Mobile workstations with incredibly powerful GPUs are great if you’re seriously into design viz, but ones like the Nvidia Quadro 5010M are wasted on the average CAD user.
The 2GB Quadro 3000M in Workstation Specialists’ (WS) latest mobile workstation offers a much better balance of price/performance. And while Nvidia may market it as ‘high-end’ our 3D graphics benchmark score of 28FPS suggests it’s probably best matched to mainstream 3D CAD workflows.
Working alongside the Quadro is an Intel Core i7 2760QM (Sandy Bridge). This mainstream CPU runs at 2.4GHz but turbo boosts to 3.5GHz where possible. When all four cores are running flat out though — as in our rendering test — it never gets this high, soon settling on 2.7GHz as the chip heats up.
We were a touch disappointed that our test machine didn’t come kitted out with one of Intel’s new ‘Ivy Bridge’ chips. WS had planned to include a Core i7 3720QM, but was unable to get one in time. The new Ivy Bridge chips will be available soon though and, the good news is, at no extra charge!
On paper, the Core i7 3720QM runs a bit faster (2.6GHz, turbo boosting to 3.6GHz), so we’d expect a small but signifi cant increase in the overall performance of the machine.
Considering this is a mobile workstation, there’s no compromise when it comes to memory. 16GB (up to max of 32GB) means it can handle some pretty sizeable datasets.
Storage isn’t massive — a 120GB Intel 520 series SSD — but, with 550 MB/s (read) and 520 MB/s (write), performance is excellent. Higher capacity SSDs are available but push up the price considerably.
Standard SATA drives are also offered and with 3 x USB and an eSATA port for connecting external disks there are plenty of storage options.
The chassis is pretty standard fare. The backlit keyboard features a full numeric keypad, which is great for CAD, and the trackpad’s two finger multi touch scrolling is a welcome inclusion. There’s a little too much travel on the trackpad buttons for our liking, but most CAD users will use an external mouse so this shouldn’t matter too much.
A fingerprint reader sits in between the trackpad buttons to help secure sensitive data. The 15.6-inch HD screen is high-gloss and delivers a quality image. External displays or projectors can be connected via DisplayPort, HDMI or DVI.
Overall, the WS-M1550 is a good all-round mobile workstation for mainstream CAD. With the Quadro 3000M there’s a good balance of price/performance and at 3.1kg it’s light enough for everyday use on the go.
» Intel Core i7 2760QM (2.4GHz) (Quad Core)
» 16GB PC3-1333MHz DDR-3 memory
» 120GB Intel 520 Series SATA3 Solid State Drive (SSD)
» Nvidia Quadro 3000M (2GB) GPU
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 15.6” W-UXGA (1,920 x 1,080) LED display
» 376 x 256 x 35-43mm
» 36 months parts and labour warranty
(secs – smaller is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – 273
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) – 1) 209 2) 348 3) 424
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) – 109
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) – 338
(frames per sec – bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – 28
Intel Core i7 2760QM (2.4GHz)(Quad Core)
16GB PC3-1333MHz DDR-3 memory
Nvidia Quadro 3000M (2GB) GPU
Intel HM77 Express Chipset
120GB Intel 520 Series SATA3 Solid State Drive (SSD)
36 months parts and labour warranty