Reviews: PC

Small, elegant and fully customisable

Despite its limitations and size, the general performance of the Dreamcore PC is good

The Dreamcore PC is a small, yet customisable desktop computer from a new local start-up.

Founder Shaun Tan set out to make his own small-form-factor system because he was dissatisfied with the available options.

His first computer, launched last month at the IT Show, claims to be the smallest fully customisable PC available in Singapore.

When I met him to receive the Dreamcore PC for testing, he actually passed me a laptop bag with the computer inside.

The Dreamcore has a clean and minimalist design. Its metallic chassis, dotted with vents, and made from aircraft-grade aluminium, reminds me of a rack server. It uses an external laptop power adapter, which helps to reduce the size of the PC.

The facade is plain, with a single circular power button that glows when the computer is switched on. My practical side would have preferred a couple of USB ports at the front, but I understand the aesthetic reason for choosing not to do so.

The review set is entirely in black, but you can pick a custom colour when configuring the system on the Dreamcore website.

The metallic chassis of the Dreamcore, dotted with vents, is made from aircraft-grade aluminium.
The metallic chassis of the Dreamcore, dotted with vents, is made from aircraft-grade aluminium. PHOTO: DREAMCORE

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,080

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-7500 (3.4GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB

    STORAGE: 500GB SSD

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, 3 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, DVI output, Ethernet port, PS/2 port, audio jacks


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

While small-form-factor PCs are hardly unique, the Dreamcore stands out for being much more customisable than its competitors. It uses off-the-shelf components, so you could upgrade the Dreamcore yourself, although tying the cables neatly to fit in the small chassis is the real challenge here.

There are some limitations: the Dreamcore currently supports up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 instead of the flagship GTX 1080 graphics card. It is also limited to 32GB of RAM.

But most users should not be worried about these restrictions. The GTX 1070 is more than enough for most gamers. In fact, my review set managed to run Doom at 129 frames per second at Ultra setting despite its slower GTX 1060.

General performance is good, thanks to a 500GB solid-state drive and a mid-range Intel Core i5 chip. You can configure with a Core i7 processor or add a secondary storage drive.

Because of the large vents in the chassis, I would not recommend putting any beverages near the computer because a spilled drink could spell disaster.

I was also concerned about the potential accumulation of dust in the chassis. But Mr Tan said his company will clean it for free upon request. The computer has a two-year warranty with onsite service for the first three months.

At $2,080, the Dreamcore is reasonably priced for a custom PC. Configuring a small-form-factor system with identical specs from local PC builder Aftershock costs about $2,000 while Asus sells the equally compact ROG GR8 II desktop PC at $2,199.

•Verdict: The Dreamcore is an elegant choice for those who want a small but capable computer, but not necessarily a flashy gaming machine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Small, elegant and fully customisable'. Print Edition | Subscribe