First Look Review: HP xw8400 Workstation8 Oct, 2006 By: Ron LaFon
Highly recommended desktop system is a bit pricey, but offers extremely quiet operation and remarkable AutoCAD performance
Inside the box, the HP xw8400 featured a Tyan/MiTac customized motherboard, which housed two of the newly released Intel dual-core Xeon 5160 3.0GHz processors and featured the Intel 5000X chipset with a front-side bus speed of 1,333MHz. A total of 2GB of DDR2-667 ECC fully buffered DIMM were included on
The HP xw8400 is an extremely fast workstation that also happens to be extremely quiet.
Graphics for the HP xw8400 tested were handled by an NVIDIA FX3500 PCIe graphics card with 256MB of onboard memory. This card provides the best price-to-performance ratio of any of the NVIDIA performance graphics cards. HP refreshed its line of workstations and the components available for them.
On the test bench, the HP xw8400 proved to be the fastest system I've ever tested -- not just by a small amount, but by a significant margin, reflecting the potential of the new Intel processors at its heart. All tests were run with NVIDIA graphic drivers v126.96.36.199 (05/27/2006) under Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 installed. I ran the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark under AutoCAD 2005 with Service Pack 1 installed, and the system generated a remarkable total index score of 211 using the wopengl8.hdi accelerated driver that ships with that version of AutoCAD.
For the MAXBench4 benchmark, I used the same system-level drivers and Autodesk 3ds Max 8 with Service Pack 3 installed. Here I obtained an averaged high/low score of 82.06 with the base video drivers and a speedy 185.68 averaged high/low score with the NVIDIA MAXtreme 8.00.03 accelerated driver for 3ds Max.
The final benchmark test -- which typically follows the performance of the installed graphics card -- was the ProE-04 Viewset of SPEC ViewPerf 9, where I obtained a weighted geometric mean of 37.11. The HP xw8400 excelled at performance as tested by our benchmark software, with especially strong scores on the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark for AutoCAD.
A somewhat pricey $5,670 as equipped for our evaluation, the HP xw8400 included 36 months of parts, labor and onsite coverage. As is true of all HP workstation systems, the xw8400 can be configured with a broad range of options, so final pricing will depend upon which options you choose. This forward-looking system delivers a lot of performance today and incorporates support for emerging technologies that will keep it abreast of the performance curve for some time to come.
Although the higher price tag would ordinarily preclude the xw8400 from receiving Cadalyst's Highly Recommended rating, the stellar AutoCAD performance proved to be the determining factor here, so the HP xw8400 earns the Highly Recommended rating.
About the Author: Ron LaFon
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