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@Xi's MTower PCIe Workstation Favors Solid Functionality Over Flash
By John Myers | ConnectPress Editor | May 25, 2016
With @Xi You Can Soup Up Your Workstation for a Sweet Ride

@Xi Computer Corp.'s MTower PCIe Workstation may not be fancy, but itís packed with functionality and the option to soup it up with extras. I recently got the chance to test one out and the design is simple, measuring just 9.5" x 23.75" x 22.5" (WxHxD) and weighing comparatively light. The model I reviewed included an Intel Core i7-6700k CPU, which clocked at 4.5GHz and a 16.GB of RAM and a NVIDIA Quadro M2000 graphics card.

In addition to the M2000 I tested out the NVIDIA Quadro M4000 and a NVIDIA Quadro M5000. The MTower PCIe uses a unique sealed water cooling solution that allows the system to vent air outside of the case making it possible to pack components, such as graphics cards and added memory much closer together than would otherwise be possible.The case is very easy to open, even for a person who is as borderline tool-incompetent as myself. It just takes a few screws and the case slides right off. Once open youíve got a lot of room to work with, and the interior never feels cramped, which is great for people like me with large, uncoordinated hands.

@Xi's MTower PCIe

To compare how the MTower PCIe fairs in real world conditions with each of the different graphics cards I ran a series of tests using Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation's (SPEC) SPECviewperf 12 benchmark software. The benchmarking tool generates a series of composite scores measuring the workstation's frame rate while running several common CAD solutions including, Dassault Systemes' CATIA V6 R12, PTC's Creo 2.0, Dassault Systemes' SOLIDWORKS 2013 and Siemens PLM Software's NX 8.0.

Here's how the tests shook out:

MT PCIe with NVIDIA Quadro M2000 - $$2,956

For the CATIA V6 benchmarks the MTower PCIe demonstrated a geometric mean of 69.48 frames per second, after running a number of sample models ranging from 5.1 to 21 million vertices.

Testing against Creo 2.0 the workstation averaged a geometric mean of 72.49 frames per second and in this case the models ranged between 20 and 48 million vertices.

With the NX 8.0 benchmark SPECviewperf 12 ran a series of test models ranging from 7.15 and 8.45 million vertices and found a geometric mean of 108.03 frames per second.

SOLIDWORKS 2013 showed the best results, coming in with a geometric mean of 114.49 frames per second on a series of models that ranged from 2.1 to 21 million vertices.

MT PCIe with NVIDIA Quadro M4000 - $3,296

On the second set of tests the CATIA V6 benchmarks demonstrated a geometric mean of 89.76 frames per second.

While running Creo 2.0 the workstation averaged a geometric mean of 85.29 frames per second.

For the second NX benchmark SPECviewperf 12 reported a geometric mean of 133.78 frames per second.

And this time SOLIDWORKS 2013 scored a geometric mean of 136.20 frames per second on a series of models.

MT PCIe with NVIDIA Quadro M5000 - $4,196

In the third CATIA V6 benchmarks the MT PCIe scored a geometric mean of 138.48 frames per second.

This time while running Creo the workstation averaged a geometric mean of 114.76 frames per second.
And in the third NX benchmark SPECviewperf 12 reported a geometric mean of 205.49 frames per second.

Finally the third SOLIDWORKS test demonstrated a geometric mean of 163.51 frames per second.

MTower PCIe Interior

In addition, I also experimented with KeyShot 6.1 and SOLIDWORKS Visualize rendering solutions. KeyShot 6.1 is a high-end rendering solution that distinguishes itself from its competition by being 100 percent powered by the workstation's CPU. SOLIDWORKS Visualize is a rendering solution built on the original Bunkspeed architecture and can leverage the power of the workstation's CPU, GPU or both in combination.

In both cases I used models included with the software and added lighting, color effects and backgrounds to the design. The MTower PCIe behaved admirably allowing me to add sophisticated effects in real time.

I did notice a little bit of slow down with KeyShot, which I suspect was the result of running exclusively off the CPU. I confirmed this when I checked rendering time in SOLIDWORKS Visualize using only the CPU against using exclusively the GPU and the difference was noticeable.

Nonetheless the experience was still very fluid and I could easily see using either tool on the workstation with very few hiccups or issues.

A 1969 Camaro rendered in SOLIDWORKS Visualize

In the end I found @Xi's MTower PCIe to be a highly functional workstation capable of handling powerful computing tasks with ease.

The MTower PCIe begins at $1,099.00 and includes:

- An Intel Core i5-6600 3.3/3.9GHz 1C Turbo Boost 6MB Shared L3 Cache DMI 2.0 Quad-Core 6th Gen14Nm processor,

- 8GB DDR4 2666MHz High Performance RAM,

- a NVIDIA NVS 310 DP Low Profile 512GB DDR3 PCIe 2xDisplayPort 1.2 graphics card,

- 500GB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s Seagate Barracuda NCQ 16MB Cache ST500DM002

- and a 20" ASUS VS208N-P Wide LED 5ms.1600x900NR 50Mil:1 Hi-CR monitor.

One of the advantages is that it is highly configurable and has enough room for high-end components to run as much as $18,000 for a workstation including an eight-Core/16 Threads Intel Xeon E5-1680 processor, 64GB DDR4 RAM and two NVIDIA Quadro M6000 24GB GDDR5 graphics cards. It is hard to imagine anyone dropping that much money on a single workstation but it does demonstrate the limitless power and performance options for the MTower PCIe, but @Xi actually confirmed that corporate, government, medical and educational research centers, regularly purchase MTower PCIe configured close or even in excess of that amount, to satisfy the most complex real time and simulation requirements.

@Xi has been building top of the line workstations since 1987. They may not be flashy, but the functionality is what counts. The bottom line is if you haven'tí checked out @XI you should.

You can learn more about the MTower PCIe at:

John Myers graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in Communications and Journalism...



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