• Price: 1599

  • Company: HP

  • Pros: Dual processor set-up; offers lots for the price.

  • Cons: 32-bit OS; mediocre performance.

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

The xw6600 puts up to two Xeon processors in a slimline case. This is great if you’re short of space under or on top of your desk – but next to its rivals here (or, indeed, its xw8600 big brother), it’s a little short on storage.

The dull grey chassis packs a lot of components into a small space, with some inventive arrangement – for example, the RAM sits an angle behind its own fan. There are only two internal 3.5 inch drive bays, which are both taken in our test model, but we feel that HP could have got two more in if it hadn’t bothered to include an external 3.5-inch bay for a floppy drive that no-one uses.

Including two Xeon processors in a £1,600 workstation is a bit of bargain, especially when paired with 4GB of RAM and two hard drives. However, the xw6600’s performance in our tests isn’t up to its rivals with single chips and more RAM.

In pure rendering power, the xw6600’s Cinebench result was less than that of CAD2's Imagine DQX-Light, which uses the same chip – but much better than workstations with single chips, such as Armari's Magnetar QS2 or Xworks’ Best Buy-winning X8i-C2Q. The xw600’s real-time 3D score in Cinebench was mediocre too.

In Photoshop and After Effects though, the xw6600’s performance was mediocre next to these models. Both Armari’s and Xworks’ workstations were faster in After Effects – and only the Apple Mac Pro and Dell Precision T7400 were slower than the xw6600 in Photoshop.

A large part of this is due to HP installing Windows XP 32-bit on its workstation. This limits the available RAM to 3GB, so workstations access to more leave the xw6600 in their dust. However, even if HP had installed 64-bit Windows, it’s likely that applications such as After Effects would have still run slower than on models with 8GB RAM due to their heavy memory demands.

Another point against the xw6600 is that it produces more sound than its rivals.

This model was reviewed as part of our group test of workstations for graphics professionals.