That Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra is an extremely compact workstation that combines the portability of large workstation laptops with desktop-class performance. The target audience are professionals working in the field, collecting or creating data in the field, or working in a mobile studio where it is possible to run potentially large monitors but where engineers are still expected to travel with the computer.
Overview of the specifications
Our specific review unit came with the following configuration: 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900 (8P+8E cores), NVIDIA RTX A2000 GPU, 1 x 1TB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4×4, 32GB SO-DIMM DDR5-4000 RAM . It currently costs $2833 B&H photoand you can Browse different configurations on Lenovo.com.
In its configurator, Lenovo has many CPU options ranging down to the 12th Gen Intel Core i3 and GPUs ranging up to the mobile NVIDIA RTX A5000 GPU, so there is a configuration for everyone and prices start at 1200 US dollars for the basic configurations.
Since it is a workstation, installation is possible up to 128GB of RAM (ECC or not, easy access) and the SODIMM slots are easily accessible. Regarding storage, it is possible to install two M.2 SSD drives (2x 4TB maxRAID 0/1 possible) and a 2.5″ SATA drive (1TB) for a total of three mass storage devices.
There are a couple of PCIe expansion slots in case you want to add additional cards (check if they fit): one PCIe 4.0 x 16 and one PCIe 3.0 x 4.
The compactness of the ThinkStation P360 Ultra and its performance “per lbs” or “per volume” is the main attraction here. As we mentioned in the introduction, the ideal customer might be traveling with this computer, and it’s great because it easily fits in a backpack or small pelican bag.
The computer has exceeded 10 Military transport testing to MIL-STD-810H, which most desktops are never exposed to. I’ve had situations where heavy desktop components like CPU heatsinks were damaged during shipping because they aren’t designed to withstand shipping shocks after assembly.
However, we’ve also heard from many potential users who like the idea of building a tidy office and would use this computer as a replacement for a powerful laptop because it’s more upgradeable and capable of driving more displays.
It could be the ThinkStation P360 Ultra cheaper than a workstation laptop with a similar feature set and speed (like the ThinkPad P15). If you use a laptop as a permanent workstation, this could be a compelling argument.
As an ultra-compact desktop machine, the P360 Ultra has a massive cooling advantage over standalone laptops. As such, it can use powerful components like the Intel Core i9-12900 CPU with 125W TDP.
But like its laptop counterparts, it uses many mobile components, such as B. Laptop DDR5 RAM, GPU chips, etc. A full desktop would beat the sheer power and cooling, but would be less portable. Even SFF PCs are significantly larger but can use off-the-shelf GPUs and components, which isn’t always the case with this computer.
Thanks to an ingenious lever that unlocks the outer shell from the main body, it is possible to open the computer and access the inside without tools. More details in this official video that shows it well:
A key benefit of a desktop computer is the number of ports, and this is where the ThinkStation P360 Ultra doesn’t disappoint. My only complaint is the lack of HDMI ports. The front panel has the following connections:
|1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A|
|2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Thunderbolt 4 Type-C|
|1x audio combo jack|
|4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A|
|3x DisplayPort (integrated GPU)|
|4x Mini DisplayPort (separate GPU)|
There’s also built-in WIFI access, and the computer comes with an antenna that you screw into the back. I would have liked a built-in antenna in the chassis, but it’s okay. The wired option is there when you want maximum network performance and lower latency.
Large power supply
It’s fair to say that the external power supply is one of the reasons why the ThinkStation P360 Ultra is so compact compared to a mid-size tower with an integrated power supply. The 300W power adapter is quite large and heavy. Its size is similar to high-wattage gaming laptops, so there’s nothing new here, and you’ll need to take it with you wherever you go.
However, there’s no question that this form factor is much more portable than other desktop workstation designs, as it easily fits in a backpack. For example, the MSI GE76 Raider 12U high-performance gaming laptop is about 25% smaller in overall volume than the Thinkstation P360 Ultra, but weighs 61% more.
Laptops have an integrated display and battery, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Still, the ThinkStation P360 Ultra is designed for mobile use cases where monitors will be available on-site.
Also note that the weight of the TS P360 Ultra is enough 3.96 pounds up to 7.94 lbs depending on the chosen configuration, add-ons etc. This difference can be seen in the official product data sheet and the detailed specifications.
Since performance/size or performance/weight is a strong selling point, let’s run some key benchmarks to see where this laptop sits.
We have the 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900 CPU option (max is the i9-12900K), but our GPU (the mobile RTX A2000) is far from the fastest you can get in this computer (up to RTX A5000), so keep that in mind because it’s possible to optimize the price/speed ratio. The cheaper NVIDIA T400 GPU is also available.
For reference, the RTX A2000’s graphics performance sits between the RTX 3050 and 3060, while the RTX A5000 is roughly on par with the RTX 3080. We’re referring to the mobile version of these chips because Lenovo uses them in the ThinkStation P360 Ultra.
From a CPU point of view, our device performs well in benchmarks such as Cinebench R23 and Geekbench 5. The MSI GE76 Raider 12U comparison shows what to expect when you upgrade our i9-12900 to the i9-12900HK as found in the MSI computer.
At the same time the TS P360 Ultra CPU performance “per lbs” is even better than laptops, thanks to its compact design, without display and battery. You could be carrying some serious CPU power in your backpack or carry-on.
For graphics applications that are GPU dependent applications, the PCMark 10 Creative benchmark is interesting to look at. They tend to be a mix of CPU and GPU workloads, mostly CPU.
In terms of pure 3D performance, we can observe that the mobile RTX A2000 performs below the RTX 3060 (Concept D5) and significantly slower than the RTX 3080 (MSI GE76). At the same time, it has all the features of this GPU generation, including the ability to run the latest AI workloads in today’s image and video applications.
The ThinkStation can Drive up to 8 monitors via four integrated mini-DP on the discrete GPU and three full-size DP ports and the USB-C port connected to the integrated graphics unit. It’s also important to remember that unlike laptops, there is no passthrough between discrete and integrated graphics units. Therefore, you should plan to connect your primary display to the discrete GPU via mini-DP.
The SSD performance of the ThinkStation P360 Ultra is excellent and on par with other workstations and creatively oriented computers. The main difference with high-end laptops is that you can pack up to 9 TB of storage across two M.2 and one 2.5-inch drives.
The Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra offers a great solution with enormous configuration flexibility for professionals and engineers who needs one highly mobile workplace. Wealthy enthusiasts might also represent a small market but see this as a corporate product.
The desktop nature of the case offers significant thermal cooling and more expansion options than comparable portable laptops. This computer design is more attractive and almost always more efficient and cheaper than competing SFF workstations like the HP Z2 G9 Small Form Factor Workstation or the Dell Precision Compact Form Factor.
The workstation components, like the NVIDIA RTX A-series or T-series graphics units, also come with ISV-certified software, which is a must-have for some workflows.
Businesses will appreciate Lenovo’s usual security features and management tools that consumer-centric enthusiasts often overlook. Things like premier support, accidental damage protection, and extended warranties are all potential influencers for IT departments.
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