Asus ROG Huracan G21: Compact and upgradable gaming PC

To console gamers, the new Asus ROG Huracan G21 gaming computer may evoke memories of chunky gaming consoles from the past.

It certainly reminded me of the original "fat" Sony PlayStation 3 before the extra bulk was shed in the re-designed PlayStation 3 Slim.

On the other hand, PC gamers may be impressed by the Huracan's compact dimensions. Weighing just 10kg, the Huracan, unlike some small desktop computers, does not compromise on performance by using slower, notebook-class components.

In fact, you can even overclock it by opening the "Smart Cover" at its side. This magnetic cover, which has a microfibre-like finish, folds up to allow more cool air to enter the chassis.

The improved airflow lets Asus take the leash off the Huracan's processor and graphics card. When the cover is folded, a pop-up notification from the Asus Aegis III software tells you that the computer is being overclocked. It is gimmicky, though I suppose it makes for good show-and-tell at gaming trade shows.

The preloaded Aegis III app is a one-stop control panel for those who wish to monitor and adjust key settings, such as the graphics card clock speeds and LED light settings.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $2,798

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8700 (3.2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB

    STORAGE: 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD

    CONNECTIVITY (FRONT): 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, microphone and headphone jacks

    CONNECTIVITY (REAR): 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, 2 x HDMI, 2 x DisplayPort, DVI, Ethernet, S/PDIF output, audio jacks

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

As is often the case for gaming PCs, the Huracan is decked with customisable LED lights at the front and inside the chassis.

Its chassis size is reduced with the use of an external laptop power adapter instead of a built-in power supply unit. To be specific, the Huracan requires two laptop power adapters, each with its own power cord, likely because its high-end hardware needs a lot of juice.

These two adapters are held together by a sturdy plastic bracket, but they take up two power sockets. I noticed this unusual arrangement on the Asus G20 gaming PC in 2015 and it seems that Asus has yet to come up with a better solution.

It offers very good expansion and upgrade options for a compact gaming desktop. A screwdriver is required to loosen the numerous screws holding the side panels and internal components in place, but tech-savvy users can upgrade the memory, storage drives and graphics card without much hassle.

You can also add storage space without opening the chassis. The Huracan has a hot-swoppable bay for a 2.5-inch SATA storage drive.

You simply slot the drive into the bay to transfer files and games at much faster speeds than through the usual USB 3.0 interface.

My $2,798 review set is the cheaper of the two hardware configurations available, though its six-core Intel Core i7-8700 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card put it solidly in the high-end category.

In my benchmark testing, the Huracan scored around 102 frames per second (fps) in Crysis 3 at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at Very High setting and 130fps in Doom at Ultra setting.

In other words, this gaming computer is good enough for most users.

• Verdict: Despite its gimmicky smart cover, the Huracan is a good gaming computer that offers excellent expansion options for its size.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2018, with the headline 'Compact and upgradable gaming PC'. Print Edition | Subscribe