HP xw4200 Workstation Review

While it’s fun to talk about our hardware, when it’s time to get down to work, we want a reliable machine. We’ve watched the HP xw4000 series of machines improve over the last couple of years and, in terms of price, performance and reliability, have found these workstations to be a fine foundation for your edit bay. The xw4200 continues this trend with a polished machine that pays attention to the details.

Hardware

As of the moment of this writing, this is the latest and greatest in hardware, which you can see in our Tech Specs. The custom metal black and silver case is not flashy and filled with colored neon lights, but it is attractive and requires no tools to get inside. The xw4200 is extremely quiet, with fans that throttle up and down depending on the load. One highlight is the 74GB 10,000 rpm SATA hard disk that had an average throughput of about 510 Mbps, which is about 100Mbps faster than the typical 7,200 rpm hard disks we’ve tested. It’s more of a convenience than anything else, since these numbers far exceed what is necessary for 25 Mbps DV video. In any case, you’ll be using the secondary 250 GB hard disk for video, which performed flawlessly.

The new Intel 925x chipset is interesting, notably using the new PCI Express display interface in place of an AGP slot. PCI Express is definitely the future for graphics, but the slot will limit your choices today. The installed card was an NVIDIA Quadro FX 330 PCI-E display card that will improve rendered in some 3D applications, some fancy transition effects and some other specialized software packages, but will not impact 99% of the video editing tasks for most people.

Another (optional) highlight of the system that HP sent us was the 23-inch widescreen LCD display that ran at a native 1900×1200 ($1,699). Forget about dual displays: this is the way we want to work.

Solid

This machine feels more like a Mac than a PC. For example, the typical PC is often a thrown together hodgepodge, with a motherboard from ABIT and a case from LianLi. The xw4200, like a Mac, is built from the ground up to the specifications from a single company, with the benefit that it has been designed and tested as a single unit. This results in a more polished machine, from the good benchmark numbers to the attractive, ergonomic and quiet case.

Overall, this is a high-performance system at an excellent price for professionals and wannabe pros who need the hardware to match their software editing suite.

D. Eric Franks is Videomaker’s Technical Editor.

TECH SPECS

Platform: PC

OS: Windows XP Pro

CPU: Pentium 4 3.2GHz (800MHz FSB, HT, 1MB L2)

Chipset: Intel 925X

RAM: 1GB (2 x 512MB DDR2-533)

Hard Drive: 74GB System (10,000 rpm, SATA), 250GB Video (7,200 rpm, ATA100)

Sound card: integrated AC97

Display card: NVIDIA Quadro FX 330 PCI-E (64MB, dual head)

Disc Writer: 48X combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM

Additional Hardware: FireWire, 10/100 Ethernet

Pictured Display: hp 2335 23-inch widescreen LCD ($1,699)

MPEG-2 Render Speed: 23.56 fps (2-pass VBR)

STRENGTHS

  • Well-designed, constructed
  • Stunning 23-inch LCD

WEAKNESSES

  • none

SUMMARY

The xw4200 is a cutting edge workstation with a mature design, polished features and stable performance ready for your software.

$2,777

Hewlett-Packard Company

3000 Hanover Street

Palo Alto, CA 94304

(800) 888-9909

www.hp.com

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