Ixnay on Dell's new Quad-core workstation

Summary:In my mind, there are basically three classes of people who need all the horsepower they can get out of their desktop or notebook systems.  Obviously, there are the hardcore gamers.

In my mind, there are basically three classes of people who need all the horsepower they can get out of their desktop or notebook systems.  Obviously, there are the hardcore gamers. For the purposes of this post however, let's forget about them (or you) so we can stick to the business-class users (if you're a gamer, feel free to pay attention, but forgive me for taking the business angle since that's what we try to do here at ZDNet).

Then, there's the multimedia production workstation user. So, if you're doing lots of image, video, or audio production, horsepower often equates to productivity. There have been plenty of times when I wish the open source audio editor Audacity would encode MP3s a lot faster than it does on my systems. These types of users are becoming more prevalent in businesses as businesses turn to audio, video, and images to help tell their story or train people that are either external or internal to the company. One reason for this is that the cost of producing a decent outcome has dropped dramatically thanks to better software and tools. 

Lastly, there are what I call "the virtualizers." There aren't too many of them now, and of the ones virtualizing, most are developers. These are the people that run multiple instances of various operating systems (or even just one like Windows) that don't interfere with each other even though they're running on the same computer (a technique known as partitioning). Developers like to virtualize their boxes so that they have clients running in some partitions, servers (that the clients can connect to over a network) running in others, and their development "system" where all their software coding and hacking takes place running in yet another. But over time, particularly as software providers do better jobs at demystifying virtual machine management and communicating the benefits of virtualization, I think you'll see average users doing more of it.

But running multiple VMs, as I often do, can really put a load on your system. So, when I dream of a system where all of my VMs are running at even half the bare metal performance of the underlying system, I find myself just wishing for a big honkin' system to do it. This of course could be another impediment to VM usage: big system requirements which equate to big money, relatively speaking.

Moore's Law basically dictates that the investment problem will be a non-issue. But, while we wait, there are those of us dreaming of a bottomless pit of megaflops from the system on or beneath our desks and anytime Dell, being the perennial supplier to businesses that it is, decides to ship a quad-core desktop (note: quad-core's are generally reserved for servers), you can't help but stop to consider whether it isn't just worth gawking at, but also purchasing.

But, if I'm reading Rich Brown's review right, then you shouldn't be wasting your time even gawking at Dell's new XPS 710 (Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700), much less considering it for purchase. Wrote Brown in a review he published yesterday:

a $5,000 PC is not supposed to be slower than systems that cost nearly $2,000 less....Outperformed by much cheaper competitors; Dell's long qualification periods for new graphics hardware might mean more reliability, but it also means that other PCs have next-gen hardware today that the XPS 710 doesn't offer.

The good news is that the system looks great (causing me to relive the insult directed at a beautiful 1968 Camaro that I used to own: "That beast is all show, and no go"). 'Nuf said. Even for you gamers. 

Topics: Hardware

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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