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CADALYST, November 2006

Original URL: http://management.cadalyst.com/cadman/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=384123&pageID=2

The Xi MTower PCIe is housed in a compact, silver and black 17.2" x 8" x 19.2" (HxWxD) case with a clear side panel. It features oversized ventilation fans to dissipate heat, though the system remains quiet. On a small panel located near the top front of the case, you'll find two USB 2.x connectors, a FireWire connector and plugs for both a microphone and headphones. The system offers excellent expandability with eleven drive bays: four 5.25" and two 3.5" externally accessible bays and five more 3.5" bays located inside.  

The Xi MTower PCIe features an Asus P5W DH Deluxe motherboard with a single dual-core Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz microprocessor installed, supported by the Intel P975X chipset. A total of 2GB of DDR2 800MHz PC6200 RAM was installed, with total capacity of 8GB when the motherboard is fully populated. As with all workstations from @Xi Computer, the Xi MTower PCIe system can be configured with a broad range of options to fit specific wants and needs.

The test system came with an NVIDIA Quadro FX 3500 graphics card with 256MB of onboard memory. For the benchmark tests, I used the preinstalled v. driver along with NVIDIA MAXtreme 8.00.03 for the Autodesk 3ds Max component.


The Xi MTower PCIe's good performance, combined with its attractive price, earned top honors in this group of dual-core processor workstations.
The Xi MTower PCIe system sailed through the benchmark tests easily, posting an excellent total index score of 242 on the Cadalyst Labs C2006 benchmark running under AutoCAD 2005 with Service Pack 1 installed. Although this isn't the highest C2006 benchmark score in this roundup, it's still exceptional. The MAXBench 4 tests with Autodesk 3ds Max 8 using Service Pack 3 produced an averaged high/low score of 97.24 using only the default graphics drivers and 207.64 when I switched to the MAXtreme 8.00.03 accelerated drivers.  

The final component of our benchmark series is the ProE-04 viewset of SPEC ViewPerf 9, which generated a weighted geometric mean score of 39.56. These performance numbers earned the Xi MTower PCIe system an A for performance. Additional A grades were awarded for warranty, expandability and return options.

Although the Xi MTower PCIe system didn't register the highest benchmark scores in this review, the performance was top notch—and the system price was slightly more than half that of the speediest system. Combined with excellent expandability, good warranty coverage and high-quality components, this system was the only one in this roundup to earn the Cadalyst Labs Highly Recommended rating.

As delivered, the Xi MTower PCIe system carries a price of $3,979, which includes a three-year warranty for parts and labor and one year of onsite service coverage. This price, the lowest of any workstation in this roundup, earned the MTower PCIe an A+. The MTower PCIe system is covered by a 30-day money back guarantee with no restocking fee. Highly Recommended.