A great CPU and SSD storage definitely help, but gaming performance is the star here
- SSD decreases loading times across the board
- Seriously impressive gaming performance
- Only three storage bays
- External features are basic
Straight away, the Gaming XVI Essential looks like a superior all-round desktop than the last £700 Overclockers PC we looked at, the Gaming Vision VR. That had a strong advantage for gaming in its GTX 1060 graphics card, but with only a Core i3-8100 CPU and 1TB hard disk, it ultimately lost out to its hexa-core, SSD-equipped peers. The Gaming XVI Essential is far more up to speed.
It has an overclockable, 12-threaded AMD Ryzen 5 2600, and while there’s still a 1TB hard disk, this time it’s in reserve – the main drive is a 240GB SATA SSD. Nvidia’s new GTX 1660 also takes the place of the GTX 1060, and even the case looks better, gaining dual RGB fans with nine different colour modes.
There are two big performance gains these specs bring to the Gaming XVI Essential: a general speed boost from the SSD and vastly quicker 2D application performance from the CPU. In our 4K benchmarks, the Ryzen 5 2600 (together with 8GB of RAM) scored 133 in the image test, 206 in the video test, 231 in the multitasking test and 207 overall.
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Overclockers Gaming XVI Essential review: Design and setup
The Gaming Vision VR looks lethargic next to these results – its own highest score was 109 in the video test and it only managed 106 overall. Perhaps this doesn’t put the Gaming XVI Essential among the most compute-capable £700 desktops – for example, the Palicomp AMD Abyss and Chillblast Fusion Recoil scored 230 and 241 overall respectively – but it’s far more competitive than Overclockers’ previous attempt.
The addition of an SSD can’t be downplayed, either. It means the Gaming XVI Essential boosts faster, loads programs faster and transfers files faster than the Gaming Vision VR, and probably would have done so even if the CPU wasn’t better as well. That’s not to mention the greater overall capacity: the extra 240GB of solid-state capacity comes in addition to, not instead of, the 1TB hard disk.
The only caveat is that, by SSD standards, the drive is a pretty mediocre performer. Using the AS SSD benchmark, we clocked a good read speed of 498MB/s, but its write speed of 248MB/s is only about half of what SATA is capable of. Ultimately, the SSD is a worthwhile inclusion, but for the very best speeds (and capacity) you’re better off with the AMD Abyss and its breakneck 500GB NVMe drive.
Overclockers Gaming XVI Essential review: Performance
The area in which the Gaming XVI Essential stands out most is also where it’s most similar to the Gaming Vision VR. That’s because the GTX 1660, based on its performance here, is about the most modest upgrade to the GTX 1060 imaginable. Metro: Last Light Redux, running on Very High quality with SSAA enabled, produced 52fps at 1,920 x 1,080 and 29fps at 2,560 x 1,440.
That’s almost exactly the same as the Gaming Vision VR. Dirt: Showdown saw a much bigger difference, with Overclockers’ newer system averaging a slick 139fps at 1,920 x 1,080 and 114fps at 2,560 x 1,440 (both using Ultra quality), but knowing how CPU-dependent this game is, that could be down to the Gaming XVI Essential’s better processor. The SteamVR Performance Test, at least, put out an improved result of 9.3, up from 8.5 on the Gaming Vision VR. This one is much more likely down to the GPU alone.
Why, however, is the Gaming XVI Essential’s greatest strength something that’s only barely better than that of the Gaming Vision VR? It’s because gaming prowess was already the latter’s strong suit; many other £700 systems came close, but the GTX 1060 proved the best GPU for gaming at this price. The GTX 1660 may not be much stronger, but even a sidegrade is just fine in this particular context, as you’re still getting fantastic in-game performance for the cash.
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Overclockers Gaming XVI Essential review: Features
Securing such high performance on day one is all the more important when upgrade potential is limited, and unfortunately this applies to the Gaming XVI Essential. The chassis may be decked out with colourful case fans, but it offers only three storage bays (one 2.5in, two 3.5in). The microATX motherboard, too, has just a single PCI-E x16 slot, two PCI-E x1 slots (one of which is obscured by the graphics card) and two RAM slots, although there is one unused M.2 slot.
External connectivity is similarly serviceable but ultimately nothing special. The front of the case has single USB 2 and USB 3 ports, while the rear I/O panel combines two USB 2 ports, four USB 3 ports and two PS/2 sockets with the standard three 3.5mm audio jacks. In fairness, that’s not unduly basic for £700, and you can at least add a single NVMe SSD or a slim PCI-E device such as a Wi-Fi card.
Overclockers Gaming XVI Essential review: Verdict
As the AMD Abyss has an even faster CPU, better storage and a more feature-rich motherboard, it’s still our favourite do-anything £700 desktop. Overclockers’ effort, however, should be considered first for gaming specifically – as vastly improved as it is in other hardware areas, wringing out every last frame-per-second is what it’s best at.
|Overclockers Gaming VXI Essential specifications|
|Processor||Hexa-core 3.4GHz AMD Ryzen 5 2600|
|Front USB ports||1x USB2, 1x USB3|
|Rear USB ports||2x USB2, 4x USB3|
|Graphics card||6GB Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G|
|Storage||240GB SSD, 1TB hard disk|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home|
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