Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

HP - xw6400

HP's latest personal workstation series, the xw6400, is aimed at mid-range business users and, housed in a new mini-tower case, it's ideal where desk space is at a premium yet a system with plenty of grunt is still required.

It looks quite smart in its grey and metallic silver finish and, measuring just 441 x 165 x 440mm, the case has been designed to fit in a rack as well as on or under a desk, and its tool-free design should delight most IT managers.

With such a small case, compromises have to be made and in this instance one compromise is the number of drives you can fit into the xw6400. As standard there are two internal 3.5-inch drive bays plus a third with external access, while there are just two 5.25-inch bays.

Our review sample came with both internal drive bays filled by 500GB Seagate hard drives, to give a terabyte of internal storage, so there is an argument to say that should be sufficient; but if not, HP offers 750GB drives as an alternative. An LG, 16x, Lightscribe, multi-format DVD burner filled one of the two larger bays.

As you might expect, the xw6400 uses an HP-branded motherboard in which sits a quad core Xeon, an E5310 to be exact, which is clocked at a lowly 1.66GHz but has an FSB speed of 1,066MHz and 8MB of L2 cache. This gives the xw6400 a disappointing SYSMark04 SE overall score of just 260, but that's not the whole picture as the system is aimed at the professional user, so of more importance is what the four cores and the 8MB of L2 cache allow you to do: this is demonstrated by the very good Cinebench 9.5 multi-CPU rendering test score of 860.

Backing up the CPU is Intel's latest server/workstation Northbridge chipset, the 5000X, which can support up to 32GB of memory and, with four memory modules installed, Quad Channel memory support is available too. Unfortunately HP's motherboard can only support a maximum of 16GB; the review system came with 4GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory installed in two of the four DIMM slots.

As you might expect from a workstation, the graphics card isn't the usual 3D card but instead an Nvidia Quadro FX1500 which comes with 256MB of GDDR memory. The motherboard has two x16 PCI-E slots so you can add a second card at a later date to take advantage of SLI technology, but not at full speed: when running in SLI mode the PCI-E bus runs at x8 speed for each card.

HP supplied a 20-inch TFT display with the system, with a handy native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 pixels, along with an HP-branded USB keyboard and mouse combo to round out the hardware package.
HP - xw6400 features - Verdict

This is an ideal system if you are looking to upgrade from an entry level workstation, while its small format makes it ideal for the smaller office, although on the flip side it does mean that your options are limited if you want to expand the hardware.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Toshiba HD-E1 HD-DVD Player

While there is no clear winner in the home high-definition optical storage feud yet, Toshiba has reaffirmed its direction with the release of the HD-E1, an affordable HD-DVD player for your next home entertainment revamp.

..Overall, we have no doubt in our mind that the Toshiba HD-E1 HD-DVD player will do a great job at providing 1080i video goodness. What’s more, with support for the next generation of home cinema standards, easy firmware updating and USB expansion slots, this latest HD-DVD player has longevity printed all over it.

Now, an estimated retail price of USD$645 (SGD$999) may be a little hard to stomach for most but when compared to rival Blu-ray players, it isn't really too much to ask to equip yourself with high-definition entertainment. So, if you want to have a HD player that will make every movie a perfect audio and video sensory experience each time, then the HD-E1’s arrival (sometime around the second or third quarter of 2007) will be well worth the wait.