When you think of gaming PCs, large immobile machines come to mind. ASUS has other plans with its ROG-branded GR8 II, which is smaller than Sony’s PS4 Pro but with the might to take on the latest AAA titles.
And it’s not an ugly sight either; in fact, I’d say it’s the most attractive gaming PC in the market right now.
See for yourself:
This is as compact as a gaming PC can get
And is slim enough to fit into cramped spaces
You get basic ports in front
And all the rest at the back
Most of the heat comes out from the top vent
You need a single Philips screwdriver to open it up
Once set up, it looks especially nice with matching ROG equipment
How well does it perform?
What’s a good-looking gaming PC without fitting specs to back it up? The GR8 II isn’t going to impress you with Zephyrus-like numbers, but it’s definitely good enough for gaming on high settings at 1080p.
We have an Intel Core i7-7700 processor, a single stick of 8GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB HDD, and NVIDIA’s midrange GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. These all connect to a custom H110 motherboard.
Playing DOOM on Ultra graphics settings consistently gave us over 90fps on our 1080p monitor; and as expected, Overwatch was an absolute cinch, providing us with over 150fps on optimized graphics settings to maximize the same monitor’s G-Sync-enabled 180Hz refresh rate.
The only game that pushed the GR8 II during our tests was Rise of the Tomb Raider. Although it got 68fps according to the built-in benchmark on the highest settings, actual gameplay wasn’t as smooth. It was only when we lowered some of the more intensive settings like hair effects and texture rendering that the game became playable on high settings.
What else is there to know?
A common concern with cramming so much power into a tiny frame is noise and heat build-up. We were expecting the GR8 II to get loud and warm under heavy load because of its lack of ventilation and relatively small fans, but the results were still pleasant.
Thanks to some strategic chopping up of the motherboard, vents and fans are placed where they need to be. It was only while playing games in an absolutely quiet room when we’d hear the roaring of the fans. Definitely nothing that would wake up a sleeping baby, so you can game with peace of mind.
Speaking of the custom motherboard design, it sadly holds back the upgradability of the GR8 II. You can only swap the RAM and HDD, and add an SSD to the lone M.2 slot. The CPU, GPU, and motherboard would need assistance from an ASUS service center for replacements.
The other drawback is the separate 230W power adapter that acts as the unit’s power supply. This is ASUS’ trick to lowering the weight and size of the GR8 II, but this just means more things to carry with you when you transfer battle stations for LAN parties.
Why choose this over a gaming laptop?
This is the question that went through our minds as we used the GR8 II: Doesn’t an equally priced gaming notebook offer a more complete experience with added mobility?
It’s definitely something to ponder over. A gaming laptop owns the same expandability (user-replaceable storage and memory components), wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), and an external power supply, but comes with a built-in monitor, keyboard, and battery for short trips. However, what the GR8 II does better is port selection and saving space on a tight desk.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
It all boils down to your gaming needs. While there’s no doubt the GR8 II is more than enough for 1080p gaming at high frame rates, the previous question establishes the compact PC’s position in the market.
The GR8 II feels like a gaming laptop in the body of desktop PC, with the limited upgradeability of the former and immobility of the latter. At the same time, it also doesn’t have the mobility of a notebook nor the sheer possibilities of a true PC tower.
Considering all those factors, it’s clear the GR8 II is somewhere in between the two segments. You’re buying into the idea of a sleek gaming machine that’s designed to look good and deliver respectable performance beyond the minimal physical space it consumes.
Price relies heavily on what configuration you choose; the setup we reviewed costs PhP 69,990 (US$ 1,375) in the Philippines, but you can find a cheaper setup with a Core i5 processor and less storage for around US$ 1,000.
ASUS Vivo AiO (V272) review: All-in-one goodness?
A complete desktop PC that simply works
As a person who builds his own desktop computers and thrives on portable laptops for his on-the-go lifestyle, I admit there are times I just want a PC that can do it all — minus all the hassle of plugging accessories in and finding wall sockets for charging.
That’s exactly what an all-in-one computer aims to do, and the ASUS Vivo AiO is the latest example.
Much like the Zen AiO Pro I reviewed last year, this model only needs a single power cable to get things running. Everything else is already built in or simply wireless. Now, that’s convenience!
Here’s what it can do
Make no mistake about it: This AiO PC is quite big. With a 27-inch LCD on its adjustable base, it takes some effort to take this 8.5kg computer out of its box and setting it on a table. From there, however, the rest of the setup becomes pleasantly easy.
All you have to do is plug in the power cable, insert the wireless keyboard and mouse’s dongle into an open USB port, and you’re all set! Powering the unit on happens by pressing a somewhat hidden button at the back of the display.
You’ll then be greeted by a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, which isn’t that dense for a 27-inch panel, but it does allow the system to run more smoothly since fewer pixels have to be pushed at a given time. ASUS claims it has a 100 percent sRGB color gamut, which is great for editing photos and videos more accurately.
Some variants of the Vivo AiO come with a touchscreen. This is kinda unusual to have on a desktop computer, but if it’s already there, then why not, right? Still, I would stick to using the keyboard and mouse, and leave the touch gestures to your laptop or smartphone.
I’m saying this because the bundled wireless mouse and keyboard are actually quite good. While not mechanical or gaming-optimized in any sense, they’re ergonomic and work well on all sorts of surfaces with no noticeable input lag.
Despite having everything in one solid piece, there are enough ports to go around.
