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Original URL: http://www.cadalyst.com/hardware/cad-unplugged-cadalyst-labs-review-3622

Cadalyst Labs Review: CAD Unplugged

Get the job done anywhere with mobile workstations.

Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT

@Xi Computer
Price: $3,099

The Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT laptop is a mobile workstation for those with decidedly large laps, because it measures 15.6" x 11.5" x 2.3" (H x W x D) and weighs 8.9 lbs with the lithium ion battery installed. The PowerGo is decidedly geared toward high-performance mobile computing. The unit Cadalyst received for review was based on a full-blown, dual-core processor — the Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 — running at 2.66 GHz, rather than a chip specifically intended for mobile systems. @Xi Computer noted that the system is also available with the Extreme Edition of the processor that runs at 2.93 GHz, but that such a system — while offering approximately 6% better benchmark numbers — is roughly $850 more expensive due to the premium price that Intel charges for this processor.


As requested, the Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT system arrived with 2 GB of DDR2 800-MHz RAM installed and included an 80-GB Hitachi hard drive. The system is available with hard drives as large as 200 GB and will accommodate as many as three hard drives in total. It supports SATA-150. The Xi PowerGo has a built-in four-in-one Flash memory reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO), and a USB external 3.5" 1.44-MB floppy disk drive is an available option. This system supports RAID in 0/1/5 modes.

The system I received was very attractive and well-designed, finished in high gloss (Piano) black and matte black, and featured a wide-aspect-ratio 17" screen with a native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050. The display panel provided excellent quality and was very crisp and bright. In this case, the display was driven by an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX graphics card with 512 MB of memory installed. The installed NVIDIA graphics driver was dated 1/5/2007 but was unnumbered. Other graphic card options are available when ordering this system. The system supports dual graphics cards in an SLI configuration.

There are lots of amenities incorporated into the Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT system: a built-in camera, a Kensington Lock Port, Intel Pro Wireless 802.11a/b/g, a 56K V90 modem, Bluetooth interface, and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet connection. The system was quiet in operation but did generate some heat, as one would expect in a mobile system that uses a conventional microprocessor rather than one intended specifically for mobile systems.

The conventional microprocessor paid off in terms of performance when I ran the various benchmarks on the Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT system. Using AutoCAD 2008, I ran the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark in two different configurations — OpenGL and Direct 3D — using the default AutoCAD drivers. The C2006 total index score with the OpenGL driver was 176, and the system generated a speedy C2006 total index score of 289 with the Direct 3D driver. These are the best performance numbers to date for a mobile workstation system in Cadalyst Labs.

I ran the MAXBench4 benchmark with Autodesk 3ds Max 9, testing in two different configurations (no accelerated driver is available for the GeForce line of graphics cards) and testing both OpenGL and Direct 3D performance using the native 3ds Max drivers. Here, too, the Xi PowerGo system showed its muscle, producing a combined average high/low score of 110.55 for the OpenGL component of the test and 171.09 with Direct 3D.

The Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT has a wide-aspect-ratio 17" screen with a crisp, bright display. Using a conventional microprocessor, it generated the best performance of any mobile workstation tested in Cadalyst Labs.
The Xi PowerGo 2Duo XT has a wide-aspect-ratio 17" screen with a crisp, bright display. Using a conventional microprocessor, it generated the best performance of any mobile workstation tested in Cadalyst Labs.


The final benchmark was the ProE-04 Viewset of SPEC-viewperf 9.03, in which the GeForce graphics card produced a decidedly slow weighted geometric mean score of 2.688 — typical of this line of graphics cards.

As might be expected when powering a mobile workstation based on a conventional microprocessor (dual-core or otherwise), the run-down times for the lithium ion battery included in the Xi PowerGo 2Duo system were not as long as one might wish for. But the tradeoff is that you get more work done in less time, so things even out to a degree. That said, the idle run-down time — with polling services such as Wi-Fi disabled — was 1 hour, 30 minutes. Running a continuous loop of the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark, the active run-down time was 1 hour, 18 minutes — not substantially less.

As configured, the Xi PowerGo 2Duo system I tested carries an estimated street price of $3,099. Other configuration options — and there are many — will cause the price to vary from this figure. This pricing includes a 36-month warranty on parts and labor only, though other warranty coverage options are available. Highly Recommended.