2011 was the year of overclocking, fuelled by the launch of Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ Core i7 2600K processor.
Such was the price/performance of this second-generation Core i7 CPU that there weren’t many specialist single socket workstations that didn’t feature it. Sustained overclock speeds of 4.5GHz – 4.6GHz were typical in most of the machines we reviewed last year.
The downside of the Core i7 2600K is that it only has four CPU cores. While this won’t trouble most CAD users, those heavily into design viz may be left a little wanting.
This is exactly the type of users BOXX is targeting with its 3DBOXX 4860 Xtreme Edition. Based on the Intel Core i7-980X Extreme, a first generation Core i7 processor, the single socket workstation features six CPU cores clocked up to 4.15GHz. BOXX uses its extensive experience in liquid cooling to keep things running smoothly.
The 3DBOXX 4860 Xtreme was a little off the pace in our mainstream tests, but came into its own when rendering in 3ds Max and in Delcam PowerMill when running three tests concurrently. It is only here that all six cores can be used, giving an advantage over mainstream quad core systems.
The processor is backed up with a Nvidia Quadro 4000 graphics card, which is an excellent performer in graphics intensive design viz applications. Users of Bunkspeed Shot, Catia Live Rendering or 3ds Max will also benefit from its GPU rendering capabilities, courtesy of iRay.
Storage is handled by four high-end enterprise drives, which are neatly tucked away underneath the motherboard. For operating system and applications two fast 10,000RPM 150GB WD VelociRaptor drives are striped in Raid 0, making the system feel incredibly responsive.
Meanwhile, for storage, two 2TB WD RE4 drives, designed specifically for heavy-duty use, are mirrored in Raid 1. This gives the advantage that should one of these drives fail, data will not be lost.
As with all BOXX machines, build quality is excellent, and it’s one of the only overclocked workstations to have software certification, but at £4,995 it’s not cheap. What’s more, with Intel currently rolling out its first six core ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPU, the Core i7 3930K, the benefits of the 3DBOXX 4860 Xtreme could be short lived.
On the whole, ‘Sandy Bridge’ is a much better and cheaper CPU, and it’s worth waiting to see how the six core version performs once it lands inside overclocked workstations in the new year.
»Intel Core i7-980X Extreme CPU (3.33GHz) (Six Core)
»12GB (3 x 4GB) 1,333MHz non-ECC unbuffered memory
»2 x 150GB 10,000RPM Western Digital VelociRaptorWD1500HLFS drives + 2 x 2TB 7,200RPM Western Digital RE4 (RAID Edition 4, WD2003FYYS) drives
»Nvidia Quadro 4000 (2GB) graphics card
»Mocrosoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
»Three year manufacturer’s warranty
CPU benchmarks (secs – smaller is better)
»CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – 222
»CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) – 1) 152 2) 196 3) 257
»CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) – 89
»Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) – 176
Graphics benchmarks (frames per sec – bigger is better)
»CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – 41
Intel Core i7-980X Extreme CPU (3.33GHz clocked to 4.15GHz) (Six Core)
12GB (3 x 4GB) 1,333MHz non-ECC unbuffered memory
Nvidia Quadro 4000 (2GB) graphics card
2 x 150GB 10,000RPM Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS drives + 2 x 2TB 7,200RPM Western Digital RE4 (RAID Edition 4, WD200
Three year manufacturer’s warranty