Box Cube Spar­ta­cus Nvidia Edi­tion

A strip of light­ing on the in­side bathes the com­po­nents in green light

Custom PC - - CONTENTS - MIKE JEN­NINGS

It isn’t sur­pris­ing to find an Nvidia Pas­cal GPU in a gam­ing PC, but it’s a lit­tle more unusual to find a rig with an en­tire Nvidia theme. The front panel of the Box Cube Spar­ta­cus’ In Win 303 case is dom­i­nated by an Nvidia logo, and its ports and but­tons are sur­rounded by a fa­mil­iar shade of green.

Mean­while, the glass side panel is em­bla­zoned with huge GeForce let­ter­ing, and a strip of light­ing on the in­side bathes the com­po­nents in green light. Three of the case fans glow green, the motherboard’s RGB LEDs are pro­grammed sim­i­larly and the CPU is chilled by green coolant. It’s a strik­ing look, but its di­vi­sive too – you have to re­ally like Nvidia’s brand­ing to want this PC – it other­wise looks like it’s sim­ply slathered in ad­ver­tis­ing.

There’s some great cool­ing gear though. The PSU is hid­den by a slab of metal that also holds the Black Ice 240GTS ra­di­a­tor and its two fans. The ra­di­a­tor’s tubes con­nect to a small reser­voir and a CPU wa­terblock made of clear acrylic, show­ing off the green coolant. The In Win case looks good too, and it’s fully ac­ces­si­ble – the glass side panel comes free with just one han­dle, and the rear can be pulled away with two thumb­screws.

Get down to the nitty-gritty, though, and it’s clear that this PC could have been built more care­fully. The power ca­bles are braided, but they’re un­tidy – one drapes across the top of the motherboard, and oth­ers hang across the mid­dle of the case. The coolant tubes also cross when they emerge from the ra­di­a­tor, and they’re slop­pily tied to­gether in the mid­dle of the en­clo­sure. None of these sit­u­a­tions im­pedes per­for­mance or ham­per up­grades, but it looks un­pro­fes­sional – these mi­nor in­dis­cre­tions mean that other sys­tems just look bet­ter.

The key com­po­nent, of course, is Nvidia’s flag­ship GTX 1080 Ti GPU, which comes in the form of an Nvidia Founders Edi­tion card. It’s not over­clocked or wa­ter­cooled though. Mean­while, the Hyper­Threaded Core i7-7700K is over­clocked to 4.8GHz, and it’s paired with 16GB of DDR4 mem­ory run­ning at a mid­dling 2666MHz fre­quency. Stor­age is pro­vided by a 250GB Sam­sung 960 Evo SSD and a 1TB Sea­gate FireCuda hard disk. There’s a wire­less card, but it tops out at dual-band 802.11n – not 802.11ac.

The com­po­nents con­nect to a Gi­ga­byte GA-Z270X-Ul­tra Gam­ing motherboard. It’s a black PCB, with RGB LEDs down the right-hand side, be­tween the mem­ory slots and around the PCI-E slots and CPU socket. The light­ing can be altered in Win­dows and run in tan­dem with strip lights, and it can be used to in­di­cate CPU tem­per­a­ture, sys­tem ac­tiv­ity or LAN speed. It’s a sim­i­larly ver­sa­tile sys­tem to Asus’ Aura.

Else­where, there’s au­dio cir­cuitry with its own head­phone amp, beefed-up In­tel Eth­er­net and di­ag­nos­tic LEDs, but no POST dis­play or power and re­set but­tons. There’s also only one M.2 con­nec­tor, which is al­ready oc­cu­pied. One good fea­ture is the In Win Clas­sic PSU, which is fully mod­u­lar and has a su­per-ef­fi­cient 80 Plus Plat­inum rat­ing, although its 900W out­put is un­nec­es­sary un­less you’re adding a sec­ond GPU. The Spar­ta­cus is pro­tected by a three year war­ranty too, with the first year in­clud­ing col­lect and re­turn parts cover, and it then re­verts to a labour only re­turn to base af­fair. It isn’t a bad deal, but an ex­tra year of parts cover would be prefer­able on a ma­chine at this price.

Per­for­mance

The stock-speed GTX 1080 Ti is a mon­ster GPU, never drop­ping be­low 30fps in any of our game tests at 4K with top set­tings. That’s good, but over­clocked cards are even quicker – the Scan 3XS Vengeance Ti ran its GTX 1080 Ti at 1605MHz, for ex­am­ple, and it was 6fps quicker in Fall­out 4.

The pro­ces­sor also de­liv­ered im­pres­sive speed in ap­pli­ca­tion bench­marks. Its overall re­sult of 153,105 shows it has plenty of power for Win­dows ap­pli­ca­tions, and the

Sam­sung M.2 SSD also de­liv­ered su­perb read and write speeds of 2,591MB/sec and 1,839MB/sec re­spec­tively.

How­ever, the Box’s ther­mal re­sults are less re­as­sur­ing. Dur­ing stress test­ing, the CPU and GPU hit peak delta Ts of 71°C and 60°C – and that CPU peak is far too high. Thank­fully, the CPU tem­per­a­ture won’t get that high dur­ing usual gam­ing ses­sions, but it still shouldn’t be get­ting that hot.

More se­ri­ous, though, was the noise. The Spar­ta­cus was far louder than other gam­ing PCs when idle and run­ning games – it was con­stantly and ir­ri­tat­ingly loud. A look around the ma­chine re­vealed the cul­prits.

The Box has two 120mm in­take fans at the bot­tom of the ma­chine, and they’re both con­nected di­rectly to the PSU rather than a PWM fan header or volt­age split­ter ca­ble, so they al­ways spin at max­i­mum speed.

Con­clu­sion

The Box’s GTX 1080 Ti and over­clocked Core i7 pro­ces­sor de­liv­ered solid per­for­mance, and the In Win chassis is sturdy, well built and good-look­ing. How­ever, the solid core is un­der­mined by is­sues else­where. The build could be ti­dier, for ex­am­ple, and the ma­chine is very noisy – both is­sues that could eas­ily be avoided, plus the CPU gets very hot at peak load. The price is a lit­tle un­com­pet­i­tive too – Scan’s 3XS Vengeance Ti (see Is­sue 165, p62) has a sim­i­lar spec, faster gam­ing per­for­mance and bet­ter build qual­ity for £100 less. There are some good ideas and a fast spec here, but it’s in need of more care­ful ex­e­cu­tion.

1 Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is great for 4K gam­ing

2 The coolant, lights and ca­bles all match Nvidia’s colours

3 The wa­ter-cooled CPU is over­clocked to 4.8GHz

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.