Best Buy
  • Price: 999

  • Company: CAD2

  • Pros: Low cost; excellent graphics card; more powerful than we’d expect for the specs.

  • Cons: Too low-end for most pro creatives; graphics card blocks one drive bay.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

CAD2’s Vision Q64 OverDrive is plain, inexpensive, but still relatively powerful and an ideal first buy for a 3D artist taking their first career steps.

The Q64’s case defines the word plain. It’s as basic as it gets: a black shell with a matte silver front. It’s roomy, allowing for three hard drives and four optical drives. It should allow for four hard drives, but the graphics card blocks one slot. Although the Q64 was far noisier than the liquid-cooled SDX, it was pretty quiet considering its price.

The graphics card is AMD’s ATI FireGL V5600, to which we gave a Best Buy award when we reviewed it in our December 2007 issue. It still offers an outstanding balance of performance and price, and its Cinebench real-time 3D score of 6,649 is excellent for a sub-£1,000 workstation. The difference between it and a high-end card became more marked in our Maya tests.

Powering the Q64 is an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 chip. This has four processor cores, each running at 2.4GHz. In our Cinebench rendering test, the Q64 achieved an impressive score of 12,144 (3.46x a single processor) – high for this type of chip. The chip is supported by 4GB of RAM, comprised of two 2GB modules – leaving two slots free for expansion, up to 8GB.

The Q64’s After Effects and Photoshop scores were also excellent considering the processor’s speed, helped by the inclusion of a fast 10,000rpm 300GB hard drive. Buyers may need to add more storage for media, especially if you work with video, motion graphics or animation, but adding more isn’t expensive.

This workstation also offers 7.1 surround sound through a PCI card that takes up the top slot, and runs Windows XP 64-bit, which is still the best Windows OS for creative professionals, allowing the workstation to access all 4GB of RAM. There’s also a flat Logitech keyboard and a standard mouse bundled.

CAD2’s Q64 Overdrive is a little low-end for most digital creatives – who will want the extra power
of a faster processor or two – but for those just starting out as freelancers or in junior positions, it’s a great bargain.