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jyliu
Paper Tape
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎07-31-2019
Location: US
Views: 262
Message 1 of 5

SFF Thinkstation - what drawbacks?

I am trying to decide which Thinkstation to get.

 

The usage will be for portfolio management.

- Realtime market data and charting (think Bloomberg, Factset, and similar)

- Large Excel sheets (several thousand rows) with cells (a like number) updating with realtime pricing that drive formula recalculation throughout the sheet and macros that run every few minutes 

- Chrome (10-30 tabs), other Office apps, a couple of trading web apps, and 1-2 windows of video always streaming (think CNBC and similar)

- 6 or so monitors

 

I'm looking at models that can drive up to 8 monitors, which seems to require two graphics cards.  I'm not sure which CPU, could be i7, i9 or Xeon.  I think 32GB memory will suffice but a couple open DIMM slots would be nice.  Two SSDs in RAID, but I don't think it need particularly large capacity or more than two drives.  

 

It looks like I can fit this into the SFF (small form factor) model.  

 

So my question is, will there be any drawback to the SFF for my uses?  Is there a thermal problem with the SFF, or anything that would make the machine slower than a tower with the same components?

 

 

jyliu
Paper Tape
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎07-31-2019
Location: US
Views: 205
Message 2 of 5

Re: SFF Thinkstation - what drawbacks?

I guess what I'm really asking is: for today with pretty spec'd up SFF systems, have you experienced thermal throttling or other performance issues that you attribute to the form factor?
Lenovo Employee croooowe
Lenovo Employee
Posts: 167
Registered: ‎07-14-2015
Location: US
Views: 194
Message 3 of 5

Re: SFF Thinkstation - what drawbacks?

In an ideal environment, with what you stated you plan to do with it, a SFF system should not have any performance differences from a Tower with the exact same components. However, if the same systems are put in a less than ideal environment, dusty, warm, stored in a desk/cabinet, the results may vary.

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Lenovo Staff
Lenovo Staff
Posts: 4,135
Registered: ‎02-22-2010
Location: NC
Views: 187
Message 4 of 5

Re: SFF Thinkstation - what drawbacks?

The major differences between a P330 Tower and P330 SFF (note that I'm NOT inlcuding P330 Tiny in this discussion) is going to be the power supply and the available storage options. 

 

The tower platform will be able to support higher power GPUs since it supports full height cards and has the larger power supply (which includes aux PCIe power support).  The SFF will be limited to low profile GPUs which will limit GPU selection, and because of this the power supply for that system is appropriately sized down.

 

Storage is also a bit limited on the SFF compared to the tower.  The tower will have support for up to 4 drive/storage bays, whereas the SFF will be limited to essentially 2 (ODD is supported only via slim devices on that platform).  There are also limitations with the drives supported on SFF in that the primary bay can support 3.5" or 2.5", while the secondary bay is limited to 2.5" drives only.  You didn't mention if you're interested in NVMe SSDs or SATA SSDs, but either platform will likely work OK for your storage config.

 

I think the differentiating factor for your situation is going to be the GPU support.  Display count will be critical to decide which solution you need to look at.  Up to 7 displays could technically be supported using a single discrete GPU + onboard graphics.  But if you need to go to 8 displays or higher, then that's going to force you into a dual discrete GPU situation.  In P330, the 2nd discrete GPU would only operate at x4 bandwidth, which could impact performance depending on the GPU in use.

 

 

It sounds like you could likely meet your requirements in a P330.  A P520/520c might be a better option for you if your graphics or storage requirements increase.




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jyliu
Paper Tape
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎07-31-2019
Location: US
Views: 172
Message 5 of 5

Re: SFF Thinkstation - what drawbacks?

Thank you so much!

 

I will review the models with this info in mind.  Everything is much clearer to me now.

 

As I learn more, I think my planned use is pretty undemanding compared to what these machines are designed for.  

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