BOXX 3DBOXX 8550 Xtreme

26 January 2011

Probably the fastest dual Xeon workstation on the planet, but it’s a serious investment

Product Boxx 3D Boxx 8550 Xtreme
Company name Boxx Technologies
Price £6,279

BOXX built its reputation developing high-performance hardware for professional visualisation and fills a somewhat unique role in the workstation marketplace.

Its workstations are certified by the likes of Autodesk and SolidWorks - a hallmark of a tier one vendor like HP or Dell - but it retains a custom-built ethos, typical of smaller boutique system builders.

Headquartered in Texas, BOXX used to ship its machines over to the UK.

However, a new manufacturing deal signed last year with Boston Ltd means BOXX workstations can now built in the UK. This should ease the delivery problems experienced by some customers over the past few years.

The BOXX 8550 Xtreme is an entirely different beast to the other machines on review this month: IPW-Ci7, WS1410 and the Scan 3XS P67.

This dual processor workstation is targeted at design visualisation specialists or users of CAM/CAE software who need a system to perform multiple simulations or toolpath calculations at the same time.

Our test machine featured two Intel Xeon X5680 processors, but instead of the 3.33GHz clock speed they usually run at, both chips have been overclocked to an incredible 4.2GHz. Naturally, this creates a lot of heat and a sophisticated liquid cooled sub-system is employed to keep them running within their thermal limits.

The result of having two Xeon chips run at such speeds is an exceptionally fast workstation. It recorded the fastest ever time our 3ds Max benchmark, using its 12 physical and 12 virtual HyperThreading cores to full effect, rendering our test scene in 96 seconds.

It also made incredibly light work of our PowerMill CAM test, setting new records when running two and three tests concurrently.

The BOXX 8550 Xtreme is also well equipped in the graphics department. The 2GB Quadro 4000, one of Nvidia’s high-end Fermi graphics cards, recorded impressive results in our SolidWorks graphics test.

Storage is a little underwhelming for a machine of this caliber, comprising one 160GB 2.5” 7,200RPM SATA hard drive for operating system and applications and a 500GB drive for storage.

However, optional Solid State Drives (SSDs) are also available in sizes of 60GB - 256GB. All drives are tucked away behind the motherboard, one of the many unique design features that help make the machine particuarly compact for a dual processor workstation.

Overall, the BOXX 8550 Xtreme is an amazing piece of hardware. If you are serious about design visualisation it’s an excellent choice to help transform your productivity. We’ve yet to see a faster machine out there.
Greg Corke

www.boston.co.uk
UK reseller
www.escapestudios.co.uk

To view the benchmark scores please click here
For details of all of our application-specific CAD/CAM/CAE benchmarks click here

Specifications

» 2 x Intel Xeon X5680(3.33GHz - overclocked to 4.2GHz) Six Core CPUs
» 12GB (6 x 2GB) DDR3 ECC memory
» EVGA SR2 motherboard
» Nvidia Quadro 4000(2GB) graphics card
» 160GB + 500GB 2.5” 7,200RPM SATA hard drives
» Windows Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» Three year manufacturer’s warranty

Benchmarks

Graphics (frames per second - bigger is better)
» CAD (SolidWorks 2010)  - 37

CPU (secs - smaller is better) 
» CAD (SolidWorks 2010) - 265
» CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) - 1) 150 2) 154 3) 179
» CAE (SolidWorks Simulation 2010) - 94
» Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) - 96.

Comments on this article:

Leave a comment

Enter the word you see below: