When it comes to design viz workstations, the classic specification is a pair of Intel Xeon CPUs and an ultra highend GPU. After all, if you need advanced graphics to bring your 3D designs to life you’ll probably want to finish things off with a photorealistic ray trace render or animation. And with most ray trace renderers the more CPU cores the better.
The WSX4v3 from Derby based Workstation Specialists doesn’t follow this route, instead pairing the £2,500 AMD FirePro W9100 GPU with a £200 Intel Core i7 4770K Quad core CPU. On paper it might look a bit lacklustre but it’s an appealing partnership that offers two benefits over a traditional dual Xeon design viz workstation.
The first is, of course, price. The WSX4v3 costs a mere £3,995 whereas an equivalent dual Xeon would set you back well over £6,000.
The second is 3D performance. The Intel Core i7 4770K may be a consumer-focused CPU at heart, but it is built from the ground up for overclocking. And with the WSX4v3, Workstation Specialists has ramped it all the way up to 4.3GHz, something you simply can’t do with an Intel Xeon.
Not only does this mean better all round system performance but 3D graphics is also a winner. The additional GHz gives AMD’s monster 16GB GPU significantly more headroom to express itself. The machine backs this up by setting new records in all of our 3D benchmarks.
Of course, there’s no ignoring the downside of only having four cores for ray trace rendering. One way to get round this would be to hook up the WSX4v3 to a render farm or a deskside rendering system such as the WS rs-d. Or, if your rendering tool supports OpenCL, the hefty ray trace calcs could also be farmed off the incredibly powerful AMD FirePro W9100 GPU.
Whichever option you choose it is important to be able to read in large datasets quickly and here the WSX4v3 is exceedingly well equipped. Two enterprise-class Intel 730 Series 240GB SSDs are RAID 0 striped to give up to 1GB/sec of sequential read performance, double that of a standard SSD.
The whole system is backed up with 32GB of fast 1,866GHz DDR3 memory. All told, Workstation Specialists has a very interesting machine in the offering here. It may not be the classic design viz workstation we’ve come to expect, but it delivers an exceptional punch for complex 3D work.
Most importantly, thanks to AMD’s cash back offer, you can get over £1,000 off this machine, making it a bit of a steal. See tinyurl.com/FirePro50 for details and make sure you read the small print.
In addition to its AMD FirePro cash back offer, Workstation Specialists is currently offering 50% off an NEC EA244WMI monitor (offer Price £132.50) when purchased with an AMD FirePro workstation Click here for more info.
» Intel Core i7 4770K (clocked to 4.3GHz) (Quad Core) CPU
» 32GB (4 x 8GB) fast 1,866MHz RAM
» AMD FirePro W9100 (16GB GDDR5) GPU)
» 2 x Intel 730 Series 240GB SSDs (RAID 0 Stripe) + 1TB 7,200RPM HDD
» Workstation Specialists motherboard
» 220mm x 500mm x 500mm
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 3 year standard hardware warranty with Next Business Day Engineer Response
CPU benchmarks (secs – smaller is better)
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) – 177
Graphics benchmarks (bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2013 – SPECapc) – 8.40
CAD (Creo 2.0 – SPECapc graphics test) – 7.87
Intel Core i7 4770K (clocked to 4.3GHz) (Quad Core) CPU
32GB (4 x 8GB) fast 1,866MHz RAM
AMD FirePro W9100 (16GB GDDR5) GPU)
Workstation Specialists motherboard
2 x Intel 730 Series 240GB SSDs (RAID 0 Stripe) + 1TB 7,200RPM HDD
3 year standard hardware warranty with Next Business Day Engineer Response