Introduction, Design Features
Gaming desktops tend to make a headlines when they come in one stereotypical recipe: huge, flashy, powerful, and expensive. Take, for example, a $6,000-plus Digital Storm Velox we reviewed some months back. With twin graphics cards, an eight-core Intel CPU, and a totally tradition liquid-cooling solution, it radically had a best of everything.
But does a mega-PC like that make a bill gaming building any reduction of a gaming machine? We’d contend not during all. The $799 Acer Aspire GX-281 desktop we’re looking during here is ideally able of rebellious today’s games. It will let we diversion head-to-head opposite competitors who competence be regulating machines several times some-more expensive. As they contend in automobile racing, it’s not a car, it’s a driver.
Now, a Aspire GX-281, as a $799 mini-tower came configured, isn’t going to let we max out today’s games during a 1080p resolution, let alone during 4K. It’s also not versed to energy today’s virtual-reality (VR) headsets. (If we confirm to ascent a graphics label during some point, it really good could be, though.) But what we get during this three-figure cost indicate is a complement that’s efficient adequate to let we try a latest and biggest in a gaming world.
The many intriguing aspect of a Aspire GX-281 (the specific SKU we perceived for examination is a “GX-281-UR11”) is a AMD Ryzen 5 processor. The Ryzen 5 processor family, along with a some-more absolute Ryzen 7 line, was introduced usually a brief time back, in Apr 2017. The Ryzen-series CPUs symbol AMD’s quip opposite Intel. Take a demeanour during a examination of a Ryzen 5 1600, Ryzen 7 1800X, and a garland of other Ryzen chips related within those reviews to see what these new chips are all about. (At this writing, we’d reviewed 7 of them.) The Ryzen 5 1600 has twin some-more estimate cores than a Ryzen 5 1400 quad-core CPU in a Aspire GX-281, nonetheless they’re both regulating a same altogether technology. As we’ll uncover in a benchmarks, a Ryzen 5 1400 sits somewhere between a Intel Core i5 and a Core i7 quad-core in altogether performance. That’s really critical territory, generally when we cruise a Ryzen 5 1400 undercuts both in cost in a aftermarket. (The chip by itself lists for $169.)
Our specific Aspire GX-281 pattern pairs a AMD Ryzen 5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB tough drive. We’d like to see a solid-state-drive (SSD) enclosed for improved performance; alas, a foe doesn’t seem to offer one during this cost point, either. More critical than possibly of those for gaming is a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. This entry-level card, as we alluded earlier, isn’t adult to 4K gaming, nonetheless it has adequate oomph to energy by any complicated diversion during middle-to-upper visible peculiarity settings during 1080p (1,920×1,080). That said, Acer offers a horde of other GX-281 configurations to name from if we need some-more speed or graphics oomph; these models run from a GX-281-UR11 to a UR17, 7 in all during this essay for a U.S. market. Depending on a configuration, it competence have an upticked Ryzen 5 (Ryzen 5 1600) or a Ryzen 7 CPU, and all nonetheless one of a other SKUs had improved video cards: GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, or Radeon RX 480. The other SKUs ranged from $849 to $1,499.
Acer does good adequate when it comes to value with a Aspire GX-281 we got, though. Dell’s XPS 8920 tower, that is all nonetheless relating to a Dell XPS 8910 building we reviewed a brief while back, was going for $749 in a bottom form as we typed this out. You get a identical turn of non-gaming opening as a Aspire GX-281 for that money: an Intel Core i5-7400 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB tough drive. However, a Dell has usually integrated Intel HD Graphics—not a dedicated video card—at that price, during that kind of graphics fortitude is not adult to personification many of today’s AAA games. Configurations of a Dell with a dedicated label were in a 4 figures.
In contrast, HP’s Envy Desktop 750 (specifically SKU 750-555qe) was on sale for $499 on HP’s Web site as we wrote this, with a same simple specifications as a Dell. It has a PCI Express x16 enlargement slot, definition we could supplement a dedicated label of your possess and still get it for many reduction than what Acer (or Dell) wants for a systems. (You’d wish to be certain a 300-watt energy supply in a Envy is prepared for any label you’d install, however; you’d approaching have to extent yourself to lower-end ones.) The GeForce GTX 1050 label in a Acer goes for about $100 in a aftermarket.
One other aspirant is a Lenovo Ideacentre 720 tower. It ordered $899 in a starting pattern as we wrote this, relating a simple specifications of a just-mentioned Dell and HP units. However, it enclosed a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB graphics label during that price, that is roughly one-third some-more absolute than a customary GTX 1050 in a Aspire GX-281 and a safer gamble for critical 1080p gaming.
With all of those units taken into consideration, one thing’s clear: Among low-end gaming desktops, it’s a jungle out there. It’s protected to presupposition that Acer has taken a core belligerent with a Aspire GX-281. Let’s see how that proceed worked.
