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ESL Certified Esports PC

Key FeaturesReview Price: £14994.6GHz Intel Core i7-8700K processorNvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics16GB 3,000MHz DDR4 RAM256GB Intel 760p SSD2TB HDDAsus TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING motherboarddual-band 802.11ac WiFi, 6 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3 Type-C, 1 x PS/2, 3 x audio3yr labour warrantyWhat is the ESL Certified Esports PC?

The ESL Certified Esports PC is an exciting and intriguing system that represents the combined efforts of three of the UK’s biggest tech and gaming companies. Unsurprisingly for an ESL-branded system, it’s taking aim at esports gaming.

The Esports PC comes with a Pascal-powered graphics card, an overclocked processor and plenty of room to grow thanks to building by experts at PC Specialist – and it’ll available on the high street at branches of Currys and PC World.

ESL Certified Esports PC – Specifications

The components inside this system have unsurprisingly been chosen to handle the latest esports games – and, pleasingly, they’ll also tackle other top titles and most non-gaming applications.

Graphical grunt comes from a GeForce GTX 1070. This card packs in 1920 stream processors and a rapid base clock of 1506MHz. There’s enough power in this Pascal card to handle any current esports game, and anything that’ll conceivably enter the competitive scene in the next few years.

Related: Nvidia RTX 2070 vs GTX 1070

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Asus Chromebox 3

What is the Asus Chromebox 3?

Chromeboxes are basically simplified desktop computers, running Google’s Chrome OS instead of the likes of Windows or macOS.

Their main function is to get you online, with full support for the usual array of peripherals and the ability to download and run Android apps. Of course, functionality is limited, just as with the Chromebook laptop equivalents.

Asus introduced the first Chromebox a few years back, and this sequel basically offers a handful of upgrades to keep it all fresh and modern. At its heart this remains a simple and portable desktop box, however.

I’ve been using the Chromebox as my work device and here’s what you can expect.

Related: Windows 10 S vs Chrome OS, what’s the difference?

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Wacom Cintiq Pro 24

What is the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24?

The Cintiq Pro 24 is the latest big-screen monitor from Wacom. The behemoth device is bespoke built for creatives and is, believe it or not, the smaller option in Wacom’s next-generation line of Cintiqs – it sits below the 32-inch model set for launch later this year.

Featuring an excellent screen, industry-leading stylus and support for Wacom’s Pro Engine – which turns it into a standalone PC – the Pro 24 is an artist’s dream. My only quibble is that Wacom is still insisting on charging significant sums for all the optional extras that creatives will need to fully take advantage of the new Cintiq.

With pricing for the monitor portion alone setting you back a hefty £1900, and the optional Pro Engine an extra £2400, the Cintiq Pro 24 is a seriously expensive luxury.

Related: Best monitors

Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 – Design and setup

The Cintiq Pro 24 isn’t a subtle bit of kit. The giant screen measures a whopping 677 x 394 x 47mm and, unlike most all-in-ones or displays, is designed to be sat flat on a desk – like an artist’s easel. As such, it’s likely to take up a whole desk all on its own, leaving little space for a mouse or keyboard, let alone a desktop computer, to sit next to it.

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MSI Vortex G25

What is the MSI Vortex G25?

The MSI Vortex G25 is one of the smallest desktop PCs I’ve ever seen. Despite that, MSI reckons this compact unit packs enough of a gaming punch to handle today’s top-tier titles with ease.

Related: Best gaming monitors

MSI Vortex G25 – Design and build

The G25 weighs just 2.5kg and is 43mm wide and 332m tall. It’s barely bigger than a gaming notebook, and that means it compares very well to its rivals.

The Zotac MEK1, for instance, is 118mm wide and 418mm tall – and it weighs 8.9kg. The Asus ROG GR8 II-T017Z is 88mm wide and weighs 3.7kg, but it’s a little shorter at 299mm. And, if you want to go a step further in terms of size, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube is 252mm wide but just 315mm tall, with a 7.4kg weight.

The MSI’s diminutive dimensions make it one of the best options I’ve seen for LAN parties – it’s certainly easy to pack this machine into a backpack. The G25’s exterior is made from plastic and, importantly, it’s sturdy enough to handle being frequently carried around.

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Zotac MEK1

What is the Zotac MEK1?

There aren’t many companies with as much experience as Zotac when it comes to small-form-factor PCs. The firm has been building exceptional systems for years, so we were excited when the Zotac MEK1 arrived on our test bench.

This mini-ITX rig is a little larger than many of Zotac’s previous systems, but it’s also far more powerful. That’s because the MEK1 has been built to deliver high-end gaming in a package small enough to take to LAN parties.

Related: Best gaming PCs

Zotac MEK1 – Design and build

It certainly looks the part PC. Parallel bands of RGB LEDs run from beneath the base, up the front of the machine and across the roof. The case is rather angular, with vents seen all over the machine. Zotac says that the design is inspired by robots and ‘mechanical anatomy’, and we can certainly believe it.

