• Price When Reviewed: 1895

  • Pros: Dual processor set-up; excellent storage system.

  • Cons: Mediocre overall performance.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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Despite coming at the top of our budget, the Imagine DQX-Light manages to put two quad-core processors in a relatively inexpensive workstation – which is an achievement in itself. However, the chips included are from the slower end of Intel’s range, and this workstation’s performance is well behind many of its single processor-based rivals.

The Imagine DQX-Light has two Intel Xeon E5430 chips, which have cores that run at 2.66MHz – slower than those found in most of the other workstations we looked at in the group test. CAD2’s model obtained the fastest score in our Cinebench R10 rendering test – better even than Apple's Mac Pro, which has faster Xeon chips (though the Apple model has half the RAM).

In Photoshop, this model was the second swiftest, coming in behind Armari's Magnetar QS2 – though Xworks’ workstation was right on its heels. However, in After Effects, the DQX-Light trailed the Magnetar QS2 and 3XS PVE-930 by quite a margin. Both of those models include 8GB of RAM, while the DQX-Light has 4GB.

CAD2’s workstation also performed poorly in our real-time 3D test, where its score was very low indeed. We’re guessing that this is because the gamer-focused board it features has been tuned for the DirectX 3D interface, which is used by most games, rather than OpenGL, which most 3D applications use.

We were impressed by this workstation’s storage set-up, with a smaller, 10,000rpm and two large, 7,200rpm drives that have been put in a RAID 0 array for a total of 1TB of fast storage. The drives sit in modular bays in the square black Antec case (the same as used by Xworks' X8i-C2Q).

The case itself simply doesn’t measure up to the slicker Coolermaster model used by Armari and Scan; as well as looking boring, its performance is ruined by irksome little details such as stiff thumbscrews, the fact that the power button is hidden when the door’s closed, and imperfect sound insulation.

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