitower has four.

The E32 ThinkStation seems designed to be customized by you. That is, it serves as an out-of-box entry-level workstation that you can then build out or not as your needs evolve, budgets allow, and business imperatives demand. See, both units support 4th generation Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors as well as Intel Xeon E3 1200 v3 processors. You can beef them up with as much as 32GB of memory and 9TB of storage. Optical drives like DVD-ROM and Blu-ray as well as SSD are available.

The E32 supports integrated Intel HD Graphics P4600. You also can expand your graphics horsepower with NVIDIA Quadro accelerators, including the NVIDIA NVS graphics for multidisplay set-ups. The minitower can handle NVIDIA K4000 graphics, and the SFF goes up to the Quadro K600.

Standard features include 1GB Ethernet networking, a 29-in-1 card reader that reads and writes 29 different media types, four PCI slots, and lots of ports. I mean a lot: two front and four rear USB 3.0 ports, two rear and one internal USB 2.0 port, VGA, and two DisplayPorts.

Both versions of the ThinkStation E32 workstations are energy sippers. Their power supplies are up to 92% efficient, and the E32 complies with Energy Star, EPEAT, and Green Guard standards.

The ThinkStation E32 is so new that full details on it are not available quite yet and, as of this writing, you cannot order a ThinkStation E32 online. Which is just a way of saying that I was unable to build a unit with mid-range components to see what it would fetch. That should all change any moment now, so hang onto this column and try again later.

Still, when you couple all its supplied power and its expansion potential with its $729 starting price (Lenovo’s approximation), the ThinkStation E32 sounds like a workstation that can get you up and running then grow with you. Hit today’s Pick of the Week link and learn more about the ThinkStation E32.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@digitaleng.news.