Xi PowerGo XT18 Nov, 2014 By: Art Liddle
Editor's note: This review is part of a Cadalyst Labs Report. Read "Mobile CAD Workstations Priced Under $2,500" to learn how this model compares to the others included in the product roundup.
Although we have reviewed countless desktop workstations from @Xi Computer over the years, relatively few mobile computers from the company have passed through Cadalyst Labs. So, we were happy to see an @Xi system in this roundup.
@Xi Computer sent us its Xi PowerGo XT notebook workstation. This notebook includes a 17.3" LED-backlit display panel with an antiglare matte finish. It supports a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 (full HD). The viewing angle is wide for a notebook, and image brightness and color saturation were both good. The unit as a whole felt substantial. The handsome off-black case measures 16.3" x 11.3" x 1.8" and weighs 8.6 lbs. The power brick (7" x 3.5" x 1.4") weighs another 1.5 lbs. The Xi PowerGo XT was the only system to arrive with a carrying case, made of canvas. All told, when you're on the go this system will account for more than 12 pounds of luggage.
The Xi PowerGo XT mobile workstation offers a 17.3" display and fantastic computing performance for serious CAD work — all for less than $2,500.
Once you've come to terms with its weight, the 17.3" form factor for the Xi PowerGo XT affords two advantages: its built-in display should be fine for most AutoCAD work, and the full-sized keyboard is luxurious when compared with smaller units. Speaking of the keyboard, the Xi PowerGo XT lets you control the color and brightness of individual areas of the backlit keyboard, and the integrated touchpad includes two buttons with space in between for an optional fingerprint reader.
The Xi PowerGo XT includes NVIDIA's Quadro K3100M graphics card. This card, with 4 GB of GDDR5 onboard memory, supports as many as three external monitors, in conjunction with its internal display, using the DisplayPort 1.2's daisy-chain capabilities — but this requires compatible monitors. Another option is to connect two standard monitors using the full-size DisplayPort and the mini DisplayPort connectors provided.
In addition to the aforementioned monitor connections, the Xi PowerGo XT includes just about anything else you might require: one USB 2.0 port, three USB 3.0 ports (one powered), an HDMI video port, a mini Firewire port, an eSATA/USB combination port, a network adapter, four audio ports (line in, line out, headphone, and S/PDIF optical), and a 9-in-1 card reader. A combination wireless adapter card supports the 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0 standards. For an additional charge ($39) you can upgrade to an adapter that supports the very latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth specs. An 8X DVD±R/RW burner is also included.
Hard drive storage on the Xi PowerGo XT is supplied with a single Samsung 250-GB solid-state drive, which boasts a 0.3-ms seek time and 1,500 g shock rating. This leaves room for an upgrade to a second drive. (Among the available options are two SATA, 5,400-rpm hard drives: 500 GB for $89 and 1 TB for $139.) As for system memory, two of four 204-pin SODIMM sockets are filled with 8-GB DDR3 1,600-MHz DIMMs for a total of 16 GB. The system supports a maximum of 32 GB.
Intel's Core i7-4810QM processor powers the Xi PowerGo XT. This processor has a 6-MB level 3 cache and includes four cores and eight threads (virtual processors). The base clock speed is 2.8 GHz, with turbo mode maxing out at 3.8 GHz. The speed is adjusted to match the computing demands, as well as maintain the temperature within allowable bounds. A system of copper heat-pipes and two rear-facing exhaust fans helps keep the system cool. Fan noise was noticeable at times, but not distracting.
To gauge system performance, we used a combination of the Cadalyst c2015 benchmark running AutoCAD 2015, and SPEC ViewPerf 11. Per our standards, we enabled hardware acceleration for AutoCAD, turned off the graphics card's verticalsync, and set the screen resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 (32-bit color). @Xi Computer chose the Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit operating system.
The Xi PowerGo XT's Cadalyst c2015 benchmark scores were as follows: total index = 564, 3D graphics index = 1,291, 2D graphics index = 415, disk index = 279, and CPU index = 273. The test results for the SPECviewperf 11 suite of tests, single-sample mode only, were as follows: 61.31 for catia-03, 40.44 for ensight-04, 72.95 for lightwave-01, 118.57 for maya-03, 18.89 for proe-05, 59.65 for sw-02, 54.23 for tcvis-02, and 50.66 for snx-01. Its average score of 60 is tops for this review. The Xi PowerGo XT's total combined score for the two benchmarks is an amazing 624 — less than eight-tenths of one percent off the top mark and earning it an A+ for CAD performance.
The last thing we checked was the battery performance while running the 1,000-loop option of the c2015 benchmark. The Xi PowerGo XT includes an 8-cell (77 WH) smart lithium-ion battery. After multiple runs, we found the battery lasted an average of 112 minutes, about average for similarly sized systems in this review.
Putting It All Together
Anyone looking to do serious AutoCAD work at the office or on the go should consider the Xi PowerGo XT, which offers both a 17.3" display and fantastic computing power. Its price, as configured for this review, is $2,496; ground shipping pushes that to $2,538. Its one-year warranty includes express advance parts replacement (overnight shipping). Tech support is free for the life of the workstation, and @Xi Computer includes a 30-day money-back guarantee (excluding shipping costs and software) — the best of any vendor in this review. Highly Recommended.