I wouldn’t be surprised if the team at Tuxedo Computers is unhappy with me. That’s because I’ve developed a bit of a bond with the boutique Linux PC company’s InfinityCube, especially since I have an affinity for small form factor rigs. They actually sent a review system before it went live on their web shop, and I secretly hoped its public appearance would be delayed so I could hang onto it just a little longer. As you guessed from my earlier preview, it’s a great little PC whose size may betray its potential.
The InfinityCube v9 has a small footprint (22 x 28 x 26 cm, not quite a cube!), making it ideal for several use-cases. It has the makings of an awesome living room PC (just add Steam Big Picture and Kodi), a developer / professional video workstation or a fantastic 1440p gaming rig. Or in the case of many users, all of the above.
Despite its size, Tuxedo crams in some powerful components.
The baseline unit starts at 831 Euros and includes a six-core Intel Core i5 8400, 8GB of RAM and a 250GB m.2 Samsung 860 EVO SSD. On the Linux OS side of things, you can have Tuxedo pre-install Ubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie or a few different flavors of openSUSE. If you want to take things into your own hands, there’s nothing here that would prevent you from comfortably using any other Linux distro.
But back to the hardware! You can have it equipped like a monster with up to an Intel Core i9 9900K, 64GB of 3600MHz RAM, Nvidia GTX 1080 and a total of 3 drives (they even offer a 2TB Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD).
My review system was loaded up with a six-core Intel Core i7-8700, 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GTX 1070 and a couple of roomy drives. Tuxedo ships it with a slightly modified version of Ubuntu Budgie, which absolutely screams with this hardware. They also include a nice mousepad with everyone’s favorite Penguin, a branded USB stick containing system tools and an OS image and a copy of Linux Magazine (in German).
Specs: InfinityCube Review System
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8700 4.6GHz, Six-Core 12 Threads|
|GPU||MSI Aero (Mini) GeForce GTX 1070 8GB|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z370M D3H-CF|
|Storage 1||250GB Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe|
|Storage 2||2TB Seagate 7200RPM HDD|
|Memory||16GB Crucial 2400MHz DDR4|
|OS||Tuxedo Budgie 18.04 LTS|
The First Boot
That first interaction with a new OS is an important one so let me touch on what to expect when you power up the Infinity Cube.
You’re taken immediately to the Ubuntu Budgie installation screen, with drives pre-partitioned for convenience. Just enter your account details, PC name and you’re off and running. Within minutes the OS is installed and you’re ready to get to work.
As I’ve highlighted before, the Budgie Welcome Screen is an invaluable addition to the overall experience as well as being a solid teaching tool. In fact, I wrote that piece after my first blush with Ubuntu Budgie on this very system. Here’s a chunk of that:
“Without even clicking anything, this Welcome Screen reflects the elegance contained within this OS. The menu items — things like Introduction, Features, Installation Help and Community — imply that it’s nothing more than a collection of documents and information. It’s much more than that. Things start really shining when you hit the Customization section. Here, you can discover the various tools available to transform most facets of the user interface. From a slick dark theme to cursor appearance, from fonts to window decorations and a ton of other options.”
You can even choose your browser right out of the gate. It’s a great distro choice for this system.
After I hit the desktop, I upgraded my kernel, updated the pre-installed proprietary Nvidia driver and downloaded Steam. Gaming has to wait though. Let’s take a look at what that 6-core Intel CPU can do.
CPU Benchmarks: Intel’s Six-Core i7-8700 Screams
My InfinityCube PC rocks Intel’s six-core i7-8700, so wanted to put it through the paces with a few benchmarks. I utilized the incredible Phoronix Test Suite (check out this episode of Choose Linux to hear why I love this software) for my CPU testing.
I have limited hardware at my disposal, so some of the systems I compared aren’t in fact a “fair” comparison. However, they are systems I’ve either reviewed in the past or work with on a daily basis. Relevant to me in terms of experience. Perhaps relevant to you based on price / performance measurements. For example, even though the Thinkpad X1 Extreme boasts one of the first 6-core CPUs in laptops, it can’t hold a candle to the desktop part.
And my ZOTAC MEK 1 is a terrific gaming PC, but look at what a difference a single generation makes. . .
In case the actual results appear meaningless, I’ve also included relative performance so you can easily glimpse the differences. Let’s get into it!
