This Vega-based PC costs a lot, but it’s beautifully built and has an excellent SSD/hard disk combo
- Looks great
- Suitable for current VR games
- Excellent connectivity
- Comparatively high price
There are only so many processors, graphics cards and motherboards in the world, which is why we sometimes end up testing a series of PCs with similar features, not to mention performance that barely differs from machine to machine. It’s the desktop equivalent of how nearly every single flagship smartphone on the market uses the same Snapdragon 835 chip (though, perhaps thankfully, not quite to the same extent).
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Overclockers’ Gaming Oxygen system doesn’t have any key internals we haven’t seen before – there’s an Intel Core i5-8600K processor, Vega RX 56 graphics card and 16GB of DDR4 RAM – but it does, at last, have the air of being something a bit different.
Overclockers Gaming Oxygen review: Appearance
This quality is almost entirely down to the case and how it’s laid out. While the In Win 101 chassis has normal mid-tower dimensions, it’s peppered with pleasantly unusual touches: the front fan mounts, for instance, are placed parallel to the right-hand side panel rather than the actual front. Honeycomb-style vents are cut into the side to allow for plenty of air intake, which not only adds a bit of flair to the side but leaves the front, matte-finished panel looking crisp and clean. Except, of course, for the little acrylic section at the top-right; this contains a power button so subtle and well-hidden that we were, at first, genuinely confused as to how to turn the PC on.
The 101 also mounts the power supply at the top of the case, which is something we’re not usually keen on – it’s common in cheap systems, which in turn gives the configuration a certain downmarket vibe, and no-one wants to dwell on the idea of the heavy PSU somehow coming loose and falling off the mount, smashing every other component on its way down. Here, though, it looks all right, thanks to being safely (and tidily) contained in a full-length shroud.
This metal case-within-a-case has also been adorned with a strip of red LEDs – not that the Gaming Oxygen was lacking colour to begin with: the front (well, side) fans, rear exhaust fan, motherboard and even the aforementioned acrylic section all positively glow in rich scarlet. This might have ended up being overbearing, but the full-size tempered glass side window tones it down to the point where it looks cool rather than vulgar, and still gives a clear view into the main chamber. While we’re on the subject, even this slab of glass is well designed, as it’s released with a couple of pull-release knobs, which are less tedious than the usual set of four thumbscrews.
Overclockers Gaming Oxygen review: Processor
Of course, you shouldn’t pay this much money just for a nice build, and the inclusion of a Core i5 processor (rather than the Core i7 or Ryzen 7 we might have expected to see in a £1,500-plus PC) may cause concern. However, Overclockers has… well, overclocked it, from its 3.6GHz base speed to 4.8GHz, with a 240mm all-in-one watercooler keeping it running smoothly.
This provides the Gaming Oxygen with serious processing chops, even if it’s not quite up to the absolute top tier. In our 4K application benchmarks, it started off with a good 168 in the image test, and only did better from there, scoring 214 in the video test and a mightily impressive 252 in the multitasking test. Overall, it managed 225, which is better than our test PC running a stock-speed Ryzen 1800X – that’s excellent stuff, and proof that the Gaming Oxygen can transcend its name to handle regular media editing and encoding tasks as well.
What about gaming, then? The Vega RX 56 graphics card, with its 8GB of memory, poises this PC for success – we took issue with it as a separate component for failing to convincingly surpass the GTX 1070, but it is inarguably a powerful card, and that showed in our benchmarks.
Starting with Dirt: Showdown at Ultra quality with 4x anti-aliasing, the Gaming Oxygen powered to a lush 170fps at 1,920 x 1,080, and only dropped to 143fps when we switched to 2,560 x 1,440. A resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 proved much tougher, falling to 81fps, but this is still more than smooth enough for Dirt‘s brand of rollicking, mud-caked racing.
The much more punishing Metro: Last Light Redux couldn’t break the Gaming Oxygen at 1,920 x 1,080, at which it produced 74fps with Very High quality and SSAA enabled. Running at 2,560 x 1,440 with the same settings, the PC still kept ticking along at a respectable 44fps. Disabling SSAA would boost this significantly, but it’s nice that you get a more-than-playable frame rate with anti-aliasing still in full effect.
It was only at 3,840 x 2,160 where maxed-out settings were too much, putting out just 20fps; turning off SSAA will get this up to 37fps, but that can still be a little stuttery in places. Happily, you don’t need to make too deep a cut to quality, as we got 53fps just by dropping to High quality (with SSAA still disabled).
Those who have invested in an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive will also appreciate the Gaming Oxygen’s VR-friendliness. A run through the SteamVR Performance Benchmark gave the PC a score of 10.9, barely off a perfect 11, so you should be able to run all current VR games at a high frames-per-second rate without sacrificing fidelity much, if at all.
Overclockers Gaming Oxygen review: Storage
We should note that as good as all these results are, they’re also nothing terribly special. The Palicomp AMD Galaxy, to give just one alternative, only lags behind by an imperceptible 1-3fps in most of our gaming tests, and that costs a fair bit less at £1,300. The Scan 3XS Gamer is also better value, coming with a higher-horsepower GTX 1080 graphics card and Core i7-8700 processor for £1,600.
However, the Gaming Oxygen provides you with a large, blazingly fast 500GB NVMe SSD – Samsung’s 960 Evo – as well as an even bigger 2TB hard disk for all your bulkier or less frequently accessed files and applications. The 960 Evo easily outpaces SATA SSDs in the likes of the 3XS Gamer, recording a sequential read speed of 2,159MB/s and a sequential write speed of 1,640MB/s in the AS SSD benchmark tool.
One of our few issues with the In Win 101 is its relative lack of storage upgrade space, as there are only two 3.5in trays at the front of the PSU shroud (and one of these is taken up by the existing hard disk), with two 2.5in mounts hidden behind the right-hand side panel. With this handicap, it was particularly vital that the Gaming Oxygen’s storage setup shouldn’t inspire an urgent need for upgrades, and Overclockers has certainly delivered.
Overclockers Gaming Oxygen review: Connectivity and audio
There’s also much greater scope to make additions to the motherboard, with two spare RAM slots, two spare PCI-E x16 slots (AMD CrossFire is supported, should you ever wish to add a second Vega RX 56), and two spare PCI-E x1 slots, plus an extra M.2 slot.
This Aorus Z370 Ultra Gaming board also serves up loads of connectivity at the PC’s rear. Since the front panel has only the bare minimum of two USB 3 ports, the back panel’s mix of two USB2, two USB 3, two USB 3 DAC-UP, one USB 3.1 and one USB Type-C port is even more welcome. Those DAC-UP ports are just the start of the Gaming Oxygen’s catering for audiophiles, as it also provides optical S/PDIF, rear speaker and C/SUB outputs. Wi-Fi capability wouldn’t have hurt, but we’ll settle for the Gigabit Ethernet port.
With a legacy PS/2 port rounding out the data, audio and peripheral connections, all that’s left is display outputs, and these are well covered as well, with three DisplayPort, two HDMI and dual-link DVI-D ports.
Overclockers Gaming Oxygen review: Verdict
Normally we’d recommend going cheaper for a Core i5 system, but even if this isn’t the fastest desktop you can get for the cash, it absolutely oozes all-round quality in a way that its peers rarely do. In this way, it reminds us of the sadly discontinued Yoyotech BlackBox SP.
There are more powerful or more economical PCs, sure, but when one comes along that looks this good, is covered from top to bottom in high-end features and still runs more than well enough, you won’t necessarily be coveting something else.