First Look Review: Dell Precision 490 Workstation

27 Sep, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Highly recommended workhorse is fast, compact, quiet – and good-looking too.

Highly RecommendedThe Dell Precision 490 next-generation workstation is designed for high performance in space-constrained environments. It offers reliability and scalability, making it as at home next to the CAD operator's workspace as it is on the financial trading floor. The Precision 490 system that Cadalyst received had a Dell/Intel motherboard that featured two Intel Xeon 5150 (WoodCrest) 2.66GHz processors and used the Intel E5000X (GreenCreek) chipset. The Xeon had a 4MB L2 cache, and the chipset
Dell Precision 490 Workstation
Desktop workstation
Pros: Speedy, compact system with many niceties; quiet, clean and attractively designed.
Cons: None significant.
Price: $5,293


provided a FSB (front-side bus) speed of 1333MHz. The test system had 2GB of FBD-DDR2-667MHz ECC SDRAM memory, out of a possible of 32GB when fully populated. The workstation had a total of eight memory sockets, six of which were free in the tested configuration.

Hard-drive capacity on the tested Precision 490 was 146GB, with two 73GB SAS (serial-attached SCSI) Maxtor hard drives. For graphics, the x16 PCI-Express slot was filled with an NVIDIA Quadro FX4500 graphics accelerator with 512MB of GDDR3 memory. The Precision 490 workstation tested had an optical drive for software installation and such, as well as a 3.5" floppy drive.

Dell Precision 490 workstation
Designed for tight spaces, the Dell Precision 490 workstation is a powerful system with two fast Intel Xeon 5150 2.66GHz processors.
The compact and attractive charcoal gray and silver case of the Precision 490 measured 18.4" x 6.8" x 17.6" (HxWxD) and offered a total of eight USB 2.x ports as well as two serial and one parallel port. The system included an integrated Broadcom 5752 10/100/1000 network card and featured a 750W Dell power supply that should allow for significant expansion of the system.

On the test bench, the Dell Precision 490 workstation did quite well, reflecting the speedy Intel Xeon 5150 (WoodCrest) 2.66GHz processors powering it. For the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark running under AutoCAD 2005 with Service Pack 1 installed, the system produced a total index score of 195 with the NVIDIA v8.1.7.6 drivers that came preinstalled. For the 3ds Max tests, I used MAXBench4 with Autodesk 3ds Max 8 that had Service Pack 3 installed. For the averaged high/low frame rate scores with just the default graphics driver installed, the system scored 77.82 -- with the addition of the NVIDIA MAXtreme 8.00.03 accelerated driver for 3ds Max, the averaged high/low scores jumped to a speedy 173.89 -- very good numbers. Our final benchmark for this system was the ProE-04 Viewset from SPEC ViewPerf 9, which I generally find follows the performance of the included graphics card. With the NVIDIA Quadro FX4500, the Precision 490 workstation produced a weighted geometric mean of 34.91.

The estimated street price for the Dell Precision 490 workstation, as delivered for our review, was $5,293. This includes a 36-month warranty plan that covers labor, parts and on-site service, with 24-hour replacement parts and 24-hour telephone support. As is true of all Dell systems, the Precision 490 workstation can be configured with an extensive assortment of components to tailor it to your specific needs, so the price for your system is likely to vary.

The Dell Precision 490 workstation is ISV-certified by an extensive array of hardware and software vendors to ensure optimized performance in demanding workstation environments. There's much here to like here: Excellent performance, compact size and quiet operation, along with its extensive expandability options, earned the Dell Precision 490 workstation the Cadalyst Highly Recommended rating. Highly Recommended.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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