First Look: HP XW9300

31 Mar, 2005 By: Ron LaFon

Dual AMD64 workstation.

WORKSTATIONS IN HP's new xw9300 line are built on single and dual AMD Opteron 200 series processors with AMD64 technology and HyperTransport. Processors currently available are the 246 (2.0GHz), 248 (2.2GHz), 250 (2.4GHz) and 252 (2.6GHz). Cadalyst Labs looked at a late preproduction xw9300 based on dual AMD Opteron 250 (2.4GHz) processors supported by the new NVIDIA nForce Professional chipset with an AMD-8131 HyperTransport PCI-X tunnel.

HP xw9300
HP xw9300

The HP xw9300 workstation tested came with 2GB of DDR1-400 ECC memory—a fully populated motherboard holds 16GB—and an NVIDIA Quadro FX 3400 graphics card. I tested the system with NVIDIA drivers v7.0.7.8 and MAXtreme v6.00.07 for the 3ds max benchmark. Although we didn't test this aspect of the system, the HP xw9300 has dual PCI Express 16x slots and is SLI-enabled.

During this review, I opened the system to install another graphics card for testing and discovered that the HP xw9300 features an intelligently designed, tool-less chassis. Almost all operations, even changing expansion cards, are designed to be completed without any tools—other than your hands. Although other vendors produce tool-less workstations, this is the most complete and easy-to-use implementation that I've seen.

As with most HP systems, the xw9300 dual AMD system offers a smorgasbord of options.
As with most HP systems, the xw9300 dual AMD system offers a smorgasbord of options.

Speaking of cases, the HP xw9300 arrived in a midsize case that measured 17.9" X 8.3" X 20.7" (hXwXd). The case features acoustic-dampening hard drive rails that minimize the transmission of vibration from the hard drives to the chassis, which significantly reduces system noise while also protecting the hard drive(s). Noise is further reduced with quiet circuitry that allows the fans to run more quietly at lower speeds when the system is idle or running low-power applications.

Expandability options include three external 5.25" drive bays and five internal 3.5" bays. A total of two USB 2.x and one FireWire connector appear on the front of the case, with four more USB 2.0 ports and another FireWire connection on the rear. This expandability is supported by a 700-watt power supply.

As with most HP systems, a very wide range of options are available in terms of the core system and peripherals. The HP xw9300 tested included a SATA 74GB hard disk, a 48X CD-RW/DVD combo, the dual AMD processors mentioned previously and 2.0GB of RAM. Its price was $6,294 as delivered, although prices in the xw9300 series start as low as $2,299. The standard warranty for HP Personal Workstations is three years on parts, three years for labor and three years of next-business-day on-site service.

On the test bench, the HP xw9300 achieved a total index score of 134.34 on the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark. It scored 46.30 on the proe-03 viewset of the SPECviewperf v8.01 benchmark and registered an averaged frame rate of 111.69 on the MAXBench4 benchmark using the NVIDIA MAXtreme v6.00.07 accelerated driver for 3ds max. Though in the past I've noted performance problems with systems based on dual AMD processors, those problems were nowhere to be found here. I suspect real-world performance numbers might be a bit higher once these systems go into production and final optimizations are complete, but the benchmark results are already respectable.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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