Via Zotac’s Spectra software, those RGB LEDs can be adjusted to display different colours and lighting modes, and the rest of the exterior offers solid versatility. A door at the front of the machine hides the power button, USB ports and audio jacks, and at the rear there are four USB 3 ports, five audio jacks and dual Ethernet. Sadly, there’s no USB 3.1 Type-C.

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Corsair One Elite

What is the Corsair One Elite?

The latest incarnation of Corsair’s small-form-factor desktop is a stunning system that tries to tick every box. The Corsair One Elite’s internals have been upgraded to deliver better performance in applications and games, while – the company claims – being virtually silent in operation.

The Corsair One is smaller than almost every other PC on the market, too – but it’s expensive: the Elite model reviewed here costs a mighty £2999. Is it worth the money?

Related: Best Gaming PCs

Corsair One Elite – Design and build

The latest Corsair One immediately earns its Elite label. The exterior is hewn from aircraft-grade aluminium with a matte black finish – so not only does it look fantastic, but it isn’t a fingerprint magnet either. Two subtle strips of light on the front sit on either side of modest logos and a smart power button.

Superb looks are joined by impressive dimensions. The One is 380mm tall and 176mm wide, which makes it more compact than even the smallest machines produced by every mainstream rival. It weighs 7.4kg, and there are no silly protrusions or extra stands, making this a system that will easily slot behind a monitor or even into a bag.

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Dell Inspiron AIO 5475

What is the Dell Inspiron AIO 5475?

The Dell Inspiron AIO 5475 is part of Dell’s new Inspiron 5000 all-in-one line-up. With its classy exterior upgrade, the AIO 5475 looks far nicer than its predecessors and much more like a premium desktop.

But, inside sits an older generation AMD processor, which makes this computer slower than many of its rivals. Given the relatively high price, this is an all-in-one with some significant challenges and tough competition.

Related: Best desktop PC 

Dell Inspiron AIO 5475 – Design and Build

I can’t complain about the AIO 5475’s design. While the old Inspiron 5000-series had rather thick bezels, the AIO 5475 has Dell’s increasingly-common ‘InfityEdge’ screen, similar to that seen on the excellent XPS 13 laptop.

With the screen reaching from edge-to-edge, the AIO 5475 looks gorgeous. And with the thinnest of borders, the 23.8-inch panel isn’t overly imposing; this all-in-one doesn’t take up much room on the desk. A small ‘chin’ runs across the bottom, housing the computer’s speakers and webcam. With its black grille, this strip looks great and gives the AIO 5475 a smart and unique look. I think it’s fair to say that this all-in-one is every bit as attractive as the iMac.

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Asus ROG GT51CH

What is the Asus Republic of Gamers GT51CH?

The latest addition to the Republic of Gamers range is one of Asus’ biggest-ever desktop PCs. The GT51CH is a 23kg monster that mixes high-end components with incredible aesthetics, but it arrives with a bank-busting price of £2999 – and I’m not sure it can justify that figure.

Related: Best gaming PC specs to build yourself

Asus Republic of Gamers GT51CH – Design and build

This computer is a beast. Its front panel is made from a sloping gunmetal material, with a bright RoG logo positioned between two illuminated slashes.

 

That’s an impressive start, but the front is dominated by a circular addition at the bottom of the panel. It’s a recessed area ringed with burnt orange plastic, and it has its own LEDs – so it glows like Iron Man’s Arc Reactor. It isn’t simply a visual touch, however – the round entryway ushers air towards the Asus’ only intake fan, and then into the rest of the PC.

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Dell XPS 27 All-in-One

What is the Dell XPS 27 All-in-One?

I’ve seen many companies try to take on the Apple iMac before, but they’ve largely been PC copies of the same design, rather than something fresh. It’s good, then, to see Dell do something different for its XPS 27 All-in-One, crafting a PC that’s designed to play to Windows’ strengths while adding some unique hardware touches.

Related: Best desktop PCs

Dell XPS 27 All-in-One – Design and build

With its 27-inch display, the XPS 27 is rather an imposing all-in-one measuring 435 x 625 x 80mm. Like the iMac it has a large chin at the bottom, although, in this case, it isn’t just dead space but houses six speakers in the glossy black frame. The result is a computer that looks refreshingly different to the competition and fantastic in its own right. Certainly, this is an all-in-one that’s been built to garner attention, and I’d proudly have it sat on my desk.

A common complaint with all-in-ones is that they often have inflexible stands, but this isn’t the case with the XPS 27. Thanks to the adjustable hinge mechanism, you can move the screen anywhere between face-on to flat on the desk. Getting the screen lined up comfortably is easy, and the manoeuvrability makes the touchscreen much easier to use, as you don’t have to lean awkwardly across a desk to prod at the screen.

