Fujitsu Siemens Celsius V830 review

Price when reviewed

Judging by its size, you could be forgiven for thinking the Celsius was a server rather than a workstation – at 620mm in depth, it’s an imposing machine with more of an industrial look than the HP xw9300 Workstation.

Fujitsu Siemens Celsius V830 review

We naturally expected a custom-designed motherboard in the Celsius, but were surprised to see a board from Gigabyte in the form of a GA-2CEWH. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but one thing we immediately noticed were two active fan-based heatsinks on both the nForce Pro 2200 PCI Express to HyperTransport bridge and 2050 SLI chips. Not only do they both generate extra noise, but they add points of failure when sufficiently large passive heatsinks would be perfectly feasible (and far preferable) in a case of this size.

The GA-2CEWH is a dual-processor board, but our review system had just the one processor in the form of an Opteron 270. You still get effective multiprocessing though, since the 270 is a dual-core CPU, albeit running at just 2GHz to the 2.6GHz apiece of the two discrete 252s in the HP xw9300. Allied to this is 2GB of ECC RAM occupying two of the eight slots available, and an nVidia Quadro FX 540 graphics card. This is an entry-level device with just 128MB RAM and only around a third of the memory bandwidth of the 3400s in the xw9300.

The layout inside the case is similar to the HP as far as access to drives and expansion potential is concerned. There’s space for four hard disks, mounted on the supplied tool-less carrier rails and arranged at right angles to the case so they can slide out with the minimum of fuss. There’s space for two more conventionally mounted 5.25in front-panel devices, while the third bay is occupied by an NEC dual-layer DVD writer. A nice touch is an integrated 802.11g WLAN adaptor, which nestles on its own circuit board with an integrated aerial near the front of the casing; standard wired Ethernet is taken care of by the dual integrated Broadcom Gigabit and nVidia nForce network controllers on the motherboard. Expansion slots consist of an extra PCI Express 16x for SLI graphics, a PCI Express 1x slot, one conventional PCI and two PCI-X/133 64-bit slots, although with the graphics card in the lower of the two 16x slots, one of these is put out of use.

Already taking up two of the hard disk bays is a pair of 160GB Samsung SpinPoint SATA hard disks. These aren’t the fastest around, although they do have a solid reputation for reliability. But Fujitsu saw fit to supply the drives arranged into separate volumes rather than ganging them together into either a RAID0 volume for speed or RAID1 for fault tolerance, even though the Gigabyte board is perfectly capable of both.

Whereas the HP has merely adequate cooling, you can’t help but be impressed by the Celsius’ thermal design. Three 120mm AVC fans cover the duties, and when they’re working at full power they’re capable of shifting an amazing amount of air – and making a substantial amount of noise. But once things are under control and the system boots into Windows, the Celsius has far finer speed gradations than the HP, and all the fans soon settle down. Internally, there’s an easily removable duct system running from front to back, with one fan at each end to bring air over the processor heatsink and RAM. The third fan draws air in from the side of the chassis and directs it over the graphics and expansion card slots. This sophisticated system makes it all the more disappointing that those two active chipset fans are in place, since they make by far the most high-pitched whine in normal use.

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