This six CPU core workstation is an excellent proposition for mainstream 3D CAD users who use rendering or analysis as an integral part of their workflow, writes Greg Corke.
InterPro’s latest CAD/CAM/CAE workstation, the IPW-Ci7 (ATI Edition) is another six-core workhorse, a variation on the machine the Stafford-based system builder submitted for review in May 2010. Gone is the premium 3.33GHz Intel Core i7 980X Extreme Edition CPU and in its place is the more cost effective 3.20GHz Intel Core i7 970. Then, giving the machine a greater emphasis on 3D graphics, it has been enhanced with one of AMD’s new generation professional boards, the 2GB ATI FirePro V7800, taking over from PNY’s ageing 768MB Nvidia Quadro FX 1800.
This new balance of CPU and GPU power is sure to put it directly in the line of sight of CAD users who work with large 3D datasets, though those with BIM or visualisation models of exceptional size may benefit from boosting the memory from 6GB to 12GB, either at time of purchase or as a relatively straightforward upgrade later on, populating the three spare memory slots with 2GB DDR3 modules.
In what is becoming an increasing trend in workstation storage, InterPro has coupled a Solid State Drive (SSD) with a standard mechanical platter hard drive. The 60GB OCZ Vertex 2E 2.5” SATA-II SSD takes pride of place in the machine’s drive bays playing host to the Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Operating System, applications and datasets. As far as drive capacities go 60GB is not a huge amount and those that work with multiple applications should probably consider upgrading the capacity of the SSD. But with prices falling all the time, this should not impact the overall price of the system by a huge amount. Meanwhile, the 1TB Samsung ‘Spinpoint’ F3 7200 RPM Hard Drive SATA-II takes on the role of data storage and archive.
Overall, the IPW-Ci7 (ATI Edition) is a good all rounder for 3D CAD users who use rendering as an integral part of their workflow, and a serious alternative to more costly dual CPU machines. It is well built and quiet and would be a welcome addition to the desktops of many engineers and architects.