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Corsair One – PC Review

Corsair One – PC Review

Corsair One PC ReviewThe Corsair One first arrived last year, and now the firm has revised this stunning, small system. This updated model retains the original machine’s design, but beefs up the internals in every department, including a Coffee Lake CPU and a GTX 1080 Ti. Our Corsair One PC review will find out if it’s a successful upgrade.

It’s a risky enhancement. The One is designed to deliver exceptional performance in a tiny, quiet case, and adding powerful parts only increases the risk of higher temperatures and more noise.

Our PC review covers the Corsair One Elite, which is the beefiest new model – and, unsurprisingly, the most expensive. This high-end machine costs a mighty £2,799 in the UK and $3,000 in the US.

Corsair One PC Review – Design

The One is stunning. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminium finished with a dark matte sheen. The power button and front ports are sandwiched between angular streaks of ice-blue light, and each side is decorated with triangular vents that help with heat dissipation.

The Corsair looks fantastic – and it’s disarmingly small. It’s just 280mm tall and 176mm wide, and it weighs a modest 7.4kg.

Those tiny dimensions mean that the Corsair is far more compact than the average tower system – and even smaller than other mini ITX rigs. Take the CCL NebulaX, which used a Phanteks Enthoo Evolv Shift enclosure. That PC was 170mm wide, but 470mm tall. The MSI Vortex G25 was narrower thanks to its laptop internals, but it’s deeper – and flimsier.

Corsair One PC ReviewThe Corsair’s reduced size is achieved through a shedload of ingenious design. The chunky slats at the top of the rig help remove heat, and below the slats is a 140mm ML-series fan that rotates with almost no friction – and, therefore, almost no noise.

A discreet button on the rear unlocks this slatted section. Underneath, the power supply and graphics card point upwards, with extension cables used to route the ports to more useful spots. The larger side panels can both be removed to get properly inside the Corsair – and more clever design becomes clear.

Each side panel has a slim, custom-made water-cooling radiator that doesn’t require any fans. On one side of the machine the radiator hooks up to the processor. On the other side of the Corsair’s metal skeleton, two tubes lead to the graphics card.

The graphics card links to the motherboard using a small PCI riser, and a separate fan chills the GPU’s memory chips. The hard disk sits to the side of the machine in a tiny caddy. The motherboard, meanwhile, is a lightly modified version of the mini ITX MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The board doesn’t look as flashy as MSI’s factory model, but it retains most of its features.

The port selection, for instance, is fine: the rear serves up USB 3.1 and USB Type-C ports, five audio jacks, wireless connectors and a PS/2 port. Two DisplayPort outputs are good for VR.

Corsair One PC ReviewElsewhere, Corsair’s tiny machine delivers exceptional build quality alongside its inventive design. The interior and exterior metal is rock-solid, so we’d have no qualms about carrying this rig to a LAN party.

It’s a brilliant design, but it does have its issues. The modular power supply snakes cables into every spare centimetre, which makes it difficult to get to most component. The important hardware is accessible, but it’s always going to be tricky.

That’s one area where the CCL NebulaX is better. That machine’s Phanteks case was twice the size of the Corsair, but its major components were far more accessible and the cabling was much neater – hardly a surprise when that machine had a side window.

Of course, many people who buy the Corsair just won’t be interested in going inside, and that’s fine. However, if you do want to tweak, a more conventional mini ITX rig or even a full-size tower will offer more versatility and upgrade room. If that’s more interesting, check out the CCL Iris Fusion LQ, which has a similar price and includes overclocked components and loads of stunning water-cooling.

Corsair One PC Review – Components

The biggest Corsair One upgrade is the processor. Last year’s quad-core chips have been replaced by Coffee Lake silicon. The i7-8700K has six cores that can handle twelve concurrent threads. That means multi-tasking will be better, which is why Corsair is marketing this revised version of the One to creatives as well as gamers.

Clock speeds haven’t suffered despite Intel squeezing more cores inside. The base speed of 3.7GHz is competitive alongside today’s top chips from Intel and AMD, and it boosts to 4.3GHz on six cores and 4.7GHz on one core.

The tight confines means there’s no overclocking. Elsewhere, there’s 32GB of DDR4 memory – only creatives will need this amount. There’s a 512GB Samsung PM961 SSD alongside a 2TB hard disk.

They’re good components, but we still see room for improvement. We’d have preferred the memory running at 3,000MHz at this price, and Samsung’s consumer SSDs are a little faster. The whole machine is powered by a 500W PSU – we like its 80Plus Gold certification, but there’s not much headroom for tweaking.

