Workstation review: InterPro IPW-SB [i7-G3] (ATI Edition)
InterPro serves up another brilliant workstation based on Intel’s new six-core chip, which is just as compelling as the Scan’s 3XS Core i7 Hex Core, says James Morris
- 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 3930K processor professionally overclocked
- 32GB PC3-12800 DDR3 RAM
- AMD FirePro V7900 graphics with 2GB GDDR5 memory
- 240GB Corsair Force Series 3 solid-state disk
- 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green 7,200rpm hard disk
- Gigabit Ethernet networking
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Warranty: 3 years RTB parts and labour
This system features Intel’s six-core Sandy Bridge processor and is a similar workstation to Scan’s 3XS Core i7 Hex Core, but with a couple of differences. Catchily titled the IPW-SB [i7-G3], it relies on a Core i7 3930K like the Scan, not the top Extreme Edition. The 3930K runs at a nominal 3.2GHz rather than the top model’s 3.3GHz, and has 12MB of Level 3 cache rather than 15MB.
It still has Turbo Boost technology and the option for frequency enhancement, though, and InterPro has taken advantage of this. However, InterPro is being cagey about how far the enhancement goes, merely describing it as “professionally overclocked” to more than 4GHz. Intel’s Hyper-Threading is on hand too, turning each physical core into two virtual ones for enhanced parallel processing.
InterPro has also taken full advantage of the new Core i7’s quad-channel memory architecture, supplying the IPW-SB with a healthy 32GB of RAM. This comes as eight 4GB modules of 1600MHz PC3-12800 DDR3 memory. This leaves no DIMM slots free, but it’s likely to be years before 32GB of RAM seems like a limitation.
Whereas a few months ago Nvidia’s Fermi Quadros dominated workstation graphics, AMD’s latest generation of FirePros are increasingly taking over as the 3D accelerators of choice. So, unlike Scan’s offering , the InterPro comes with the AMD FirePro V7900, which sports 1280 Stream Processors and a decent 2GB of GDDR5 memory. It boasts four DisplayPort connections, all of which can be used at once, for quad-screen EyeFinity setups.
The other area where InterPro diverges from Scan is in storage, although this still takes the familiar shape of a solid-state disk for operating system and applications allied with a conventional hard disk for general data. However, the SSD is a sizeable 240GB Corsair Force Series 3, which offers 550MB/sec read and 525MB/sec write rates. The hard disk is a 7,200rpm Western Digital Green Edition offering a decent 2TB capacity, which should be more than enough for most graphics work. Rounding off the storage are a Sony BWU-500S 12x Blu-ray rewriter and 7-in-1 memory card reader.
With a similar specification to Scan’s 3XS Core i7 Hex Core, the IPW-SB promises comparable performance. The rendering score of 12.34 in Maxon The speedy IPW-SB is based on Intel’s Core i7 3930K processor Cinebench R11.5 is slightly behind, showing a marginally less aggressive clock setting. But the OpenGL score of 83.54 is considerably ahead, although AMD leads Nvidia in this benchmark. The results from SPECviewperf 11 are similarly outstanding. The score of 71.33 in lightwave-01 is almost as good as Scan’s – and the latter is the fastest we’ve seen. The maya-03 result of 80.17 is not far off the best we’ve tested, either, although not quite so supreme. However, 61.90 in sw-02 (SolidWorks) beats every other system we’ve had in our labs.
Whether you’re modelling or rendering, the IPW-SB reigns supreme. It’s hard to choose between this and Scan’s system. InterPro doubles your storage and includes a Blu-ray rewriter, making up for the £350 extra cost, but performance is in the same ballpark. Whichever machine you choose, you’ll get a fantastically quick system for a competitive price.
- Great rendering performance
- Excellent modelling performance
- Lots of RAM
- Premium storage
- Operating clock speed not disclosed
InterPro serves up another brilliant workstation based on Intel’s new six-core chip, offering unbeatable rendering and modelling abilities
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Morris has tracked the rise of every new development, from OpenGL accelerators to multi-processor workstations, over more than 15 years of testing 3D content creation hardware
on Monday, January 30th, 2012 at 9:53 am under Hardware, Reviews.
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Tags: InterPro, IPW-SB, James Morris, modelling, rendering, Sandy Bridge, Scan, six core, workstation review