HP xw4400 Workstation (First Look Review)

31 Jan, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

Low-cost dual-core workstation.

Not long ago, Hewlett-Packard freshened up its workstation line to provide new processor, configuration and video options in most systems. This month, Cadalyst looks at the HP xw4400, a low-cost entry-level workstation targeted toward engineers, designers, video editors and power users. This workstation offers a lot of flexibility in its configuration options and is available with either Windows or Red Hat Linux preinstalled.

The HP xw4400 workstation is based on a single Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The system that Cadalyst received for testing was based on a 2.67GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor that was mounted on a Foxconn motherboard that had been customized to HP's specifications. The chipset on the test system was the Intel 975X Express chipset, and the system included 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory—out of a total of 8GB possible when all memory slots are fully populated. The system included a 160GB SATA hard drive as well as a DVD+/- RW dual-layer with Lightscribe optical drive. Graphics were accommodated by the popular NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500 graphics card, which boasts 256MB of onboard GDDR3 memory.

All components were housed in a compact, attractive silver and black mid-size tower case that measured 17.70 x 6.70 x 18.00 (H x W x D) and offered excellent acoustical engineering, making the system remarkably quiet. The xw4400 offers three external 5.250 and two internal 3.50 drive bays, which offer good prospects for system expand-ability in combination with the Delta 460W wide-ranging power supply in the system.

 HP xw4400 Workstation
HP xw4400 Workstation

Connectivity options for the HP xw4400 included eight USB 2.0 ports: five at the rear, two in front and one situated internally. Also provided were one serial and one parallel port, a FireWire connection and an integrated Broadcom 5755 NetXtreme Gigabit network adapter. The vertical panel at the right side of the front facing plate has find sockets for both headphones and a microphone.

The HP xw4400 workstation is a speedy, economical and quiet entry-level system.
The HP xw4400 workstation is a speedy, economical and quiet entry-level system.

I tested the HP xw4400 work-station with the usual group of benchmarks and found that the system produced scores that were considered top-notch by high-end (and high-cost) workstations only a few months ago. I ran the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark under AutoCAD 2005 with Service Pack 1 installed and produced a total index score of 185. I then ran the MAXBench 4 benchmark with Autodesk 3ds Max 8 using Service Pack 3 and produced an average high/low score of 76.76 with the default NVIDIA driver; this result jumped to a respectable 160.73 when I switched to the NVIDIA MAXtreme 8.00.03 accelerated driver. The final bench-mark test was the ProE-04 viewset of SPEC ViewPerf 9.03 (, for which the xw4400 produced a weighted geometric mean score of 30.41. All bench-mark tests were run under Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 installed, along with NVIDIA graphic drivers v. These scores are quite good, and they redefine what level of performance is expected of today's entry-level workstations.

As configured and delivered, the HP xw4400 workstation is priced at $2,599, which includes 36 months of labor, parts and onsite warranty coverage and 24-hour replacement parts delivery and telephone support. The pricing of this system is based, in part, on this configuration being a standard bundle of components, which makes certain cost reductions possible. A wide assortment of graphics, memory and storage options can be selected when ordering a system. This standard configuration is offered at quite a good price, which combined with its good performance and quiet operation should make this system very popular. The HP xw4400 is a remarkably good entry-level workstation at a very attractive price. Highly Recommended.

Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and a computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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