A readout box prototype for the CMS Hadron Forward calorimeter upgrade was built and tested in the CERN H2 beamline. The prototype was designed to enable simultaneous tests of different readout options for the four anode upgrade PMTs, new front-end electronics design and new cabling. The response of the PMTs with different readout options was uniform and the background response was minimal. Multi-channel readout options further enhanced the background elimination. Passing all the electronic, mechanical and physics tests, the readout box proved to be capable of providing the forward hadron calorimeter operational requirements in the upgrade era.