BOXX APEXX 2 24011 Apr, 2015 By: J.V. Bolkan
First Look Review: Powerfully configured workstation features service, support, and attention to detail that justify the price tag.
The APEXX 2 from workstation specialist BOXX Technologies is a purpose-built system designed specifically for tearing through CAD and rendering up a storm. Neither at the bottom nor the top of the range of configurations available for this model, the 2401 configuration is built around an Intel i7 4790K 4-Ghz CPU that is overclocked to 4.5 GHz and paired with the nimble NVIDIA Quadro K4200 graphics card.
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Loaded on the Inside
The high-frequency, overclocked i7 CPU actually outperforms the more sophisticated and expensive Xeon in the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark 2015 (C2015), which measures single-threaded performance. To keep system temperatures stable, the APEXX 2 2401 incorporates a water-cooling system that has the added benefit of almost banishing fan noise. A few times during testing, it was so quiet that I had to double-check to confirm that the system was powered up.
BOXX Technologies' APEXX 2 is a solid, hard-working machine, ready to take on any CAD or rendering project.
The NVIDIA Quadro K4200 is a very capable graphics card, especially if you work primarily in 2D CAD. Loaded with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory, the card handles both 2D and 3D tasks smoothly and efficiently. The Quadro K4200 is positioned right in the sweet spot for anyone primarily running 2D CAD; performance would drop significantly with a lesser card, and higher-end options simply wouldn't deliver meaningful advantages. If you perform more 3D work than 2D, consider upgrading to a higher end graphics card, such as the NVIDIA Quadro K5200.
Pairing an overclocked Intel Core i7 and a Quadro K4200 makes for a strong package, but those are stock components that are available from many vendors. Where BOXX Technologies makes the APEXX 2 2401 stand out is in the details of each subsystem. For example, a custom structural aluminum case with iron bracing may seem to be of minor importance, but the superior cooling properties of those materials lessen reliance on fans and the superior case integrity helps diminish system noise even further. In addition, cooler components are generally less prone to failure. There are standard fans within the case, but they are whisper-quiet, probably because they don't need to work very hard. There are two fans, one on the graphics card and a single 120 mm case fan.
Even the hard disk is quiet. BOXX Technologies included a blazingly fast and silent 240-GB Intel solid-state drive (SSD). As verified by the C2015 disk scores, you won't need to wait long for programs, drawings, and other files to open. Rounding out the drives in our test system was a 24X DVD burner.