Boston is a company which has a reputation in IT as the supplier of high-end workstations, render boxes and servers to system integrators, as well as directly out to specialist companies in the 3D Industry.

Boston has been about since 1992. It has strived to climb to the top of the ladder in high performance power optimised technologies in the ISP, HPC, Enterprise and Broadcast marketplace.

Specialised workstations, servers and render boxes are extremely expensive and down time is not a great idea.

Over the years Boston has produced exceptional systems based around Supermicro, but for Boston to reach further into the more sophisticated marketplaces, a major manufacturing deal was struck direct with BOXX, a US Integrator of some of the most sophisticated overclocked 3D workstations in the world. The kind that give the Tier 1 builders a run for their money. When we were asked if we'd like to review a system, our answer was a swift yes. The systems from BOXX are something else.

An important point to note: BOXX is a recognised hardware vendor under the Autodesk Media & Entertainment certification program. BOXX machines have been tested and certified by Autodesk to run at optimal performance on Autodesk products, including Maya, 3ds Max, MotionBuilder, Mudbox and Softimage.

The system that was delivered was very high spec, consisting of the following:



Component

BOXX 3DBOXX 8550 Xtreme Test System

CPU

2 X 3.33GHz Intel® Xeons™ (X5680 processors) overclocked to 4.2GHz

Mainboard

EVGA Classified SR-2 eATX

Memory

6 X 2GB (12GB Total) DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10600) Memory Modules

Hard Drive(s)

2 X 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptors in Raid 1 (Via ICH 10 onboard Controller)

 

2 X 500GB (1TB) Seagate Constellation 2 drives in Raid 0 (Via ICH 10 onboard Controller) for data storage

Graphic Card(s)

1 X NVIDIA Quadro® 4000

 

1 X NVIDIA Quadro® 6000

 PSU

Seasonic 850Watt Modular

 DVDROM

20X Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer

Operating System

Windows 7 Professional  64-Bit with complete updates

Our system came expected, supplied with a Logitech Keyboard and Mouse, 3 x Nvidia® SLI bridges, ATI® Crossfire Bridge, an additional array of extra cables for the mainboard and PSU, with a good selection of software to get you up and running straight away. And that all important Windows recovery disc.

Something clever that struck us about the BOXX build was the actual hard drive deployment within the system. Opening up the read panel we found the 4 x 2 ½" system drives neatly mounted in place, with plenty of room for expansion.

A novel design then, though we did have reservations to heat. On closer inspection, the Asetek liquid cooling array fans for the CPUs also blasts air under the rear to keep those drives cool too. The rear panel to the chassis has a vent that the hot air quietly flows from. The company says it has tested the system with a range of drives and that airflow is not an issue.

Conclusions

This has to have been the most exciting Parts Built System we have tested in a long time.

Generally speaking, review systems are very well built, but this is an extraordinary unit with the strength to push things to the next level. The BOXX brushed aluminium chassis looks the part and will sit under most desks without looking out of place with the furnishings. It's an important point in today's studios key customers and new clients believe that image is everything.

The actual system performance from the I/O was what we had anticipated - extremely fast. The Sandra 2011 System Cryptography result is the fastest we have ever achieved. To deviate slightly, this unit can be upgraded in many ways beyond the original build, so those looking for the high speed boot should consider putting an enterprise SSD in place.

When you are spending cash of this nature, costs will be high - but those who require the absolute best in performance will find this is an exceptional option. Although we have seen extremely fast results, there is room to make things faster at the client's request.

The render speed results from the recent release of POV-Ray and Cinebench 11.5 are speedy, and the BOXX system did almost half some of our other results - extremely quick indeed. This standalone unit has the power to meet the most demanding client's high expectations for fast output.

To emphasise just how fast is fast, take a look at the staggering Cinebench 11.5 score.

The results obtained from the SPECapc' s and SPECviewperf are without doubt the fastest we have produced.

Nvidia's Quadro releases excelled on this platform. While the Quadro 4000 returned some pretty impressive results, the Quadro 6000 romped away in terms of raw power. It's almost as if the mainboard was built for it.

Both cards performed above expectations, returning some very impressive results from the SPEC tests. SPECapc for SolidWorks 2007 again showed us our fastest results to date by the Quadro 6000, in both the "Day in the Life" result and the actual SPEC Graphic score.

As for SPECviewperf 11, astonishing to say the least. Maya-03 was running away at 115.97 and swiftly following was the SW-02 score of 65.79, fully backing up the SPECapc for SolidWorks results.

The Quadro 6000 just cannot be caught up to with its unprecedented performance - as the complete full FSAA run demonstrated, with the desired scaled composite results all the way down to 64X FSAA. Will we see faster any time soon? Time will tell. 

At going to print, the cost of the BOXX 3DBOXX 8550 Xtreme with the Nvidia Quadro 4000 is £6,279.00 plus Vat and Delivery and can be purchased direct through Boston's reseller Escape Studios. The full range of BOXX systems from Escape Studios can be found at this URL. The 3DBOXX 8550 Xtreme comes with a 3 year warranty.

*EyeSee One of our readers can win one of these powerful, 3DBOXX 4860 systems from Escape Studios. Entry details are here, terms and conditions apply