Introduction, Design Features
For a long time, PC-gaming rigs were known as much for their eye-bugging price tags as for their performance. They were geared toward those who were willing to pay gobs of money to have the fastest system on the block. But that meant that people with more modest needs and budgets got left out of the fun.
As spiffy 1080p monitors have fallen in price in recent years, though, and real gaming-graphics power for mainstream budgets has become much more accessible, the quality of popularly-priced gaming systems has risen like a rocket. More and more gaming rigs have become available that offer loads of fun much more affordable prices than the boutique rigs. One example is the Asus G11DF, and one of the reasons is AMD’s Ryzen CPUs. Okay, two reasons: Nvidia’s superb Pascal video cards have helped, too.
While the Asus ROG Strix GD30CI we reviewed a little while back straddled the middle of the road in pricing and performance, the G11DF makes a few more compromises that slash the price versus that model by almost half. And while it may not be able to go toe-to-toe with high-end gaming rigs, the G11DF is VR-ready, and it can get you playing current-generation games at 1080p at very healthy frame rates.
Priced at $999 at the time of this review, the G11DF we were sent for review came equipped with a 3.2GHz AMD Ryzen 5 1400Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060Ryzen 7 1700GeForce GTX 1070Republic of Gamers GR8 II and the full-size Strix GD30CI tower we mentioned above. Measuring 16.6×6.9×17.3 inches (HWD) and weighing 21.4 pounds, the G11DF isn’t tiny, but it is fairly compact as far as midtowers go.
As with other Asus gaming systems, many of them in the Republic of Gamers line, Asus went with a design that was clearly inspired by science fiction, making it clear that this is a gaming system. But while the designs of some of their other systems, like the ROG GR8 II, are more in-your-face about being gaming rigs, the G11DF is relatively understated, allowing it to fit in well in most computing environments. It’s edgy, but not to the extent that it would be goofy-looking in an office.
Starting at the front of the system, you’ll find some etching adorning much of the case, making it look like you’re seeing the hull of a space ship. Included in this etched design is the G11 Series name, along with openings for some red LED chassis lighting to bleed through. If the time should come that you want your G11DF to seem a little more work and a little less play, you can easily turn the lighting off through Asus’ pre-installed Aegis III software. The same software also provides system information and the ability to control fan speeds, along with some other core-system tweaks.
Slightly above the middle of the front of the case is the power button, illuminated by a white LED. Above it is a slight indentation, with red lighting, followed by a section that protrudes a bit. Here, you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports with Type-A connectors (the superscript “10” is a dead giveaway), and a six-format card reader between the two pairs of ports. Moving further up, you’ll pass an Asus logo as you reach the optical drive, near the top of the case.
As you make your way up there, you’ll find audio jacks for microphones and headsets. Past the indented area where these jacks rest is some additional etching, following a smoother plastic area, with another Asus logo etched in near the rear of the case and a couple of lines flanking it.
The side panels are decidedly more spartan, with just an indented area as you move toward the rear. On one side, this area sports nothing more than an etched-in, angled line, while holes for venting appear in the same area of the opposite side panel. It’s not a bad look. But it’s a shame this area wasn’t windowed, or at least meshed, offering an opportunity for some additional case lighting.
If you should decide to make your way inside the G11DF’s chassis, you’ll need to remove the screws securing the left side panel in place. It’s roomy enough in there, and it will allow you to make upgrades to the system down the line, including an extra drive or two…
With only 8GB installed in our review system, that seems like an obvious place to start. It’s a MicroATX mainboard in there, and you’ll find a little more room for hard drives or SSDs. One thing we especially appreciated was the extra physical support for the video card, to keep it from cracking its PCI Express mainboard slot under its own weight when transported…
The cabling inside, as you can see, isn’t pretty but it is at least well restrained and bundled-up.
At the rear of the system, meanwhile, you will find the bulk of the G11DF’s physical connections. These include two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports with Type A connectors, and one USB 3.1 Gen 1 port with a Type C connector. (On the speed front, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port is essentially the same as an ordinary USB 3.0 port.) A Gigabit Ethernet port is available for wired connections, with the G11DF also offering 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless connections. Three audio ports are available for 5.1 channel audio, while the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 video card provides three DisplayPorts, one HDMI port, and a DVI connector. That’s very typical of these two-slot Pascal cards.
Accessories, Software Warranty
Finally, the G11DF also comes with a wired, LED-backlit keyboard and a wired mouse. The keyboard includes some nifty red backlighting, making it a match for the red lighting of the system. While neither of these are high end, they’ll keep you going until you have time to replace them with something better.
One thing that might make the Asus-bundled keyboard a keeper, though? That volume dial. We love that, and we can’t think of another bundled keyboard in recent memory with that detail.
As with other Asus gaming rigs, Asus didn’t bog the system down with tons of bloatware. Beyond the standard Windows 10 Home installation, we found just a few utilities, including the Aegis III software mentioned before and some other utilities and trials. None of it was overly cluttersome, and removing what you don’t want is just a few minutes’ work in Add/Remove Programs.
As for the warranty coverage, the G11DF is covered by a one-year limited warranty with one-way free shipping on repairs, once remote diagnostics runs out of options. That’s a pretty good plan for a $999 PC, if you’re not comfortable with doing typical PC fixes yourself.