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1 Jun, 2005 By: Ron LaFon
Xi MTower 2P64 PCIe @Xi Computer Corp. 800.432.0486
Cadalyst Labs Grade: A
Price: $5,999

Original URL: http://www.cadalyst.com/hardware/workstations/cad-systems-capitalize-on-new-chip-technology-cadalyst-labs-reviews-latest-wo-0

Cadalyst readers who've followed our testing of systems based on dual AMD Opteron processors know that their performance has been problematic. @Xi Computer has gotten it right, and those past problems did not manifest themselves in this speedy workstation.

The Xi MTower 2P64 PCIe system we tested is housed in the well-designed midsize tower case that @Xi has used for some time. These cases provide ready access to drive bays and feature a lockable swing-away drive bay cover for security. The case measures 17.88" X 7.88" X 17.5" (hXwXd) and is available in silver and black

The XI MTower 2P64 PCIe from @Xi Computer set a new performance record on the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark test.

Inside the case, the Xi MTower 2P64 PCIe system is based on an ASUS K8N-DL motherboard that features two new AMD Opteron 252 2.6GHz microprocessors—the first such system we've tested. The ASUS motherboard uses the NVIDIA NFORCE Pro chipset and offers Hypertransport at 2000MT/s. The system came with 2GB of DDR 400 REG ECC RAM, with 4GB possible on a completely populated motherboard. A SONY DVD-RW DW-26A Double Media 4.7/8.5GB 16X DV optical drive was also included.

The Xi MTower 2P64 PCIe system offers ten USB 2.0 and two FireWire 1394 connectors, as well as four externally accessible 5.25" drive bays, two externally accessible 3.5" drive bays, and another five internally accessible 3.5" bays. This largesse in expandability is supported by a 550-watt Enermax power supply, so there's definitely room for the system to grow.

The Xi MTower 2P64 PCIe is priced at $5,999 as tested. It includes the somewhat spendy 16x PCI Express PNY/NVIDIA FX4400 graphics card with 512MB of onboard RAM. This isn't an unreasonable price for a dual-processor system with 2GB of RAM and a high-end graphics card, but it may be too expensive for some. With the PNY/NVIDIA FX3400 installed instead of the FX4400, you'll give up a couple of points on the C2001 Benchmark Total Index score, but save about $700 on the overall cost of the system. If you don't need 2GB of RAM, the system can be configured with 1GB for further cost savings.

@Xi Computer is noted for its fast CAD workstations, and this system is no exception. On the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark test, it achieved a total index score of 170.89—the fastest score we've ever seen. Scores were similarly high on MAXBench4 run with 3ds max 7 with Service Pack 1 installed, where we were able to achieve an average high/low score of 139.81. With the proe-03 viewset of the SPECviewperf 8.0.1 benchmark, the system produced a score of 57.57—not quite the highest in this roundup, but an excellent score. All these results are excellent. It's hard to believe the improvement in performance in only a few brief months since the last Cadalyst Labs workstation roundup in March. Highly Recommended.

Editors' Choice Awards - CNET