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Review: Top-performing Portable Workstation

We’ve never had a chance to test one of BOXX’s mobile workstations. That situation changed with the arrival of the GoBOXX G2720.

BOXX

The company’s desktop workstations all come housed in custom-designed aluminum cases. So imagine our surprise when we opened the G2720’s shipping carton and discovered a mobile workstation nearly identical to the Eurocom Panther 4.0 we reviewed in June. A quick call to BOXX verified our suspicion that both the BOXX and Eurocom mobile workstations are built by the same original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Once we started taking measurements, however, we noted a few subtle differences. The GOBOXX 2720 is slightly smaller than the Eurocom system, measuring 16.5 x 11.3 x 2.4 in. — and at 13 lbs., is a half-pound heavier. The 330-watt power supply for the G2720 weighs less (2.75 lbs.) and is a bit smaller, although we’d hardly call 7.75 x 3.75 x 1.62 in. small.

BOXX equips the G2720 with a 2-megapixel webcam centered above the LCD, flanked by a pair of microphones. Three speakers are located in the hinge below the LCD, with two more in the top corners above the keyboard. Between these are a series of touch sensors for adjusting speaker volume and toggling the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and webcam on and off, as well as hard drive and keyboard status indicators. These controls, as well as the large round power button to the right of the keyboard, glow bright blue when active.

Well-appointed Base Configuration

Although built by the same OEM, BOXX Technologies starts with a very well-appointed base configuration and offers a smaller array of options than Eurocom. All GoBOXX 2720 systems come with the same 17.3-in. Full HD backlit LED clear glare screen and a choice of either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M or the Quadro K5000M provided in our evaluation unit. Systems based on the GeForce start at $3,582, while the base price for a G2720 equipped with a Quadro K5000M is $5,289.

The GoBOXX 2720 is based on the Intel X79 chipset. It comes standard with the 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-3820 quad-core processor, although BOXX does offer three higher-priced options, including the six-core 3.5GHz Intel Core i7-3970X. The i7-3820 in our evaluation unit has a maximum turbo frequency of 3.8GHz and a maximum thermal design power rating of 130 watts. The system can accommodate up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory. While the base configuration comes with 8GB of RAM, our evaluation unit included 16GB installed using four 4GB small outline dual in-line memory modules (SO-DIMMs), adding $260 to the base price.

A 120GB solid-state drive (SSD) is standard in the base configuration, with larger SSD drives as well as a 750GB SATA drive as options. Our evaluation unit came with a 240GB Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSD SATA drive as the primary storage device, plus a 750GB Seagate Momentus XT 7,200 rpm hybrid drive for additional data storage.

With the lower power requirements of its Core i7 CPU, we had hoped that the 78.44Wh lithium-ion battery in the GoBOXX 2720 would last longer than the one in the Eurocom system. But the G2720 ran just one minute longer, shutting down after 75 minutes in our battery rundown test.

The G2720 stayed relatively cool during our testing, although the noise from its cooling fans was quite pronounced — and became louder when running our benchmark tests. But the results on those benchmarks were very impressive.

New Performance Champ

On the SPECviewperf test, which focuses solely on graphics, the GoBOXX 2720 outperformed every mobile or desktop system we’ve ever reviewed, with the exception of BOXX’s desktop workstations.

For our second benchmark, we recently switched to the new SPECapc SolidWorks 2013 benchmark, which performs a lengthy series of tests and yields composite scores for graphics and CPU performance. The G2720 also outperformed the Eurocom Panther on all but the CPU tests (thanks to the Panther having double the number of CPU cores).

On the AutoCAD rendering test, a multi-threaded test in which systems with more CPU cores have a clear advantage, the GoBOXX 2720 completed the rendering in 79.2 seconds. That’s a bit slower than expected, but still respectable.

Of course, all of that power comes with a price tag to match. As configured, our evaluation unit sells for $5,985. That price includes Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-bit, as well as a one-year limited warranty. A two-year extended warranty adds $295, while a three-year warranty costs $495.

