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PC Specialist Vortex L1 review: An unbeatable budget buy

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £488
£585 (inc VAT)

The Vortex L1 shows what an extra £100 in the budget can get you, and it’s great news for gamers


  • Better performance than rivals
  • Perfect for gaming on a budget


  • Interesting choice of CPU
  • Expensive
  • Draws a lot of power

The PC Specialist Vortex L1 is a purebred gaming PC with a price tag that, whilst easily cheaper than a serious gaming machine, still makes it around £100 more expensive than competing machines.

That extra cash gets you a discrete graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB. Based on the company’s latest Turing architecture, although without the ray tracing and artificial intelligence capabilities of the RTX cards, it has twice the video RAM of the AMD equivalent (the Radeon RX 560) and considerably better performance: an average of 132fps in the Unigine Superposition benchmark shows that there’s potential for gaming above a 720p resolution here, even on demanding titles.

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PC Specialist Vortex L1 review: Specs

Elsewhere, there are some more controversial choices. The CPU is an Intel Core i5-9400F, which has six cores but lacks Hyper-Threading support to run multiple threads on each core. There’s 16GB of RAM, but it’s low-speed DDR4-2400 – and it comes installed as a single stick, limiting the system to running in single-channel mode.

PC Specialist Vortex L1 review: Performance

Not that you could tell from the Vortex’s performance in our benchmarks: the 240GB SATA boot SSD lets the system load in just under 32 seconds, while a 1TB mechanical drive provides mass storage. Its showing in the benchmark suite is impressive enough, though it’s edged out by one or two cheaper offerings. If you’re not a gamer, the Vortex isn’t necessarily the faster or better choice for you.


PC Specialist Vortex L1 review: Verdict

It’s a conclusion borne out by the case design: with its Transformeresque front panel and bright blue LED fan at the rear, the Vortex isn’t a system you would expect to see in an office – even a home office. For the gamer on a budget, though, that extra £100 may offer improved longevity or the ability to run titles at a higher resolution. It comes at a cost, though: the peak power draw of 165W demanded by the Vortex is unavoidably high.

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