Probably the fastest dual Xeon workstation on the planet, but it is a serious investment.
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 — 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 be 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 workstations reviewed in this issue. This dual processor machine is targeted at design visualisation specialists.
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.
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.
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 3D CAD 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 particularly 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 is an excellent choice to help transform productivity. We have yet to see a faster machine out there.