The softly assertive demeanour of a Aspire GX-281’s extraneous does a inner components justice. As equipped, this isn’t a high-end gaming tower, nonetheless it’s still a step above a normal mid-tower in performance. The building itself is 15.6 inches tall, 18.2 inches deep, and 6.9 inches wide, a approaching distance operation for a mid-tower. Our tester weighed 18.5 pounds.
The front row and tip covering on a desktop are plastic, nonetheless a side panels and inner structure are steel. The cosmetic on a tip of a desktop has an fabrication brushed-aluminum look. It’s not convincing, nonetheless it does demeanour improved than plain plastic. A triangular energy symbol sits tighten to a brazen edge.
The silken black cosmetic during a tip of a front row tends to collect adult fingerprints. It contrasts easily with a anti-glare gray cosmetic during a reduce part, though. More contrariety comes from a red intake grilles that line possibly side of a gray piece. On tip of a gray square is another red accent, that is backlit in red when a desktop is powered on.
The Aspire branding during a reduce front is inset in a diamond-cut square of aluminum. It’s a grand look.
The outdoor sides of a side panels are embellished black, nonetheless a inside and behind row are left as unprepared gray steel. We could protest about a unclothed metal, nonetheless there’s no box window on this desktop, and it’s not approaching to be seen unless we confirm to take off a left side row for upkeep or upgrades.
The left side row of a desktop comes off pleasantness of twin Phillips-head screws (not thumbscrews, alas). It slides behind and away. The inside of a desktop is a bird’s nest of unsecured and haphazardly tied-off wires…
A miss of purify wire routing isn’t astonishing in a big-brand pre-built desktop, nonetheless it doesn’t make us any happier about it. A bottom-mounted energy supply likely would have finished wire government easier.
The miss of storage enlargement is a many startling partial about a interior of a Aspire GX-281, given that this is not a tiny chassis. The 1TB 3.5-inch tough expostulate in a examination section was mounted opposite a side of a front cage, and there was an dull space to mountain a 2.5-inch expostulate subsequent it. And “mount” is a scold term; there are no slide-in expostulate bays in this desktop, as we’d pattern to see in a mid-tower. The motherboard has 4 sum SATA connectors, and no M.2 container for an M.2 SSD. The energy supply has additional expostulate energy connectors, so no need to worry about that, during least.
You can see a double-slot Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini graphics label commissioned in a reduce partial of a desktop. It gets all a energy it needs from a PCI Express x16 slot. The energy supply has a six-pin and an eight-pin connector available. Given a 500-watt rating of a Lite-On energy supply in a examination unit, it’s a protected gamble we could implement a extremely some-more absolute label down a line. (Contrast that with a 300-watter in a HP Envy desktop we mentioned earlier.) Acer does sell variants of a Aspire GX-281 with adult to a GeForce GTX 1070, a full-length card.
Note a swing-out black square subsequent to a graphics label in a examination unit. It sits resolutely opposite a graphics label when a side row is installed, preventing a graphics label from relocating and putting too many highlight on a PCI Express x16 slot. That’s a good hold and even some-more critical with a incomparable label than a Zotac GTX 1050 in a unit.
The AMD Ryzen 5 1400 has a sincerely strong CPU atmosphere cooler trustworthy to it. It has an 80mm fan, while another 80mm fan sits during a behind of a desktop for a exhaust…
There are 3 sum fans in this desktop, including a one in a energy supply.
We were gratified to see good connectivity on a front of a Aspire GX-281. At a tip is a tray-load visual drive, dark behind a silken black cosmetic cover. (It was a DVD burner in a examination unit.) Pressing a eject idol on a right side coaxes it out of hiding. The second 5.25-inch brook underneath a visual expostulate is empty.
The remaining front connectivity is clustered underneath there. There’s a full-size SD label reader, a Type-C USB 3.1 pier (just for data, and nonetheless Thunderbolt 3 connectivity), apart microphone and headphone jacks, and a Type-A USB 3.0 port. Ports on a front of a desktop are a preference we always demeanour for, as it precludes we from carrying to strech around a behind of a complement to block in peripherals.
Now here’s a demeanour during a behind row and a ports…
Note that since a energy supply is adult tip in a case, a energy wire will hook from a tip of a desktop. We cite a some-more complicated bottom-mounted energy supply for that reason.
The connectors on a behind of a desktop embody 6 USB Type-A ports; a 4 with a black inserts are chronicle 2.0, and a twin red ones are chronicle 3.1. An Ethernet pier sits on tip of those, while headphone, line-out, and line-in audio jacks are below…
The GeForce GTX 1050 graphics label has a bequest DVI-D port, a full-size DisplayPort connector, and a full-size HDMI port. With this card, a Aspire GX-281 supports twin monitors.
Acer includes a no-frills keyboard and rodent setup with a Aspire GX-281. They get a pursuit finished for simple productivity, nonetheless we wouldn’t call them ideal for gaming.
The keyboard is light adequate to collect adult with twin fingers. Its all-plastic pattern translates into a feel of a island-style keys. The keypress movement is light and not accurately confidence-inspiring, nonetheless it’s comparatively quiet.
