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Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
Hardware Review: GoBOXX G2720 Mobile Workstation
May 15th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
BOXX Technologies builds a diverse range of desktop and mobile workstations geared for high-performance applications, such as CAD, CAE, advanced animation and rendering, game production, and architectural design.
In the past we’ve evaluated some of the company’ desktop and mobile workstations and have come away impressed with the performance and build quality of the machines. This time around, we’re reviewing the GoBOXX G2720, a machine I’d classify as a high-end mobile workstation. Normally, we evaluate mid-range workstations because they can provide a good balance between performance and price. However, we did not regret going high-end this time because the GoBOXX G2720 exceeded our expectations for its performance, price notwithstanding.
The GoBOXX G2720 Mobile Workstation
This machine will appeal to those users who really need high levels of performance, and are ready, willing, and able to pay for it. So, let’s see how this mobile beast fared.
G2720 Mobile Workstation Specifications and Build Quality
The GoBOXX G2720 we received had the following specifications as supplied:
CPU: Intel Core i7 – 3970X (3.5 GHz); 6-core
GPU: NVIDIA Quadro K5000M
RAM: 32 GB DDR3; 4 DIMMs
SSD: 240 GB SATA
Connectivity: 3 SATA ports internal; 1 IEEE 1394 port; 1 USB 3.0/eSATA port; 2 USB 2.0 ports; 2 USB 3.0 ports; 1 HDMI; 1 external DVI; 1 display port; Ethernet
Other: 8X DVD Multi-drive; 9 in 1 Flash memory reader; 2MB digital video camera; fingerprint reader; Kensington lock port;
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-bit
Display: 17.3″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) LED Backlit with Super Clear glare screen
Dimensions: 16.5″(W) x 11.3″(D) x 2.4″(H)
Weight: 12.8 pounds (with battery)
Warranty: One-year limited
Default resolution of the full-HD backlit LED that measures a whopping 17.3″ is 1,920 x 1,080. Screen image resolution/clarity, colors, and brightness were excellent.
When we received the GoBOXX G2720, we had high expectations for performance, largely because of the high levels of performance we have experienced in the past with other machines from BOXX Technologies. The objective (formal documented generic benchmarks) and subjective (actual design and engineering software applications) tests we ran fulfilled our expectations. In fact, this machine posted the highest performance numbers ever for an engineering workstation — mobile or desktop.
The tests were performed with the GoBOXX G2720 “out of the box,” as we received it – nothing was tweaked or optimized to distort the performance numbers (such as enabling multi-threading) in a positive or negative direction. I actually get more out of the subjective testing because it’s more “real world,” but the raw numbers from the benchmarks are also useful as a means of objective comparison with other machines in the class. Your evaluations will probably differ from mine, but they do, at least, provide a point for comparison.
For objective testing, we ran two benchmarks NovaBench (geared more toward overall performance) and SPECviewperf 11 (geared more toward graphics performance).
NovaBench Benchmark Test
32,692 MB System RAM (Score: 289) – this was better than recent desktop workstations evaluations
CPU Tests (Score: 983) – this was much better than recent desktop workstations evaluations
Graphics Tests (Score: 511 – this was much higher than recent desktop evaluations, due to graphics card used and other factors
Hardware Tests (Score: 36) – on par with recent desktop evaluations
Total NovaBench Composite Score: 1819
The 1819 composite score is impressive because it is 27% higher than the score of recent desktop workstation evaluations.
SPECviewperf 11 Benchmark Test
The composite scores for the various demanding SPECviewperf 11 suite tests (CATIA, SolidWorks, Lightwave, Ensight, NX, and Pro/ENGINEER) run at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution (without multi-threading enabled) were the best I have ever seen on a mobile workstation (any workstation, for that matter) that I have benchmarked and reviewed.
As I usually do, for subjective testing, I ran Autodesk Alias Design, Inventor, SolidWorks, and AutoCAD on the G2720. I used data sets of standard models that I have created over the years for this testing, including a model with 90,000+ parts, renderings of complex surfaces, and animations. The GoBOXX G2720 performed very well and did not have any trouble with any of these subjective tests.
When pushing the unit during demanding benchmark testing, it remained relatively cool, but the fans ran long and somewhat loudly. The fans also ran at times when the machine was relatively idle, probably owing to the normal heat generated by the CPU in relatively tight quarters.
Like other mobile workstations, the physical size and weight (3.4 pounds) of the AC adapter, I find increasingly annoying. The computer itself weighs 12.8 pounds and the AC adapter weighs 3.4 pounds for a total of 16.2 pounds, making for a tandem that is more luggable than truly mobile/portable, especially trying to shoehorn in an overhead compartment on an airplane. I guess performance comes at a cost, but this thing is just plain heavy.
Keep in mind, though it may be heavy, the G2720 contains a CPU found in desktop workstations, boosting performance. As far as I know, the G2720 is the only mobile unit that contains this class of processor, and is not available from other PC OEMs.
The G2720 has about every conceivable connectivity option you could hope for, but cables or other devices plugged into some of the ports interfere with access to the DVD tray. These trays are becoming less and less important, but unobstructed access is a plus when need to use an optical disc.
Overall, though, like previous BOXX computers we have evaluated, the feel and build quality of the GoBOXX G27200 is very solid and substantial — a well executed, high-quality package. Gross weight aside, you really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth with this machine.
Although there is still a case to be made for stationary desktop workstations for engineering purposes, just as strong a case could be made for mobile professionals and mobile workstations.
Admittedly, the GoBOXX G2720 mobile workstation is relatively heavy and expensive, but the level of performance in a portable platform that this machine exhibited is unparalleled.
Mobile workstations have come a long way in the past few years, and there is still a price premium to pay for mobility. However, with the performance, quality, and robustness of the GoBOXX G2720, I think the price premium is definitely worth it. The GoBOXX G2720 mobile workstation offers true high-end desktop-level performance in a mobile platform.
BOXX Technologies GoBOXX G2720 Mobile Workstation
Pros: Excellent performance (best in workstation class); display; build quality; connectivity options; configurability.
Cons: Heavy; fan noise; can get pricey.
Price Range for this model: $3,582-$7,800
Price (As configured for review): $7,442
Final Grade: A
For More Information on the GoBOXX G2720 Mobile Workstation: BOXX Technologies; 512.835.0400; www.boxxtech.com
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