Introduction, Design Features
Corsair is a name brand that frequently graces Computer Shopper’s home page. The U.S.-based company produces top-quality peripherals (notably, gaming keyboards and mice), as well as a huge range of PC components: power supplies, memory (RAM), storage, liquid-cooling gear, and desktop cases. And that’s to name only some of the categories it is in.
Add full-on PCs to that checklist. Corsair makes almost every part essential to building or upgrading your desktop PC, so it was only a matter of time before the company started rolling its own. The One Pro desktop you’re looking at below is Corsair’s first foray into the pre-built PC market, and it’s a hit. This small-form-factor (SFF) desktop is ready to game out of the box. You just need to add a monitor (or two), peripherals, and, of course, games.
As you would expect, the One Pro has a wealth of Corsair goodies inside, including Corsair dual-channel RAM, a Corsair SF400 power supply, a Corsair Force LE solid-state-drive (SSD), and liquid-cooling solutions for both the CPU and the graphics card. Liquid cooling for graphics is a feature rarely seen, even aftermarket, in anything apart from pricey boutique-built PCs.
Corsair is positioning the One Pro as a high-end PC that’s compact and quiet. The high-end part is confirmed by its price; at $1,799 for the base model (called just “Corsair One,” without the “Pro”), and $2,299 for the One Pro model we tested, it’s not exactly pocket change for most of us. However, going off the specifications alone, the pricing appears to be very reasonable for what’s included. Our review unit was loaded with the latest Intel Core i7-7700K “Kaby Lake”Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 video card, 16GB of RAM, a 960GB SSD for storage, and a two-year warranty.
We mock-built an Origin ChronosAlienware Aurora R5GeForce GTX 1080 Ti for the same price that competitors are charging for a similar configuration with a standard GTX 1080. Corsair is definitely going into the gaming-PC market with two guns blazing.
Fun pricing facts aside, though, this wouldn’t be much of a review unless we found something we didn’t like, and we did find a few quirks with the One Pro. Overall, though, Corsair has made a commendable effort with its first PC, especially considering how compact and tight the design is.
We liked the Corsair One Pro before we even turned it on. Its all-black, all-metal exterior is vault-like in its construction. Just about everything on the exterior is aluminum, including the finned cooling grate at the top. The bottom of the case also has a similar finned design, though it’s one solid piece. On its underside, a large circular piece of rubber keeps the One Pro firmly in place.
The One Pro is 15 inches tall, 7 inches wide, and slightly deeper than it is wide, at 7.9 inches front to back. The case has a total volume of 12 liters, definitively classifying it as an SFF tower. Consider that a gaming mid-tower desktop, such as the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900 Razer EditionMSI Trident. However, if you want the full-power desktop components that are inside the One Pro, you’re not likely to find them in a package much more compact than this one.
Keep in mind that the One Pro can only be oriented standing up, as you see in our photos. You won’t be able to fit it inside most TV cabinets, though with it looking as good as it does, it’d be a shame to hide it, anyway.
The two lightning-bolt-like lines flanking the front of the chassis you see above are its case lighting. The brightness is controllable in very small increments in the pre-installed Corsair Link software; moving the slider all the way to the left turns the lighting off. A breathing pattern is available, but nothing else.
We do have to express our mild regret that the case lighting is available only in a light sky-blue color. Corsair says it chose this color to match the aesthetic of the PC. We agree the color it chose looks great, but we don’t think any different color would have made this PC look any less elegant.
The front-mounted ports are limited to a USB Type-A 3.0 port, and an HDMI output. The latter may seem a curious thing to be there, until you realize that it is meant for hooking up VR headsets…
Indeed, Corsair went above and beyond with that front HDMI port. The few desktops we’ve tested thus far that have had front-mounted HDMI ports required us to connect a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable, from the video card to a pass-through HDMI port, which would route the signal to the front HDMI port. (See the MSI Aegis 3, as an example.) With the One Pro, there’s no need to do that; the front HDMI port is active at all times.