The keyboard isn’t utterly full-size, as it’s blank a Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys. They’ve been demoted to Fn-key combinations with a arrow keys, that we found an peculiar pattern choice on a desktop keyboard. These keys should be their possess keys. Two feet on a underside of a keyboard can be flipped out to give it an pointed aspect for typing.
The two-button rodent has an ambidextrous shape. The clicks felt excellent to us, as did a notchy scroll-wheel action. The corkscrew circle can be pulpy down as a core click button. The rodent glided over a accumulation of rodent pads nonetheless trouble. As we said, it’s basic, nonetheless it does work. If we meant to get down to gaming, though, we competence wish to demeanour into during slightest a budget-minded deputy with a ride symbol or twin to allot to in-game shortcuts.
The large news with a sold Aspire GX-281 pattern is a AMD Ryzen 5 processor we mentioned progressing on. The Ryzen 5 chips are a middle-of-the-road family in AMD’s lineup, subsequent a Ryzen 7, nonetheless a step above a arriving Ryzen 3 chips. (The Ryzen 3 is approaching to launch someday in a third entertain of 2017.) The Ryzen 5 1400 in a Aspire GX-281 happens to be a lowest stream stage on a Ryzen 5 ladder, with 4 estimate cores, and a ability to routine adult to 8 threads during once. The cores run during a bottom magnitude of 3.2GHz, and can boost adult to 3.4GHz. The fastest stream Ryzen 5 chip, a Ryzen 5 1600X, tops out around 4GHz underneath boost, and has 6 cores. Again, we can check out a examination of a AMD Ryzen 5 1600 and a 4 others to get an thought of a record behind these new chips. You can get a SKU of a GX-281 with a Ryzen 5 1600 and a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti label for $100 more.
According to a CPU-specific benchmarks, a Ryzen 5 1400 is somewhere between an Intel Core i5 quad-core and Core i7 quad-core in altogether performance. The Ryzen 5 1400 is extremely reduction costly than a Core i5-6600, nonetheless achieved improved in many of a multi-threaded scenarios we tested. Intel chips still tend to have improved single-threaded performance. It’s a protected gamble to say, however, that a Ryzen 5 1400 chip in a Aspire GX-281 has some-more than adequate stamina for gaming and perfectionist usage, including video editing.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics label during a heart of this complement is an entry-level card. It goes for around $100 on a own. The Zotac-branded label in a examination section is a same one we reviewed in our Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 MiniGeForce GTX 1060AMD Radeon RX 480Radeon RX 580. As remarkable earlier, other GX-281 models do come with these improved cards for a tiny some-more money.
The 8GB of RAM in a Aspire GX-281 is a unclothed smallest we’d pattern to see in a desktop PC during this cost point. It was configured in a examination section as one hang of DDR4-2400, using in single-channel mode. We’d have elite a two-4GB DIMM setup to get a slight speed boost that comes from a dual-channel configuration. On a splendid side, this setup leaves we with 3 open slots for expansion. (The Aspire GX-281 supports adult to 64GB of dual-channel memory in a four-16GB DIMM configuration.)
The pokiest member in a Aspire GX-281 was a 1TB tough drive. This normal spinner had a lot of space, nonetheless it felt indolent in unsentimental use. We’d like to see a tiny SSD for a OS, in further to a tough expostulate for storage. Even a small-capacity 128GB SSD would have finished a pretence nicely. As remarkable before, we can supplement a 2.5-inch SATA-based SSD or tough expostulate to this desktop nonetheless many trouble, nonetheless we get no M.2 slots on a motherboard. If this bothers we (and it should) but we differently like this PC, we should demeanour during some of a other GX-281 models Acer was charity during this writing, as several of them enclosed a 256GB SSD as a feet expostulate alongside a tough expostulate for mass storage. One of note, a GX-281-UR16, had an $849 list cost and a same RAM/CPU/video-card pattern as a exam indication (though 4GB of memory on a video label rather than 2GB), nonetheless combined a 256GB SSD to a brew as a feet drive, relegating a 1TB one to bulk/game storage. We’d widen a additional $50 in a heartbeat for that change to this configuration.
Speaking of software, a Windows 10 Home handling complement on a Aspire GX-281 wasn’t wholly clean of bloatware, nonetheless it was modestly apportioned, as mass-market PCs like these go. A Norton antivirus hearing was installed, that we soon removed.
We tested a thermal opening of a Aspire GX-281 by using a diversion Rise of a Tomb Raider. The AMD Ryzen 5 CPU reached a rise heat of 37 degrees C, and a GeForce GTX 1050 surfaced out during 68 degrees C. (We did a contrast in a room with an ambient heat of 68 degrees F.) The CPU heat was unusually cool, nonetheless a heat might be somewhat misleading; a GeForce GTX 1050 was a gaming bottleneck, and a CPU didn’t have to work all that tough to keep adult with it. Either way, a CPU heat seemed good underneath control. Also, a Aspire GX-281 was really still in all scenarios, even during a many stressed. We had to put a ears within a feet of a desktop to hear anything from a fans.