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BY J.V. BOLKEN

dcc magazine  July/August 1999


Xi Computer MTower XPD
When Specialization Pays Off

Computer Corp. doesn't sell entry-level systems at Montgomery Ward's.  The company only sells graphics workstations and those are sold only direct or through a small group of VAR's. This specialization is one of the reasons Xi is among the leaders in getting new technology to market, and getting it right.  

The MTower XPD from Xi is a mid-to high-range OpenGL workstation built around Intel's latest 440 GX chipset.  The unit we received for review came outfitted with dual 550MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, as well as a separate set of 550MHZ Pentium III CPU's.

The Xeon CPU, in conjunction with the 440 GX motherboard, features an L2 cache at half the CPU speed.  This difference isn't very apparent when running standard business applications, or even simple graphics.  However, when churning through intensive 3D scenes, the through-put advantage of the faster cache can be significant.  In the View-Perf ProCDRS-01, the Xeons outperformed the Pentium III's by about 15 percent.   In some 3D Studio MAX tests, the difference was as great as 33 percent.
 
A fast processor and advanced chipset are good if all you're doing is assembling a render farm, but a true graphics workstation requires a high - performance OpenGL card and a robust configuration.  MTower XPD delivers both. 

Xi included the new Diamond FireGL 1 card. The card's revolutionary design holds down its cost significantly, while simultaneously providing outstanding OpenGL performance. On the MTower XPD, the FireGL1 returned some outstanding benchmark score, especially considering its price.

The hard disk system is outstanding, built around an Adaptec hardware RAID controller with 16MB dedicated RAM and a pair of fleet Seagate 10K Cheetah Ultra-Wide SCSI II 9.1GB drives, you won't have to wait long for even the largest file to load. A Plextor 44X SCSI CD_ROM and 3.5-inch floppy round out the storage system. There is plenty of room to expand the storage system, thanks to five free accessible full-size bays and an open 3.5- inch internal bay. The motherboard includes an IDE interface if you need it. The 256MB RAM in our system can be upgraded to as much as 2GB, and the 300wt power supply should provide plenty of power for even a full house of drives. As you'd expect, the motherboard has a pair of USB ports and the standard compliment of serial and parallel ports.

J.V. Bolkan runs Bolkan-Nelson Media Labs in Springfield, OR, where he tests workstations and a variety of other hardware.
doesn't sell entry-level systems at Montgomery Ward's.  The company only sells graphics workstations and those are sold only direct or through a small group of VAR's. This specialization is one of the reasons Xi is among the leaders in getting new technology to market, and getting it right.  

The MTower XPD from Xi is a mid-to high-range OpenGL workstation built around Intel's latest 440 GX chipset.  The unit we received for review came outfitted with dual 550MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, as well as a separate set of 550MHZ Pentium III CPU's.

The Xeon CPU, in conjunction with the 440 GX motherboard, features an L2 cache at half the CPU speed.  This difference isn't very apparent when running standard business applications, or even simple graphics.  However, when churning through intensive 3D scenes, the through-put advantage of the faster cache can be significant.  In the View-Perf ProCDRS-01, the Xeons outperformed the Pentium III's by about 15 percent.   In some 3D Studio MAX tests, the difference was as great as 33 percent.
 
A fast processor and advanced chipset are good if all you're doing is assembling a render farm, but a true graphics workstation requires a high - performance OpenGL card and a robust configuration.  MTower XPD delivers both. 

Xi included the new Diamond FireGL 1 card. The card's revolutionary design holds down its cost significantly, while simultaneously providing outstanding OpenGL performance. On the MTower XPD, the FireGL1 returned some outstanding benchmark score, especially considering its price.

The hard disk system is outstanding, built around an Adaptec hardware RAID controller with 16MB dedicated RAM and a pair of fleet Seagate 10K Cheetah Ultra-Wide SCSI II 9.1GB drives, you won't have to wait long for even the largest file to load. A Plextor 44X SCSI CD_ROM and 3.5-inch floppy round out the storage system. There is plenty of room to expand the storage system, thanks to five free accessible full-size bays and an open 3.5- inch internal bay. The motherboard includes an IDE interface if you need it. The 256MB RAM in our system can be upgraded to as much as 2GB, and the 300wt power supply should provide plenty of power for even a full house of drives. As you'd expect, the motherboard has a pair of USB ports and the standard compliment of serial and parallel ports.

J.V. Bolkan runs Bolkan-Nelson Media Labs in Springfield, OR, where he tests workstations and a variety of other hardware.

The MTower XPD is and outstanding value at the direct price of just less than $6,000. If the FireGL 1 graphics card suits your work patterns, the MTower XPD can provide performance equal to workstations costing thousands more.

Xi MTower XPD
CIRCLE #197
www.dccmag.com
(800) 432-0486
www.xicomputer.com
$5,891
SUMMARY

The MTower XPD has good performance and a great price. Although, it does have limited slots available and an old fashioned case.

Value9
Features8.5
Performance8.5
Installation8.5
Ease of Use
Overall8.6

Xi provides a good, three-year parts and labor warranty, with the first year on-site. Replacement parts are available within 12 hours, and the company provides full-time phone support in addition to a Website with technical information and updates.

The Xi MTowerDP system highlighted in this review can be configured and upgraded with 100+ options to match your application ond your budget. Xi systems (except for ReadyNow systems) are fully configurable
. Business Lease fron $59/month.

Xi systems are certified for AutoCAD 2000, 3D Studio MAX/VIZ, LightWave 3D, Softimage 3D &Pro/E.