Also on the front of the desktop is the rectangular power button, directly above the ports. It isn’t illuminated, a possible plus if you’re planning to sleep with the One Pro running in your room. Two things we would have appreciated up front are a headphone/microphone jack, and a flash-card reader. You’ll have to reach around the back for the former, but there’s no flash-card reader anywhere on this unit.
The remaining ports are on the rear of the desktop, near the bottom…
To the lower right you’ll find the AC connector, and just above that, a second HDMI port, plus two DisplayPort connectors. Like the front HDMI port, these video-out ports are specially routed here. You might notice that the space they occupy doesn’t look like the usual back of a video card. (It’s not.)
The MSI Z270 Mini-ITX motherboard in the One Pro provides a usable amount of connectivity. A trio of USB Type-A 3.1 ports sits in the center, giving the single USB Type-C 3.1 port some company. Above them is the Clear CMOS button, a useful feature if you’re into overclocking, and end up with the wrong settings; pressing this button puts everything back to default, so you can start tweaking afresh.
Two wireless-antenna connectors are next to the CMOS button. A pair of antennas, included in the box, screws in with minimal effort. You must use the antennas for the One Pro to achieve usable wireless range. They extend an inch out the back, and then about 4.5 inches upward. They’re not visible from the front of the One Pro, unless, of course, you point them out toward the sides like a pair of insect feelers. Realistically, we’d like to see the wireless antenna built into the chassis, but we suspect the all-metal exterior of this machine isn’t in the mood to cooperate with that request.
The audio connectors at the top of the motherboard include headphone and microphone jacks, left and right surround connectors, line-in, and S/PDIF (optical) out. For your legacy devices, there are two USB Type-A 2.0 ports, and a PS/2 port at the bottom.
Corsair sells a handful of different configurations of the One; it’s not factory-configurable down to the component level. As we were writing this review in late April 2017, most of the differences among the available models were related to the storage drives and the video card.
A 16GB set of DDR4-2400 dual-channel memory is standard across configurations. The base $1,799 model (“Corsair One”) gets you a Core i7-7700 non-“K” quad-core CPU, an air-cooled GeForce GTX 1070 video card, and a 240GB SSD/1TB hard drive storage combo. Our $2,299 One Pro configuration bumped up to a Core i7-7700K CPU and a faster GeForce GTX 1080 video card, paired with one big 960GB SSD and no hard drive. The most expensive ($2,599) model was configured the same as our model, but further upped the graphics card to a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. (Corsair notes that this is a Web-store exclusive version, and calls it the “Corsair One Ti.”) Note that configurations with the GTX 1080 or GTX 1080 Ti include liquid cooling on the GPU, whereas the GTX 1070 in the base model is only provided as air-cooled.
As we mentioned in our review intro, Corsair’s pricing for these specifications is aggressive. It’s several hundred less than we could find in a competing desktop, even when looking at mid-towers, in which the space and labor constraints would seem less strict. We suspect Corsair has taken advantage of the recent price drop on the GeForce GTX 1080; as we noted, you can get the One Pro with a GTX 1080 Ti for what competitors are charging for the standard GTX 1080. (Sourcing its own parts for many of the internal bits is likely another efficiency.)
We were dismayed, though, to find out that end-user upgrades on the Corsair One Pro will void its warranty. You can open the sides of the desktop to gaze upon the interior, but that’s all. Upgrading even basic components, such as memory and storage, is a no-no. Corsair said it’s planning to offer an upgrade service, but the details of the program weren’t yet available as we wrote this. The upgrade service is something to consider, we suppose, but even most gaming notebooks allow you to upgrade basic components, and this is a desktop we’re talking about. That said, the configurations of the One Pro available leave you little you might want to upgrade for some time to come.
The one part of the desktop that comes off easily is the top finned grate, attached to which is a 140mm fan. Pressing a button at the rear of the desktop pops the grate free. Don’t remove it too fast, as the fan is connected via its power cable. Under this grate, you can see the back of the Corsair SF400 power supply, and the tops of the two 240mm liquid cooling radiators that line each side panel…
But you can’t see anything else inside the chassis from here.
