The HP xw4600 workstation is the latest in a line of workstations from HP. This is not one of their high end machines or their low end machines. The xw4600 is positioned to fill the mid range slot.
- Reliable application performance
- Flexible, industry-driven design
- Dedicated to reducing our environmental impact
- Bandwidth for high-performance graphics
- HP engineering + the latest performance technologies
The xw4600 is able to have reliable application performance because HP engineers work closely with software and hardware vendors to test and certify applications, OS and hardware configurations to help ensure that applications run smoother, faster, and with greater reliability.
HP uses a convertible mini-tower design for the xw4600 which offers future expandability options while paying attention other details like acoustic control, case size, remote management and access design.
HP puts an 80 PLUS efficient power supply standard in every xw4600. This and other design elements help to provide the xw4600 with an ENERGY STAR qualified configuration, and EPEAT Gold listing, the HP xw4600 is designed to optimize energy use. HP’s EPEAT Gold certification implies that the xw4600 is environmentally friendly in how it was manufactured, throughout its lifecycle, and how it will be when it reaches its end of life.
Because the HP xw4600 has dual PCIe X16 Gen2 graphics interfaces you can get twice the performance of previous graphics interfaces. In addition you can power multiple displays without compromise.
The xw4600 uses the Intel X38 Express chipset and workstation-class, dual and quad-core processors. Having the ability to use quad-core processors can really boost the productivity of the workstation and your productivity.
The xw4600 workstation looks just like every other desktop computer you have ever seen. It uses a mini-tower to keep the space requirements down. The workstation HP sent to me was covered in a skin. This is an option that they offer if you want your workstation to have a custom look.
The front of the workstation has 1 – 3.5-in and 3 – 5.25-in expansion bays. The 3.5-in bay can be filled with a 1.44MB floppy drive. As far as I can see this is the only thing it can hold. The 3.5-in bays can hold up to two optical drives and one 16-In-1 Media Card Reader. Also, on the front are the power and reset buttons, 2 – USB ports, a headphone jack and possibly a FireWire port. I say possibly because the workstation I have did not have one, but there is a spot for one.
The back of the xw4600 has 2 – 120mm fans, one for the power supply and another for a case fan. Also, on the back are 7 – USB 2.0 ports, 1 serial port, 2 PS/2 ports, 1 parallel port, 1 RJ-45 to integrated Gigabit LAN, 1 external SATA, 1 audio in, 1 audio out, and 1 microphone in. I am always surprised that machines still come with PS/2, serial and parallel ports, these are very old and have been replaced with USB and FireWire.
The inside also has its fair share of features. In order to get inside the box there is door on the left side of the case. This door has a latch on it that must be lifted and then the door slides toward the back.This is not the best design for a door that I have seen. It is quite difficult to get the door back on if the case is standing up. However, if you lay it down and you have a skin on the case like I do, then it is feasible that the skin could get torn up.
Inside there are 3 PCI, 1 PCIe x1, 1 PCIe x8, and 2 PCIe x16 slots. For hard drives there are 2 internal 3.5-in slots, but it is possible to have up to 4 hard drives in the system, this gives you a maximum of 4TB of storage. This motherboard has 4 slots for memory, this means you can have a maximum of 8GB of RAM. To power all of this HP puts in an ENERGY STAR qualified, EPEAT Gold listed and 80% efficient 475 W power supply. There are also an additional 3 internal USB ports.
The inside of the case is also fairly organized. The cables are bundled together to keep them from blocking air flow and to keep them out of the way. I think HP could have done a little better with the cabling. They have it bundled right in the middle of the case. It would be more out of the way if it was to the side or tucked behind the motherboard.
The internal speaker is different than any I have ever seen. The internal speakers I normally see are extremely small and can only make beeping sounds. This internal speaker is much larger and can play all windows sounds and music. For its size it sounds good, but if you plan on playing movies or music with this machine I still recommend you use a good set of external speakers.
One easily fixable problem I found was that one of the pins was bent on the heatsink for the North Bridge chip. I doubt that this would affect performance of the heatsink, so if it happens to you, it can be left alone or you can carefully bend it back like I did.
