The Wired2Fire Pyro Ultima is one of the cheapest gaming desktops we’ve seen, which is even more impressive given the current climate when it comes to components – the popularity of bitcoin mining is driving up graphics card prices and reducing levels of supply.
The GTX 1060 isn’t the only solid component here – the Ultima includes an AMD Ryzen processor which has four cores.
This affordable PC still deploys one of Nvidia’s latest graphics cards. The GTX 1060 is a superb GPU that offers solid framerates at 1080p and 1440p, and it also has enough power to handle VR headsets.
The 1060 is constructed from the same Pascal architecture as Nvidia’s more powerful consumer cards, which means it has the 14nm manufacturing process, a huge reduction in power consumption and a big leap in the number of transistors – and, therefore, in the GPU’s performance levels.
Nvidia sells two versions of the GTX 1060 – one with 1,152 stream processors and 3GB of memory, and a pricier part with 1,280 processors and double the GDDR5 RAM. We’re pleased that Wired2Fire had chosen the beefier GPU for this machine – more memory is vital when triple-A games need at least 4GB to run well, and additional stream processors are always welcome.
The card inside this machine comes from Zotac, and is a mini version – so its heatsink is just 176mm long. The compact cooling gear means this card isn’t overclocked; instead the core and memory run at their stock speeds of 1,506MHz and 9,000, with the former using GPU Boost to hit 1,683MHz.
The GPU is partnered by an AMD Ryzen processor. The Ryzen 5 uses the impressive Zen architecture, which makes huge gains in efficiency and the number of instructions per clock cycle – so these new chips are able to match and beat Intel in several different scenarios.
The Ryzen 5 1500X is clocked to 3.5GHz with a Turbo peak of 3.7GHz, and it’s got four cores that use AMD’s new simultaneous multithreading so, like Intel’s equivalents, this CPU can address eight concurrent threads.
The Ryzen’s X suffix also means it has AMD’s more powerful version of XFR, which can dynamically overclock one core by an extra 100MHz.
The chip only has a small overclock – customers will receive the rig with all four cores running at 3.7GHz or 3.8GHz – and Wired2Fire says that’s because the lower price means there’s less room in the budget for a pricier cooler or motherboard. Instead, Wired2Fire has used AMD’s Wraith cooler, which comes with the chip.
The rest of the components befit this machine’s affordable price. There’s 8GB of memory, but it only runs at 2,400MHz and it’s only single-channel, which means PC performance will be hit. The Wired2Fire’s single- and multi-threaded memory bandwidth hovers at around 13GB/s, which is a long way short of systems with dual-channel RAM.
The boot drive is a 240GB Adata SP550 SSD. It’s a modest solid-state drive that offers moderate speed – other SATA drives will be quicker, but it’ll still outpace any hard disk.
Sadly, no hard disk is included in this machine – and the SSD only has 198GB of space once Windows 10 is installed. You’re either going to have to add your own storage or be very careful about how many games you install on this machine.
The Asus Prime B350-A motherboard is a micro-ATX product that occupies the budget end of the market. It has four memory sockets with three of them free, and there’s a vacant M.2 socket above the graphics card. It’s also got the AMD B350 chipset, which is the mid-range offering from the new AM4 platform – so it can handle overclocking but has slightly reduced support for SATA and USB.
There are plenty of SATA ports free, and the backplate has USB 3 and 3.1. There are no fancy heatsinks or on-board buttons, and no USB 3.1 type-C connectors or wireless internet. There are two PCI-Express x1 slots, but one of them is blocked by the graphics card, so expansion room is limited.
The power supply is a solid FSP unit that delivers 500W of power with an 80Plus White certification – so solid efficiency is ensured.
CPU: 3.7GHz AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Memory: 8GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Motherboard: Asus Prime B350M-A
Hard disk: 240GB AData SP550 SSD
Ports: Front: 2 x USB 3, 2 x audio; rear: 2 x USB 3.1, 4 x USB 3, 2 x PS/2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio
Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 5
Dimensions: (W x D x H): 200 x 469 x 455mm
Extras: FSP Hexa+ 500W
Warranty: 3yr RTB (2yr parts & 3yrs labour)
Cooler Master’s MasterBox Lite 5 is a smart bit of kit that adheres to current trends while keeping the cost down. It’s got a side panel that looks like trendy tempered glass, for instance, but it’s plastic – and its front panel has smart red accents, vertical slashes and the kind of glossy finish that’s found on far more expensive enclosures.
