PC

Upgrade ups the power and cuts price tag

The two powerful but pricey Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X cards in the previous model have been replaced by a pair of Nvidia's latest GeForce GTX 1080 cards.
The two powerful but pricey Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X cards in the previous model have been replaced by a pair of Nvidia's latest GeForce GTX 1080 cards. PHOTO: ASUS

Asus swops graphics cards in its ROG GT51CA gaming desktop and price drops by $3,000

Fewer than four months after launching its ROG GT51CA gaming desktop here, Asus has updated it with a more powerful but cheaper version.

This is mainly down to a significant change: The two powerful but pricey Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X graphics cards in the previous model have been replaced by a pair of Nvidia's latest GeForce GTX 1080 cards.

Not only is the GTX 1080 much cheaper than the Titan X, but it also performs slightly better in games.

In the Crysis 3 first-person shooter, the new GT51CA managed around 182 frames per second (fps) at the maximum graphics setting and at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, compared with 170fps with the older version.

The GT51CA is also capable of running games at 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) smoothly with all the visual effects enabled. It scored 61 fps in Doom at the Ultra setting.

However, running Doom with the same settings on another gaming PC - the Aftershock Ultracore, which has a single GTX 1080 graphics card - produced a similar 60fps. This suggests that Doom does not support two graphics cards.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $4,498

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700K (4GHz)

    GRAPHICS: 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5

    STORAGE: 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD

    RAM: 32GB

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 6 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, PS/2, 6 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, 2 x DVI, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The substantially cheaper GTX 1080 is reflected in the new GT51CA's price - $3,000 less than its predecessor. In other words, the GTX 1080 is a much-needed upgrade for the GT51CA, which probably explains why Asus was so quick to launch a new model.

The GT51CA - with two GTX 1080 graphics cards - now costs $4,498, down from $7,498. But unlike the previous version, Asus will not be bundling a 27-inch 4K monitor with the computer.

Asus also sells the GT51CA with a single GTX 1080 graphics card at $3,498, which compares well with other similar high-end gaming PCs such as the Aftershock Ultracore ($3,120) and the console-like Asus ROG G20 ($3,198).

In addition to changing the graphics cards, Asus has made other minor tweaks. The 64GB system memory, which I felt was excessive, has been downsized to 32GB. This should have little impact on games.

The older model's DVD writer has been bumped up to a Blu-ray combo drive.

Internal storage remains the same, with the GT51CA sporting a 512GB solid-state drive for the operating system and a secondary 2TB hard drive for data files.

Asus has not made any changes to the GT51CA's massive full-tower chassis, which bristles with LEDs that can be configured to display up to eight million colours using the Asus Aegis II app.

This app can also monitor the temperature of the CPU, which is cooled by a liquid cooler that helps the chip maintain temperatures of around 60 deg C, even when running games.

Included with the GT51CA is the ROG Band. Tap the front of the chassis (with the NFC logo) with this wristband to either overclock the CPU or access a hidden 1TB partition on the hard drive. This hidden drive can be used to store sensitive or personal data.

I prefer setting the wristband to unlock the hidden partition because the former can already be done by pressing the Turbo button on the chassis.

• Verdict: Asus' top gaming desktop PC just got more powerful, and a lot less expensive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Upgrade ups the power and cuts price tag'. Print Edition | Subscribe