• Price When Reviewed: 4709

  • Pros: Great rendering power; large case.

  • Cons: Poor AE and Photoshop scores.

  • 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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The xw8600 tops out HP’s range of Intel-powered workstations. It’s a dual chip-powered behemoth that has lots of room for expansion. It offers more than the slimline dual-chip xw6600 (reviewed here) and the single-processor xw4600 (reviewed in here), but with a heftier price tag.

Powered by two Intel Xeon 5460 chips, featuring four cores running at 3.16GHz each, the xw8600 delivers the best Cinebench R10 score we’ve seen so far (23,495). This beats Armari’s QX3 (23,457; here) and CAD2’s Vision DQX-SE (23,431; here).

Our test unit had 8GB RAM: four 2GB modules, with four slots free for future expansion. It runs the 64-bit version of Windows XP, which can access the full 8GB and even boosts the performance of truly multi-threaded 32-bit applications, such as After Effects.

In AE, the xw8600’s test time of three minutes 46 seconds didn’t impress, as it was slower than many of the models in our lower-end graphics workstation group test. This is surprising, as our test model has a very fast (15,000rpm) SAS hard drive – though it’s not that big (73GB). The single drive is a shame as the xw8600 has lots of drive space: five internal bays and three external bays for up to 8TB of Serial ATA storage or 2.4TB of SAS drives.

The nVidia Quadro FX 4600 graphics board is a workstation-class model that’s designed for very high-end work. Its real-time Cinebench score was mediocre next to recent ATI models, as was its performance the lower-end of our Maya tests. It was only when the complexity was cranked up that its high-end chip and 768MB RAM show what they can do. Photoshop scores were similarly unimpressive.

The xw8600 has a good chassis, but its performance lets it down.