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Overclockers Gaming Hydrogen review: An explosively powerful mini PC

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1300

One of the best mini PCs for gaming we’ve seen, especially if you don’t want to stray too far from desktop conventions


  • Easily upgradable
  • Impressive performance
  • Excellent range of ports


  • Fairly loud

The Overclockers Gaming Hydrogen isn’t so small that it can be tucked away on the rear of a monitor, but considering the calibre of components inside, it’s still a wonderfully compact system. What’s more, it’s a rare mini PC that includes a dedicated GPU specifically for games.

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Overclockers Gaming Hydrogen review: Performance and features

Other than an SFF power supply and, depending on your perspective, the Mini-ITX motherboard, the Gaming Hydrogen relies completely on standard desktop internals. These include a hexa-core, 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-9400F processor, 16GB of full-size DDR4 RAM, a Zotac-made GeForce RTX 2060 Super graphics card and, interestingly, two 250GB SSDs: the primary drive is an NVMe SSD, the secondary drive a slower SATA SSD.

Soberingly, the CPU isn’t exactly amazing for the price. The Gaming Hydrogen scored 139 in the image test, 168 in the video test, 186 in the multitasking test and 172 overall. The good news is this makes a thoroughly compute-capable mini PC but the bad news is that you can get much greater power from conventional desktops. Overclockers’ own Titan Falcon, for example, costs just £100 more but scored 339 overall, putting it in respectable workstation territory.

Then again, the Gaming Hydrogen will handle editing and encoding work decently, just not outstandingly, while the 16GB of RAM is a meaningfully impactful upgrade over the more common 8GB. There are no clear weaknesses in how the Core i5-9400F handles loads, and it will be more than fine as long as you don’t throw ambitious CAD projects at it.

It’s safe to say that the GPU is the star here. In both Metro: Last Light (our most demanding game) and the SteamVR Performance Test, the Gaming Hydrogen and its RTX 2060 Super beat the pricier Asus ProArt PA90 rather comprehensively. It averaged 91fps in Metro at 1080p and 53fps in 1440p, and went on to score a perfect 11 in SteamVR.

In Dirt Showdown, the PA90 did better, but that’s more thanks to its top-of-the-line Core i9-9900K CPU than its Quadro P4000 graphics card; Dirt is especially sensitive to processor power, and bottlenecks in kind. The Gaming Hydrogen still stayed smooth throughout, however, hitting 119fps at 720p with High settings, and with Ultra quality, it produced 118fps at 1080p, 116fps at 1440p and 94fps at 4K.

There’s also the obvious benefit that the RTX 2060 Super, unlike the P4000, is built specifically for gaming, and that includes its support for Nvidia’s DLSS and real-time ray-tracing features. RTX cards are still exceedingly rare in mini PCs, so even if the CPU isn’t a perfect match, the GPU is worth accepting some compromises for.

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Overclockers Gaming Hydrogen review: Design

To fit this part and all the others into the chassis, which is only about the size of a small shoebox, there’s been quite a departure from the standard PC case layout. It’s split down lengthways, with the motherboard and power supply nestled in the right-hand side and the graphics card propped horizontally on the left, connected to the PCI-E x16 slot via a riser cable. The motherboard also happens to be mounted upside down, not that this affects functionality in any noteworthy way.

Suffice to say, it’s all a bit cramped, and the single tiny roof-mounted case fan has to work hard to keep the air flowing. That’s judging from the noise, anyway, as the Gaming Hydrogen is easily the loudest of these mini PCs when under load. It’s also slightly tricky to pick out a potential modification or upgrade that wouldn’t involve taking other things apart first. The graphics card can be easily unplugged, but you’d have to remove the CPU cooler just to get at the RAM slots or M.2 socket, for example.

Still, it’s infinitely easier to get into and poke around than the PA90, and even if it takes some time, there’s much more to play with than NUC-style PCs such as the Minix Neo J50C-4 and Quiet PC UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless. Nothing is soldered down or hidden behind special screws, so everything can be customised to your liking if you ever fancy an update.

Right off the bat, you can add a 2.5in drive to an empty bay located in the base of the chassis. Here, you’ll also find that secondary SSD, while the main drive naturally sits in the M.2 slot.

Having two SSDs is unusual, and we’d recommend that final 2.5in bay be filled with a miniature hard disk to maximise capacity: since both drives are 250GB, the 500GB total will be enough for everyday use but could fill up quickly with games. Nonetheless, everything is nice and quick, with the NVMe drive being particularly raring to go; in AS SSD, it recorded a great sequential read speed of 2,455MB/s and a sequential write speed of 2,183MB/s, beating the PA90 once more.

The Gaming Hydrogen also has an excellent range of ports for a mini PC, another advantage of using desktop components. The rear panel alone has two USB2 ports, four USB3 ports, one USB3.1 port and a USB Type-C port, along with separate line out/line in audio jacks and a PS/2 port, while the GPU contributes a healthy three DisplayPort outputs plus one HDMI port. On the front, it’s a slight shame that the two USB3 ports aren’t joined by any mic or headphone jacks, but you can always use the ones on the rear for this. Dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 round out an incredibly strong set of connections.

Overclockers Gaming Hydrogen review: Verdict

Even if it’s not pocket-sized, then, the Gaming Hydrogen is a distinguished mini PC, and one that offers real desktop performance and upgradability.

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