Underneath the display, you get a single USB port, which I found to be a perfect spot to plug in the keyboard-mouse receiver, as well as a 3.5mm audio port for your headphones or external speakers.
At the back is a decent selection of ports, from USB 3.1 to HDMI and Ethernet. The only head-scratching omission is USB-C, which is becoming increasingly common on smartphones and thin notebooks. Even ASUS’ own phones and laptops are committed to the port, so it’s strange to see it missing here.
Design-wise, my main complaint is the location of the webcam. It’s situated on the bottom bezel, allowing it to look up your nose during video calls. ASUS brags about the display’s 81 percent screen-to-body ratio, but I would’ve been fine with some bezel up top to house the front camera instead.
Even though you can tilt the unit by a few degrees to find your sweet spot, you sadly can’t adjust the height to remedy the poorly placed webcam.
What exactly can it run?
One look at the specifications sheet, and you can tell what this machine is meant for.
My review unit is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8550U, 8GB of memory, and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics chip. This setup means the Vivo AiO can handle light workloads such as Microsoft Office, Chrome, and Photoshop with ease, but anything visually heavy will make it struggle a bit.
Like most AiO computers, upgrading components is a pain, so you’ll have to settle for whatever configuration you pay for from the start, so choose wisely.
During my time with this unit, I didn’t experience any lag while browsing websites, writing articles, and editing photos — all at the same time. That’s largely thanks to the quad-core Core i7 processor with Hyper-threading, giving you eight logical cores in total.
It’s only when I fired up a couple of graphically demanding games when the system couldn’t keep up.
For kicks, I played some Final Fantasy XV on this thing. As expected, I was forced to endure the lowest graphics settings on 1080p. However, to my surprise, the game managed to run at a consistent 30 frames per second, which made it totally playable. Any title less power-hungry than Final Fantasy XV — such as Fortnite or PUBG — will definitely run more smoothly.
Video editing on Premiere Pro is enjoyable on the large monitor and its powerful stereo speakers, but don’t expect rendering to be seamless. Still, I highly recommend getting a configuration with both an SSD and HDD to speed up the processing and provide you with enough storage, respectively. My setup has a standard 128GB M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD.
All in with the all-in-one?
In a nutshell, this is pretty much the Windows equivalent of an iMac. And like an Apple product, the Vivo AiO simply works. There’s no cumbersome setup process or annoying cables and dongles to deal with; plug it in and you’re set.
Who is this for other than iMac users wanting to jump ship? I’d say Windows users who want more screen real estate than what a laptop offers, yet need to save as much desk space as possible. An AiO like this is by far easier to transfer from one point to another compared to a traditional desktop PC with its separate monitor and multitude of cables.
Of course, this costs more than a custom-built PC spec-for-spec. You may buy a Vivo AiO with a starting price of US$ 1,000, but you could assemble a more powerful rig for less.
It ultimately comes down to convenience versus power. Which one will it be for you this time? Take a long look at your work space and decide from there.
AMD unveils powerful 32-core Threadripper 2
More cores for more powerful performance
AMD announced the arrival of its new CPU at Computex 2018, and it promises to bring more power to modern computers out there. We’re talking about Threadripper 2, a more powerful update than its predecessor — bringing with it 32 CPU cores. That’s more than enough for multitasking, photo and video editing, and gaming, too!
Threadripper 2 features the latest 12mm Zen+ architecture from AMD, the same architecture found in the latest Ryzen CPUs. Desktops running Threadripper 2 are expected to consume less power when running a ton of applications all at once. The Zen+ architecture also allows for better security and compatibility with the latest hardware available.
AMD says that Threadripper 2 will work on motherboards with an X399 architecture with its 250W power requirement, much more than its predecessor at 180W. However, older X399 motherboards might not be able to meet the power requirement for the new CPU, especially if you plan to maximize the CPU through overclocking. AMD’s partners are expected to launch newer X399 motherboards to accommodate the greater demands of the Threadripper 2.
AMD says that the new Threadripper 2 will clock in at 3.0GHz, less than the 3.4GHz the original Threadripper had. These are still subject to changes as more tests and benchmarks will be done before its official launch. At this speed, however, AMD caters to users who want to maximize the CPU for heavy workloads.
Threadripper 2 will be available in both a 24-core CPU and its flagship 32-core CPU for heavier workloads. Although AMD has not yet announced prices for the new CPU, the company expects its launch to be in the third quarter of 2018.
Intel reveals Core i7-8086K Limited Edition for its anniversary
And you can win one for yourself!
When you celebrate your anniversary, you gotta go all out. If you’re a major brand, you need to release something that loyal fans want — even better if it’s given away for free!
That’s exactly what Intel is doing. Today at Computex 2018, the chipset maker unveiled its limited edition Core i7-8086K processor for desktop computers. Sure, it may not be a higher-end Core i9 model, but this one is fast, fast, fast.
On top of its base frequency of 4GHz, it can be boosted up to 5GHz. And since it’s a desktop chipset, it owns six cores with hyper-threading, providing you with 12 logical cores on the system.
This announcement comes at a perfect time: 40 years after the original Intel 8086 chip was released. It was the first processor with the x86 architecture, which is still being used today. This is also Intel 50th year in existence.
Because this is a “K” model, you can overclock it for even crazier clock speeds. Expect PC enthusiasts to try this as soon as the product goes on sale on June 8.
Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but there’s better news: Intel will be giving away 8,086 units of its limited edition processor! This is a real promotion, and you can join the sweepstakes right here.
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