- Intel Core i7 Processor Speed 3.40 GHz Processor Model i7-3770
- Standard Memory 4 GB Memory Technology DDR3 SDRAM 500 GB HDD
- Windows 7 Professional
- Graphics Controller Manufacturer Intel Graphics
Decent machine - but is it worth the trouble of upgrading? 12/16/2012
The only benefits I found were:
1. The four USB 3.0 ports made imaging the drive to an SSD external drive really fast.
2. The convertible nature meant that I could lay it on its side, which made for convenient access to the front panel and optical drives, and the top of it acts as a shelf – but that benefit is only available if you have a huge amount of desk space. And, this configuration doesn’t have quite as much expansion room internally.
When I was all done, the results were not impressive to me as compared with my older xw4400. The machine feels marginally faster, although I’m still waiting on the extra memory. I also was a bit too frugal on the video card and realized I should have ordered one with more power for video editing. So, that’s now on order too (upgrading from an NVidia GeForce GT 210 (bottom end) to a GeForce GT 650 (about $80 more). But, from past experience that upgrade may help with the video editing; it won’t make any difference except if Windows Aero is turned on.
Comparing the two machines, you’d think there would be a huge difference:
HP XW 4400 HP Elite 8300
CPU Core 2 Duo @ 2.67 GHz I7 Quad-Core @ 3.4 GHz
Memory Speed 667 MHz 1600 MHz
HD Serial ATA interface SATA 1: Max 1.5 GB/S SATA III: Max 6.0 MB/S
On paper, it looks like a huge difference, but my conclusion is that throughput is limited to the speed one can get data off the hard drive platters and they both have striped RAID arrays with 7200 RPM drives. RAID 0 splits the data flow between the two drives with very little overhead, but the limiting factor is not the SATA Spec since the physical limitations of the drives cause the bottleneck. I believe a pair of SSD drives with the latest SATA interface would make a difference, especially if configured in a RAID array, but that is too costly and I don’t trust SSD’s for long-term reliability and speed, especially the way we hammer on the drives.
My wife’s PC crapped out a while ago and she’s decided to work on training videos using Camtasia Studio. Video editing is one of the most taxing processes a PC has to do. For example, my 4 year old HP xw4400 workstation takes about 20 minutes to process a 5 minute video which means I can’t do much more than surf the web and email while it’s working.
So, I looked around a found an HP Elite 8300 at Newegg for 810.00, about 50 less than HP charges for it. It is the latest business-class workstation and comes equipped with most of the goodies one would want including an i7 quad-core processor clocked at 3.4 GHz, with motherboard and memory frequency more than twice that of my workstation.
I started out with HP machines in 2004, with “Helene”, an xw4100. As with all these machines, they are corporate grade, come with 3 years parts and labor, English-speaking support and I’ve only once had one seriously malfunction, even though I hammer them hard and leave them on 24/7. I moved to an xw4200 in 2006, and an xw4400 (2 of them) in 2009. The only reason I’ve upgraded is for the increased speed – which is reaching a point of diminishing returns as discussed below.
It took a couple of days to set it all up. I purchased a couple of 7200 RPM hard drives, and another 12 GB of RAM to max it out at 16 MB. Installed all the software, imaged the drive and, when the two hard drives arrived, configured them into a striped (RAID 0) array which almost doubles throughput.
Cost difference (7200 RPM vs SSD) is astonishing (although much better than in past years) – the 7200 RPM, 500 GB drives I purchased were $80 each. An Intel 240 GB SSD SATA III drive will set you back twice that. Since it’s half the size; that’s a much higher (4X) the cost per GB. That would not bother me, but I’ve had too many of them fail quickly to bother with them. A drive failure costs me 2-3 days typically, which means that given the marginal speed boost, it would take a lifetime to recover the time-cost.
RAID 0 is risky too – it doubles the chance of failure since if one drive fails the whole thing fails, but I find the speed boost well worth it. And, Mozy online backup covers my mistakes (although the recovery download takes 2 days). I’ll soon be using their local backup via a network attached storage device which will make recovery a one-two day process since one doesn’t have to wait for the download over the internet. It’s nice because, if you use the same login account name, Mozy just sticks all the data into the new system exactly where it was before.
If we were doing professional video editing, I’d consider a pair of 10,000 RPM VelociRapter drives which would increase speed by about 50% at only double the cost. But, they’re power hungry, so add the cost of a new power supply (the OEM supply can’t handle it) and due to thermal issues, much less reliable than 7200 drives. Worse, they’re incredibly noisy.
Bottom line for me: I’ll continue using my old work station for
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