Impressively, those red accents can be swapped around – the box includes white and black versions to snap onto the top and bottom of the front panel, and Cooler Master even makes the 3D printing designs available to download so you can create your own.
The affordable chassis ticks many of the important boxes. The PSU is hidden beneath a shroud at the bottom of the case, and there are two 3.5in drive bays beneath the shroud. They’re filled with tool-free plastic enclosures that are a little flimsy but extremely easy to use. There’s a spare 2.5in mount at the front of the chassis, and three empty fan mounts at the front that can augment the 120mm exhaust fan that’s already installed.
Build quality is good, too. The side-panel is a tad thin and there’s a little bit of give in the plastic front panel, but that’s fine for this kind of case – better than many other enclosures at this price. The rest of the chassis is metal, and it’s much stronger.
There’s no room in the budget for lighting in this case, but that’s fine too – not everyone wants a system full of RGB LEDs.
Our only criticism, really, is the sheer size of the Cooler Master. The micro-ATX motherboard, compact graphics card, modest AMD Wraith heatsink and lack of hard disk mean that there’s a lot of empty space in this system.
That’s OK if you want to add a larger CPU cooler or a full-length graphics card in the future, but right now it feels like wasted space and missed potential – a full-size GPU and a larger CPU cooler wouldn’t have added much to the price but they would have opened the door for Wired2Fire to overclock both of those key components.
In the other direction, Wired2Fire could have kept the smaller components and deployed a smaller, more compact enclosure – a smart move that could have delivered the same levels of power inside a micro-ATX rig.
At 1,920 x 1,080 its averages ranged from a smooth 46fps in Witcher 3 to a stonking 95fps in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and its minimums mostly hit 50fps or better.
Its performance at the trickier 2,560 x 1,440 resolution is similarly impressive. It ran with minimums between 30fps and 52fps, and its best speeds were results of 59fps and 66fps in Battlefield 1 and Shadow of Mordor.
That’s enough power for VR headsets, although don’t expect 4K out of this card – most of its averages were in the low 20fps range.
The Ryzen 5’s application performance is fine, too. Its single-core Geekbench score of 3,803 is only a little slower than Ryzen 7 chips and Core i7 silicon which has the benefit of higher clock speeds, and that’s not going to impact on performance in a meaningful way – there’s still ample power here to handle general computing tasks and to avoid games bottlenecks.
The four cores and their simultaneous multi-threading helped the Ryzen deliver a Geekbench multi-core result of 12,633 – barely behind the Core i7 chips that come in most laptops. That’s a solid result for a system that’s this cheap, and it means the Wired2Fire will be able to handle more complex software and more demanding multi-tasking.
The Wired2Fire’s PC Mark 8 score of 4,290 is perfectly respectable, too, and the SSD’s read and write results of 555MB/s and 480MB/s are acceptable – hardly record-breaking, but enough to speed up boot times and application loading.
In short, then, the Wired2Fire delivers excellent performance considering its £799 price. It’s got enough gaming power to handle 1080p and 1440p titles without stuttering, and the quad-core processor is a good partner for the GPU – it has the pace to run general-purpose tools, high-end games and reasonably intensive work software.
This is about as good as it gets at this price – to make a significant leap in performance you’ll need to spend more than £1,000.
The Wired2Fire Pyro Ultima arrives with solid core components and aggressive pricing, which make it a tempting and affordable rig – our benchmarks prove that it’s adept with 1440p gaming, Full HD titles and a broad range of applications.
However, the lesser budget does mean it falls behind in some areas: the single-channel memory will impact on performance, the middling SSD isn’t paired with a hard disk, and there’s no overclocking.
We wish Wired2Fire had been a bit smarter with its design, too; there’s a lot of wasted space in this case, so we would have preferred either a full ATX build or a proper commitment to a smaller form factor.
At the crux of it, though, are a couple of key facts: this PC costs a modest £799 and will play any triple-A title at a solid range of resolutions. Despite the shortcoming, that makes this system a very solid deal.