A glance is all it takes to peg the ROG G20AJ as something for gamers.
Not only does this desktop PC look very much like a game console, its angular chassis has customisable light effects (up to eight million colours) and labyrinthine markings said to be inspired by the Mayans.
This is an upsized version of the Asus GR8 console PC that I reviewed last December.
The G20AJ's larger chassis lets Asus fit in more powerful gaming hardware, including an Intel Core i7 chip and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card.
Despite having a footprint comparable with the latest game consoles, the G20AJ weighs about 6kg, or twice as much as a Sony PlayStation 4.
Its asymmetrical design means it works better upright than lying on its side.
The G20AJ has a separate power brick. But it is no ordinary power brick. This external power adaptor has two power connectors and requires two electric sockets.
To a layperson, it probably looks like a jury-rigged solution in which Asus simply slapped two laptop power adaptors together.
But the company said that there is logic behind this design.
You need to connect both power connectors only if the system uses a GeForce GTX 760, or a more powerful graphics card.
With a less power-hungry graphics card, you need only use one power connector.
I think Asus could have tried harder at engineering a better solution.
For example, it could have used mobile components as the performance gap between desktop and mobile hardware is narrowing.
As with consoles, the G20AJ has an optical drive.
But as PC games move towards digital downloads, this drive will probably be used more often as a Blu-ray or DVD player.
There is no built-in card reader, though with eight USB ports in all, it is simple enough to attach an external card reader.
This desktop has integrated Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11ac) and Bluetooth support so you can easily connect it to third-party wireless peripherals.
Asus bundles a basic keyboard and mouse, too.
Asus has equipped this PC with very capable gaming hardware, but its compact design appears to limit future upgrades.
Unlike with the GR8, you cannot easily open the side panel and change the RAM or storage (the review set comes with a 2TB hard drive) by yourself.
But enterprising users will probably find a way.
The company has included Aegis, a proprietary software app used to track key system information such as CPU usage and fan speed.
This PC runs very quietly.
If not for its LED light effects, you would hardly notice that it is on.
Its performance is on a par with other systems with similar hardware but, ideally, it should have a solid-state drive.
At $2,699, this PC has limited appeal. You can get a comparable system for much less via the DIY route.
Aftershock sells a similar GeForce GTX 970-powered system for around $600 less.
Its compact design carries a substantial premium and limits future upgrades.
Processor: Intel Core i7-4790 (3.6GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB GDDR5
Storage: 2TB 7,200rpm hard-disk drive
Connectivity: 4 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, 3 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, DVI output, Ethernet port, audio jacks
Value for money: 2/5
This article was first published on Feb 18, 2015.
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