Building a PC for the first time is a taxing experience. While you can certainly plug components into a PC Part picker and churn out a system that runs, passionate builders put time and research into learning how each part contributes to the efficiency of their PC before they start looking at price tags. However, this process leaves a market of potential consumers frustrated when all they want to do is break into the PC space and start gaming right away. Pre-built desktops may have a lot of negativity surrounding them, but Asus wants to change that with the VivoPC X, a VR-ready PC with the sleek form factor of a modern day console.
The Asus VivoPC X is a complete package for any fledgeling PC gamer with a budget of $1149.99 CAD, which includes the system itself, a power brick, a wireless keyboard, and mouse. While the price tag may seem quite high at first glance, the VivoPC X is actually one of the more affordable pre-built gaming systems on the market and the components within equate to around the same retail price. While I personally prefer a PC set up on a high-quality monitor, the inclusion of wireless peripherals screams out to me that this system is targeted towards users who want to treat their PC as a gaming console and play on a wide-screen TV instead.
Weighing in at just below 5 pounds, the Asus VivoPC X can certainly pass off as a current-gen console with its minimalist design. While I love the sleek curves, colour accented fans, and different textured plastics, there is one clear design flaw and that’s no included USB ports in the front panel for controller support if the user prefers that type of gaming experience. With a grand total of six USB ports in the back of the system, it would’ve been a smarter choice to move the two USB 2.0 ports to the front of the case and leave the four included USB 3.0 ports alone for drives and other peripherals. Finishing off the included ports in the back, the VivoPC X also includes a display port, two HDMI ports, an Ethernet socket, and an audio jack to fulfil every hardware requirement needed to support a VR headset.
Specs are unfortunately where Asus has lost me on this product. While the included 3GB Nvidia GTX 1060 is a great GPU for this system and will deliver good results in games and VR applications, the real shortcoming is the CPU choice. The heart of the Asus VivoPC X is the seventh Generation Intel core i5-7300HQ processor, which is intended for notebooks. Despite being a quad-core chip that can turbo boost up to 3.5 Ghz, the lack of a desktop intended CPU here bottlenecks the performance of the GTX 1060 from achieving its true potential as shown by our benchmarks. I assume the reason for this processor choice is because of the lack of space to accommodate a better CPU in the chassis, but performance per dollar is the deciding factor for these pre-built systems and the competition has a leg up over Asus in this field.
The performance of the Asus VivoPC X is nothing stellar, but it does get the job done where it counts. Starting off with 3D Mark Time Spy, the system was able to achieve an overall score of 3477 thanks to the power of the GTX 1060. The CPU dragged behind with a score of 2776, but the system was still able to crank out frame rates of above 23 FPS during the graphics tests. CPU intensive games including The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Total War Warhammer, didn’t hold up too well at ultra settings and needed to be tuned down to a mix of high and medium settings before I saw framerates above 60 FPS. While AAA titles may be bottlenecked, eSports titles like Overwatch, DOTA 2, and Rocket League run smooth and crisp at ultra-settings due to their less taxing requirements.
The Asus VivoPC X is a good substitute for consumers who have no interest in learning how to build their own gaming PC. While I could bash this desktop for its lack of upgradability, the system is intended for users who just want a reliable computer that won’t give them any hardware hassles and that’s completely understandable. The competition pool in this field is growing deeper every year however, and users need to stay on top of who is offering the best product for the money. As it stands the Asus VivoPC X could have been a product if it included a desktop CPU, but it still reaches the minimum requirements I would look for in a modern day gaming PC for a decent price.