Corsair’s no stranger to PC building. Apart from having a wide range of components under its belt, from cases to power supplies, it’s also had a go with the Bulldog kit PC. It was an odd first choice for the company, and a product that seemed to be a solution in search of a problem. The same cannot be said for the Corsair One (of which the Pro is the top model), a complete PC solution that is not only powerful, but extremely well-engineered.
There are two things you first notice about the One (which is impossible to type without thinking of The Matrix). The first is that it looks amazing. Its enclosure measures only 12 litres in volume, so it’s surprisingly small for what it packs inside, and the matte-black aluminium panels and green lighting from the trim gaps between those panels make for a system that looks both elegant and powerful. And since it’s so small, it’s also very versatile, at home on or under a desk, or in your loungeroom, for some PC-powered gaming. If you’ve got a 4K television, and want to expand your gaming setup, the One will not look out of place next to your giant flatscreen. And given the front HDMI slot, it’s also ready for convenient VR setup out of the box.
When you turn it on, though, it’s also amazingly quiet. This is impressive in and of itself in a case this size, where you might expect tiny hamster-cage fans whizzing away to keep everything from overheating. But this is the where the very vertical form-factor comes into things – the natural shape of the One allows natural convection to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to cooling, assisted by a fan mounted in the top of the chassis, beneath a grilled and vaned heatsink.
Solid cooling is relatively important, too, as the One Pro is packed with performance parts. Under the hood is an Intel Core i7 7700K backed by 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and an overclocked MSI GTX 1080. Power is courtesy of a custom-made XFX 80-plus Gold PSU, complete with a passively-cooled zero-fan mode. The PSU has been tuned for this particular case interior, further helping noise and heat dissipation.
The slim design aesthetic extends to the software side of things, with Corsair delivering very little in the way of bloatware on the One’s base install. There’s Corsair’s Link utility, which is very handy, and a few game installers, which makes perfect sense given the One’s gaming focus. Aside from the operating system, there’s very little other clutter on the Corsair-made 1TB SSD that serves as the system’s main storage.
And performance-wise, the entire thing practically sings. Well, hums along very, very quietly, to be more accurate.
Not only did the One handle 3DMark’s Firestrike test with aplomb, it did so extremely quietly, able to top out the more intense tests at around 90-100 frames per second, and scoring 8845 overall. In PCMark 8 tests, the One was just as spritely, hitting an impressive 4799, which places it well above the minimum score for not only a solid VR experience, but also a 4K gaming one. And, all the while, the case remained barely audible, and that only in our enclosed, very quiet test-lad. In a real-world environment, with a game or music running, and the sounds of your average house, it’s practically silent.
So the One is powerful, it’s quiet, and it won’t heat up your room to uncomfortable temperatures. But what it is not is all that upgrade-friendly. Corsair has told us the case can be opened up, but replacing any of the parts yourself – which is theoretically possible – voids the two-year warranty. To keep up with new parts, however, Corsair is planning to open service centers around the world (and including Australia) where you can take your One for in-warranty upgrades by professionals, no doubt equipped with just the right tools for the job.
This is an elegant enough solution, and a wonderfully engineered PC, but for tinkerers it clearly marks Corsair’s One as not the right PC for them.