The HP xw8600 workstation is the latest in a line of workstations from HP. This is one of their high end machines, and has a lot of expandability for companies and individuals that need a lot of power.
- 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 xw8600 achieves reliable application performance due to the fact that 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 xw8600 which offers future expandability options while paying attention to other details like acoustic control, case size, remote management and access design.
HP puts an 80 PLUS efficient power supply standard in every xw8600. This and other design elements help to provide the xw8600 with an ENERGY STAR qualified configuration; the HP xw8600 is designed to optimize energy use.
Because the HP xw8600 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 xw8600 uses the Intel 5400 chipset and two workstation-class, dual or quad-core processors. Having the ability to use up to two quad-core processors can really boost the productivity of the workstation and your productivity.
The xw8600 workstation looks just like every other workstation or 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 3 – 5.25-in expansion bays. According to the HP website the 3.5-in bays can hold up to two optical drives and one 16-In-1 Media Card Reader, or a floppy drive. Also, on the front are the power button and light, hard drive activity light, 2 – USB ports, a headphone jack and a FireWire port.
The back of the xw8600 has a single 120mm fan in the case. The power supply also has a fan, but it is on the inside of the case so you cannot see it from here. The connectors on the back consist of 5 USB 2.0 ports, 1 serial port, 2 PS/2 ports, 2 RJ-45 integrated Gigabit LAN ports, 1 Firewire, 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 lifts out and upwards. There is also a lock next to the latch which can be locked to keep employees and others from messing around inside the case. The design of the door on the xw8600 is by far the best I have ever seen. On other computers the doors have always had to slide back and forth so they will lock into place, but on the xw8600 it simply lifts up and down, which makes it extremely easy to get on and off. The case is also completely tool free, which means you don’t need a screwdriver or anything else to work in the case. I wish all computer cases were this easy to work with.
Inside there is 1 PCI, 1 PCIe x8/x1, 2 PCIe x8, 2 PCIe x16 Gen2, and 1 PCI-X slot. For hard drives there are 5 internal 3.5-in slots, this gives you a maximum of 5TB of storage. This motherboard has 8 slots for memory, which means you can have a maximum of 64GB of RAM. This can be expanded to 16 slots and 128GB of RAM by using a riser. There is an 80mm fan covering the memory to keep it cool, with 16 DIMMS installed I’m sure it gets really hot. There is also a single internal USB header and an amazing 14 SATA ports on the motherboard. To power all of this HP puts in an ENERGY STAR qualified, 80% efficient 800W or 1050W power supply.
You will also notice the two massive heatsinks that are attached to the motherboard. In my configuration they are covering two dual core CPU’s, but they can also be used with two quad core CPU’s.
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 cannot complain about how the inside or the cables are organized.
If you have recently purchased a desktop computer one thing you will notice about the xw8600 is that it is not loaded up with a lot of bloatware. Most computer manufacturers realize that it is mainly businesses and professionals who purchase workstations, so they don’t add a lot of extra programs.
I am really happy with the design. It is extremely quiet, and yet it remains very cool even when under a heavy load, which we will discuss next.
To test this workstation, I put it through several test situations. I used Bapco’s SYSmark, SPECviewperf, and Futuremark’s 3DMark and PCMark to test the performance of the machine. Also the configuration of this machine is as follows:
- 2x Intel Xenon X5260 processors (3.33 GHz, 6 MB L2 cache, 1333 MHz FSB)
- Windows XP Professional 32
- 4 GB DDR2-667 ECC RAM
- 2x 500GB SATA 3Gb/s NCQ 7200 in RAID-0
- HP 16X/48X DVD-ROM SATA
- NVIDIA Quatro FX3700 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.
SPECviewperf is very similar to SYSmark in that it uses real programs to perform its test. SPECviewperf runs eight different tests which all focus on testing the graphics abilities of the machine.
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 use synthetic tests which are designed to test each component (like the CPU, GPU, hard drive, and memory) by making them go as fast as they can and then giving them a score. Because these test just the speed and not quality, they favor components that are overclocked and pushed to the limits. Doing this often shortens the life of components and makes them unstable, this is because they are going faster and getting hotter than they are suppose 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 193. 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 183, and it just happened to be the HP xw4600 I reviewed a couple months ago.
The SPECviewperf scores actually turned out ok. I found that the default test only uses one core, So I ran a different test that was able to use all 4 cores, unfortunately it only had a few tests in common. As you can see from the numbers many of the tests benefited greatly from the increased number of threads.
In 3DMark the score was about average. This machine is not built for high graphics performance, but it does have a good graphics card. The Nvidia Quatro line of graphics cards are built to offer the good performance while providing unquestionable quality and stability. The score the xw8600 got is 11539, while this is low compared to the fastest score of 33388 it is still a decent score and shows that this machine can hold its own with graphics processing. If it had a second card you can only expect that the score would be higher.
The xw8600 also scored about average on the PCMark score. The score the xw8600 got is 10507, compared to the fastest of 22643. Again this is still a decent score when you compare it with the graph of all the results.
During all of these tests the xw8600 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 of each core was very low when idling, and even during the tests they still stayed nice and cool.
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 $499.
I think this is a great system. The price tag for this system, as configured, comes out just over $6800. Maxing out the system by switching to two quad core processors, 5TB of disk space, 128 GB of RAM, and a second graphics card raises the price to over $50,000. I was amazed when I saw this price and realized that the memory alone was over $38,000. I recommend that you take a look at HP the next time you are looking for a powerful 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. It would have ranked better if the price were a bit lower.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|