HP XW43001 Aug, 2005 By: Ron LaFon
Economical CAD system
THE NEW HP XW4300 WORKSTATION combines single- or dual-core processors and a range of graphics, memory and storage options with the goal of offering high performance at a low to moderate price. Flexibility is central to the xw4300, with options such as either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows or Red Hat Linux, along with a very broad range of accessories and components. All this allows customers to order a system suited to their particular needs and pursuits.
The HP xw4300 is a quiet-running system thanks to HP's acoustic engineering efforts. The system is also tool-free inside and out, which greatly simplifies working on the system or adding components. The HP xw4300 is housed in a relatively compact and attractive 17.7" X 6.7" X 18" (hXwXd) case that accommodates one 3.5" and three 5.25" external drive bays, with an additional two 3.5" drive bays accessible internally.
As per our specifications, the test system arrived equipped with 2GB of DDR2-667 memory installed. Fully populated, the motherboard holds 8GB of RAM. Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 was installed, along with NVIDIA driver v71.85 for the Quadro FX 3400 PCI Express graphics card that was included in the system.
The HP xw4300 workstation offers flexibility and midrange performance at an affordable price.
Many processor options are available for the HP xw4300. Our test system included an Intel Pentium 4 processor 660 with Hyperthreading technology, which enables an 800MHz front-side bus and incorporates 2MB of L2 cache. The processor was supported by the Intel 955X (Glenwood) chipset. The system is available in dual-processor configurations.
Included with the system was a 74GB 10,000rpm SATA hard drive with an 8MB cache and an HP 48x combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. Two USB 2.x ports and an optional IEEE 1394A port appear on the front of the system, and the rear features six USB ports, one serial port (and 1 optional serial port) and one parallel port. A 460W power supply supports a great deal of expandability.
We tested the xw4300 with our usual benchmark suite. The Cadalyst C2001 benchmark ran in AutoCAD 2006 without any supplemental Heidi drivers. We used only the default hardware acceleration driver—WOPENGL8.HDI—that ships with AutoCAD. Our second benchmark, MAXBench v4, used 3ds Max v7 with Service Pack 1 installed. We set the base-level Windows driver for 3ds Max and used NVIDIA's MAXtreme 7.00.03 accelerated driver for the benchmark. Finally, we ran the proe-03 benchmark test from SPECviewperf 8.0.1 benchmark (www.spec.org ). All tests were run at a screen resolution of 1280x1024 for testing purposes, though the FX 3400 certainly supports higher resolutions.
Test numbers were a respectable 151 for the Cadalyst C2001 Total Index score, a combined high/low score of 104.83 on the MAXBench4 benchmark, and a 48.21 weighted geometric mean on the proe-03 viewset of SPEC ViewPerf v.8.01. These are all quite good performance numbers.
As configured for our testing process, the HP xw4300 carries an estimated street price of $3,773, but system configurations are available starting as low as $849. The standard warranty for HP personal workstations is three years on parts, three years on labor and three years of next-business-day on-site service. In addition, 24-hour telephone support is available.
Its very good performance numbers, moderate price, and extensive configuration options—all combined in a quiet system with a respectable warranty—make the HP xw4300 an ideal low- to midrange workstation for the CAD, design or visualization firm.
Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor, and computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.