Xworks X8i-Ci7

15 January 2009

Mainstream CAD/CAM/CAE system which stands out from the crowd due to its solid state drive which accelerates loading times. By Greg Corke.

In a world where overclocking has traditionally been the preserve of PC enthusiasts you may be surprised to learn that Xworks’  X8i-Ci7 is the only one of this month’s desktop review workstations to not to have been clocked up – we certainly were.

Playing by the rules and not tinkering with CPU, gives the X8i-Ci7 a distinct disadvantage when being assessed in our suite of CAD benchmarks. Its Core i7 920 chip, whilst being identical to that in Scan’s 3XS system, runs nearly 20% slower (2.66GHz compared to 3.2GHz). In terms of pure processing power, this is reflected most accurately in our 3ds Max rendering test, though the lower GHz also has an impact on our Inventor and SolidWorks graphics benchmarks.

Despite losing ground in our CAD-specific tests, the X8i-Ci7 scores highly in day to day operations such as booting up Windows and opening applications. This is down to a new generation hard drive from OCZ Technology which uses solid state technology (more commonly associated with USB flash drives) rather than a traditional mechanical hard disk.

The X8i-Ci7 uses a 30GB OCZ Core Series SSD V2 for Operating System and applications and a traditional 500GB Seagate “Barracuda” for data. The advantages of Solid State drives are clear as the X8i-Ci7 booted to Windows in under 50 secs and CAD applications opened noticeably quickly.

This is just the start for SSD drives which will eventually replace mechanical hard disks, but while the OCZ Core Series SSD V2 is also available in bigger sizes up to 250GB, the cost of these drives are, for now, prohibitively expensive to be deployed as the sole drive in a desktop machine.

Elsewhere in the system, Xworks has installed 6GB RAM with 3 x 2GB modules to make the most of the triple channel bandwidth and in terms of graphics an AMD ATI FireGL (512MB) offers a solid platform for mid-range CAD, though it won’t set the world alight in more demanding 3D applications.

All in all the X8i-Ci7 is a solid machine for CAD and simulation, with a new generation hard drive technology to boost application and OS loading times. It doesn’t offer the bleeding edge performance of its peers on test in this issue, though certain customers will feel more comfortable knowing that the CPU is running within its prescribed limits and adhering to Intel’s warranty.

To find out how DEVELOP3D benchmarks workstations click here

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