Hardware review: Workstation Specialists RS-D2600
This standalone render node offers hefty processing power in a small box
£2,470 / $4,019 / €2,821
- 2 x 2.66GHz Intel Xeon X5650 processors
- 24GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM
- Integrated 8MB 2D video controller
- 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 solid-state disk
- 120GB Intel 320 Series solid-state disk
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 2xLAN
- Warranty: 3 yrs RTB
Independent 3D content creators and small companies can be stuck between a rock and a hard place. A high-end workstation with strong rendering as well as modelling will be a relatively major expenditure, and won’t be available for further design work while outputting. However, a cheaper system won’t have the same rendering grunt, and a dedicated render farm will be out of the question. Workstation Specialists has another option: the RS-D2600. This is a standalone render node, offering the processing power of a high-end system for a fraction of the price.
X5650 processors running at 2.66GHz, which aren’t the fastest around, but still offer six cores each. Intel’s Hyper- Threading technology is also in evidence, subdividing the real cores into two virtual ones apiece. So 12 virtual cores are available, and Workstation Specialists has partnered these with 24GB of 1,333MHz DDR3, configured as three banks of 4GB per processor. This takes full advantage of the Xeon’s triple-channel memory architecture. There’s a 120GB Intel 320 series SSD for the operating system and any software you need to install.
The one thing missing is high-end graphics. The RS-D2600 is configured to act as a ‘headless’ system, so works without a keyboard, mouse or monitor attached. It still runs 64-bit Windows 7, but to change settings you must connect to it via Remote Desktop using another system over your local network. The concept is similar to Boxx’s RenderBOXX, except that the RS-D2600 is intended to be sold alongside a specific desktop system. This is where Workstation Specialists’ WSX4 comes in. The RS-D2600 is designed to sit on top of the WSX4, and is styled to match its chassis. It adds little to the chassis’ height, so you can still have both at a single desk.
If purchased together, Workstation Specialists will set up the WSX4 so that it has an icon on the desktop taking you straight to the RS-D2600 remotely over the network. This enables you to start up the network rendering client of your choice, which you can load either over the network or by connecting an external storage device using one of the USB 2.0 ports. You can then send jobs to the RS-D2600 and leave it to render these independently while you carry on modelling. Alternatively, you can use both if you really need to focus on processing a job as quickly as possible.
To illustrate the extra potency the RS-D2600 can provide, we ran a series of rendering tests. The rendering portion of Cinebench R11.5 achieved a result of 14.11, similar to Workstation Specialists’ own WS2600 and faster than InterPro’s IPW-DX6, both dual-processor systems costing around twice the price. This is just two-thirds of the performance of Cryo’s phenomenal Octane EDP-WS, but nearly twice as quick as the WSX4, which the RS-D2600 is intended to partner.
We also ran a test render in 3ds Max’s Backburner to show the ability to send a render and keep on working. The test scene took six minutes and six seconds on the RS-D2600, although only three minutes 58 seconds on the WSX4. The overhead of sending the job over the network clearly favours longer renders.
- Fast rendering
- Leaves workstations free for work
- Would be a suitable choice for a single-workstation business
- Can only be used for rendering and CPU- focused processing tasks
- No option for GPU co-processing
The RS-D2600 is a decent investment for a small company where a full render farm is beyond budgetary constraints.
Read the Workstation Specialists WSX4 review
on Saturday, December 31st, 2011 at 12:19 pm under Hardware, Reviews.
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Tags: render, rendering, RS-D2600