Workstation review: Wired2Fire Wired2-3D Ultima
New competitor Wired2Fire makes a good impression with this speedy, well-specified Core i7 2600K-based machine
- 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 2600K CPU running at 4.7GHz
- 16GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM
- 1GB Nvidia Quadro 2000 graphics card
- 20GB Intel 311 solidstate disk
- 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7,200rpm hard disk
- Samsung SH-222AB 22x DVD rewriter
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Ports: 10 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, LAN, 3 x eSATA, microphone input, 7.1 surround audio output
- Warranty: 3 years RTB
The workstation market is a relatively small one, and only a few manufacturers regularly contribute new models, so it’s good to see a new kid on the block. Wired2Fire has been making a name for itself recently with high-end gaming systems, but skills building powerful machines for 3D-accelerated entertainment can also pay dividends when the 3D is more professionally oriented. And so we have the Wired2-3D Ultima, a content creation system with a keen price but plenty of grunt on offer.
The Ultima takes the now familiar approach of squeezing every clock cycle it can out of Intel’s Core i7 2600K processor. Nominally this runs at 3.4GHz, but Wired2Fire has pushed the CPU permanently to 4.7GHz, which has been tested with a lengthy burn-in process and is guaranteed for the full three years of the system warranty. The Core i7 2600K is a quad-core processor, as the six-core versions of Intel’s Sandy Bridge haven’t quite arrived yet, but it also sports Hyper-Threading, so each physical core is detected as two virtual ones. This boosts performance in multi-threaded applications with good parallelism, such as rendering. The CPU is backed by a 16GB complement of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, which fills all four DIMM slots but should be enough for the lifetime of the machine.
Wired2Fire has also opted for a now familiar graphics set-up, in the shape of Nvidia’s Quadro 2000. This is a mid-range card, but still sports 192 CUDA processors, which is exactly the same as the previous generation high-end Quadro FX 4800. There’s only 1GB of GDDR5 frame buffer, and the 128-bit memory path means bandwidth is only slightly more than half that of the 4800, but this should be enough for everyday modelling tasks – although not if you’re visualising very large engineering or scientific datasets. However, storage is a little more distinctive, and takes advantage of thespecial capabilities of the latest Intel Z68
chipset, which this system incorporates.
At first glance, the combination of a small solid-state disk and much larger conventional hard disk seems fairly de rigueur. The 20GB Intel 311 SSD is very meagre indeed, although the 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7,200rpm hard disk is more reasonable. But booting into Windows only reveals the hard disk, because the SSD is actually being used as a giant high-speed cache. The operating system, software and data are all kept on the hard disk, but anything used regularly will be transferred to the SSD for rapid access. Since large solid-state disks are still extremely pricey, this arrangement gives you most of the performance benefi ts of an SSD, without the premium.
With its frequency-enhanced Core i7, the Wired2-3D Ultima acquits itself well in the Maxon Cinebench R11.5 rendering test, with a score of 9.18. This isn’t as high as systems with more physical cores are capable of, but it’s the best we’ve seen from a quad-core workstation.
The Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL result of 44.9 is very similar to other systems we’ve tested with this combination of processor and Quadro 2000 graphics. We also ran SPECviewperf 11, with results again mostly as expected for a Quadro 2000-based system, including 69.2 for the lightwave-01 test and 45.98 in sw-02 (the SolidWorks viewport). However, the maya-03 score of 42.69 is signifi cantly better than previous Quadro 2000-equipped workstations we’ve reviewed.
Wired2Fire has made a strong entrance into the workstation market with the Wired2-3D Ultima. The system has performance to match or exceed similarly specified machines, and the price is very competitive. There remains a question over how well a new player can provide the specialised support a 3D content creation workstation can require. However, the general hardware warranty is extensive, albeit return-to-base only, making this a budget workstation worth considering alongside the more established players.
- Good rendering for a quad-core system
- Respectable OpenGL power
- Backed by a three-year warranty
- No track record yet in the 3D content creation market
Wired2Fire has taken a confi dent first step into the workstation market with a solid performer at a competitive price
on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 9:48 pm under Hardware, Reviews.
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