Box Cube Spartacus Nvidia Edition
A strip of lighting on the inside bathes the components in green light
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.
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.
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