• Price: 1465

  • Company: CAD2

  • Pros: Excellent value. More powerful than you’d expect. Great graphics card.

  • Cons: Cramped case that’s fiddly to upgrade.

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

This workstation from CAD2 is the first we’ve seen to include nVidia/PNY’s new Quadro FX 1700 graphics card. It’s a mid-range board that supercedes the FX 1500, but is the most powerful of the latest set of cards – as nVidia hasn’t produced x700 versions of its FX 4600 or FX 5600 boards yet.

The Quadro FX 1700’s memory bandwidth is smaller than that of the FX 1500 (128-bit to the FX 1500’s 256-bit) but with 512MB RAM, it has twice the memory of its predecessor. nVidia has also upped its processing power, so that the 1700 is a much more powerful board. The FX 1700 also adds support for Open GL 2.1, Shader Model 4.0 and DirectX 10 – though DX10 requires Windows Vista.

In Cinebench 9.5, the FX 1700’s score of 6,005, about the same as an FX 4600 – which costs £1,149 to the FX 1700’s £329. Cinebench 9.5 uses a relatively simple scene though.

We also tested the FX 1700 using the new Cinebench 10, where it obtained a real-time 3D score of 5,720. We don’t have Cinebench 10 scores for other boards yet – but you can use this score for comparison if you download the software from www.cinebench.com and run it on your own workstation.

Using a more complex scene in Maya, the FX 1700 took 77 seconds to fly a camera through it – 11 per cent slower than the FX 4600. This is a lot better than we’d expect from a mid-range board when compared to a high-end model.
We were really impressed by the FX 1700’s performance, but ATI has a direct rival – the Fire GL V5600 – due out next month, so it would be worth waiting to see how this measures up.

Compact and bijou

The Imagine X64 is a compact, quiet workstation with a clean and simple design. It’s suprisingly capacious for such a small case, with three optical drive bays and four hard drive bays – but the hard drives prevent you putting a full-sized PCI card in the case, and you’d have to remove any cards to fit new drives.

Our review unit has a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM, a 150GB/ 10,000rpm system drive, and a 500GB/7,200rpm media drive.

This unit performed admirably in our Photoshop and After Effects CS3 tests – slightly faster than we’d expect considering the specs. It has a 20x DVD±RW drive – and the included Logitech S510 keyboard/mouse combo is a great choice.
The Imagine X64 is an excellent model in a slightly-too-small case.