Workstation Specialists WS2880

10 December 2013

The WS2880 is an excellent machine for high-end design viz, delivering unrivalled performance for ray trace rendering. Greg Corke reports

Product Workstation Specialists WS2880
Company name Workstation Specialists
Price £6,460

Workstation Specialists has not scrimped on Intel’s new ‘Ivy Bridge’ Xeons, going all out with two twelve core E5-2697 v2 chips.

With the most cores possible in a Xeon workstation it’s no surprise it absolutely blitzed our render test, even with Hyper-Threading turned off (see InterPro review). But this isn’t just about numbers in a spreadsheet, it’s about benefiting from new workflows.

With such power under the hood the design, render, tweak process can become absolutely seamless. Yes, it will still take time to create final high res stills and animations, but users can get exceedingly quick feedback on test renders, meaning more iterations and, hopefully, better designs.

Even when hammering both CPUs the WS2880 is impressively quiet. We rendered a 100-frame animation in KeyShot and had to make a real effort to hear the fans.

The downside of the E5-2697 v2 is that it only runs at 2.7GHz. Some may notice an overall performance hit, particularly when compared to the eight-core 3.4GHz Intel Xeon E5-2687W v2, but there’s no beating two of these in a render race and they’re great for multi-tasking as shown in our Delcam PowerMill test.

The good news is with 18 different Xeon models available there’s plenty of scope to find an ideal balance.

The WS2880 is kitted out with a midrange Quadro K4000 GPU. It’s a good solid graphics option, though hardcore design viz users might prefer an upgrade to a K5000.

The combination of mid-range GPU and 2.7GHz CPUs contribute to the slightly lower scores in our 3D graphics tests.

WS has invested heavily in storage, including a total of four drives. Windows is installed on a high quality 512GB Toshiba SSD, which not only gives ample room for applications, but plenty in reserve for virtual memory and hibernation.

This could be important considering the WS2880 has 64GB RAM and 8 slots free for the future.

There’s also a RAID 0 array for data consisting of two 500GB 10,000RPM drives, delivering impressive read / write speeds and a standard 2TB HDD for local backup or archived datasets.

Overall, the WS280 is an excellent machine for high-end design viz, balancing topend CPUs with fast storage and delivering unrivalled performance for ray trace rendering.

To view comparative scores from other workstations please click here
For details of all our specific CAD/CAM/CAE benchmarks click here

Specifications

» 2 x Twelve Core Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 ‘Ivy Bridge’ (2.70GHz)
» 64GB (8 x 8GB) 1,600MHz DDR3
» Nvidia Quadro K4000 (3GB GDDR5) (320.49 driver)
» 512GB Toshiba THNSNH512GBST SSD + 2 x 500GB Western Digital VelociRaptor WD5000HHTZ (RAID 0) + 2TB Seagate Barracuda
» WS motherboard (Intel C600 Series Chipset)
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 3 year standard hardware warranty with Next Business Day Engineer Response

CPU benchmarks

(secs - smaller is better)
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) - 1) 182 2) 183 3) 187  
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) - 93
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) - 77 HyperThreading turned off)*

Graphics benchmarks

(bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2013 - SPECapc graphics composite) - 5.21
CAD (Creo 2.0 - SPECapc graphics test) - 5.76

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