Before we go any further with this exploration, we’d like to go on record: We don’t recommend trying any of what we’re about to describe. The side panels are each held on by two Phillips-head screws, visible after removing the finned grate. Getting out these screws is a challenge in itself, as your screwdriver will need to be at an angle to insert into the heads of the screws. Once the screws are removed, the panels lift up from, but not free of, the chassis. The liquid-cooling radiators are mounted to the side panels, and their hoses keep them on a short leash. You can’t pull the side panels more than a few inches away.
The interior of the chassis is nicely blacked out. It’s chock full of cables, but they’re neatly tied off and routed. Interior organization wouldn’t seem to matter all that much, since the One Pro’s interior is invisible unless you take the desktop apart, but it does show that Corsair doesn’t leave small details to chance, and it has optimized for what airflow there is.
The interior is divided down the middle into two vertical chambers. The liquid-cooled Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 setup dominates the left chamber. Up to 11-inch GPUs will fit, but, as you can see below, the whole cooling scheme is a very custom-fit affair…
The MSI Z270 Mini-ITX motherboard, meanwhile, is partly visible behind the right side panel. As with the left side panel, the right side panel doesn’t come completely off; an identical liquid-cooling radiator abides over here, its hoses hooked up to the CPU waterblock…
We could just see the two 288-pin DIMM slots for desktop memory inside. Each was populated with an 8GB stick of Corsair-brand DDR4-2400, making for a total of 16GB of RAM running in dual-channel. Up to 32GB of RAM, in a two-16GB-DIMM setup, is supported. A 2.5-inch bay is also visible under the right side panel, above the RAM. (The One Pro actually has two 2.5-inch bays, but we weren’t entirely sure where the other one was located.) It’s understandable that a 3.5-inch bay wouldn’t fit in these confines. There’s also an M.2 slot on the underside of the motherboard.
The lack of end-user upgradability in the One Pro isn’t the end of the world. The CPU and RAM in the available configurations will be good enough for gaming for some time; it’s the GPU that usually needs to be upgraded first. We’ll be interested to see what Corsair’s upgrade program looks like.
As we noted in the previous couple of paragraphs, the One Pro is sold with different cooling setups, depending on the configuration. Our review unit had liquid cooling on both the CPU and video card, but the base model has liquid cooling on the CPU only. However, that doesn’t change how the airflow in the system works.
Air is drawn in primarily through the perforated side panels in the chassis. The negative pressure required to make this possible is courtesy of the large 140mm fan at the top of the desktop, which pushes air directly upward…
The air drawn in through the side panels passes through the liquid-cooling radiators first. The One Pro’s design, then, is essentially like an industrial cooling tower. The logic makes complete sense to us, and, as we’ll detail momentarily, it was effective at keeping the One Pro cool.
But before we talk about how cool the thermal solution kept the internal components, let’s discuss its sound level. This isn’t a silent PC, as it does have fans, but it’s about as quiet of a gaming PC as you’re likely to find. We had to put our ears right up to the One Pro to hear it for most tasks. For gaming, the fans obviously have to move faster, but they create no motor noise or whine. All you’ll hear is the quiet movement of air through the top grate. That’s assuming there’s no background noise; this is one quiet PC indeed.
To give the One Pro a real workout, we ran Rise of the Tomb Raider at a 4K resolution for 30 minutes. In a room that was 72 degrees F, we recorded the Core i7-7700K topping out at just 71 degrees C, and the GeForce GTX 1080 at an even cooler 62 degrees C. In its standard air-cooled GTX 1080 Founders Edition guise, the GeForce GTX 1080 routinely tops out in the mid-80-degree C range when under stress, which should give you an idea of how much the liquid cooling helps. Although the One Pro has no built-in overclocking features for either the CPU or GPU, the liquid cooling certainly provides enough thermal headroom to make it possible. The Core i7-7700K chip in our review unit had unlocked multipliers, and the BIOS of the MSI Z270 motherboard was open to tinkering, and not locked down, as it typically would be from a mainstream PC maker.