If someone had told us two years ago we would be seeing a 24-core workstation for under three grand exc VAT, we would have laughed and quickly walked away. But this is what Armari has sent us for the cheaper of its two systems in this roundup.
The processor in question is the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X, which has slipped under the radar in all the excitement about the 32-core 3970X. This is still a potent beast, though, with a base 3.8GHz clock and 4.5GHz Turbo mode. Armari has partnered this CPU with 64GB of 3,200MHz DDR4 SDRAM supplied as four 16GB modules to take advantage of the Threadripper’s quad-channel memory controller.
Like all the systems aimed at the lower price, the Gravistar TCX comes with Nvidia Quadro RTX graphics. In this case, it’s the 4000 series, which is the professional graphics sweet spot at this level. There’s a speedy PCI Express 4 NVMe M.2 Gigabyte Aorus SSD for main storage, offering sustained 4,992MB/sec reading and 4,282MB/sec writing. However, whilst this offers a reasonable 1TB capacity, there’s no secondary storage.
One area where Armari has compromised its usual standards is by supplying a generic case rather than one of its Magnetar custom designs. While the Fractal Design Meshify S2 is less sturdily constructed than the Define R6, it’s still got plenty of features. There are three 3.5in or 2.5in drive bays available, plus a brace of 2.5in-only bays, so there’s lots of room for more drives.
The 24 cores make light work of every CPU-intensive task. The overall score of 644 in our benchmarks is only slightly behind the 32-core Threadrippers, and way ahead of other systems in this price bracket. Unsurprisingly, the Cinebench R20 score of 14,078 sits somewhere between the Ryzen 9s and other Threadrippers, as does the 425 seconds to complete the Blender Gooseberry render on CPU only. Video encoding is almost as quick as other Threadrippers, whilst 3D modelling and CAD performance in SPECviewperf 13 are on par or ahead of other systems using the Quadro RTX 4000, with a particularly good result in snx-03.
This workstation just tips over the £3,000 mark with VAT included, but while that technically exceeds the lower price bracket for this roundup, it’s such a well-put-together package that not giving it an award would feel a little mean - this is still an amazing amount of workstation for your money. If your budget won’t stretch to one of the highest-end 32-core offerings in this Labs, the Armari Gravistar TRX gives you almost as much modelling and rendering power for a lot less cash.
Armari Gravistar TCX specifications
|Processor||3.8GHz AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X|
|Motherboard||Asus Prime TRX40-Pro|
|Expansion slots||8 x RAM slots (4 free), 4 x PCIe x16 (3 free), 3 x M.2 (2 free), 8 x SATA 600 (8 free)|
|RAM||64GB DDR4, 3,200MHz|
|GPU||PNY Quadro RTX 4000, 8GB GDDR6|
|Outputs||3 x DisplayPort 1.4, USB-C VirtualLink|
|SSD||Gigabyte Aorus 1TB NVMe M.2 PCI Express 4.0|
|Secondary drives||N/A N/A N/A, N/A N/A|
|Dimensions (WDH)||Fractal Design Meshify S2 (233 x 538 x 465mm)|
|PSU make and model (power output)||EVGA SuperNova G3 Gold Modular (850W)|
|CPU cooler||Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 watercooler (360mm)|
|Rear ports||Gigabit Ethernet, 5 x 3.5mm audio jack, optical S/PDIF, 6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C)|
|Front/top ports||3.5mm audio jack, 3.5mm microphone jack, 2 x USB 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C)|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit|
|Warranty (parts & labour unless stated)||2yr RTB (1 month C&R)|
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Dr James Morris has worked as a technology journalist for over 25 years, including spending nine years on the staff of market-leading computer magazine PC Pro, the last five of which were as the publication’s editor. He specialises in enterprise-grade software and hardware, with a particular focus on content creation. He launched a pioneering video channel for HEXUS.net in 2006 and ran the video reviews channel for TrustedReviews.com for four years. He also runs a successful online digital content and commercial video production company, t-zero communications Ltd.
Dr Morris is a prolific technology writer and contributes commercial content for major IT brands including AMD, BlackBerry, Dell, Cognizant, HP, and IBM. He published a book on artificial intelligence, Can Computers Create Art? in 2009. He is also an academic, and is currently Pathway Director of the MA, Interactive Journalism at City, University of London.
Previously, he was course leader for the BA in Web Media Production at Ravensbourne University. He has a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought from the European Graduate School in Switzerland, a Master's in Media Arts from the New School in New York, USA, and a Bachelor's in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics.