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Box Cube Republic review - a pint-sized gaming rig

James Archer
22 May 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,600
inc VAT

There’s lots to love about this fast, cool and quiet gaming system, but you can get even more PC for less

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 4.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700K, RAM: 16GB DDR4, Front USB ports: 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 1x USB3.1, 5x USB3, 1x USB2, 1x USB Type-C, Total storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB hard disk, Display: None, Operating system: Windows 10

Buy the Cube Republic now from Box

Appropriately for a system with both 'Box' and 'Cube' in its name, this premium gaming PC is pleasantly small, square and squat. It’s still got a conventional form factor and internal layout, but is definitely at the smaller end of the mid-tower spectrum, giving it a far more unassuming look than most £1,000+ gaming rigs while improving portability to boot.

It’s far from cramped on the inside, though; in fact, it’s beautifully tidy, with plenty of room for airflow. It also benefits from a hinge-mounted, transparent side door that’s much easier to get out of the way than the usual screwed-in panels.

Sadly, compact cases usually come with drawbacks as well, and in the Cube Republic’s case, the main cost is upgradability. The microATX motherboard, an Asus ROG Z170 Maximus VIII Gene, includes the staple four RAM slots (two of which are free) and two PCIe x16 slots (one of which is free), but there’s only room for one additional PCIe x4 expansion, and even the remaining PCIe x16 input is only barely accessible thanks to the bulk of the Asus GeForce GTX 980 STRIX graphics card.

Bay watch

There’s also nowhere within the case to securely mount an optical drive, and while there’s a neat little row of 2.5in bays, they’re inaccessible via the hinged door – you’ll need to unscrew the other side panel to get to them.

To be fair, the Cube Republic is already equipped with an extremely respectable combination of a 256GB Samsung 950 Pro SSD – mounted on the motherboard’s M.2 slot – and a huge 2TB hard disk drive. There’s also five spare SATA and two spare SATA Express sockets – they’re a tad obscured, again by the graphics card, but if you can reach them you shouldn't have any problem adding some SSDs.

It also compensates for its modest internal capabilities with a wealth of external ports; it’s got everything from a USB3.1 and USB Type-C connectors to five USB3 ports, one USB2 port, an S/PDIF socket for audiophiles, rear speaker and C-Sub ports (in addition to the standard mic in, line in and line out ports), four DisplayPorts, two HDMI connectors, dual-link DVI-I, Gigabit Ethernet and a legacy PS/2 socket. And that’s all on the rear – there are an additional two USB3 ports at the very front, plus extra headset and microphone inputs.

Box hasn’t skimped on power, either – though I’d expect nothing less for £1,600. The Intel Core i7-6700K is a mighty fine quad-core chip out of the box, but here it’s been overclocked to an imposing 4.6GHz per core, and the Asus GPU is a dual-fan variant of one of Nvidia’s higher-end, 4GB enthusiast cards. Even the 16GB of DDR4 RAM runs at 3,000MHz, a few hundred higher than what I'm used to seeing in gaming systems.

Thus, it put up a very strong fight against our intensive 4K benchmarking test, where it scored 158 for image editing, 172 for video editing, 191 for multitasking and 179 overall – great scores all round, ultimately beating other £1,500 systems such as the Falcon Predator Pro SLI and the Yoyotech Warbird RS12.

Outplayed

However, in our gaming tests, the pricier Cube Republic actually performed a little worse than those two PCs. In Dirt Showdown, for instance, it managed 124fps at 1,920x1,080 resolution and 52fps and 4K, both at Ultra settings; the Falcon and Yoyotech machines, on the other hand, scored 77fps and 71fps respectively at 4K.

It’s a similar story with Metro: Last Light Redux, where at the maximum settings, Box’s effort scored 54fps at 1,920x1,080 and just 13fps at 4K. Under the same conditions, the Predator Pro SLI achieved 85fps at 1080p and 22fps at 4K, while the Warbird RS12 managed 72fps and 19fps.

It should be said that the Cube Republic’s scores in the benchmarks are still seriously good, and well within expectations for a system of its technical calibre. I could even get a vastly more enjoyable 38fps from Metro at 4K by dropping texture quality from Very High to High, turning SSAA off, turning down texture filtering to AF 4X and switching from Very High tessellation to High; a compromise that still allowed for good-looking gameplay.

This is a fairly quiet system as well. It faintly hums under heavy load rather than roaring, and the GPU fans don’t even spin while performing low-demand tasks like browsing the web. The CPU watercooler is appreciably hushed, too, resulting in a lovely balance of high performance and low volume that makes the high price tag much easier to swallow.

It’s just that for the same money – less, in fact – you could get a machine that’s both easier to upgrade and, even without further tinkering, capable of sufficiently superior gaming performance that the Cube Republic’s marginally better Windows and multitasking performance don’t quite make up for it.

Buy the Cube Republic now from Box

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 4.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700K
Processor socketLGA1151
RAM16GB
Memory typeDDR4
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardAsus ROG Z170 Maximus VIII Gene
Motherboard chipsetIntel Z170
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB3
Rear USB ports1x USB3.1, 5x USB3, 1x USB2, 1x USB Type-C
Other portsN/A
NetworkingEthernet
Case typeATX
Case dimensions HxWxD464x215x425
PCI (free)0
PCIe x1 (free)1 (1)
PCIe x16 (free)2 (1)
Serial ATA (free)6 (5), 2 (2) SATA Express
Memory slots (free)4 (2)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)3 (3)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)2 (1)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)0
Storage
Total storage256GB SSD, 2TB SSHD
Memory card readerN/A
Optical drive typeN/A
Graphics
Graphics card4GB Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 980
Graphics/video ports4x DisplayPort, 2x HDMI, 1x dual-link DVI-I
Sound
Sound cardOnboard
Sound card outputsS/PDIF, rear speaker, C/SUB, speaker, headphone out
SpeakersN/A
Display
DisplayNone
Native resolutionN/A
InputsN/A
Other hardware
KeyboardN/A
MouseN/A
ExtrasN/A
Software
Operating systemWindows 10
Operating system restore optionWindows 10 restore
Buying information
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£1,600
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)N/A
SupplierBox
Detailswww.box.co.uk
Part CodeCU-I7REB16GBW10

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