Asus is out to woo gamers and enthusiasts with its new ROG Strix GD30 desktop PC. Unlike its other gaming computers, the GD30 can be fully upgraded by users, with its large chassis offering plenty of expansion options.
In other words, the GD30 is almost like any custom gaming PC that you can buy from a PC hardware store at Sim Lim Square, except that you do not get to choose the components.
Asus makes the motherboard and the graphics cards in the GD30, though other components like the storage drives and the CPU are from other manufacturers.
It comes in two configurations. The more affordable $2,498 variant sports a mid-range GeForce GTX 1060, while the $2,798 model tested here has a more powerful GTX 1070 graphics card.
Differentiating the GD30 from a self-assembled gaming PC is also Asus' Aegis app. This Windows software lets users monitor hardware temperatures, control fan speeds and LED lighting effects.
However, I feel that the LEDs on the GD30's motherboard are not as flashy as the LEDs on Asus' enthusiast-class motherboards. Tech-savvy users hoping to tweak hardware settings via the BIOS will be disappointed, as it is locked down like the ones on branded computers and offers few options.
Its black-and-white casing design is supposedly inspired by the armour worn by Stormtroopers from the Star Wars movies.
At the front of the chassis, two plastic panels can be easily attached or removed by users in order to alter the facade in five different ways.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700 (3.6GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5
RAM: 16GB DDR4
STORAGE: 256GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB Type-C, 6 x USB 3.1 (Gen 1), 4 x USB 2.0, 2 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, DVI output, Ethernet port, audio jacks
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
This sounds good on paper, but the GD30's built-in DVD writer ends up being concealed behind one of the plastic panels, which means it has to be removed to use the optical drive. This effectively limits how you can tweak the casing's appearance.
The chassis itself can hold up to six hard drives, two solid-state drives (SSD) and a water-cooling system. The retail version comes with a standard CPU cooler, a 256GB Samsung SSD and a 1TB hard drive.
The power supply unit is concealed by a shroud that creates a wind tunnel at the bottom of the chassis for better airflow. The graphics card is held securely by a bracket, though it also means that more screws have to be removed to change the graphics card. The side panel has a meshed metallic window that Asus claims can reduce electromagnetic emissions.
It breezed through our usual gaming benchmarks, thanks to its high-end hardware. It scored around 95 frames per second (fps) in Crysis 3 and 125fps in Doom at the highest settings at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.
My GD30 review set costs $2,798, which is likely more expensive than building a PC yourself. Based on current prices, a similarly capable PC from Sim Lim Square costs around $2,000 to $2,500, depending on your choice of parts.
But those who prefer not to get into the gritty chore of setting up their own systems may find the GD30 a decent PC with good expansion options.
• Verdict: Because of its generous expansion options, the GD30 is as close as you'll get to a DIY PC from a PC maker.