The best choice here for fast modelling and image editing, with oodles of storage in a keenly priced package
The IPW-SL has the honour of being the fastest workstation – at least in terms of processor speed – this month. This turn of pace is built on Intel’s latest Skylake generation rather than its predecessor Haswell, with InterPro taking advantage of the extra headroom afforded by the K version of the Intel Core 17-6700. It was already fast at 4GHz, but InterPro boosted the clock to 4.6GHz with the help of Corsair H8oi watercooling.
The Core i7-670oK’s disadvantage is that it’s quad-core, albeit with support for Hyper-Threading, as Skylake isn’t yet available with more cores; it probably won’t be for another year (see Core iyorXeon?, P84). So a Skylake system will be better suited to 3D modelling and image editing than 3D rendering and video encoding. It’s also a little friendlier on the power bill than the six-core Haswell E processors used in some other workstations this month: this Core 17-6700K is a 91W part to the 140W of those rivals.
InterPro partners the CPU with 32GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 SDRAM, although this takes all four DIMM slots so there won’t be any upgrade option without substitution. Since the Intel Core 17-6700K has a dual-channel memory controller, rather than the quad-core controllers in the six-core CPUs this month, there’s no need to add DIMMs in multiples of four. We’d have preferred two 16GB modules.
Like five other manufacturers here, InterPro opts for Nvidia’s Quadro M4000 graphics, which currently hits the sweet spot between price and performance for high-end professional 3D acceleration. Storage is generous, with a 400GB Intel 750 Series PCI Express SSD included for the OS and apps, while a capacious 4TB WD Black 7,20orpm mechanical hard disk takes one of the eight SATA ports.
The Intel SSD offers fast sustained reads, but disk-specific benchmarks showed writing is a little behind most this month, while the hard disk also proved relatively slow. But the key word here is “relatively”- this remains a fast storage system compared to what it’s likely to replace. The optical drive is a Blu-ray writer, too, so can be used for backing up large amounts of project work.
InterPro is one of three here to use the Fractal Design Define R5 chassis, but you’ll find no complaints from us: it’s an excellent choice, not least due to its solid construction. The side panel is secured by a catch as well as screws, so you can leave the latter off if you regularly swap components. It has eight tool-free hard disk bays, and with seven still free, there’s plenty of room to expand. Plus, with the 650W version of Corsair’s CS Series Modular 80 Plus power supply in place, the internal wiring clutter is kept to a minimum because you only need to connect the power cables you’re actually using.
Thanks to the extra clock speed, the InterPro achieved the best Maxon Cinebench R15 rendering score of any quad-core Skylake workstation this month; a great result, but note the six-core Haswells were at least 20% faster still. The LuxMark and Bunkspecd rendering tests told a similar story. It was also the most accomplished in PC Pro’s imageediting test, although video encoding and multitasking brought the overall PC Pro Benchmark score down.
Scores in SPECviewperf 12 were mostly as expected for a system sporting a Quadro M4000, but there were standout areas. In particular, the result of 72 in the maya-04 viewset will please 3D animators, and 116 in the SolidWorks sw-03 viewset will tempt product designers.
The InterPro IPW-SL has a lot going for it as a modelling and image-editing workstation. Although its rendering and video encoding are behind six-core alternatives, if your main need is design, this system offers the best overall performance this month. The price is also keen for the spec, particularly with the generous storage: this is our top choice if your focus is on the kind of applications where it’s strong.