Optimized for specialized technical and business applications

If you need a powerful graphics workstation on your desktop, the Professional Workstation 5000 by Compaq Computer might be just the ticket. Compaq optimizes its Professional Workstations for specialized technical and business applications in mechanical CAD, finance, and software engineering and content development environments.

You can get the Professional Workstation in a desktop configuration that supports dual 200MHz Pentium Pros. RAM options cover the spectrum at 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, and 512MB; the chassis accommodates four drive bays and supports three PCI, one ISA, and one shared expansion slot. Standard features include an Ultra Wide SCSI host controller, an internal 8X CD-ROM (IDE), a choice of a 2.1GB or 4.3GB Fast/Wide SCSI-2 hard disk, and either the Matrox MGA Millennium 2D or the Gloria-L 3D Graphics Controller. Other features include the Integrated Business Pro Audio for 16-bit CD-ROM audio and an Integrated NetFlex-3 Controller capable of supporting 10Base-T and 100Base-TX networks. Compaq backs up this robust package with a three-year limited warranty. Compaq's workstation software has free lifetime support. You can find product information at Compaq's Web site and get detailed specifications about the Professional Workstation at http://www.compaq.com/productinfo/ systems/wpd/produc.html.

I tested the Professional Workstation 5000 configured with dual 200MHz Pentium Pros, 128MB of RAM, a 4.3GB Fast/Wide SCSI-2 hard disk, an 8X CD-ROM, and the Gloria-L 3D Graphics Controller. The system I tested included a Qvision 210 color monitor with a 19.5" screen, a nice feature for CAD applications. In addition to a Windows NT Workstation 4.0 CD-ROM, Compaq supplies a SmartStart for Workstations CD-ROM. This CD-ROM contains installation and setup utilities that range from power management to device drivers, and an easy-to-read, detailed readme.txt file. The Compaq utility software contains online Help directories.

The Quick Setup brochure, which is part of Compaq's documentation, and the SmartStart for Workstations CD-ROM made the installation of NT 4.0 flawless. The workstation seemed almost ravenous during the software installation; of course, having all that RAM and hard disk space didn't hurt. The location of video, audio, and integration software on the SmartStart CD-ROM is a feature any network engineer can appreciate. With the readme.txt file, all I had to do was follow the step-by-step instructions; I didn't have to worry about changing from CD-ROM to floppy, then back to CD-ROM. The Reference Guide for the system is one of the best I've ever seen. The text is well written; readable, detailed illustrations supplement the descriptions; and the guide contains enough technical data for maintenance, upgrade, and repair.

My only complaint about the system (and this criticism is a stretch) is the eject button for the 3.5" drive. Typically, eject buttons protrude from the faceplate, but the front of the Professional Workstation desktop case is bowed outward, and the eject button is recessed in the case. I have chubby fingers, and consequently had trouble pushing the small, exposed tip of the button.

To achieve a test benchmark, I used the Windows NT Magazine Lab's baseline system and configuration. The system is a 200MHz Pentium clone with 32MB of RAM, an Adaptec SCSI Controller, two 2.1GB Quantum hard disks, a 4MB Matrox Millennium video card, an 8X CD-ROM, and a Creative Labs AWE 32 sound card. For a market comparison, I included the benchmarks for another system the Lab tested: a DTK APRI-32, armed with dual 200MHz Pentium Pros, 132MB of EDO RAM, a Seagate Cheetah 2.1GB Wide SCSI hard disk, an 8X SCSI CD-ROM, and a Diamond Stealth 3D 3000 video card. (For a review of this system, see Dean Porter, "DTK APRI-32," page 78. The review includes a graph comparing DTK's performance with the Lab baseline.)

Testing the System
To test the Professional Workstation 5000, I ran the BAPCo SYSmark for NT test suite. To evaluate 3D rendering and CAD performance, I ran LightWave 3D by NewTek. For more information about the SYSmark for NT benchmark suite, visit http://www.bapco.com. For more information about LightWave 3D, visit http://www.newtek.com.

The SYSmark for NT benchmark test runs scripts over several popular applications and tracks how long each script takes to run. A system that completes a script in 100 minutes is twice as fast as a system that completes the same script in 200 minutes. This benchmark uses both 32-bit and 16-bit applications: Microsoft Word 6.0, Microsoft Excel 5.0, Microsoft PowerPoint 4.0, Welcom Software Technology's Texim Project 2.0e, and Orcad Layout for Windows 7.0. BAPCo does not optimize all the applications for a multiprocessor environment.

Figure 1 shows that the Professional Workstation 5000 performed well compared to the Lab's benchmark system. In comparison to the DTK system, the Compaq took a few more minutes to complete the test scripts.

In the CAD area, the 2D Orcad Layout application produced time difference numbers of 141.34 for the DTK system and 143.00 for the Compaq system. For 3D CAD evaluation, I put the Compaq through its paces with LightWave 3D. Screen 1 shows a sample rendering of a scene. The Compaq performed superbly during my evaluation. The system rendered a graphic from the skeleton layout to the final scene in the blink of an eye. It rendered and compiled 30 seconds of frame animation in less than 6 seconds. Overall, I was very pleased with the performance characteristics of the Professional Workstation 5000.

I commend Compaq for its documentation bundle. The Quick Setup brochure, service and support flyer, and Reference Guide made installation, configuration, and system use a pleasure. Any engineer will enjoy technical data and product descriptions accompanied by figures that make sense and are easy to read.

The Professional Workstation 5000 is an excellent platform to run multiple CPU-intensive applications or applications that take advantage of multiple processors. This system will find a home with a variety of industries, ranging from graphics animation and software development, to engineering analysis and design.

Professional Workstation 5000
Contact:Compaq Computer * 800-652-6672 or 281-370-0670
Web: http://www.compaq.com
Email: support@compaq.com
Price: $8636 (as configured, without monitor)