With all the articles and reviews about laptops and how people see them as expensive, I decided to do a little digging. What would you need to pay to get a complete machine for some gaming. I don’t mean loan a monitor from work and steal your brother’s old mouse to play something from GOG. com either. I mean a solid machine that performs pretty well. Something that could handle games well enough to, say, compete in eSports and even travel around without embarrassing your team. Something just like those sexy machines you saw at rAge at the Gigabyte stand. You see where I am going with this?
I got to take a look at the guts of the machines from rAge and while the GPU will change from its 760 card to a Gigabyte 960 G1 Gaming Edition, the machine was a pleasure to work with. The chassis they used, a Corsair 380T Mini ITX, has a useful carry handle that is sturdy and the plucky box-like shape has a charm to it. Being able to carry it easily also comes in handy (sorry) for LANs and events that require you to bring a machine. The case has large windows to show off the hardware you have in your machine and you will want to because the 380T gives your GPU centre stage in the window thanks to the chassis placing the motherboard horizontally. In case you are worried about size constraints, the 380T supports a full length GPU, and the CPU is water-cooled with a Corsair Hydro H75, so there is quite a lot of room, if though I am not sure my large hands would be happy to fiddle around in one of these all day. I wonder if they hire people with small hands at companies that build PCs for a living?
Of course, going small does lead to one limitation. The G-97N-Gaming has two DIMM slots, which are populated with two Corsair 4 GB 1,600 MHz Vengeance modules. If you want to go beyond 8GB of ram, you will have to buy new RAM in future, say 2 x 8 GB though considering the aim of the machine: eSports titles like Dota 2, you shouldn’t have any problems with 8 GB for a while.
So I tested this machine with the GTX 760 and it runs the benchmarks pretty well.
Those are some impressive results, even without looking at what the Maxwell upgrade can do. The best part was the temperature this machine runs at. I was a bit worried that there would be airflow issues in such a small chassis, and that was not a problem. After running Firestrike a few times, this is what the temperatures were immediately after closing 3D Mark:
The CPU is comfortably chugging along at 40 degrees, with the air-cooled GPU at 50. The cooling, and the chassis held up much better than I thought, which is probably how these machines survived hell rAge.
Chassis Corsair 380T Mini ITX Chassis Motherboard Gigabyte G-Z97N-GAMING5 Mini ITX Motherboard Processor Intel i7 4790 3.60Ghz Processor Memory Corsair DDR3 1600Mhz Vengeance Dual Channel Memory Kit (8 GB) Storage Corsair 128GB Force LS SSD Drive Display Gigabyte GV-N760OC-2GD NVidia 760 OC Edition Power Supply Corsair Builder Series CXM 600 WATT Power Supply Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H75 with 120MM Radiator
So what would a machine like this cost you? It can play the games, survive the trips to events and the like and won’t melt a hole into whatever is next to it. This machine, plus Windows 8.1, a K70 RBG mechanical keyboard, M65 laser mouse, mousepad, 7.1 headset and 24″ 1080p BenQ display will cost just south of R30,000.
While most people won’t buy a whole PC brand new, it made for a really interesting experiment and review. All too often it is difficult to consider the price of a full machine, because so many parts and software would often be cannibalised. Is this something you would be interested? Personally I buy components and build my own machine, but I understand that not everyone wants to do that, and I don’t get my cables as nice and neat as when someone else builds it for you.
Keep an eye out for separate reviews of the keyboard and screen soon.