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First Look: HP XW9300 Workstation

By David Em

(Konica Minolta's 2430 DL Color Laser :  Page 1 of 1 )

There's a subset of scientists, engineers, filmmakers, and digital artists with extraordinary computing requirements. To do their work, these power users must couple every possible bit of processing horsepower they can harness with the most robust hardware-accelerated graphics available. HP's new 64-bit xw9300 desktop workstation moves this community a giant step closer to fulfilling its needs.

The xw9300 incorporates several cutting edge architectural developments in processing, data throughput, and visualization. Taken together, these elements add up to the most significant advance in desktop workstation design we've seen in years.

Out of the Box

At first blush, the xw9300's 19 inch by 20 inch by 8 inch silver and black rackable minitower looks identical to its predecessor, the xw8200 I reviewed last year. Internally, however, they are radically different machines.

Getting inside's a snap. The side of the case comes off by undoing a single latch, a far cry from some workstations we've tested that require a screwdriver and three hands. The inside of the case is roomy with very good cable management.

Our test system came with two Opteron 252 processors, 4 GB of fast ECC RAM, two 70 GB 10K Western Digital Raptor drives, an NVIDIA QuadroFX 3400 PCI Express graphics card, and a 700 W power supply. It's also got a good internal speaker.

The system supports Gigabit Ethernet and has USB 2, FireWire, and audio connectors in front, plus four USB 2 and another FireWire connector in back. There are three 5.25 inch bays and five internal 3.5 inch bays.

There's a serial port but no parallel port. That becomes an issue if you use one of the many hardware dongle-locked applications this class of machine is designed to run. We added a parallel card to the 9300, which recognized the board, but Alias Maya 6.5 did not. These days hardware locks tend to be USB, so if you're lucky, the software manufacturer will swap out your older one for you.