Up from Nehalem: Westmere-based Dell Precision workstation wows

Intel's new six-core chip delivers even more processing power to midrange workstations

In July of last year, I reviewed a group of new Nehalem-based workstations from Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo. The outstanding characteristic of these machines was the terrific performance conferred by the new Intel processor architecture. In this review, I examine an update to one of the models, the Dell Precision T5500 workstation. It now ships with the latest incarnation of Intel's Xeon family, code-named Westmere. Benchmarks show it to be stronger and faster, while consuming less power.

The result is an excellent 12-core workstation that combines top performance, excellent graphics rendering, and miserly energy consumption, all in a desktop form factor. Let's look at the details.

Dell Precision T5500: The workstation

The Dell Precision T5500 workstation is the midrange machine in the vendor's lineup. That lineup could be viewed as serving three tiers: value (sub-$5,000), which includes the T1500 and T3500 models; midrange ($5,000 to $10,000), consisting of the T5500 model; and the high-end (greater than $10,000), which includes the highly expandable T7500 model.

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