Switching to 64-bit Windows XP, the single core test took 13 minutes 20 seconds and the four core result was three minutes 41 seconds, which confirmed our expectations that this dual processor/dual core Opteron set-up would be as fast as hell, with bags of grunt to spare.
Naturally the PC3200 memory is ECC as Opterons won’t run on non-ECC memory, and the graphics card in this workstation is an ATI branded FireGL V5100 item. This uses the same R423 chip as an X800XT, but is optimised for OpenGL rather than DirectX. The drivers are far simpler than the Catalysts that you’re used to seeing, and once you’ve set up your monitors the only change you’re likely to make in the settings is from one application profile to another as you switch from Photoshop to 3D Studio Max, or whatever. While there’s no denying that the FireGL V5100 is a decent workstation graphics card – just as well as it costs £400 retail – it’s a real surprise to us that Evesham didn’t go the whole hog and install a V7100, which is available as an upgrade when you configure your Acumen for just under £200.
Not only does the V7100 sport 256MB of graphics memory instead of 128MB, as well as 16 pixel pipelines compared to the 12 offered by the V5100, but more importantly the V7100 supports Dual Link. Most graphics cards are limited to a DVI resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 which is no limitation at all for a regular desktop machine running a high-end monitor such as the 23in Viewsonic VP231wb, but if you’re using a 30in Apple Cinema Display then you need something extra to power the 2,560 x 1,600 native resolution, or you may even have designs on the Viewsonic VP2290b with its 3,840×2,400 resolution.
Even if you don’t currently have one of these monster monitors it seems very short-sighted to buy a workstation with a graphics card that has an inherent limitation when a relatively small expenditure will remove that limitation.
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