While gaming consoles remain fairly consistent in terms of hardware specs over the course of a few years, gaming PCs – especially for enthusiasts – can be upgraded on a very frequent basis.
But the more powerful gaming systems tend to favour large desktop chassis, which aren’t the most beautiful or compact devices to slot in near your big-screen TV.
What if you want to buy a reasonably powerful gaming PC that can double as a media centre (it’ll be in the living room anyway, right?), is smaller than your average console and still allows you to play this year’s version of Call of Duty – without gouging a hole in your wallet? That’s where the ASUS ROG GR6 Gaming PC comes into play.
Priced around £649, the GR6 aims at the sweet spot of PC hardware. Small enough to fit under your TV, powerful enough to play AAA titles and quiet and low-power enough to forget it’s there. Oh, and it’s not a console so you can still do everything you’re used to with a PC – choose your favourite media streaming platform, browse the web, get a little work done in between gaming sessions – it’s all possible.
Let’s take a look at the Asus ROG GR6.
While the GR6 is not equipped with the crème de la crème in terms of specs, it offers a decent line-up for the part-time gamer. Inside a svelte box we’ve got:
- Intel Core i5 5200U dual-core CPU
- 8GB DDR3 RAM
- NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics
- 1 TB HDD
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
The GR6 has been built with a clear focus on power consumption. With the fifth-generation (Broadwell) dual-core Intel Core i5 5200U clocked at 2.2GHz (with a turbo speed of 2.7GHz) alongside the 2 GB NVIDIA GTX 960M – which is typically found in laptops – the GR6 is not a power-hungry beast. According to ASUS the GR6 only draws 15W when idle. That translates into quiet running with a maximum of noise output of 28 dB – if you’re thinking about putting the GR6 in the living room or a dorm, that’s pretty essential.
On the outside of the abnormally shaped case we have ports available on the front and the back, as we’d expect. The black and red case tapers forward marginally, giving it a sporty look which falls in line with the rest of ASUS’ ROG branding. In my opinion the front is somewhat reminiscent of the Eye of Sauron at the top of Barad-dûr.
On the front are 2 USB 2.0 ports (one with quick-charging), mic and headphone jacks and two buttons. The top button is a standard power button while the lower is the dedicated Steam Big Picture Mode power button. Using the top button, the PC will turn on in approximately 23 seconds according to our tests and will launch Windows as normal. The lower button, however, will turn on the PC and launch it straight into Steam BP. This is great for use in the living room, however, it does take the best part of two minutes to cold boot directly into Steam.
On the back are line-in, line-out and mic jacks, S/PDIF out, HDMI, DisplayPort, gigabit LAN, four USB 3.0 ports and mains supply. For such a small chassis (60mm x 245mm x 238mm) there’s all the connectivity you need, and weighing just 1.28kg, it’s portable enough to move from room to room, or travel to LAN parties. It occupies less space than a PS4 or an Xbox One and at 2.5L the GR6 is definitely small enough to place in a media cabinet under your TV in the living room.
Aside from gaming, the GR6 makes a great media centre, albeit probably providing more power than is necessary. With Kodi or Plex the GR6 is capable of playing back your video library with ease using its direct HDMI or DisplayPort connections. With S/PDIF out you have a variety of options for connecting the PC to an AV receiver or surround sound speakers for high-quality audio.
While the GR6 is well stocked on storage, with a 1 TB Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000 Hard Drive on board, spinning at 7200 RPM, there’s options available to boost storage further. The GR6’s side panel slides off exposing a slot for a 2.5” HDD/SSD upgrade as well as two SO-DIMM slots for RAM upgrades. The PC will accept up to 16 GB Dual Channel, DDR3L RAM running at 1600MHz.
As for connectivity the GR6 has the gigabit LAN as well as built-in 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. Note, however, there’s no Bluetooth support integrated in the network adaptor.
The PC ships with Windows 8.1 but can be upgraded to Windows 10 for free. Overall, for the price and given the GR6’s compact dimensions, it offers a decent specification that’s more than suitable for AV and gaming use.
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