Supermicro 5046A-XB: X58 Workstation Barebones

Chassis: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

The parts list starts with Supermicro’s 4U SuperChassis 743TQ-865-SQ chassis, which is a tall, narrow enclosure that stands upright by default, but can be equipped with an optional mounting rail kit if you’d rather slide it into a standard rack. As its name suggests, the box would occupy a quartet of rack units (at 1.75” each) in that configuration.

But phooey on racks, I say. I have a 24U setup in my garage that works great for housing a couple of 1U servers that run Web hosting and my own SBS-based business. This is a workstation, though. It belongs in an office standing upright next to my desk. The clear caveat here is going to be the SC743TQ’s 25” depth, which will likely be too long for some office environments.

In this case, the extra space consumed, compared to most conventional desktops, is used for two things: to support e-ATX motherboards (overkill here, since the SuperWorkstation includes a standard ATX board) and to provide air circulation through an integrated backplane via as many as four 80 mm fans (the barebones includes two).

The rest of the enclosure’s interior is very open, very clean, and very—pardon the parallel—Intel-esque, from what we’ve seen of the cases Intel sells. Built entirely of steel, the case weighs a hefty 56 pounds. Even still, it’s incredibly easy to configure, especially since Supermicro does much of the setup and cable routing as part of its barebones package.

By default, the SC743TQ is able to take up to seven single-slot expansion cards. The Supermicro Super C7X58 motherboard inside offers a total of four slots, though—and one of the expansion slots is consumed by a pre-installed FireWire bracket. Moreover, you’ll notice that the front of the case is set up to accommodate as many as eight hard drives. Because the platform utilizes the SATA storage controller within Intel’s ICH10, however, it’s only able to take advantage of six of the drive bays. Factor in the SATA DVD drive on our test unit and you’re down to a maximum of five drives. If you’d like to use SATA optical drives and maximize the enclosure’s capabilities, you’ll want to step up to an add-in storage controller.

The chassis’ exterior is as business-oriented as its insides. The all-black case is decidedly rectangular, without any of the visual flair added by the contenders of our Four Full Tower Cases roundup. It nevertheless looks sharp. There’s a door covering the hot-swappable drive bays, with activity-and-error LEDs that shine through. You’ll find room for three 5.25” bays, one of which includes a 3.5” externally-facing drive adapter. Front panel connectivity is limited to a pair of USB 2.0 ports.

Around back, there’s an industrial-looking power supply, I/O panel connectivity, a 90 mm exhaust fan with plastic shielding, and the previously mentioned expansion slots.

Looking at the chassis head-on, its left side panel is held in place by a satisfyingly secure pull-lever, while the right side is secured with rivets and clearly is not meant to be pulled off.

Check prices for Supermicro's 5046A-XB

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  • Anonymous
    My experience with Profesional Workstation users is that cost and longetivity are not issues with them; their biggest issue is time and that is very closely coupled with reliability. Their kind of work is very time intensive and they would not risk a system crash or hang in the middle of their work just to gain 5 or 10 minutes shorter rendering time, especially when you consider that it may take hours to finish a rendering job. Talking about overclocking on the Professional Workstation market is completely pointless and I am surprised that it was even mentioned as anything more than a passing remark.
  • EricLegge
    I wish that Tom's Hardware would just cut to the chase and put in the salient information in its reviews instead of all of the ambling waffle.

    The reviews are way too long. The writers should read the reviews in a PC magazine like Computer Shopper and PC Pro(UK) and do their reviews like that. Who has the time or the interest to read all of the technical waffle?

    There are technical details that are relevant and interesting, but Tom's Hardware tends to include all kinds of irrelevant technical details that the average reader could not care less about because it is not something that they consider when making a purchase
  • 2shea
    you have heard off a thing called a conclusion right? they are much longer here then a magazine just because of that reason. A magazine costs a lot more when adding pages, a website costs next to nothing to add a page more. It also provides more information in the whole article then a magazine does. They do use a lot of text to put things down, the questions asked and then aswered could be a whole lot less and making the text size smaller.