The Venom 1801-0T acquits itself well for a small form factor workstation, with decent results in graphics benchmarks. However, its compact case leaves no room for expansion and makes maintenance difficult, while the desktop-class processor makes it less suitable for high-end workloads.
Compact chassis fits on a desk, good graphics performance, liquid cooling system
Memory limited to 16GB, internal access tricky, desktop-class CPU
Model: Boston Venom 1801-0T
Operating system: Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Processor: Intel 3.5GHz Core i7-4771
RAM: 16GB DDR3 1600MHz
Storage: 240GB Crucial M500 SSD, 1TB Sata 3 hard drive, DVD-RW
Graphics: AMD FirePro W7000 with four DisplayPort outputs
Connectivity: 2x 1Gbps Ethernet
Ports: 2x serial port, 2x USB 2.0, 4xUSB 3.0, DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, audio jack sockets
Dimensions: 222x190x351mm small form factor chassis
Boston's Venom 1801-0T is an update to the Venom 1800-0T mini workstation system the firm launched last year. Like that unit, the new model is designed to offer a decent amount of CPU and graphics performance in a compact desktop chassis, but now manages to squeeze a liquid cooling system into the enclosure as well.
Launched in January and available now, the Venom 1801-0T uses the same small form factor (SFF) chassis as the firm's original mini workstation. In addition to adding liquid cooling support for the CPU, Boston has now swapped the Nvidia Quadro K4000 graphics accelerator for an AMD FirePro W7000 card, while keeping most other aspects of the system the same.
While this Venom workstation does offer a decent amount of processing power for entry to mid-range engineering and visualisation workloads, it does have a few drawbacks due to its compact design. There is only space for a single processor socket, for example, and Boston is only offering Intel Core desktop chips rather than the Xeon components you would otherwise expect in a workstation-class system.
The cramped space inside the chassis also means that upgrading and maintenance tasks will prove extremely difficult. But this does not mean buyers should avoid the Venom mini. Instead, they just need to take extra care when specifying the configuration to match their application requirements.
At 222mm wide and 190mm high, with a depth of 351mm, the Venom 1801-0T is one of the smallest workstations we have seen, and is not much larger than some "shoebox" enterprise tape backup drives. As such, the unit can comfortably sit on a desktop alongside a monitor, keyboard and mouse, making it ideal for engineers and other users working in an environment where space is at a premium.
Stylish design is often secondary to functionality with workstations, and the Venom mini's sole concession to aesthetics is a minimalist brushed aluminium front panel with a single slot for an optical drive, plus a pair of USB 3.0 ports, audio jack sockets and the power switch.
Next: Ports, internal components