MANUFACTURER: Cerise Computers
PRODUCT: custom workstation
PRICE: $8,750 as configured
- Personal attention via phone call to discuss your individual workstation needs
- Highest end components used at the time of build, not based on a two- or three-year hardware cycle
- Beautiful and silent components that will fit into any environment.
Over the years I’ve been asked many times to review workstations, from Dell’s Precision series of mobile workstations to HP’s leading workstation workhorse the z840. I don’t think I’ve met a mainstream workstation that I haven’t liked, but what makes the difference for me between a good and a great workstation is the personal attention that comes along with the purchase. This is where a company like Cerise Computers grabs my attention. Another factor is the ability to put any part into a computer that I want. Usually, if you go with a mainstream workstation maker, they allow for options, but they can be limited to only what they deem “approved.”
So where do you go? Do you pay a premium for a name that everyone will recognize with somewhat limited options (albeit usually the highest end options) or, if you are like me and geek out every morning on the latest computer blogs and actually know the difference between X99 and X97 based motherboards, do you build your own system? If you build your own system you may get a little break on the price, but if a component goes out you will be on your own when dealing with warranty and if you go with the name brand, you can usually be on the phone with tech support and within 24 hours have an answer to your problem if not a solution being mailed to you.
So in this review I feel Cerise is the best of both worlds. I have to be honest that I love tinkering with my own builds, so I feel comfortable going in and fixing components or even updating bios configurations myself, which gives me an extra level of comfort in a purchase like this.
So let’s dig in a little bit. The system Cerise Computers sent me was a legitimate monster. Here are the specs:
- Silverstone Fortress FT02-USB3.0 black aluminum steel case
- SeaSonic 650W power supply
- Supermicro MBD-X10DAL-I-O server motherboard
- 2 Intel Xeon E5-2660 v3 Haswell 2.6GHz processors
- 2 Supermicro Heatsinks
- four 8GB ECC DDR4 22133MHz by Kingston
- Intel 535, 480GB SATA III SSD (FOR OS)
- Intel 750, 400GB PCIe NVMe 3.0 internal SSD’s (editing/cache)
- Toshiba 1 TB 3.5-inch 6Gb/s enterprise hard drive (file dump)
- Atech Flash Technology USB 3.0 Flash reader
- ASUS DVD burner
- PNY Nvidia Quadro K4200 4GB (1344 CUDA cores)
- HighPoint PCIe 4x USB 3.0 Card
- StarTech SATA to eSATA Plate Adapter
- Microsoft Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
- System image/restore discs on DVD
- 3-Year Warranty w/lifetime tech support
Typically I wouldn’t list out all these components, but since it’s a custom built multimedia system, it doesn’t hurt to see some great components like the Intel SSD NVMe or the PNY supplied Nvidia Quadro K4200. In total, this Cerise workstation runs $8750. If you built an HP z840 with similar specs you are looking at around $10K. While the price difference isn’t surprising, you are paying a little bit of a premium with HP for their ISV certified workstations while Cerise workstations are great, but they don’t have that same label. To me that isn’t a game changer, however if you work in an environment where you must use ISV systems then this may be an issue.
Once I took this system out of the box I fell in love with the case. I then saw all of the ports accessible from the top, which if you aren’t used to, is pretty sweet. I opened the side door and found all of them components including some large beautiful fans blowing from bottom through the top, labeled hard drives included the PCIe NVMe drive, which show me that an actual person had run this system and labeled them for me, which can be handy in times of repair or replacement, and one of my personal pet peeves — cleanly run internal cables. If you can imagine an updated Mac Pro case (the silver one) in a sleek steel black with access to your ports on the top then you can probably already realize why I am so excited. Cerise is bringing outstanding beauty along with completely customizable high-end components to the video editing- and multimedia-based industry at a great price.
Once turned on and running Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 After Effects, Premiere, Media Encoder, and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 12.1 at the same time, I figured I would hear a jet-high level of sound coming through the top exhaust fan. I was wrong. To my surprise it was almost silent, incredible considering the amount of power this behemoth workstation possesses.
I ran a couple of tests that will give a baseline of just how powerful this system is: the AJA System Test and Cinebench R15 by Maxon. The AJA System Test now allows you to designate certain codecs to test transfer speeds, so I first tested a ProRes HQ, 1GB, 1080i file and it performed a 978MB/sec. write and 1443MB/sec. read to the SSD NVMe drive that I would designate the work drive for any NLE or color work. Using the same AJA System Test, but with an XAVC-HD codec, it performed a 1021MB/sec. write and 917MB/sec. read, both are great numbers.
A second test I ran is the infamous Cinebench R15, which stresses both the CPU and GPU powers. Under the OpenGL test it ran 154.21fps and in the CPU it ran 2772cb (the higher the cb the better). Then it ranks the performance against other systems. In both GPU and CPU it ranked #1 by far.
To test the system in a real world scenario, I ran a short GoPro clip through Adobe’s Media Encoder. The file was a 1GB, 120fps, 1280x720, .MP4 that ran three minutes and 11 seconds. To really make the workstation work I had Media Encoder use it’s YouTube 1080p HD encode, so it is upscaling from 720 to 1080, as well as converting from 120fps to 60fps. It took about four minutes to transcode using GPU acceleration (i.e. CUDA cores) and four minutes and 22 seconds using software acceleration. Pretty great if you ask me.
In the end, to me it comes down to being able to talk with someone from Cerise who can go over my needs with me and discuss options. Do I want an SSD RAID 0, 1, or 5? Do I really need an Nvidia Quadro K6000 or will the K4200 work? Since I use a lot of Adobe apps and Resolve, PNY’s Nvidia Quadro K4200 is of high importance. Maybe I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles that go into some of the major name brand workstations, or maybe I need more than they are willing to offer. With the workstation Cerise sent me to review I was running 32GBs of blazing DDR4 alongside the Intel Xeon processors that boast 20 cores and 40 threads. If you are looking to get a little more personal when putting together a monster workstation, you need to check out Cerise Computers online at www.cerise.com.