Cryo Octane Pro workstation

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An incredibly powerful dual processor machine for those pushing the boundaries of design visualisation.

  • 2 x Intel Xeon X5680 processors (3.33GHz Cryo Boost to 4.5GHz) (Six core)
  • 24GB (6 x 4GB) Corsair PC3-12800 1,600MHz
  • eVGA Classified SR-2 Intel 5520 motherboard
  • 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD system drive + 2TB Seagate Barracuda XT data drive
  • Nvidia Quadro 5000 (2.5GB) graphics card
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Three year return to base warranty (optional upgrade available to a 5 year on-site)
  • £5,935

Architectural firms often have one workstation that stands head and shoulders above the rest, maybe used exclusively for handling huge BIM models or rendering. With Cryo PC’s Octane Pro, however, we’re not just talking metaphorically – this red giant is also the largest desktop workstation we’ve ever seen.

Housing two six core Xeon chips running at 4.5GHz, 24GB of memory, a hugely powerful Quadro 5000 graphics card and an ultrafast SSD hard drive, the Octane Pro has all the hallmarks of a machine built for demanding design visualisation professionals. And the stats back this up. The machine set new records in our rendering and 3D graphics tests and was incredibly responsive when handling everything we threw at it.

Driving this exceptional performance are two Xeon X5680 processors, running at 4.5GHz instead of the usual 3.33GHz. Most people call this overclocking, but Cryo PC prefers ‘Cryo Boost’. This is partly for branding, but the company also wants to differentiate itself from other system builders who it says often use a standard overclock template for all machines. With Cryo PC each workstation is individually tuned.

In order to keep both supercharged Xeon chips running cool, the machine features a bespoke sealed water-cooling system. Water is pumped close to the chips and four big fans expel the heat via a radiator at the top of the machine. The speed of the fans is controlled by a switch, which can be set at ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’. Even when rendering continuously for over an hour the default ‘medium’ setting kept things ticking over nicely. The high setting, which increased fan noise significantly, is only really needed in exceptional circumstances.

There are a few quirks to the machine. Ignoring the neon lights and red chassis (also available in silver or black), our review machine featured non-ECC (Error Code Checking) memory — usually a hallmark of entry-level workstations. Cryo PC says this helps boost performance, though some may feel safer with ECC memory, which is said to reduce crashes. This would add almost a grand onto the price of the system though, which at £5,935 is already a big investment.

We often get asked why would anyone want to invest that much money in a workstation when you can get a highly capable machine for a quarter of the price. The simple answer is: to turbocharge design viz workflows. If you regularly punish the likes of 3ds Max this machine is built for you. It can render faster than any other desktop machine we’ve seen, can handle huge 3D datasets with aplomb and also has capacity for additional GPUs should you wish to dabble in GPGPU rendering with technologies like iRay, which is now built into 3ds Max.


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