When we talk about workstation systems, the elephants in the room are typically Dell and HP, with Lenovo still going strong in ThinkPad sales and Apple picking up the rear for content professionals. Yet there remains a fairly vibrant market for system integrators to produce more specialized workstations. Today we have one of those systems on hand, an octalcore beauty from DigitalStorm that they dub the Slade Pro.

I've tested workstations from other system integrators in the past and I'll admit that I've often come up a bit perplexed with their component choices. I was unimpressed by some of the enthusiast level selections iBuyPower made with their Professional Series, and Puget Systems sent me a Genesis II workstation with a consumer grade graphics card in it and an unwieldy price tag. DigitalStorm faces an uphill battle; they need to compete on quality and on price because by virtue of being a smaller boutique, they're just not going to be able to compete on enterprise class service.

DigitalStorm Slade Pro Specifications
Chassis Corsair Obsidian 550D
Processor Intel Xeon E5-2687W v2
(8x3.4GHz, Turbo to 4GHz, 22nm, 25MB L3, 150W)
Motherboard ASUS Sabertooth X79
Memory 4x8GB Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-1866
Graphics NVIDIA Quadro K4000 3GB GDDR5
(768 CUDA Cores, 810MHz/5.6GHz core/RAM, 192-bit memory bus)
Hard Drive(s) Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB SATA 6Gbps SSD

Western Digital Re 4TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) ASUS BC-12B1ST BD-ROM/DVD+-RW
Power Supply Corsair CX750M 80 Plus Bronze
Networking Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892
Speaker, line-in, mic, and surround jacks
Front Side Optical drive
Card reader
2x USB 3.0
Headphone and mic jacks
Top Side -
Back Side PS/2
4x USB 3.0
6x USB 2.0
6-pin FireWire
2x eSATA
Optical out
BIOS reset
Gigabit ethernet
Speaker, line-in, mic, and surround jacks
DVI-I
2x DisplayPort
1x Stereo
Operating System Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
Dimensions 20.9" x 8.7" x 19.5"
Extras Card reader
80 Plus Bronze PSU
CoolIT closed loop liquid cooler
Warranty Lifetime tech support, 1-year parts, 3-year labor
Pricing Starts at $1,881
Review system configured at $5,869

The Intel Xeon E5-2687W v2 is the fastest octalcore processor in Intel's Xeon line at present. Boasting eight cores at a nominal 3.4GHz and able to turbo up to 3.6GHz on all eight or 4GHz on a single core, it strikes a good balance between optimized single-threaded performance and more heavily threaded workloads. Dissipating its 150W TDP is a closed loop liquid cooler with two fans in a push-pull configuration, and for a system like this, that cooler is actually a fairly smart idea.

I'm a little more circumspect about the ASUS Sabertooth X79 motherboard and Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-1866 memory. This isn't necessarily a bad configuration, but it's not workstation class either; a proper workstation motherboard and ECC memory would, I feel, have been the right way to go.

Graphics duties are thankfully handled by an NVIDIA Quadro K4000. This card is based on the GK106 chip that powers the GeForce GTX 660 and bygone GTX 650 Ti Boost. It employs a single slot cooler, but has been cut down from the stock 960 CUDA cores to 768 and runs at 810MHz, allowing the TDP to drop to a respectable 80W. The flipside is the lack of any kind of double precision performance, but for that you'd have to spend up on a much bigger and more expensive workstation card.

The storage subsystem is also a strong point. The Samsung 840 Pro SSD is a solid choice and at 256GB features a healthy amount of capacity. For mass storage, DigitalStorm equipped the Slade Pro with a 4TB 7200RPM workstation class drive from Western Digital.

Where I'm going to get fussy again are the power supply and warranty coverage. The Corsair CX750M is by no means a bad power supply, but HP went 80 Plus Gold across the board some time ago. One year parts coverage is also just not going to cut it in this industry; HP and Dell both start at three years. You could reasonably argue that DigitalStorm is trying to use higher quality parts, but that doesn't do you any good when you wind up being the unlucky one with a bad motherboard.

All in all, this isn't a bad build, but it does continue to suffer from the same reliance on consumer grade parts that other SI systems tend to.

