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PC Specialist Official ESL Certified Gaming PC review: A tried and tested formula for success

James Archer
23 Jan 2019
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,449
inc VAT

Don't let its last-gen parts fool you: This is a perfectly capable PC and then some

Pros 
Strong processing power
Plenty of room for upgrades
Very good-looking
Cons 
Slightly lacking in ports
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Crossover events don't happen much in tech, but when they do it’s guaranteed to turn heads. Here’s one we especially didn’t see coming: a PC Specialist desktop system, branded by the eSports production firm ESL.

It’s an eclectic mix, but there’s nothing too out-there about the PC itself. Contained inside the lovely Cooler Master Masterbox K500, this is a high-end gaming system using familiar high-end gaming parts, including a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card and an Intel Core i7-8700K CPU.

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PC Specialist Official ESL Certified Gaming PC review: GPU performance

The latter is overclocked to 4.7GHz, the chip’s standard Turbo Boost speed, but it will run at this higher speed all the time instead of only when it’s running cool enough. To keep a lid on the resulting higher temperatures, an all-in-one watercooler is installed as well.

PC World says the Official ESL Certified Gaming PC is “designed for leading eSports titles”, which seems more honest than most attempts to invoke competitive gaming in marketing-speak. Most popular eSports games, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and League of Legends, can run on basic hardware. In competitions the PCs involved tend to be pretty beefy to prevent disadvantages incurred from stuttering and low frame rates. The GTX 1070 will indeed tear through such low-demand games, and put up a strong fight in our toughest benchmark title, Metro: Last Light Redux.

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Starting at 1,920x1,080 with Very High settings, the Official ESL Certified Gaming PC averaged a slick 70fps, and even at 2,560x1,440 it produced a good-looking 40fps. Only 3,840x2,160 proved bothersome, dropping the frame rate down to 18fps. Dirt Showdown has no such issues, with an average 79fps at 4K Ultra quality settings, as well as 130fps at 1080p and 125fps at 1440p.

There are cheaper GTX 1070 systems, such as the superb Palicomp i5 Cosmos, but given the Official ESL Certified Gaming PC’s Core i7 chip and 16GB of RAM, price has been balanced nicely with performance. It’s not too disappointing that the PC launched without waiting for the newer GeForce RTX 2070, either; from our early testing we know it’s a more powerful card, but also costs a lot more than the GTX 1070.

READ NEXT: Our round-up of the best desktop CPUs

PC Specialist Official ESL Certified Gaming PC review: CPU Performance

CPU performance is even better. An image test score of 168 points towards brilliantly high single-core performance, and the respective video and multitasking scores of 258 and 307 say the same for multicore prowess. Overall, the Official ESL Certified Gaming PC scored 268, which is a single point higher than the Scan 3XS Gamer RTX and its Core i7-9700K – another good reason why it can, sometimes, be fine to stick with previous-generation components, especially when they’re more affordable. The Official ESL Certified Gaming PC delivers elsewhere, too. Storage consists of a 256GB NVMe SSD and a 2TB, so speed and capacity are well covered. Speed in particular: using AS SSD, we recorded a massive sequential read speed of 2,283.6MB/s, as well as 1,267.9MB/s write speeds.

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PC Specialist Official ESL Certified Gaming PC review: Connectivity

It’s also rather upgrade-friendly. Perhaps not so much on storage front, where you can only add one more 3.5in drive and one more M.2 drive, but there’s room for a second graphics card and multiple PCI-E x1 devices, plus two spare RAM slots. One PCI-E card is already installed: a Wi-Fi card, which handily provides some flexibility if your desk isn’t close to your router (and you don’t feel like forking out for a dongle or Powerline adaptor).

Two screw-on antennas attach at the rear, just above the video outputs – a good selection of one HDMI, one DVI-D and three DisplayPort connectors – and below the rear I/O panel. This is the only real area of the Official ESL Certified Gaming PC that disappoints, as for this close to £1,500 it’s common to get some premium connections such as optical audio outputs or a bounty of extra USB ports.

This, instead, makes do with the relative basics: two USB2, USB3 and USB3.1 ports each, a single USB Type-C port, standard 3.5mm audio jacks, Ethernet and one PS/2 port for older peripherals. It’s not bad, but it’s a selection we’d expect to see more on a mid-range PC than a high-end one.

PC Specialist Official ESL Certified Gaming PC review: Verdict

That said, it’s a small setback for a powerful, upgradable and good-looking gaming desktop that proves 8th-gen Intel chips and GTX 10-series graphics cards still have some life left in them. If we had to choose, we’d say it’s worth paying a little extra for Cyberpower’s Infinity X88 GTX, if only to take graphical capabilities to the next level, but the Official ESL Certified Gaming PC is a top-quality system, even if you don’t care about eSports.

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PC Specialist Official ESL Certified Gaming PC specifications
ProcessorIntel i7-8700K 4.7GHz
MotherboardASUS TUF Z370 Plus Gaming
Memory16GB
Graphics8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
CoolingN/A
Storage256GB SSD + 2TB HDD
ChassisCooler Master Masterbox K500
Power supplyCorsair Txm Series 80 PLUS GOLD
Dimensions210 x 455 x 491mm (WDH)
Operating systemWindows 10