Test Drive

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

The HP xw6600 workstation ups the ante in the performance wars, firing a shot across the bows of competitors like Sun Microsystems, Lenovo and Super Micro Computer for workstation market dominance.

HP sent over an xw6600 for a closer look. The unit came preconfigured with dual E5440 Xeon CPUs running at 2.83GHz, 8GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, an Nvidia Quadro FX1700 graphics card, a Seagate 250GB 7200 RPM SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive, a 16X DVD+/-RW SuperMulti SATA drive and the usual complement of accessories. The xw6600 runs the Intel 5400 chip set and uses a rackable minitower case that is adorned with some pretty fancy graphics.

Right off the bat, one has to wonder if a minitower case is up to workstation duty. Here, HP has done its homework and effectively crammed all of the components into the case—still leaving room for ample airflow and easy servicing. HP earns a gold star for making something that is usually large into something that is no bigger than the typical desktop PC.

Cooling subsystems and active control of the fans keep everything within temperature specs and surprisingly quiet. In short, the xw6600 is smaller, quieter and faster than most competing workstations. Those who think size matters can always turn to the xw6600's big brothers, the xw8600 and the xw9400. As configured, the test unit sports a sticker price of around $4,500 and comes preconfigured with Windows Vista 64-Bit Business Edition.

We put the xw6600 through its paces and were rewarded with the fastest workstation test scores to date. Using the 64-bit version of the Performance test from PassMark Software, the xw6600 achieved a PassMark rating of 2892.6, a new high score for systems tested here. The Microsoft Windows Experience Index rated the system at 5.0 overall, the processor, memory and hard disk all scored 5.9, the gaming graphics scored a 5.3 and graphics scored a 5.0.

While $4,500 may be a bit pricey for most users, those willing to cough up the big bucks will love the xw6600's quality construction and impressive performance. HP partners will quickly fall in love with the xw6600's big sticker price, available options and multitude of configurations, not to mention the integration opportunities offered by selling high-performance workstations.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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