While the GoBOXX 2720 clearly delivers performance once only available in a desktop workstation, its price and weight make it more of a niche solution, aimed at high-end users. But if you need desktop performance that you can carry with you, look no further than the GoBOXX 2720 from BOXX Technologies.

David Cohn is the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies. He also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA, and has been benchmarking PCs since 1984. He’s a contributing editor to DE and the author of more than a dozen books. Contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at DSCohn.com.

More Info

BOXX Technologies, Inc.

BOXX GoBOXX G2720

Price: $5,985 as tested ($3,582 base price)
Size: 16.76 x 11.44 x 2.48 in. (WxDxH) notebook
Weight: 13.0 lbs. as tested, plus 2.75-lb. power supply
CPU: 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-3820 quad-core with 10MB cachee
Memory: 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM (32GB max)
Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro K5000M with 4GB memory
LCD: 17.3-in. diagonal (1920×1080)
Hard drives: 240GB SSD SATA, 750GB 7,200 rpm SATA
Optical: 8X DVD+/-RW dual layer
Audio: line-in, SP/DIF-out, microphone, headphone, built-in microphone and speakers
Network: Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 NIC); Intel 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless LAN; optional Bluetooth 4.0
Other: two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, one mini IEEE-1394 (FireWire), eSATA/Powered USB 3.0 combo, 9-in-1 card reader, DVI-out, HDMI-out, DisplayPort, 2-megapixel webcam
Keyboard: 102-key keyboard with numeric keypad
Pointing device: two-button touchpad

Mobile Workstation Compared BOXX GOBOXX G2720 (3.6GHz Intel Core i7-3820 quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K5000M, 16GB RAM) Eurocom Panther 4.0

(3.1GHz Intel Xeon E5-2867W 8-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K5000M,
16GB RAM)

Lenovo ThinkPad W530

(2.90GHz Intel Core i7-3920XM quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K2000M,
16GB RAM)

HP EliteBook 8560w

(2.30GHz Intel Core i7-2820QM quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro 2000M,
16GB RAM)

Price as tested $5,895 $6,800 $2,592 $4,063
Date tested 5/28/13 4/20/13 12/29/12 5/1/12
Operating System Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7
SPECviewperf 11 Higher
catia-03 73.23 65.87 34.82 27.49
ensight-04 61.24 61.01 18.40 18.46
lightwave-01 78.03 65.85 62.75 48.21
maya-03 111.58 102.18 62.04 58.12
proe-5 16.06 13.82 15.58 9.77
sw-02 63.26 55.06 39.48 35.85
tcvis-02 60.91 59.28 30.63 23.12
snx-01 63.57 64.62 25.14 19.85
SPECapc SolidWorks 2013 Higher
Graphics
Composite
2.72 2.26 2.06 n/a
RealView Graphics Composite 2.93 2.42 2.18 n/a
Shadows
Composite
2.93 2.42 2.18 n/a
Ambient Occlusion Composite 6.09 5.14 3.76 n/a
Shaded Mode
Composite
2.66 2.41 2.13 n/a
Shaded With Edges Mode Composite 2.78 2.12 2.00 n/a
RealView Disabled Composite 2.02 1.72 1.65 n/a
CPU Composite 3.61 3.72 3.59 n/a
Autodesk Render Lower
Time Seconds 79.20 57.33 62.00 89.83
Battery Test Higher
Hours:min 1:15 1:14 6:09 2:37

Numbers in blue indicate best recorded results.
Numbers in red indicate worst recorded results.

About David Cohn

David Cohn has been using AutoCAD for more than 25 years and is the author of more than a dozen books on the subject. He’s the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies, a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering, and also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA. Watch for his latest CADLearning eBooks on AutoCAD 2015 on the Apple iBookstore, at Amazon, and on the CADLearning website. You can contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.
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