Scan 3XS GW-HT20 review
For some, power is an aphrodisiac. For others, it’s an everyday necessity, and that’s a need Scan’s latest workstation, the 3XS GW-HT20, is built to serve. Rallying a suite of high-end componentry around the latest eight-core Extreme Edition CPU from Intel, the 3XS GW-HT20 stakes a claim as the most powerful graphics workstation we’ve ever seen.
Every workstation needs a suitably powerful engine at its core, and in this instance the Intel Core i7-5960X CPU is the undisputed star of the show. Marking the debut of Intel’s Haswell-E (that’s E for Extreme, in case you’re wondering) processor family, this is Intel’s first eight-core CPU designed for consumer use.
At first glance, the Core i7-5960X’s specifications look a mite underwhelming: the base clock of 3GHz doesn’t sound like any great shakes and Turbo Boost only pushes the CPU cores up to a modest 3.5GHz. There’s a whopping 20MB of cache, however, and Scan has made the most of Intel’s new chip by pushing it well past its default speeds. With a Corsair H100 watercooling setup taking pride of place, Scan has boosted the eight cores up to a rather more impressive 4.2GHz.
As the 3XS GW-HT20 is purpose-built to chew through the toughest graphics applications, Scan has surrounded the eight-core CPU with an assortment of high-end components. A PNY-branded Nvidia Quadro K4200, the fastest single-slot card in Nvidia’s line-up, occupies one of the motherboard’s two 16x PCI Express slots, and with 4GB of RAM and 1,344 CUDA cores, it’s capable of coping with everything from multi-monitor CAD/CAM setups to GPU compute applications. Two of the four 3.5in drive bays are occupied by a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD and a 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 hard disk. This system is ready to fly the moment it hits the desk.
And fly it certainly does – the performance on offer here is breathtakingly quick. Up until now, the fastest PC system we’ve ever seen was Chillblast’s Fusion Photo OC V, which racked up an impressive 1.43 in our Real World Benchmarks thanks to a six-core Ivy Bridge-E processor running at 4.5GHz. Despite losing 300MHz to the Chillblast’s overclock, however, the Scan’s 4.2GHz Haswell-E took the lead with a result of 1.47.
That isn’t a crushing defeat for the Ivy Bridge-E, but the overall scores don’t tell the whole story. Indeed, while the Scan lagged around 7% behind the Chillblast in the Responsiveness and Media encoding portions of our benchmarks, it leapt 27% ahead in the Multitasking tests. As our multitasking tests run Maxon’s Cinebench 11.5 benchmark and a variety of demanding applications concurrently, this is a hugely impressive result. For multithreaded applications and heavy-duty multitasking, Haswell-E strides confidently ahead of the previous generation.
Slide off the 3XS GW-HT20’s side panel, and you’ll probably be surprised to find a Corsair 550W PSU mounted at the bottom of the case – we’re used to seeing far beefier power supplies in high-end workstations. Scan hasn’t been skimping on the essentials, however: it’s just that the Haswell-E and Quadro double act are highly power-efficient. At idle, the 3XS GW-HT20 drew a modest 128W from the wall; with both CPU and GPU working flat out, our Watt meter never flickered above 347W. Compare that to the six-core Ivy Bridge-E chip and Nvidia GTX 760 combination in Chillblast’s Photo OC V, which drew 254W at idle and 424W at peak; the power per Watt on offer here is seriously impressive.
Scan hasn’t pulled any punches when it comes to the rest of the GW-HT20’s specification. The Corsair Carbide 330R offers a decent amount of upgradability without taking up too much space, and the combination of 120 and 140mm front and rear fans and the Corsair H100 water cooler restrict noise to a low hum. Look inside the impeccably groomed interior, and you’ll see the Intel CPU is plumbed into an Asus X99-S motherboard chock-full of features and expansion potential. Four 4GB modules of Corsair’s Vengeance LPX memory occupy half of the available RAM slots; there’s an empty M.2 slot for adding compact, high-speed SSDs, as well as two SATA Express ports; and every one of the five free PCI Express 3 slots is capable of accommodating full-length cards.
The price is a breathtaking £2,699 inc VAT – a serious investment, whoever you are. But there’s good reason for this: the CPU and GPU cost the best part of £1,500 on their own, and the combination of obscene multithreaded performance and professional-class graphics easily justify the 3XS GW-HT20’s appeal for professional users. If you’re in the market for a powerful, highly upgradeable graphics workstation, the Scan 3XS GW-HT20 is a great buy.
|Warranty||1yr on-site, 2 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||2,000GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i7|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.00GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||4.20GHz|
|Graphics card||Nvidia Quadro K4200|
|Graphics card RAM||4.00GB|
|Hard disk||Seagate Barracuda 7200.14|
|Hard disk 2 make and model||Samsung 840 Pro|
|Hard disk 2 nominal capacity||512GB|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Chassis||Corsair Carbide 330R|
|Dimensions||210 x 500 x 484mm (WDH)|
|Power supply||Corsair RM|
|Power supply rating||550W|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||1.47|