If you’re serious about gaming, this compact PC is an excellent alternative to an underpowered games console
3.8GHz Intel Core i5-4670K, 8GB RAM, N/A display, Windows 8
If you’re serious about gaming and consoles just don’t cut it, a compact gaming PC can be the best solution, as it combines a certain degree of portability and sitting-room-friendly unobtrusiveness. You don’t have to skimp on power, either, as demonstrated by the Computer Planet ND 5000, which uses a powerful 4th-generation Intel Core i5 processor.
It’s not particularly small for a compact system, but the BitFenix Prodigy case is quiet and, thanks to flexible plastic handles on the top and bottom, is designed to be easily transported. It rocks from side to side slightly when you push it, which seems a bit odd at first, but it doesn’t feel insecure or likely to topple over. The system also comes in a variety of colours, with green and blue available alongside standard-issue black.
Another point in favour of this snazzy case is its internal design, which has great airflow and a lot of space inside. There’s more than enough room for the chunky Zotac Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 graphics card, too. The GeForce GTX 760 has 2GB of RAM and at the back you’ll find two DVI outputs, one HDMI output and a DisplayPort output. It’s a highly capable graphics card that’ll play the latest games without problem. Indeed, it produced average frame rates of 62.8fps in Dirt Showdown and 54.4fps in Crysis 2 at a resolution of 1,920×1,080 and with graphics quality set to Ultra.
A tiny Gigabyte Z87N-WIFI mini-ITX motherboard is fitted with an Intel Core i5-4670K processor running at 3.8GHz, and the system produced an overall score of 113 in our benchmark tests. The ND 5000 is also equipped with 8GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 RAM in the form of a single module which occupies one of the motherboard’s two memory slots. This means there’s room to install extra memory should it prove necessary.
The motherboard also has an integrated wireless adaptor and comes with a rather neat magnetic antenna that can be clicked into place anywhere on the case. Built-in Wi-Fi is particularly useful if you want to take advantage of the case’s relative portability and take it to friends’ houses and public LAN gaming sessions.
Sadly, the ND 5000 doesn’t have much room for expansion. The graphics card occupies the board’s only expansion slot. One of its four SATA3 ports is vacant, but there’s no room to fit an extra drive. The PC is already equipped with a 128GB SanDisk SSD boot drive and a 500GB data disk. At the front is a DVD-RW drive. If you plan on using the PC with your TV, you may wish to upgrade that to a Blu-ray drive at some point in the future. The system is powered by a 650W Corsair PSU and the CPU is liquid-cooled.
At the back of the system, the motherboard gives you four USB3 ports and two USB2 ports, along with a single PS/2 mouse or keyboard port. There are also two Ethernet ports that you can use for two simultaneous network connections. Audio is handled by an optical S/PDIF output and five re-configurable 3.5mm audio outputs for up for 7.1 analogue surround sound. Rather than being on the front panel, the system’s more accessible additional ports are built into the right side-panel. These include 3.5mm microphone and headphone ports for your headset and two USB3 ports. The power and reset buttons are mounted just above.
At £999, this is the cheapest Haswell-based system we’ve yet seen, and it’s a perfect living room PC for gamers. Although there’s not much space to upgrade anything, this system’s sheer power will keep you gaming with high quality graphics for the foreseeable future. The ND 5000 is our new favourite compact PC and a deserving winner of our Best Buy award.
|Intel Core i5-4670K
|Processor external bus
|Processor clock speed
|USB2 ports (front/rear)
|eSATA ports (front/rear)
|Wireless networking support
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)
|Free Serial ATA ports
|Free memory slots
|Free 3.5in drive bays
|Hard disk model(s)
|Sandisk SDSSDX-120G-G25 + Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002
|2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
|2x DVI, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort
|7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out, stereo line out, mic in
|Supported memory cards
|Optical drive type(s)
|Operating system restore option
|three years RTB (one year parts, three years labour, first year collect and return)