• Price When Reviewed: 1795

  • Pros: Great performance; well-designed case.

  • Cons: Not as fast as Xworks X8i-C2Q.

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

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Armari focused on memory over processing power with the configuration that the company sent in for this group test. This QS2 has 8GB of RAM and a single quad-core Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme processor, which proved to deliver better performance in our test applications than models with two chips and 4GB RAM – at a lower price.

The Magnetar QS2 was the fastest in our Photoshop tests – though the models from CAD2 and Xworks were only just behind. This shows that with some 32-bit applications, there’s little performance difference between having 4GB of RAM and 8GB.

For After Effects video processing, though, Armari’s workstation was notably faster than models with twice as many processor cores. This is because the Magnetar QS has approximately 2GB of RAM to dedicate to each of its four cores when processing, producing better performance than eight cores with roughly 512MB each.

However, the Magnetar QS was outperformed in After Effects by a substantial margin by Xworks X8i-C2Q. This also has a single quad-core chip and 8GB RAM, but has a faster system drive that lifts its processing power. Xworks’ workstation is also around £200 less expensive than Armari’s. The Magnetar QS delivered an impressive score in Cinebench’s real-time 3D test, but it ranked behind the X8i-C2Q.

The Magnetar QS uses the same Coolermaster chassis as Scan's 3XS PVE-930, which is an excellent case. It has four pop-out drive bays, which like the Mac Pro don’t require you to connect wires. There are six 5.25-inch bays, which can be converted to hard-drive bays if you need the extra capacity. The RAM modules are rather fiddly to get at – and all the slots are full – but the model has filled its 8GB capacity.

This workstation also has loads of USB 2.0 ports – with four on the front – two eSATA ports, and even 7.1 surround sound, which is a bonus for video editors.