top-pic-0I have a confession to make, blog readers: I am a cheapskate. While others plan an upgrade path that keeps their hardware up to date, I scrape by with rapidly aging technology that is being pushed past its limits. My main computer is a laptop that has onboard video. It is clearly not designed to play games, and yet I run whatever I can mange on it. So cracking open the box and setting up the ASUS G11 Gaming PC, a machine designed for gaming, got my pulse racing.

ASUS G11 Unboxing

img_20161216_122949116The first glimpse of the ASUS G11 reveals the geometric, Aztec-inspired front panel design. The intricate grey front face is a nice change from a plain, matte black finish of most ordinary PCs. Other than that, the package is what you would expect: the tower itself, a power cord, a manual, a keyboard and a mouse. The weight of the tower is reasonable, and it conforms to the standard dimensions of a mid-sized tower, so it fits nicely into the cubby underneath my desk.

The visual design of the ASUS G11 is accentuated with LED lights on the front and sides of the tower. You can configure the lights to display whatever colour your heart desires. 8 million colour combinations and a pulsing effect for mood lighting your marathon gaming sessions. I didn’t spend a lot of time tinkering with the LED lights, because I liked the ominous menace of the default red glow.

Technical Specifications

ASUS G11 Gaming PC
Processor:  3.3 Ghz Intel Core i5-6400
RAM:  12GB, 2133MHz DDR4
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
Optical Drive: SuperMulti DVD RW
Hard Drive Capacity: 1TB; 128GB SATA SSD
Wireless Technology: 802.11 ac
OS: Windows 10 64-bit

The video card is arguably the most important component for a gaming rig, although you won’t get far without a lot of RAM and a beefy CPU. The ASUS G11 has a very serious video card, the nVidia GTX1070. It is powerful enough to run any high demand game or software. It’s also 4K and VR compatible. As expected, the video pumped out by this machine was fantastic. There wasn’t anything I could throw at it that it did not handle. Speaking of RAM and processors: the 12GB of DDR4 RAM is more than ample, and the 3.3 Ghz Intel Core i5-6400 quad-core processor is nice and powerful.

 

The tower is designed to grow with your future hardware needs and to accept additional components. Whether it’s the need for another optical drive (like a Blu-ray drive) or additional hard drives for a RAID array, the ASUS G11 has the space to accommodate. Want to throw a tv tuner card like the AVerTV HD DVR so that you can digitize all of those old home movie video cassettes? No problem. Before you get too excited, it doesn’t appear that the ASUS G11 supports dual video cards. It can support two simultaneous monitors, but one of them will be running at a reduced resolution and therefore won’t keep up with the other monitor.

Setting up the ASUS G11

After the unavoidable Windows update that took over an hour of my life, the rest of the setup was a breeze. The benefit of the solid state drive (SSD) as the home of the operating system was incredibly quick boot up time, so each of the many restarts demanded by Windows update were mercifully brief. Once the system was updated, the machine was fully operational with no need for me to do any complicated additional configuration. The built-in Wi-Fi was a welcome change that took me a bit to notice. I’m still accustomed to having a network cable as the mandatory desktop connection method.
img_20161216_123123300Good golly, if you want to connect everything and anything to your computer, this is the right computer for you. 10, yes 10 USB ports are on this beast. The 4 USB on the front are split evenly, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0. The back USB are the same, with the addition of two USB 3.1 ports. These new 3.1 ports can hammer data through at an astounding 10 Gbit/second. I can’t imagine the scenario where I would have that many high-powered USB devices all connected simultaneously, but it is comforting to know it is possible. Then we also have a 6-in-1 card reader, HMDI out, VGA out, and 7.1 audio out rounding out all of the ports on the front and back of this machine.

 

 

img_20161216_123232124The included keyboard and mouse are the one part of the ASUS G11 package that doesn’t stand out at all. Just your run of the mill basic combo, with no bells and whistles. The keyboard is compact without any additional frills around the edge, so it takes up a minimal amount of desk space. Both the mouse and keyboard work just fine, but that is about it.

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That isn’t really a slight against ASUS, since the computer is what you’re paying for. I have to assume that they expect you to already have a gaming keyboard like the Razer BlackWidow Chroma, or you’re planning on upgrading soon.

 

The ASUS G11 comes with software to capture gameplay footage to share with friends (or to relive your glory days over and over again. Whatever floats your boat, I’m not one to judge). It also has the Aegis II monitoring app that keeps track of the machine’s performance and gives you finer control on some of the settings. As an example, the Aegis II software allows you to prioritize a specific game and automatically shut down other apps that are competing for machine resources. The video capture software was a nice addition to find, instead of having to dig around to find a freeware alternative. As always, the bundled software is capable but not as feature-rich as a purchased solution.
10284514_2The real test-GAMES! I took each game in my Steam library for a spin on the G11 and I was amazed at the enhanced performance. I saved my favourite game for last. I have spent thousands of hours on Civilization 5 over the last few years, running it at the absolute minimum settings so that my poor laptop could manage it. Even so, my machine would slow to a crawl as the game progressed. On the ASUS G11 I cranked every setting to maximum and dove in to a new game. 20 hours later the machine was as speedy as it had been at the start.

The ASUS G11 aims to be a solid gaming desktop, and it meets that goal. It is perfect for that next step up, from your old general purpose PC to a machine built to handle the demands of the newest gaming titles. And with the expansion options it provides, you will be able to upgrade it to stay current as new technology hits the market. The price point puts it within reach for folks with a moderately frugal budget. Plan to replace the basic keyboard and mouse with a pair that is designed specifically for gaming.

Image from ASUS.com

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