HP's Pricey, Powerful Workstation

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At a Glance
  • HP xw4400 Workstation (1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 256MB DDR2, 80GB, CD-ROM, Windows XP Pro)

The xw4400 offers tool-less access to its tidy interior.
The xw4400 offers tool-less access to its tidy interior.
If you're looking for a computer that will help you get critical work done, and you need superior graphics power, you may want to forgo a standard desktop in favor of a different class of system, such as HP's xw4400 Personal Workstation. We evaluated a $3395 configuration that offers many familiar PC parts but adds professional-level graphics and extensive software certification.

With the aid of its Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor, 2GB of RAM, and nVidia Quadro FX 1500 graphics card carrying 256MB of GDDR3 memory, the unit we tested scored a 161 on WorldBench 5, better than the marks of most high-end desktops we've looked at. (Since this is an entry-level workstation, you won't get dual-processor support.) It also performed well on the 3D Studio Max portions of WorldBench 5, completing the DirectX and OpenGL tests in 200 and 218 seconds, respectively.

The system's interior boasts six drive bays (four of them external and two internal; on our test machine only two externally accessible drive bays were available), as well as three PCI and three PCI Express slots (only one PCI and two PCIe slots were open). The two internal drive bays contain a pair of 7200-rpm 160GB SATA II hard drives configured in a striped RAID array. The design of the bays makes sliding out the drives for replacement especially easy. Our test machine came with a multiformat DVD burner and a brilliant 19-inch HP L1955 LCD.

The xw4400 also offers gigabit ethernet and a full complement of ports, including seven external USB 2.0 ports and three FireWire ports. The Quadro FX 1500 graphics card has two DVI ports, enabling you to connect your monitor via an all-digital pathway. (You can connect an analog monitor, but to do so you must buy the necessary cable and adapter separately.) From the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic card, you get high-end audio, too (our system did not come with speakers).

HP bundles several system tools with the xw4400. The one most appealing to workstation buyers may be the Performance Tuning Framework tool, which will analyze your computer and make sure that you have the right drivers and settings to optimize performance in a number of applications--including design, video editing and authoring, and 3D creation and rendering apps--you're likely to use. Even if you use a program that's not on its master list, the tool will still help you get the latest drivers. Among other useful utilities is HP's Insight Diagnostics, which can scan your system for malfunctioning parts and corrupted drivers.

For smaller businesses that are seeking a powerful system and need professional-level graphics, the xw4400 Personal Workstation deserves a look.

HP xw4400 Personal Workstation

Strong performance and good expansion options make this workstation worth considering.
Price when reviewed: $3395
Current prices (if available)
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At a Glance
  • HP xw4400 Workstation (1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 256MB DDR2, 80GB, CD-ROM, Windows XP Pro)

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