From compression to kernel compilation to Blender tasks, this is a speedy little system, with significant performance gains over even last generation’s equivalent Intel CPU. Did it make me want to spend a little less time with my beloved Dell XPS 13? Yea, just a little bit.
Perhaps more impressive is how quiet the system remains, even placed on top of my desk less than an arm’s length away. This is Tuxedo’s “Ultra Silent” build, and I’m thrilled it’s living up that description.
That said, Intel’s i7-8700 runs a bit hot. Under persistent load, I saw a maximum of 88C which is common with stock coolers. That’s not harmful, but it’s higher than you’re used to with prior generations. Tuxedo isn’t using Intel’s stock cooler, though. I spotted a Xilence CPU air cooler inside. I mostly have experience with Noctua and Cooler Master, but I can’t escape the feeling that this CPU could run a bit cooler.
Disk Performance Benchmarks
NVMe drives have spoiled me. Fortunately, Tuxedo uses one of the best around in the Samsung 970 EVO. Since I regularly use my XPS 13 which packs a Toshiba NVMe, I wanted to see how performance compares between the two. In most cases the Samsung 970 EVO takes the prize. Have a look at the benchmarks:
Benchmarks aside, this system feels supercharged when it comes to everyday use. The OS boots within 6 seconds, the desktop is instantly responsive and it just feels good to use. Don’t skimp on the drive folks — it’s like giving your operating system a speed upgrade, and you’ll notice the improvement everywhere.
Gaming: 1440p + 3840 x 1080 Ultrawide
I don’t need to tell you that Linux is no longer a second-class citizen when it comes to PC gaming. Between Steam’s Proton, Play On Linux and Lutris Gaming, literally thousands of Windows-exclusive titles are playable under Linux. And they play well.
An MSI Aero mITX GTX 1070 is handling graphics duties. It’s essentially a “mini” card designed for SFF boxes like this one, sporting a single fan and a 1531MHz GPU clock. Despite its small size and cramped living quarters, this card stays surprisingly cool. During extended benchmarking I never saw it cross 75C, which is exceptional.
For my gaming tests I fired up Steam and tested both native and Steam Play games, dialing the graphics quality up to high or ultra. Let’s see how the InfinityCube does.
Not a single game running under 60 FPS, even with most of the knobs cranked up. There’s not much analysis to give here, other than saying it can handle 1440p gaming like a champ.
But let’s push the limits. I have a Samsung 49″ CHG90 Ultrawide with a 32:9 aspect ratio and 3840 x 1080 resolution. Can the InfinityCube handle that many pixels? Let’s turn up the pressure even more. Let’s test newer games that are considerably more demanding. Just to make it interesting, let’s run a couple games that don’t have native Linux ports, running under Steam Proton.
The results are satisfying:
- Hitman 2, High Preset: Average 45 FPS
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider, High Preset: Average 53 FPS
That’s a good gauge of what to expect even under Ultrawide resolution with modern games that push your GPU to the limit. Equipping your InfinityCube with a GTX 1080 would easily take things to 60+ FPS in this category.
What About User Upgrades?
Spending a load of cash on a shiny new PC comes with regret a couple years down the road when you realize it’s impossible or downright frustrating to upgrade your components. Fortunately it’s possible to access and swap out nearly everything inside the TuxedoCube. The power supply and cabling on the left side will partially block large hands, but removing it is simple enough. Upgrading your GPU is a non-issue provided it fits within the chassis. Tuxedo is very responsive on Twitter; just ask them beforehand.
Access to the motherboard is best achieved on the opposite end. And there’s no proprietary nonsense here. Just solid aluminum panels and standard screws. Grab a Phillips and you’re good to go.
The Bottom Line
The InfinityCube is a fairly silent but mighty powerful machine with professional-level build quality. Aesthetically it’s attractive without being distracting, doesn’t take up much desk space and can be moved around easily. Looking at how proactive Tuxedo Computers is on Twitter, their reasonable pricing and the overall performance on display, it’s easy to recommend this rig, especially if you load it up with high-end components.
My one niggling concern is that CPU temp, but in the 3 months I’ve been using it I haven’t observed any reason to be worried about overheating, or even thermal throttling.
As my first experience with Tuxedo Computers, this leaves me wanting more. Sadly, it’s time to part with it.
Have questions about the InfinityCube? Reach out to me on Twitter and I’ll do my best to answer them!
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