• Price When Reviewed: 3995

  • Pros: Very powerful for rendering; image processing and real-time 3D; spacious case; quiet; great choice of graphics card.

  • Cons: Ugly design.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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CAD2’s latest workstation features an almost identical spec to the Armari QX3 that we looked at here. The core differences are the choice of graphics card and the price.

Like the QX3, the DQX-SE is built around two quad-core Xeon X5460 processors, which run at 3.16GHz. In our CPU-based Cinebench R10 rendering test, the two models’ scores were near identical (see below left for test scores) – and the best we’ve seen.

Surprisingly the two models’ scores in our After Effects rendering tests were one second different, and their Photoshop results were identical. Again, the scores were the best ever, with both models delivering performance in creative applications that everyone would love to have.

Where the DQX-SE wins overall is with the inclusion of AMD’s ATI FireGL V8600 graphics card, which the same as the QX3’s V8650 but with 1GB RAM to the V8650’s 2GB. In our real-time 3D tests, the QX3 only pulled ahead of the DQX-SE in ridiculously complex scenes.

The inclusion of the V8600 is the main reason the DQX-SE is £150 less expensive than the QX3. The price would be lower if the cards were the only difference, but the DQX-SE has two hard drives to the QX3’s one.

The DQX-SE’s case is rather ugly – a mess of brushed black metal and wire mesh – but it’s large and spacious inside, with nine drive bays and well laid-out. It’s very quiet, too. The power button is on the top, oddly, so it’s almost as if it’s designed to be hidden under your desk.

If your 3D or VFX demands make spending £4,000 on a workstation, the DQX-SE is an excellent choice.