Featuring a single processor the Precision T3500 is specifically targeted at CAD users, but this particular T3500, with its top specification components has a definite skew towards high-end CAD and applications like NX, which are particularly graphics hungry. The FirePro V8700 is one of the most powerful CAD graphics cards on the market and its pedigree is shown in our benchmark tests topping the charts under SolidWorks and coming a close second to the Workstation Specialists WSX114 (see page 57) despite having a much slower CPU clock speed.
The T3500 features six memory slots, all of which are occupied by 2GB DIMMs running at their top speed of 1,333MHz thanks to the top end Intel Xeon X5570 processor. To work with this amount of memory – which should be plenty for even the most demanding of CAD users – a 64-bit operating system is essential and the T3500 came custom installed with Windows XP x64 Edition.
The compact chassis is packed with technology and while it doesn’t look particularly pretty it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design. There’s a big open space for airflow over the CPU and memory, with low duty fans pushing air from the front to the back of the machine. The end result is an incredibly quiet machine, even under load.
The storage system is high-end in the extreme with 3 x 160GB 10,000RPM hard drives configured in a RAID 0 array. This means that data is spread across all three disks so they work together to boost performance. The downside is that if one drive fails all data is lost, so a solid backup plan is essential.
Dell ships its workstations with Intel’s HyperThreading (HT) technology switched off by default. This is easily turned on in the BIOS and remained on for our tests. While HT has major benefits for rendering, it may actually slow down other applications, so check with your software vendor for recommendations.
With high-end components across the board our T3500 test machine is unlikely to have mass market appeal but, of course, all of these can be stripped back resulting in a much more cost-effective and mainstream CAD solution. The T3500 might not be the most stylish of workstations, but it’s well built and quiet and another solid machine from Dell.
To find out how DEVELOP3D benchmarks workstations click here