The minor downside is that the full-metal stand, to cope with this movement, adds to the weight, with the touchscreen model of the XPS 27 weighing in at a hefty 17.3kg. Still, it’s unlikely that you’ll be shifting the position of the machine much once it’s in place.

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Asus Tinker Board

What is the Asus Tinker Board?

Single-board computers have become very popular over the last five years, with the Raspberry Pi getting in on the act early on, winning the hearts and minds of children, teachers and coding hobbyists with its low price, easy software and vibrant community.

The Tinker Board, then, is Asus’ attempt not so much to cash in on this world of single-board PCs, but offer a slightly more premium piece of hardware to sate the demands of enthusiasts who want better performance. It’s a commendable effort and it is a great piece of hardware, but software and support is a real sticking point.

Asus Tinker Board – Design and features

Although at first glance it looks just like a Raspberry Pi 3, some tweaks to the Tinker Board’s design help it feel more like a premium product. The board is covered with icons depicting its various functions, so you’re unlikely to get your camera and display connectors mixed up.

The general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header is colour-coded, too, to help you see what pin is what (red for 5V, for example, and black for ground). The Tinker Board’s pins have the same layout as the Raspberry Pi’s, to make transferring over your projects simpler. There’s also a stick-on heatsink in the box, which you should use as the SOC gets far, far hotter than the Pi’s under load.

Raspberry Pi alongside the Asus Tinker Board; the most noticable difference is the additional heatsink and coloured IO connectors on the Asus (right)

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iMac 21.5-inch 4K (2017)

What is the 21.5-inch iMac?

The 4K 21.5-inch 2017 iMac is a refresh of Apple’s iconic all-in-one. It comes stacked with the latest processor and graphics options, alongside the same butter-smooth Apple experience you’ve come to expect.

If you’re after a powerful and good-looking all-in-one, you really don’t need to look much further.

21.5-inch iMac – Design and build

If you’ve seen an iMac in the past decade, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this latest model will offer. Despite its age, the iMac still offers up great-looking design with its combination of silver aluminium, tapered edges and simple, single-footed stand.

The iMac is a thoroughly modern device when it comes to connectivity. There are four USB 3 ports, a further two high-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports that can handle data at up to 40Gbps – perfect for high-end storage peripherals and monitors – and an SDXC card slot, Gigabit Ethernet and headphone jack.

Related: Best desktops and all-in-one PCs

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Asus VivoMini VC66R

What is the Asus VivoMini VC66R?

One of the main reasons for people not wanting to invest in a desktop PC is because of the associated bulk. However, computers don’t have to be so huge, as the tiny Asus VivoMini VC66R shows. Despite its small size, the VivoMini doesn’t sacrifice power and can do more than your average laptop. Available only on a build-to-order basis, the VC66R will hopefully be on mainstream sale later in the year.I’ve not yet given the VivoMini VC66R a rating due to its lack of a price in the UK. When Asus announces a price, I’ll revisit this review to deliver my final verdict.

Related: Best desktop PC

Asus VivoMini VC66R – Design and Build

I love the VivoMini VC66R: it’s modern-looking, minimalist and very small (177 x 153 x 74mm). The case has a subtle dimpling effect, with a pattern of squares. It helps break up the case, giving it a fresher look.

Although the VivoMini VC66R is compact, the case has everything that you could want on it. At the front, there are two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port and a USB 3.1 Type-C port, with a headphone jack rounding off the options. At the rear, there are two further USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet (802.11ac Wi-Fi is built-in), and an SDXC card reader. Arguably, the card reader would be better at the front of the PC, where it’s easier to reach. That said, the VC66R is so small and light that it’s easy enough to turn around.

The rear houses the power input, provided by an external power brick. While an internal power supply can be neater, this would require a larger case, which wouldn’t be ideal. There are HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI graphics outputs. As the VivoMini VC66R uses integrated Intel graphics, only the DisplayPort output supports 4K displays at 60Hz; the HDMI 1.4 output can only do 4K at 24Hz. Finally, there’s a serial COM port on the back, should this be the kind of thing that you need.

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Samsung DeX

What is Samsung DeX?

A phone that can double up as a PC has long been a dream of techies. The business case for having one complete computing device for on-the-go tasks and desk-bound work is pretty strong.

Windows 10 Mobile Continuum made a commendable first step into this world, but it’s Samsung that’s taken up the mantle with DeX, a £120 dock that supports the latest Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones.

Buy the Samsung Dex from Mobile Fun – £129.99

Samsung DeX – Dock

As a piece of design the DeX looks pretty cool, but it’s rather impractical. Think of it as a small black plastic pie, with the pastry lid that can be slid back to reveal the USB-C connector and which forms a resting place for your docked phone.

The innards of the dock contain a cooling fan for the heatsink, with the external ports consisting of the following: USB-C for power, HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet connector for wired internet.

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Latest Article Comments

tynmanz Monthly Studio Report: May 2017
11 June 2017
I don't think they should continue to put features into it. They can add them later.

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