Box Cube Predator Review

Box Cube Predator

This system from Birmingham-based builder Box is one of the largest PCs we’ve ever seen. The Corsair Graphite 780T weighs 11kg on its own and stretches 637mm from its base to its roof – and those dimensions, and the black and white colour scheme ensures it will stand out like a monolith in any room.

The Predator takes up more space than your average desktop rig, but the case is also practical. The front and top panels are made of mesh and pop off for easy fan access, and the chassis sits on large feet that allow plenty of airflow into the base. Both side panels ease off with handles rather than fiddly screws, and the front panel has four USB ports and a fan-speed switch.
The Graphite is no less impressive on the inside. The front half of the chassis has five free hard disk bays with tool-free caddies that are divided into two removable cages. Further back, there’s a huge motherboard tray with rubber-lined routing holes and ample room for cables. Around the back you’ll find three vacant 2.5in bays, while cooling is handled by two 140mm fans at the front and a 140mm exhaust unit.
The Predator is a full-sized ATX build, but the components are dwarfed by the sheer size of the case. There’s plenty of clearance between the bottom of the motherboard and the large, modular PSU, and the Corsair Hydro H110i GT cooler installed in the roof isn’t even visible.
It’s a good-looking rig too. The black and white theme is carried over to the interior, where the MSI motherboard uses both colours liberally. Every other component matches the scheme – even the M.2 SSD and memory are black and white.
The Predator is tidy, well made and has loads of room for working inside, but we still can’t help but think of what could have been. The off-the-shelf water-cooling unit, lack of sleeved cables and an absence of illumination are all obvious, especially given the side panel’s huge window. There’s a huge amount of room to grow here, but the end result seems underwhelming because of this case’s size and the machine’s price.
Meanwhile, gaming power comes from an MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti card, which overclocks the GPU base clock from 1GHz to 1102MHz, boosting to 1190MHz. It’s chilled by two smart, industrial-looking fans, and its 6GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 7010MHz. If you’d like more gaming power, Box also produces an SLI version of this machine, which will set you back £2,800 inc VAT.
The Predator is also equipped with Intel’s Core i7. It’s the most powerful Skylake part, with four Hyper-Threaded cores and plenty of cache, and Box has overclocked it from 4GHz to 4.5GHz with a 1.3V vcore. The rest of the specification is similarly impressive. There’s 16GB of Kingston DDR4 memory that whizzes along at 3000MHz, and there’s a Kingston M.2 SSD alongside a 4TB hybrid hard disk. There’s also a Blu-ray writer.
The MSI Z170A Krait Gaming motherboard is generally decent too. It looks great, and has spare PCI-E slots – you could easily add another graphics card later. That said, it’s missing some high-end options; there are no on-board buttons or an error readout, for example, and it doesn’t have on-board lighting like other MSI Krait boards.
Finally, the standard Box two-year warranty includes collect and return coverage, of both parts and labour, which covers the essentials – the most important part of any warranty is the parts coverage, after all.
The overclocked GTX 980 Ti swept through our games tests. Its Battlefield 4 and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor minimums of 68fps and 70fps indicate that games at 2,560 x 1,440 aren’t any problem for this GPU, and the Predator returned a swift minimum of 47fps in Crysis 3 as well. The GTX 980 Ti proved adept in most of our 4K tests too, although it struggled in Crysis 3 with a minimum of 22fps.
Meanwhile, the overclocked Core i7 has enough power to handle virtually all computing tasks, with the Box delivering an overall RealBench result of 145,525. That’s 27 per cent quicker than our reference machine, and is in the usual league for an overclocked Core i7-6700K PC.
The Box continued to perform speedily in storage tests, but its Kingston M.2 SSD couldn’t quite keep up with the Samsung hardware inside the Scan 3XS Z170 Vengeance. The HyperX drive’s sequential read and write results of 1,411MB/sec and 653MB/sec are great, but the Scan machine topped out at 1,928MB/sec and 1,120MB/sec – either way, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in general use.
The Box machine outpaced most of its rivals in thermal tests, though. The CPU and GPU delta Ts of 40°C and 54°C respectively are both excellent, showing the advantage of giving hardware room to breathe in a large case. The same goes for the noise levels. The Box makes almost no noise when idle on the lowest fan setting. What’s more, at this setting, you can still run games and the temperatures only increase by a couple of degrees. The 750W Seasonic SnowSilent PSU also helps here – it’s very efficient (80 Plus Platinum, no less) and very quiet – its fan doesn’t even spin up until it hits a 45 per cent load.
The Box Cube Predator has ample room to grow inside, and its overclocked components deliver performance levels that swipe aside most games and applications. Also, while the components and cooling system arguably don’t make full use of the luxurious, versatile case, it’s very cool and quiet.
The main problem for the Cube Predator is its price compared with the competition. You can specify the aforementioned Scan 3XS Z170 Vengeance with an EVGA GTX 980 Ti card for £1,741 inc VAT, for example, and while it might not have the Box’s fancy PSU, swanky case and larger Corsair cooler, it’s significantly cheaper and offers similar performance. If a cool and quiet system is your priority, though, the Predator is still well worth considering if you have the money. MIKE JENNINGSFast, well built, cool and quiet, although it’s comparatively expensive.
CPU 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K overclocked to 4.5GHzMotherboard MSI Z170A Krait GamingMemory 16GB Kingston HyperX 3000MHz DDR4Graphics MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GBStorage 240GB Kingston HyperX Predator M.2 SSD; 4TB Seagate hybrid hard diskCase Corsair Graphite 780T Graphite SeriesCooling CPU: Corsair Hydro H110i GT with 2 x 120mm fans; GPU: 2 x 100mm fans; front: 2 x 140mm fans; rear: 1 x 140mm fanPSU Seasonic SnowSilent 80 Plus Platinum 750WPorts Front: 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, 2 x audio; rear: 6 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 5 x audioOperating system Windows 10 Home 64-bitWarranty Two years collect and return, covering parts and labour.

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