A beautifully engineered dual Xeon workstation with server grade storage
Dell first unveiled the Precision T7600 in April 2012. Timed to coincide with the launch of Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ Xeon processors, the machine also heralded what was arguably the biggest re-design in the history of Dell Precision workstations.
With a stylish aluminium chassis, the T7600 is hot on looks, but the most impressive thing about the design is its serviceability. Hard drives that pop out from the front, a rear facing power supply that can be replaced in seconds and well ordered internal components are the standout features.
A completely re-engineered thermal-management system means there is little to worry when it comes to noise. Low duty fans draw air in at the front of the machine — cooling the CPUs, memory and hard drives — before being expelled at the rear. The downside of this CFD-optimised design is you can really feel the hot air coming out of the back of the machine at peak loads. We pity the engineer who sits directly opposite.
Kitted out with two eight core 3.1GHz Xeon E5-2687W chips, our test machine is literally brimming with processing power. With a total of 32 threads (16 physical and 16 hyperthreading) the T7600 blitzed our 3ds Max benchmark, rendering test.
Our test machine’s high-end pedigree does not stop with CPUs. There is close to £1,500 of storage technology inside, including a 146GB SAS (15,000RPM) for OS and apps and two 600GB SAS (10,000RPM) hard drives (RAID 0) for data. RAID is handled by a PERC H710P PCI Express controller. This high-performance controller is usually deployed in data-intensive servers so may be
overkill for many workstation-based design workflows.
For graphics, Dell has chosen the mid-range AMD FirePro V7900. It is a solid 3D card, but will soon be replaced by AMD’s new FirePro W Series Southern Island GPUs. Nvidia’s new Kepler-based Quadro K5000 is also on Dell’s roadmap so it may be worth waiting to get the most up to date graphics technology.
We are hugely impressed with the Dell Precision T7600. It is well-built, sleek, and incredibly easy to service — possibly the best dual Xeon workstation we have seen. Our test machine is probably a little too high-end for most users of CAD/BIM software but some tweaks here and there should bring the price down. Meanwhile, to learn more about the T7600’s chassis see our in-depth preview in the May / June 2012 edition of AEC.