By Neil Bennett | on November 03, 2008
Pros: Top-notch rendering and real-time performance based around excellent new technology from Intel and AMD.
Cons: Less RAM than we’d like. Large case for a single-chip workstation.
In After Effects though, the extra memory helped the other models. AE is a 32-bit application but when rendering splits the engine into multiple processes for each chip core – each of which can access up to 2GB of RAM. With 6GB of RAM, there was no way the Magnetar NS+ could keep up with its rivals – and adding 4GB modules would be pricy.
The Magnetar NS+ also sees the debut of AMD’s ATI Fire Pro V8700 workstation graphics card, the flagship of its range. This is a dual-height card with 800 shader engines, 1GB of GDDR5 graphics memory, two DisplayPort and a Dual-Link DVI outputs. Over DisplayPort, the V8700 can output 10-bit graphics, so you’ll get much smoother gradations between shades and more detail in shadow and highlights – assuming you use it with a 10-bit capable monitor such as HP’s DreamColor LP2480zx.
The V8700’s score in Cinebench’s relatively simple real-time 3D is the best we’ve ever seen by a wide margin – and almost 40 per cent faster than its predecessor, the V8600. In the more complex Maya test, it was also the fastest around, beating the V8600’s score by 17 per cent.
Our V8700 was an engineering sample, and had a fixed extension plate for use in longer workstation that Armari couldn’t remove – so the company had to use a large Chenbro SR105 case. This case has some great features including a hot-swap drive system, but AMD tells us that the production V8700 won’t have the plate as standard, so Armari aims to offer the configuration we’ve tested here in smaller cases too.
The Magnetar NS+ offers a great first look at some top-notch technology from Intel and AMD – though it would be great to see it with more RAM and a smaller case.
The CAD2 Vision DQX-SE was reviewed in our October 2008 issue and had dual Intel Xeon X5482 (3GHz quad-core) processors, 8GB RAM and an AMD ATI FireGL V8600 graphics card. The Xworks X8i-C2Q was reviewed in our April 2008 issue and had an Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9650 (3.2GHz quad-core) chip, 8GB RAM, and an ATI FireGL V5600 graphics card.
Adobe After Effects CS3 Professional
This renders a five-second 3D composition built of three uncompressed 1080i HD layers, each with filters and transforms. AE CS4 is designed to take advantage of multiple processors and cores, and this test gives a good overall performance result that requires the best from the processor, RAM and hard drive. Results are in minutes and seconds and smaller bars are better.
Cinebench 10 – rendering
Cinebench is based on Maxon Cinema 4D and provides a processor-based benchmark by rendering a scene. Results are in Cinebench’s proprietary units, and longer bars are better. The multiplier indicates how much faster the test runs using all available processors and cores compared to single processor/core.
Cinebench 10 – real-time 3D
Based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D 10 software, Cinebench tests real-time 3D performance by moving a camera through a relatively simple 3D scene. Results are in Cinebench’s proprietary units, and longer bars are better. The multiplier indicates how much faster the scene runs compared to running the same test without using the 3D card to accelerate performance.
Autodesk Maya 2009
This test moves a camera through a more complex scene in Maya 8.5 with smooth shading and high-quality rendering selected. Our benchmark measures how long it takes Maya to play through every frame, which also reflects the framerate you’ll get in real-time playback mode. Results are in seconds and smaller bars are better.
Adobe Photoshop CS3
This test performs 25 actions upon a 200MB image – including smart filters and 3D transformations – within Photoshop CS3. Results are in seconds and smaller bars are better.
CPU: Core i7 Extreme 965 (3.2GHz/quad core + SMT) RAM (standard): 6GB RAM (Max): 8GB Graphics card: AMD ATI FirePro V8700 Graphics RAM: 1GB Hard disk type: Serial ATA Hard Disks: 300GB/10,000rpm + 1TB/7,200rpm Bays: 3x 5.25-inch ext, 4x 3.5-inch int (hot-swappable) Free bays: 2x 5.25-inch ext 2x 3.5-inch int Optical drive: DVD±RW/RAM Slots: 2x PCI Express x16, PCI Express x4, 2x PCI Express x1, PCI Free Slots: PCI Express x16, PCI Express x4, 2x PCI Express x1 Power supply: 750W Dimensions: 533-x-198-x-425mm Soundcard: On-board 7.1 Ports: 10x USB 2.0, 2x FireWire, 2x eSATA