Scan’s 3XS X58 is one of two overclocked workstations on test this month. However, unlike the Workstation Specialists machine, Scan hasn’t used overclocking for performance reasons alone. Its aim is to get high-end performance out of a mid-range CPU, so customers don’t have to pay high-end prices.
The CPU in question is Intel’s Core i7 920, which has been overclocked from 2.66GHz up to 3.2GHz. Customers pay a slight premium for this, which goes towards R & D costs, and to honour guarantees on CPU, memory and motherboard not covered by overclocking.
Any cost saving from the CPU is eroded by the specialist hard drive system where each drive has a very specific role. For OS, applications and current datasets there is a new generation solid-state drive, the 128GB Corsair Extreme Series X128. This uses flash technology and unlike traditional hard drives has no moving components.
We found it booted up Windows quickly and offered excellent performance when opening, copying and saving files. However, this advantage was lessened when working with lots of small files, which is typical for CAD. Speed-wise it was on par with the three disk RAID 0 array inside the Dell Precision T3500.
For data, there are 2 x 1TB Samsung hard drives, which are configured in RAID 1 to keep data safe should one drive fail. Portable data requirements are taken care of with an Icy Box docking station sporting a 250GB drive. This neat device lets the user release the disk from the front of the machine simply by pushing it in and it popping it out.
In terms of performance the machine scored very well. The 3.2GHz CPU coupled with an Nvidia Quadro FX 1800 graphics card put in a solid performance under all of our application benchmarks and it’s clear the system is well balanced for mainstream CAD.
In summary, while covering all bases, the hard drive setup is extravagant to say the least, and it’s probably more of a technology demonstration than an essential purchase. However, this can easily stripped back to take a few hundred pounds off the cost and reveal what is a good all round CAD workstation with excellent price/performance.
How we benchmark workstations at Develop3D
» Intel Core i7 920 overclocked to 3.2 GHz
» 6GB (3 x 2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3
» Asus P6T SE Intel X58 Motherboard
» 128GB Corsair Extreme Series X128
» 2 x 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F1
» Icy Box docking station (256GB drive)
» PNY Quadro FX1800 (768MB) graphics card
» Windows XP x64
» 1st Year on site + 2nd year parts/ labour
Graphics (frames per second – bigger is better) SolidWorks 2009 – 35.3 3ds Max Design 2010 – 4.6 Inventor 2010 – 4.0
CPU (secs – smaller is better) 3ds Max Design 2010 – 315
To find out how DEVELOP3D benchmarks workstations click here
Intel Core i7 920 overclocked to 3.2 GHz
6GB (3 x 2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3
PNY Quadro FX1800 (768MB)
Asus P6T SE Intel X58
128GB Corsair Extreme Series X128 SSD / 2 x 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F1
1st Year on site + 2nd year parts/ labour