Fujitsu’s new Intel ‘Haswell’ workstation offers impressive serviceability in an entry-level machine
When it comes to workstations, Fujitsu likes to do things differently. At a time when most major manufacturers are expanding their entry-level range with desktop, mini-
tower and Small Form Factor (SFF) machines, Fujitsu is consolidating.
The Celsius W530 is the company’s new entry-level workstation, a jack-of-all-trades that combines many of the features of the previous generation Celsius W420 and Celsius W520.
It offers plenty of choice for processor, graphics and (particularly) storage, but does so in a mini-tower chassis that comes in
at a relatively compact 175 x 419 x 395mm (W x D x H).
The driving force for this new machine is Intel’s fourth generation core processor, commonly known as ‘Haswell’. There is a huge choice of processors on offer, from the high-end Intel Xeon processor E3 v3 series, taking in Core i7 and Core i5 all the way down to Core i3.
Our test machine’s Intel Core i5-4570 is very much at the sweet spot for mainstream users of CAD or BIM software. Running at 3.2GHz, going up to 3.6GHz with Intel Turbo Boost, it provides the all-important raw performance required for 3D design. But, with no support for Intel Hyper-Threading, those who ray trace render in applications like Revit, 3ds Max or ArchiCAD will miss out. Here, an upgrade to a Core i7 or Xeon E3 v3 will be money well spent as GHz for GHz, these higher end processors should reduce render times by 10%-15%.
The Celsius W530 offers a big choice for graphics, which should pretty much cater for all but the most demanding of 3D users.
This includes the entry-level Nvidia Quadro K600 or AMD FirePro V3900, right up to the powerful Nvidia Quadro K4000 or AMD FirePro W7000.
However, in order to support these last two GPUs you will need the Celsius W530power edition, which boasts a 500W power supply instead of the 300W on offer in the standard Celsius W530.
Our test machine’s Nvidia Quadro K2000 with 2GB of onboard memory is pretty much a perfect fit for mainstream users of BIM software. With three outputs (2 x DisplayPort and 1 x DVI-I) it can also drive multiple displays, which is great when you are juggling lots of windows or applications.
Considering this is an entry-level machine the Celsius W530 has some serious potential when it comes to storage. While the standard Celsius W530 supports up to three drives (1 x 2.5-inch and
2 x 2.5/3.5-inch), the Celsius W530power edition takes this up to five (1 x 2.5-inch and
4 x 2.5/3.5-inch). That adds up to an incredible 17TB of storage if you go for 4 x 4TB 3.5-inch HDDs and a 1TB 2.5-inch HDD.
With such large capacities available, our test machine’s 1TB Western Digital WD1003FBYX HDD does feel a little anaemic, but it should be noted that this is 1TB of enterprise quality storage, commonly found in read / write-intensive servers and backed up with a five-year warranty for piece of mind against failure.
Standard HDDs are also available, which should save a bit of cash and, for those who place a higher value on performance, there are plenty of SSDs to choose from in 128GB, 256GB or 512GB capacities.
One of the best things about the Celsius W530 is that it is incredibly easy to add or replace drives.
Spare drive bays, which sit perpendicular to the motherboard, are kitted out with two of Fujitsu’s excellent Easyrails. When fitting a new drive, remove these from the bay and use them to grip the drive on both sides so it can be guided into the bay. No screws are needed.
Unlike the Celsius M720, which uses blind mate connectors, power and data cables still need to be attached. However, in our test machine these were already clipped next to each drive bay and attached to the SATA 3.0 ports on the motherboard so there is no fiddling around. This is a really nice touch as it means new drives really can be added in less than a minute.
Our test machine was primed and ready for 4 x 3.5-inch drives, but not a 2.5-inch SSD drive. However, if you are planning to add one later, Easyrails and cables can be bought as extras or configured during a build to order. Alternatively, many SSDs, including Samsung’s excellent SSD 840 EVO (see page 30), offer desktop migrations kits, which include an adapter so the 2.5-inch drive can be securely housed in a 3.5-inch bay.
There are some other neat features of the chassis, which is tool-less throughout. This includes the side panel, which can be pulled off with one hand, and the PCI-Express cards, which clip in and out of place. There are four USB ports on the front for easy access, though only two of these are USB 3.0.
It should also be noted that the Celsius W530 is incredibly quiet in operation. In fact, we hammered both CPU and GPU with rendering and 3D graphics tests, and fan noise was barely noticeable.
Like most modern workstations, this is down to low duty fans which efficiently move air from front to back. The top fan is dedicated to cooling the CPU, memory and hard drives 4 & 5, while the bottom fan takes care of the GPU and hard drives 1, 2, & 3 thanks to a metal plate that re-routes some of the air.
The W530 is an impressive addition to Fujitsu’s Celsius workstation family and its engineers must be applauded for making maintenance so easy, particularly in an entry-level machine. At £959 our Celsius W530power edition review machine is also competitively priced, but you can shave £60 off this straight away by opting for the standard Celsius W530.
Unless you think you might upgrade your graphics card or kit your machine out with four or more hard drives, you will not ever benefit from the premium model.