IBM IntelliStation M50 9229MC1 (First Look Review)

28 Feb, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

Entry-level dual-core workstation offers multiple options for connectivity.

Cadalyst planned to include the IBM IntelliStation M50 9229MC1 in this month's roundup review on dual-core workstations, but the system arrived too late to be included.

IBM IntelliStation M50 9229MC1
IBM IntelliStation M50 9229MC1

The IntelliStation M50 9229MC1 is housed in a compact, mid-sized matte-black tower that measures 16.9" x 7.0" x 17.5" (H x W x D). The system that Cadalyst received was based on a single Intel Core2 Duo E6600 processor running at 2.4GHz. The processor was seated in an IBM M50 motherboard that used the Intel 975X chipset, a combination that featured a front-side bus speed of 1,066MHz. The test system arrived with 4GB of DDRII unbuffered ECC 667MHz RAM, out of a total of 8GB when the motherboard is fully populated with memory.

This IntelliStation M Pro included a 400W power supply with temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans. An NVIDIA Quadro FX1500 PCIe 16x graphics card, which includes 256MB of integrated GDDR3 memory, accommodated graphics for this system. The combination of the power supply and the moderately quiet fan on the FX1500 resulted in a relatively quiet workstation that featured good acoustic characteristics.

Connectivity options were above average and included a total of eight USB 2.0 connectors (two front and six back); two IEEE 1394 FireWire connectors (one front and one back); two serial ports and one parallel port and an integrated Gigabit Ethernet adapter. Additional features of the M50 9229MC1 included a 160GB 7200RPM simple-swap SATA II hard drive, an IBM Multi-Burner Plus optical drive that supports all recordable DVD formats endorsed by the DVD Forum and DVD+RW Alliance (including DVD+R double layer) and SoundMax-integrated Digital HD audio.

IBM is noted for its superb system engineering, and the IntelliStation M50 is no exception; features include high-quality components and lots of attention to detail.

On the Cadalyst test bench, the IntelliStation M50 went through its paces using the current test suite, all running under Microsoft Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 2 installed and using NVIDIA drivers v. (WHCL-certified as of July 12, 2006). I ran several iterations of the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark, which produced a consistent total index score of 167. Next up was the MAXBench4 benchmark, which I ran under Autodesk 3ds Max 8 with Service Pack 3 installed. I did several runs of the benchmark in three different configurations. The first runs were with the default OpenGL driver, which produced an averaged high/low score of 77.81. The second set of tests were completed with the NVIDIA MAXtreme 8.00.03 accelerated driver for 3ds Max; the averaged score jumped to 148.20 for these tests. The last of the 3ds Max tests used the default Direct3D driver, which produced an averaged score of 176.12.

Our final tests of the IBM Intelli-Station M50 were with the ProE-04 viewset of SPEC ViewPerf 9.03, which produced a weighted geometric mean score of 29.08. All of the scores were well within the range of what qualifies as entry-level system performance these days.

As equipped and configured for this review, the IBM IntelliStation M50 9229MC1 carried a price of $3,170. This includes a full three years of on-site warranty coverage with 24-hour replacement parts and 24-hour telephone support. Although this price is a little on the expensive side for a workstation with entry-level performance, note that the price also includes the substantial backing and support of IBM, in addition to the comfortable warranty coverage. All things considered, I'd consider this work-station a relatively good deal. As with all IBM workstation-level systems, an extensive range of options is available, so final pricing may vary, depending upon your specific needs.

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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