I was also surprised when I saw the keyboard that HP sent me. The keyboard itself is standard, but it uses a PS/2 plug. As I said earlier this is a really old style and it has been replaced with USB. I have actually not seen a computer come with a PS/2 keyboard or mouse for several years. At least the mouse is USB.
Another thing you may notice is that the desktop on the xw4600 is fairly bare. This is actually a good thing because it means this computer is not loaded down with trial software like most desktops are. I usually have to format the hard drive on all the computers I buy, but with this one I can leave it alone because there is nothing I want to get rid of.
To test this workstation I put it through several test situations. I used Bapco’s SYSmark, and Futuremarks 3DMark and PCMark to test the performance of the machine. Also the configuration of this machine is as follows.
- Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 processor (3.16 GHz, 6 MB L2 cache, 1333 MHz FSB)
- Windows XP Professional 32
- HP 3GB (2×512+2x1GB)DDR2-800 ECC RAM
- HP 500GB SATA 3Gb/s NCQ 7200 1st HDD
- HP 500GB SATA 3Gb/s NCQ 7200 2nd HDD
- HP 16X/48X DVD-ROM SATA
- NVIDIA Quatro FX1700 512MB PCIe
To understand the scores you need to understand the tests. SYSmark uses several applications to test the performance of a PC. Some of the applications it uses are Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, Discreet 3ds max, Macromedia Flash, Microsoft Office and many others. These tests are meant to be as real world as possible, so that you can get the best idea of how it will work for you. In my opinion this is by far the best benchmark to use if you want to see how well a system will perform, while being used in a work environment and running these applications.
3DMark and PCMark are not as good at measuring real world performance because they do not use real applications to do their testing. Instead, they just tests each component (like the CPU, GPU, hard drive, and memory) by making it go as fast as it can and then giving it a score. This methodology favors computers that are overclocked, and pushed to the limits. Doing this often shortens the life of your components and makes them unstable because they are going faster and getting hotter than they were intended to. The systems are often much nosier because they have to provide more cooling for those hotter components.
Now lets look at the actual numbers. As you can see from the image below, the SYSmark scores are really good. This machine got an overall score of 183. When I compared this against the other official scores on Bapco’s website this machine was on top by quite a large margin. The former top spot had an overall score of 169.
In 3DMark the score was quite a bit lower. This machine is not built for high graphics performance. To do that you often have to sacrifice stability and quality in order to squeeze out every last bit of performance. The xw4600 is built to offer the best performance while still providing the best quality and stability. The score the xw4600 got is 3490, while this is low compared to the fastest score of 32601 you will not be using this machine to play games and that is what this score is good at measuring.
The xw4600 also scored fairly low on the PCMark score. The score the xw4600 got is 7023, compared to the fastest of 22619. However, it is difficult to know why it scored low on this test because PCMark does not use any real applications to test with.
During all of these tests the xw4600 stayed extremely quiet and stable. I never once had it crash or cause any other problems. The workstation is so quiet that I could hardly hear it. Part of the reason it could stay so quiet is because it never got very hot. As you can see from these images the temperature was very low when idling, and even during the tests it still stayed fairly low.
Like all computers that you buy from big manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Gateway, etc. The warranty and level of service that you receive depends on how much you are willing to spend. The default and minimum that you can choose is 3 years parts, labor and onsite service. I think this is a good number for a desktop. The maximum you can purchase is 5yr 24×7, 4-hour onsite service. This would be for those business’ that cannot afford to be down for 1 day even on the weekends. This plan will set you back an additional $599.
I think this is a great system. I am very pleased with it especially since this machine was built with cost in mind. The price tag for this system, as configured, comes out just under $2500. Maxing out the system by switching to a quad core processor, 4TB of disk space, 8 GB of RAM, and a second graphics card raises the price to over $6300. I recommend that you take a look at HP the next time you are looking for a new workstation. Because of how well it performed, the decent length of the warranty and how quiet the case is I am giving this workstation my 5 star Gold Award.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|