Engineered with SOLIDWORKS for SOLIDWORKS Users

As a 3D CAD engineer or product designer, SOLIDWORKS enables you to transform ideas into new, innovative products. No one know understands this better than BOXX Technologies’ engineering team, the elite professionals who rely on the CAD application to design custom chassis for all of our APEXX workstations and one-of-a-kind renderBOXX and renderPRO dedicated rendering systems. These enclosures, manufactured in the USA, require precise design in order to accommodate features like overclocked or dual processors, liquid cooling, SSDs, multiple GPUs, and more.

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AEC Magazine Review: BOXX APEXX 2 + renderPRO 2

By dedicating a high GHz workstation to CAD and a dual Xeon box to rendering, designers can have optimised hardware for both processes. The workflow benefits can be huge, but the package doesn’t come cheap, writes Greg Corke.

Ray trace rendering is arguably the most computationally intensive process in any architectural design workflow. It is highly multi-threaded so it absolutely hammers all of a workstation’s CPU cores. It is also extremely scalable, so doubling the number of cores can, in many cases, halve the render time.

Most CAD software is very different in that it is a single-threaded process, so the majority of tasks are performed on one CPU core. This means it thrives on a high-frequency (GHz) CPU. Performance will not increase if you add more CPU cores.

This presents a big challenge when choosing a workstation for both CAD and rendering. The highest frequency CPUs have the least number of cores, while the ones with the most cores tend to have the lowest frequencies.

As a result, architects and engineers must accept that there will always be a trade-off — or must they?

Custom workstation manufacturer BOXX offers an alternative solution by dedicating separate machines to each process. CAD work is done on the BOXX APEXX 2, a high-frequency Intel Core i7 desktop workstation, while the rendering is handled by the BOXX renderPRO 2, a networked, dual Intel Xeon rendering machine with lots of cores.

As both machines work completely independently of each other, it also means that the BOXX APEXX 2 workstation is able to dedicate almost all of its resources to CAD modelling when the BOXX renderPRO 2 is rendering.

In contrast, when a traditional desktop workstation is set to render flat out, it will often become sluggish, making it almost impossible to do any meaningful CAD work.

There are ways to get around this. Users can reduce the number of cores assigned to the rendering task, either by changing processor affinity in Windows Task manager (so specific applications use specific CPU cores) or by applying more granular control of CPU core usage inside the rendering application. But that means renders come back slower. Continue reading

Solidworks 2017 Workstation Benchmark

For Solidworks users, our goal is to provide you with faster rebuilds, reduced open and save times, and overall improved interactivity with large assemblies. – in other words, make you more productive. With the launch of Solidworks 2017, the benchmarks below show a continued performance advantage when opting for our overclocked APEXX 2 model 2402 at 4.4GHz compared to the same i7 6700k CPU at a stock 4.0GHz. An identical overclocked advantage can be found in the ultra-compact APEXX 1 model 14012017-performance-benchmark-blog2 Continue reading

Optimized Hardware For Solidworks Simulation


Solidworks Simulation allows you to test product designs in virtual, real-world environments prior to manufacture. Properly configuring a workstation for Solidworks Simulation can dramatically decrease solve times. A common misconception is that a dual Xeon workstation will offer the best performance. In this article, we’ll address this notion as well as offer insight into the speedup that can be realized when upgrading to a new workstation from an older machine.

– Benchmarks show compelling reasons to upgrade your old workstation to current hardware like the APEXX 2
– Benefits of Hyper-Threading
– Why you should buy an overclocked workstation Continue reading

BOXX APEXX 4 Overclocked Desktop Workstation Review

From a Techgage article by Rob Williams on July 22, 2016:

If you’re in the market for a workstation PC, we can assume that you’d have certain demands. It’d need to be fast, of course, but also stable – regardless of the workload. BOXX promises to deliver on both points in spades, and can offer a number of reasons for it. We’ll explore those as we take a hard look at the APEXX 4.

Testing Results & Final Thoughts

This is the first evaluation we’ve had of a preconfigured workstation, so I’m unable to compare it to direct competition. What I can do, however, is compare it to our internal workstation, which uses the same processor (Intel Core i7-5960X), has the same amount of memory (32GB), includes an X99 motherboard from the same vendor (ASUS), and uses the same OS (Windows 7 Professional x64). More about our testbed can be gleaned in our recent NVIDIA Quadro M2000 graphics card review.

One major difference between our internal testbed and the APEXX 4 is that BOXX’s creation is overclocked. Ours runs at stock speeds all-around, which, as you’ll see, leads to some pretty interesting results.

All tests are run twice over, and then averaged. If two results show too great of a delta, then the test is run for a third time to help us find an accurate result. PCs are left to sit idle for 5 minutes after being booted, before benchmarking commences. Tests are run with Windows 7’s GPU-accelerated Aero interface disabled.

Without further ado, let’s dive right into the benchmarks.

SPECviewperf 12

BOXX APEXX 4 TG / M2000 TG / M6000
CATIA 139.19 68.76 138.66
CREO 113.89 57.58 100.60
Energy 9.47 4.03 13.29
Maya 99.64 52.16 109.48
Medical 43.43 19.42 61.29
Showcase 67.86 28.29 87.52
Siemens NX 121.76 64.62 171.05
SolidWorks 163.85 104.73 137.78
All results: higher is better

SPECviewperf benchmarks the viewports found in some of the industry’s leading applications, and the results above serve as a perfect example of why it pays to understand your workload.

In some cases, the overclocked CPU in the APEXX 4 allowed the system to overtake our own test platform equipped with the higher-end Quadro M6000. The important thing to note here: if you use CATIA, CREO, or SolidWorks, you should definitely opt for the fastest CPU speed possible. Conversely, Showcase, Maya, and Siemens NX will benefit more from increased GPU horsepower.

SPECwpc 1.0

BOXX APEXX 4 TG / M2000 TG / M6000
Media & Entertainment 7.93 5.14 6.01
Financial Services 4.78 4.05 4.05
Product Development 6.82 4.45 5.22
Energy 9.17 6.05 7.40
Life Sciences 8.09 5.06 6.47
General Operations 7.3 4.82 4.81
All results: higher is better

Whereas SPECviewperf focuses on the viewport performance of popular applications, SPECwpc is much more well-rounded, taking into account things like encoding and rendering, as well. Because it simulates robust projects, these tests will also benefit from increased I/O speed. Our test platform uses a standard SATA-based SSD, while the APEXX 4 offers a PCIe-based one, which is monumentally quicker, both in throughput and IOPS performance.

In these particular tests, the increased I/O has made a significant difference, and the increased CPU speed helped push it over the top. All of these tests outside of Financial Services include an IO test, and no surprise: it’s the test with the lowest performance delta between it and our own test platform.

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