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Dino PC Primal GS2 review

Dino PC GS1 teaser
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £700
inc VAT

A good-looking compact case and a great monitor, but its processor is underpowered


Processor: Dual-core 3.2GHz Intel Pentium G3258, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 4x USB3, 2x USB, Total storage: 1TB hard disk, Graphics card: 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950, Display: 25in LG UltraWide 25UM57, Operating system: Windows 10 Home

Dino PC

The GS2’s Cougar QBX case is one of the tidiest we’ve seen. Even as far as Mini-ITX cases go, it’s pleasingly diminutive. The plain, angular design will appeal to those who appreciate clean lines and the system is small enough to plug in next to or under your TV. The case’s materials are all good quality, too.

As we’d expect, Dino PC has had to make compromises due to the GS2’s small case – this isn’t the most powerful or upgradable system. Inside is a rather middling dual-core 3.2GHz Intel Pentium G3258 processor. When most other systems in this price range come with quad-core processors, we couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The PC also has 8GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 installed in two modules.

Performance was as poor as we expected. In our desktop benchmarks it scored just 37 overall, which means the GS2 will be fine for everyday tasks such as web browsing or working through spreadsheets, but anything more intensive will involve waiting around. Not surprising for a CPU with two cores, the PC suffered most in the multitasking test, with a score of 20 bringing the average down.

Dino PC GS1 guts

The Mini-ITX Gigabyte GA-H97N-WIFI motherboard has limited upgrade potential. Its two memory slots are occupied, and the motherboard supports a maximum of just 16GB. At least it has six SATA3 ports. One of these is occupied by the system’s 1TB hard disk, which provides plenty of space for your media but we couldn’t help but wish the PC had been fitted with an SSHD hybrid drive to make the system more responsive.

The case’s only 3½in drive bay is attached to a drive cage sited over the top of the motherboard. You’ll need to remove this cage to access the rest of the components. There are four 2½in drive bays for adding SSDs, but if you want to add an optical drive, you’ll have to opt for a thinner slot-loading drive and fit it facing vertically so discs drop in from the top of the case.

The usual front-panel ports are actually located on the side of the case, which may be annoying. Here there are two fast USB3 ports as well as mic and headphone jacks. On the back you’ll find four more USB3 ports and two USB ports. A PS/2 port is provided for a keyboard or mouse. For networking it has a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Mini-PCI-E card for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The single PCI-E x16 slot houses an Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 graphics card. This is Nvidia’s newest card, but it’s a budget model and can’t rival the GeForce GTX 960 in other systems. It’s a good card for the price, however, and will play most games you throw at it if you sacrifice some graphical fidelity.

In Dirt Showdown at 1,920×1,080 resolution, with 4x anti-aliasing and Ultra graphics settings, the PC managed 65.8fps, which is perfectly smooth. In Metro: Last Light Redux we saw 25.1fps at 1,920×1,080 resolution, with SSAA turned on and Very High quality settings. You’ll need to turn off the super-sampled anti-aliasing to get enjoyable frame rates; after doing so we saw 44.6fps.

As a complete £700 system, the GS2 ships with a 25in LG UltraWide 25UM57 display. This differs from your typical widescreen display in that it has a 21:9 aspect ratio rather than the more common 16:9, and a larger 2,560-pixel horizontal resolution compared with the 1,920-wide monitors we usually see at this price. As the name implies, this means the display provides more horizontal screen space, which is useful for using programs side by side or for applications with long timelines, such video editors. How much video editing you’ll want to do with the system’s disappointing processor is another question.

The monitor also helps give games a more cinematic, immersive view, but the extra pixels put an added strain on the graphics card. When we switched to the monitor’s native resolution in Metro: Last Light with SSAA turned off, we saw a frame rate of 35.3fps, which is lower than we saw at 1,920×1,080 but still very playable. In Dirt Showdown at the monitor’s native resolution we saw 59.3fps, which is silky smooth.

Our image calibrator showed that the display is a fantastic choice for colour-sensitive work, too, covering 99.6% of the sRGB colour gamut. Its contrast ratio of 800:1 a default settings was disappointing, as were black levels at 0.3cd/m2, but there are a multitude of image adjustment controls to get a more appealing image.

The complete system also comes with a Thermaltake Commander gaming keyboard and mouse. Both input devices give off a blue glow. The backlit keyboard uses plunger switches with mechanical keycaps, which give key presses a satisfying level of tactility. The mouse is comfortable in your hand and has on-the-fly adjustable sensitivity levels. It’s a great-quality set overall.

The GS2 is available with excellent peripherals, and there are other things to admire about the PC – the case in particular is a high point. However, the underpowered processor drags the system down, leaving the Vibox Exile as our preferred Mini-ITX system. For other options check out our Best desktop PCs and buying guide.

Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 3.2GHz Intel Pentium G3258
Processor socketFCLGA1150
Memory type1,600MHz DDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardGigabyte H97N-WIFI
Motherboard chipsetIntel H97 Express
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB3
Rear USB ports4x USB3, 2x USB
Other ports1x PS/2
Networking1x 10/100/1000, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Case typeMini-ITX
Case size HxWxD291x178x384mm
PCI (free)0 (0)
PCIe x1 (free)0 (0)
PCIe x16 (free)1 (0)
Serial ATA (free)6x SATA3 (5)
Memory slots (free)2 (0)
Drive bays 2 1/2″ (free)4 (4)
Drive bays 3 1/2″ (free)1 (0)
Drive bays 5 1/4″ (free)1 (1) (slot loading ODD only)
Total storage1TB hard disk
Memory card readerNone
Optical drive typeNone
Graphics card2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950
Graphics/video ports2x DVI, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort
Sound cardRealtek ALC892
Sound card outputsLine in, line out, microphone
Display25in LG UltraWide 25UM57
Native resolution2,560×1,080
Inputs2x HDMI
Other hardware
KeyboardThermaltake Commander Gaming
MouseThermaltake Commander Gaming
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
WarrantyThree year RTB including one year parts
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£700
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)£549
Part CodeGS1

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