Corsair One PC ReviewThe graphics card isn’t overclocked, but that’s not a big concern. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti remains one of Nvidia’s best offerings thanks to its 11GB of GDDR5X memory and 3,584 stream processors. It runs at 1,480MHz, and boosts beyond 1,645MHz.

The CCL machine takes a definite step back when it comes to components. That machine was far cheaper, at £1,599. It relied on a six-core AMD Ryzen 5 1600 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. The MSI Vortex G25 had a normal i7-8700 processor and a GTX 1070 graphics core.

Thankfully, Corsair also sells more affordable models if the Corsair One Elite is too pricey. The Corsair One Pro Plus has the same CPU and GPU but uses 16GB of memory: in the UK it costs £2,549, and it’s $2,799 in the US.

Corsair is also selling last year’s quad-core models. There’s one rig with the i7-7700K, a GTX 1080 and 32GB of RAM for £2,299 or $2,499, and a 16GB model that’s £200/$200 cheaper.

Corsair One PC Review – Performance

The Corsair One is tiny and potent. The machine’s single-core Geekbench result of 5,365 outpaces the CCL’s mid-range chip and matches most current chips. Only overclocked systems like the CCL Iris Fusion LQ are much quicker.

The six cores show off in multi-tasking tests. In the relevant Geekbench run the Corsair scored 23,290. That’s miles ahead of the CCL’s Ryzen chip, and more than 1,000 points faster than the standard Core i7-8700 in the MSI Vortex G25. You’re only going to get more multi-threaded ability if you step up to a Ryzen 7 1800X, Threadripper or Core i9 – and those machines will be more expensive, or larger, or both.

The GTX 1080 Ti is no slouch, either. In 3D Mark Fire Strike it scored 22,596, which is comfortably ahead of its smaller rivals, both of which have GTX 1070 graphics. You’ll only get more graphics power if you pay more for a machine with two GTX 1080 Ti cards, or if you have an overclocked model that delivers a modest boost to framerates.

The Corsair’s stock-speed GTX 1080 Ti returned excellent real-world results. It averaged 117fps or beyond in six different games at 1080p, and at 1440p it got past 100fps in four of those titles.

It ran 4K games with a minimum framerate of 36fps or better, and its average ranged between 44fps and 88fps. And that’s with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which is one of the toughest games on PC right now.

The GTX 1080 Ti’s performance doesn’t just bode well for 4K gaming. Widescreen panels will run well on the Corsair’s GTX 1080 Ti, and it’ll handle any of the market’s VR headsets. The GTX 1080 Ti will also run graphical applications without breaking a sweat, too, which is a boon for work.

Importantly, the Corsair’s upgraded internals didn’t prove too much for this machine’s tightly-packed internals, or its slimline water-cooling hardware.

When running less intensive applications the Corsair was virtually silent. If it’s behind a monitor or in the corner of a desk, you won’t notice it. The noise only increased a little during gaming using the GTX 1080 Ti, and it was still quieter than almost everything else in the market. If you have speakers or a headset on, it’s impossible to hear this machine.

The modest, low fan rumble increased a little when we ran a full-system stress-test, but it’s still quieter than almost anything else on the market today – we had to put our ear to the metal to make out any significant noise.

During all of these tests the CPU never rose beyond a solid temperature of 87°C, and its stress-test Turbo speed of 4.3GHz is fine. The graphics card was cooler, with a peak level of 59°C, and its Turbo speeds approach 1,900MHz.

Corsair One PC ReviewCorsair One PC Review – Conclusion

The upgraded Coffee Lake processor delivers a big boost to multi-tasking. The improved graphics card can handle 4K, VR, graphical applications and everything in between. The memory and storage could be better, despite improvements.

Corsair has boosted every aspect of the specification while ensuring that the new One stays quieter than virtually every other gaming PC that’s available right now, and the design remains tiny and clever.

This is an expensive PC, of course, and you’ll both save money and gain versatility by opting for a more conventional rig – but that machine will be larger and louder, too. If you want a high-end all-rounder that’ll handle work and play without making a noise, the Corsair One is your best option, and it easily justifies its cost.

The Corsair One Elite costs £2,799 in the UK and $3,000 in the US.  Discuss our Corsair One PC Review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or click here to read about the best desktop PCs.

The Good 

  • Superb six-core application speed
  • Competitive gaming pace
  • Rock-solid, clever design
  • Near-silent operation

The Bad

  • More expensive than rivals
  • Internal access remains difficult

The Specs

CPU: 3.7GHz Intel Core i7-8700K
Memory: 32GB 2,666MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
Motherboard: MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC
Storage: 512GB Samsung PM961 SSD, 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD
Warranty: 2yr RTB


Review Date
Reviewed Item
Corsair One

About Author

Mike Jennings

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