By Neil Bennett | on July 16, 2009
Pros: Expansive, well laid-out chassis; powerful graphics card.
Cons: Single processor; limited RAM.
The Precision T7500 is the big brother to Dell’s Precision T3500 that we reviewed last month. Like that model, it’s a well-designed workstation – though it’s larger, more capacious and aimed at high-end creative professionals working in fields such as 3D and visual effects. And again, while overall this workstation seems good, our test model is let down by a poor choice of components.
The T7500 looks like a larger version of the T3500. It won’t win any awards for its aesthetics, but it does scream “I’m powerful and expensive” – which it is. Where the T3500 jammed components in to make them fit inside its slim chassis, the T7500 has more space inside, so everything is easier to get to. It allows you quick access to the four drive bays and 6 or 12 RAM modules (depending on whether you have one or two processors).
The T7500 supports up to two Intel Xeon processors, but oddly our test model has only one. The Nehalem Xeon X5550 runs at 2.66GHz – the same as the W3520 used by our test T3500 – but the X5500 series has advantages over the W3500, including faster communication with the motherboard (6.4GTps versus 4.8GTps) and faster memory (1,333MHz versus 1,066MHz).
This is why the T7500 achieved a Cinebench rendering score that was six per cent faster than the T3500, and it wasn’t much faster in our After Effects. Both have a paltry 3GB RAM, so Photoshop performance was similar – a lot less than we’d expect from a £3,000 workstation.
The main reason for the T7500’s huge price is the inclusion of the nVidia Quadro FX 4800, which we reckon accounts for about £1,200 of this T7500’s cost. It’s a powerful card that’s great for the highest end of 3D animation or film-grade VFX, but if you’re that kind of creative, you’ll need two processors and a lot more RAM.
The Precision T7500 has the potential to be a great high-end workstation, as long as you fill it with a full set of powerful components. Sadly our test unit lacked these.