Looking back with beige tinted glasses I remember my first CAD machine: a trusty 386 with a whopping 2MB of RAM!
Fast forward 20 years, and swapping AutoCAD R10 for SolidWorks 2011, most modern workstations now come with 8GB as standard. That’s 4,000 times more than in 1990. It really blows the mind.
The good news is memory is now cheap and users of CAD/CAM/CAE software no longer need to shell out thousands of pounds to simply load up their huge models or, if the purse strings are tight, compromise workflows by having to reduce the complexity of their data.
Scan’s latest 3XS workstation has memory in spades: 16GB of fast DDR3 PC3-12800 1,600MHz to be precise. Coupled with a Core i7 2600K CPU overclocked to 4.5GHz, it’s the perfect specification for a high-performance CAD machine. The high GHz gives leading performance under single threaded operations, while four CPU cores still give a kick for multi-threaded operations like rendering, CAM or simulation.
But the quality components don’t stop there. Buoyed by a 4.5GHz CPU, the Nvidia Quadro 2000 graphics card delivers excellent performance in SolidWorks, not that far behind the significantly more expensive Quadro 5000 in the Octane Pro from Cryo PC. The increasingly popular combination of SSD (Solid State Drive) and mechanical platter offers the best of both worlds: a 120GB OCZ Vertex 2E for system files and current projects, and a sizeable 1TB Western Digital Caviar for archive data.
At £1,329 the P67 X3D-workstation is an excellent proposition for power CAD users who need to work with large datasets or carry out complex calculations that take up lots of memory. Since our last Scan workstation review, the Bolton-based company has also extended its standard warranty to three years in line with most other workstation vendors so it’s good news all round.
» Intel Core i7-2600K processor (3.4GHz overclocked to 4.5GHz) (Quad Core)
» 16GB (4 x 4GB) Corsair Vengeance DDR3 PC3-12800 1,600MHz memory
» Asus P8P67 motherboard
» 120GB OCZ Vertex 2E Sandforce SSD system drive + 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black SATA data drive
» PNY Nvidia Quadro 2000 (1GB) graphics card
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 3 year warranty (1st year onsite, 2nd and 3rd Year return to base
» CPU benchmarks (secs – smaller is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – 199
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) – 1) 137 2) 212 3) 295
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) – 79
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) – 203
» Graphics benchmarks (frames per sec – bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – 34
Intel Core i7-2600K processor (3.4GHz overclocked to 4.5GHz) (Quad Core)
6GB (4 x 4GB) Corsair Vengeance DDR3 PC3-12800 1,600MHz memory
PNY Nvidia Quadro 2000 (1GB) graphics card
Asus P8P67 motherboard
120GB OCZ Vertex 2E Sandforce SSD system drive + 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black SATA data drive
3 year warranty (1st year onsite, 2nd and 3rd Year return to base)