• Price: 4150

  • Company: Armari

  • Pros: Very powerful workstation for high-end 3D and compositing work.

  • Cons: Expensive; card justifies cost only with extremely complex scenes.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Armari’s QX3 is a workstation aimed at the highest end of the 3D market – though it’s possibly too high-end for those working in digital entertainment.

The workstation’s 3D power comes from AMD’s top-of-the-line ATI FireGL V8650 graphics card, which is the first we’ve seen to boast 2GB of its own RAM. It’s a whopper of a card, and even had to be positioned in the lower PCI Express x16 slot of the QX3’s gargantuan case, as the Serial ATA cable from the QX3s’s single 750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive blocks placement in the more traditional higher slot.

In the relatively modest Cinebench R10 testing environment, the QX3 produced the highest real-time 3D score we’ve seen – 7,401. However, it’s not much higher than scores attained by boards costing half the price of the £1,399 plus VAT V8650.

The relative performance of the V8650 improves with more-complex scenes; it breezed past lower-end boards for Maya scenes with a 6,617,000-polygon animation. Yet it was only when we upped the polygon count towards one billion that the V8650 really showed why it’s almost three times the price of AMD’s FireGL v7600 – it was much faster on very complex scenes than its main rival, the nVidia Quadro FX 5600.

The QX3 is also the first workstation we’ve seen to include Intel’s brand-new 3.16GHz Intel Xeon X5460 processors. These are assisted by 8GB of RAM, helping the QX3 to achieve the highest score in Cinebench’s rendering test (23,457), and the fastest times in our After Effects test (2mins 56s) and Photoshop CS3 test (3mins 23s).

If money’s no object, the QX3 is the 3D workstation that you’d want. But from a value perspective, you’d have to be working with heavy duty scenes to justify the £4,000 price tag.