Futuremark and Application Performance
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  • Antronman - Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - link

    CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2687W V2 3.4GHz 8-Core Processor ($2039.98 @ SuperBiiz)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H75 54.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($79.32 @ NCIX US)
    Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X79 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard ($310.98 @ Amazon)
    Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($349.99 @ Best Buy)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($199.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Western Digital RE 4TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($319.00 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: PNY Quadro 4000 2GB Video Card ($680.48 @ Amazon)
    Case: Corsair 550D ATX Mid Tower Case ($114.99 @ NCIX US)
    Power Supply: Corsair CX 750W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($77.99 @ Micro Center)
    Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($60.51 @ NCIX US)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($142.27 @ TigerDirect)
    Total: $4375.50
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-23 18:54 EDT-0400)

    RIPOFF!!!
    Reply
  • fluxtatic - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link

    But how much money did I just spend doing the research and then buying from 6 different places? This argument swings a little more weight if you source it from 2 places at the most. At least where I work, I'd be pissing money down my leg even sourcing from vendors I don't already use. I'll take the time to do it if the difference is big, but if I need this sort of machine, I'll buy it from Dell and move on to my actual work. And I say this as a hardware geek that dreams on being able to spend days sourcing hardware and building it out. Reply
  • Antronman - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link

    You didn't spend any money, because pcpartpicker is free.
    Configure a system in a couple of minutes, and order it.
    Reply
  • wwwcd - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link


    KAlmquist - Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - link
    I doubt that the processor is available for $1100. Still, online retail prices are processor $2200, GPU $800, motherboard $320, memory $330, power supply $122, case $140, MS Windows $132, giving a total of $4055. Figure less than $200 for liquid cooling, optical drive, card reader, and cables, and you are talking over $1600 markup. This certainly isn't justified by the warranty, since the expensive parts aren't covered after the first year. AVA Direct will sell a similar system for about $5000, with a 3 year parts, lifetime labor warranty. Reply
    wwwcd - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link
    Yes this is a consumer prices for one piece in shops. DigitalStorm do not buy components on retail prices.
    Reply
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link

    As others have said. If you are going to spend this much on a xeon/quadro system there is no reason to not go with ECC ram and workstation class mobo. The markup is high enough on this system to go with those components and still make a huge chunk of money. Such a shame Reply
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link

    And at max load the system is only pulling 260 watts. So these genius's go with a super low end 760 watt 80+ bronze PSU. I mean really if the system is going to only pull 260 watts you really only need a 400-500 watt psu. The 80+ platinum 400 watt fanless seasonic is enough if you are 100% sure you will never add a second gpu. The 80+ platinum 520 watt fanless seasonic is the right choice if you may add a second gpu down the line. Both give you enough headroom to add as many hard drives and whatever else in the case as you want while the latter supplies an extra pci-e power connector for a second gpu and the wattage to go with it. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link

    The best way to choose the most appropriate psu is to find out the mean wattage you use for the most time on your pc. Say this one averaged at 200 watts majority of the time. Since PSU's are most efficient at 50% of their maximum the 400 watt psu would be the best choice then. If you are going to be running long calculations at maximum load all the time and ur constantly pushing the full 260 watts then the 520 watt psu is better since 260 is half of 520 Reply
  • Ktracho - Thursday, April 24, 2014 - link

    I'd say the exception is in cases where you run computations, say on a NVIDIA Tesla card (which are commonly used on workstations), where power usage fluctuates widely several times per second. I've seen 850 W power supplies consistently shut down power for the whole system in situations like this, even when the Tesla card's maximum power usage never exceeds, say, 250 W (so max total system power usage closer to 400 W than to 500 W). An overspecced power supply tends to avoid this kind of problem. Reply
  • wwwcd - Friday, April 25, 2014 - link

    Cutt off this advertising! Reply
  • dtolios - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Specviewperf 11 is very outdated.
    You should switch to 12, which has far newer suites and openGL viewport engines that reshuffle things - especially with gaming vs workstation card performance in Maya 2013, Solidworks 2013 etc.
    Reply

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