After a few more times of either leaving my laptop at work (so I didn’t have a PC at home), or forgetting my laptop at home in the morning (so I had to use my work-issued crappy Lenovo, which can’t drive even one of my 4K displays at work – of which I have 3), I decided to start looking at PCs again. Again, first looked in to building, then looked in to off the shelf products.
The ASUS ROG G20CB that hosed my Sunday and $20 of my gas
a few weeks almost two months ago was still, somehow, burrowing its way in to my mind. I checked out other resources that were available locally, including the Alienware Aurora… but damn was that thing big, and more expensive. I don’t like putting PCs on the floor, because they end up full of dust much more frequently – learned that with my last one – so the form factor of the ROG G20CB was still SO appealing to me since whatever I chose would have to go on my desk. When I saw it on sale for $200 off (or $500? off, see below), I’m assuming because the new version is coming soon with the Kaby Lake processor, I decided to give it another chance to redeem itself.
The last time I picked one up it was $1199, discounted from $1499 at a local Best Buy. When I checked it a few days ago, it was further discounted to $999, though it claimed that the MSRP was now $1299. Checking it again today, they have it listed for $1099, which is still $200 off the new, lower MSRP, but I’m glad I was able to get one when I did at $999. This is the same model as I got before – a 7200 rpm 2.5″ 1TB HDD, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, Intel i7 6700 CPU, and a GeForce 1070 with 8GB of VRAM. Somehow they managed to cram a DVD+-RW in it, which I doubt I’ll ever use. Honestly I would have rather they put a spot for another NVME drive or even a 2.5″ HDD in that spot.
My laptop is still superior for storage options, which is odd to say when comparing a laptop with a desktop. The laptop will allow two NVME drives be installed (individual, RAID 0, or RAID 1), plus a standard SATA III M.2 drive, PLUS a spinning 2.5″ HDD. The ROG G20CB only allows for one NVME drive, in addition to its existing 2.5″ spinning disk. Having come from devices with NVME solid state for years (starting with Macbook Pros and then the Aorus), this desperately needs an NVME upgrade for the OS partition, and I shall bestow it upon the G20 in good time. For now though, most important concern, given my last experience with the G20, is reliability.
I’m happy to say that I’ve been using the ROG all day for work and a little video consumption on the side, and it’s been very stable. I was able to set it up last night, got Steam installed, and began downloading some games. I’m definitely going to need some more disk space, but I was able to test the 1070 out for a half an hour or so before bed with Call of Duty Ghosts. Aside from DOOM (which I wouldn’t have been able to download before I had to go to bed since it’s almost 60GB), CoD: Ghosts is probably one of the most demanding Steam games I own. I quickly downloaded that, cranked all of the visuals up to MAX settings, and gave it a go at full 4K resolution.
Granted that game is from late 2013, but it ran great! 80 fps to north of 120 fps on Ultra settings and 8xAA depending on the scene and what was going on. Very acceptable since I’m using a 4K LG TV as a monitor and not one of those fancy 144Hz gaming monitors. Anything north of 60 fps I won’t see anyway, so even a steady 60 is fine by me.
I’d like to try the same game with the same settings on my laptop, just to see the difference. CoD games are typically pretty well optimized for dual GPUs so I don’t think the laptop will suffer there having dual 970Ms. The laptop also has 12GB of VRAM vs only 8GB in the desktop. Pitting the two against each other and seeing what frame rates I get in that game will really show an interesting comparison between the two graphics solutions. (On both systems, games are running off of 7.2K RPM spinning disk, so no disk advantage for the Aorus.)
Later That Day: I had a chance to play DOOM tonight at 4K with all settings on High/Ultra (some settings don’t have “Ultra” as an option), and it bounced around between 55 fps and 90 fps, sometimes going higher, but not typically. Granted I only played it for 15 minutes or so to test, but definitely usable with those settings. When I knocked it down to the “High” preset at 4K it never dipped below 80 fps. This card should be solid for a long time.
I had an annoying issue this morning with display flickering. Seemingly randomly the display would cut out and come back – almost like a driver was crashing and recovering. Strange though that I didn’t see anything in Event Viewer about the crashing/recovering, nor did I see a message on the desktop about the driver having crashed and recovered, which I’ve seen before on my laptop when nV released a flaky driver. This was extremely unnerving and had me worried. A quick Google search showed that it was an nVidia driver issue though, and I followed a little how-to guide to completely remove all of the nVidia drivers via the “DDU” utility, and then installed a driver that was one version older than the newest version. That seemed to do the trick and the system has been solid since.
Overall I’m really pleased with this little box, and I’m glad I gave it another chance. Ultimately I’d like to throw an SSD on it for my OS and apps, and upgrade the 1TB disk in it to a 2TB or larger, like I did in the laptop, so I can pack some games on this thing.
Update: The machine died. More information here: http://blog.i64x.com/2017/02/24/new-pc-part-v-lets-give-alienware-a-shot/