Advertisement
Advertisement

Scan 3XS WA6000 Viz review: A truly formidable workstation

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
4,800
inc VAT

A 32-core CPU and a high-end professional graphics card make this a truly formidable workstation

Pros 
Excellent connectivity
Hugely powerful graphics card
Fantastic for huge number-crunching tasks
Cons 
Intel core gives better results for some workloads
Samsung 970 Evo isn't the fastest SSD on the market
Advertisement

Scan’s 3XS WI6000 Viz has been our favourite workstation of late, thanks largely to the phenomenal power of its 18-core Core i9-7980XE processor. Now the company has put together an AMD-based alternative, powered by the new 32-core Threadripper 2990WX CPU.

Scan 3XS WA6000 Viz review: Design and layout

The WA6000 Viz looks every inch a serious system, encased as it is in a sizeable, sober-looking Fractal Design Define XL R2 case.

The guilty secret is that it’s actually built on an Asus RoG Zenith Extreme gaming motherboard; this doesn’t feel too incongruous, but a few features stick out, such as the coloured LEDs illuminating the audio ports at the rear.

Scan 3XS WA6000 Viz review: Connectivity

Still, the board can’t be faulted for connections. There’s no fewer than ten USB 3.1 ports at the rear (including second-generation 10Gbits/sec sockets in both USB-A and USB-C formats) and a further two at the front.

There’s built-in Bluetooth 4.1 too, along with Gigabit Ethernet and MIMO-enabled 802.11ac. Screw in the supplied second antenna and you can connect to 7Gbits/sec 802.11ad networks as well.

READ NEXT: The best PCs you can buy right now

Scan 3XS WA6000 Viz review: Features and specs

Inside, you’ll find four full-speed, third-generation PCIe x16 slots, so those with deep pockets can expand on the included Nvidia Quadro graphics card, all the way up to a quad-GPU system.

Eight DIMM slots let you push up the RAM too, from the supplied 64GB to a maximum of 128GB, while a special “DIMM.2” slot can be used to install two extra M.2 SSDs alongside the system drive.

In the standard spec, this is a 500GB Samsung 970 Evo. It’s not quite the fastest SSD on the market, but it won’t leave you waiting around: we measured sequential read and write speeds of 1,828MB/sec and 2,335MB/sec respectively.

It’s partnered with a 2TB hard disk, and there are enough onboard connectors and bays to accommodate a total of six SATA drives, plus one U.2 drive.

Buy now from Scan

Scan 3XS WA6000 Viz review: Performance

So much for the specs: what about performance? The Threadripper 2990WX runs at a nominal base speed of 3GHz, with a maximum boost frequency of 4.2GHz, and unlike the Core i9 CPU in the WI6000 Viz, it’s not supplied overclocked.

However, Scan has installed a Corsair Hydro H100i 2 liquid cooling system, which should allow AMD’s XFR 2 technology to push speeds beyond what you’d get from a regular air cooler.

And to be sure, the WA6000 Viz achieved some terrific results in our performance tests. In the Cinebench R15 CPU rendering benchmark it thrashed its Intel counterpart, with a score of 5,087 – more than 30% faster than the WI6000’s 3,867. AMD’s 32-core processor also knocked a full third off the time it took the Intel Core i9 to render the standard POV-Ray benchmark scene.

Buy now from Scan

Results were just as strong in the SPECviewperf 12.1 benchmark suite: across nine tests, the WA6000 Viz averaged a 24% lead over the Core i9 system, including a huge 35% win in the maya-04 3D modelling test.

This isn’t solely down to the CPU, mind you: the 16GB Quadro P5000 graphics card is also a big step up from the 8GB P4000 supplied with the Intel system.

Indeed, the quirky design of the processor – in which only half of its cores have direct access to system RAM – can hold it back when it comes to shunting large data sets around. In SPECviewperf’s texture-heavy 3ds max benchmark, the WA6000 Viz trailed 10% behind its Intel counterpart, and in the Cinebench R15 OpenGL test its score of 154 was a long way behind the Core i9’s 241. There’s a reason why Scan pitches this system specifically at “high-end CAD and rendering using CPU-bound applications”.

It was the same story in our our benchmarks. The WA6000’s scores were certainly fast, but the WI6000 – despite its lower core count – took the gold in every event, scoring 176 in the image-editing test, 513 for video editing and a monstrous 647 in the multitasking test, for an overall score of 524.

As you’d expect, lighting up 32 cores at once eats up a lot of power: I measured a total consumption of 373W under 100% CPU load, rising to 413W when I started taxing the graphics card too. Thanks to that liquid cooler, however, the system never got louder than a desk fan.

READ NEXT: The best Intel and AMD CPUs available right now

Scan 3XS WA6000 Viz review: Verdict

The WA6000 Viz showcases the remarkable potential of AMD’s new flagship CPU, but also exposes its limitations. Even though it has more cores than anything we’ve previously seen, for some workloads you’ll get better results from the Intel system.

Buy now from Scan

Still, AMD’s aggressive pricing allows Scan to pack in a more powerful graphics card – and if what you chiefly demand from a workstation is the ability to chew through huge number-crunching tasks, there’s simply no competition.