I gave up owning desktop gaming PCs a little over a year ago, when my four-year-old suped-up gaming rig made a weird sputtering sound, then a series of alarming pings and dings, followed by a loud pop, and an anticlimactic power-down and permadeath. I’ve been running a solid gaming laptop ever since, simply due to space restrictions in our home (Read: I don’t have an office, and my desktop and monitor were ruining the décor), and the desire for increased portability. However, I sorely miss the power offered by desktops, and being able to use a giant monitor, as well, instead of a paltry 17 inches of viewing space.
Naturally, I was pretty excited for the opportunity to dust off my big monitor and set it up with the ASUS VivoPC Desktop (M32-BH72). I found this to be a really reasonably priced multimedia desktop, offering plenty of power for pretty much everything you would need, and then some. It also started making me think of ditching the laptop eventually, and returning to the land of desktop bliss. Décor willing, of course.
Out of the Box
The ASUS VivoPC Desktop has a handsome, gray matte finish, with black plastic front panels for the optical drive, a couple of card and USB ports, mic/headphone jacks, plus a big power button. In the box, you’ll find the obligatory power cord, plus an ASUS keyboard and mouse. I don’t remember ever getting a keyboard and mouse with my previous desktop purchases, although admittedly they were not from ASUS. I spent waayyyy more money on my laptop, and they didn’t even include so much as a mousepad with the pricey purchase. But the thing that impressed me most right away, was the weight of this desktop. It’s just so light, compared to other desktop towers I’ve owned. At first I thought maybe it was just an empty tower. Or maybe I had suddenly developed super strength. But no such luck.
The ASUS VivoPC Desktop sports a speedy 4.0GHz Intel Core i7-6700 processor and an impressive 16GB of DDR4 RAM. You’ll find plenty of room for all your multimedia files, pictures, videos and tons of games on the roomy 2TB hard drive. And, you won’t be left behind when it comes to playing the latest games or watching smooth HD video, thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M graphics card with 2GB of dedicated video memory. The tower features eight USB ports, the usual HDMI outputs, plus a SuperMulti DVD RW drive and 5-in-1 card reader that supports SD, SDHC, MS, MS Pro, and MMC. It also comes preloaded with Windows 10.
Setting up the ASUS M32 Desktop
Everybody says Macs are just easier to set up, but I don’t know what they’re talking about. I plugged in the Asus M32 after hooking it up to my monitor and plugging in the included mouse and keyboard (Seriously, not even a mousepad with my expensive laptop. That’s really starting to burn me) and it booted up in a jiffy. Of course, Windows needed to update, but it only took a few minutes, plus a couple of restarts. Soon, the computer was welcoming me back to desktop land, and my widescreen happiness.
The integrated Wi-Fi picked up my router, and after plugging in the password to my humorous, yet inappropriately named network, I was online and surfing around the internet. I was disappointed that the tower didn’t even have one of those tinny and mono-sounding speakers integrated somewhere, however it wasn’t a biggie, as like most people I tend to wrap myself in my headphones the majority of the time.
Performance and Playing Around
The ASUS M32 Desktop didn’t disappoint in pretty much everything I did with it during my time reviewing it. As soon as I was updated, hooked up to the internet and ensconced in my headphones, I opened up Microsoft Edge (that’s the included new Windows browser). Although I prefer Google Chrome, I started browsing around. Speedy surfing—Check. For your everyday browsing needs, you’ll be zipping from page to page, and be treated to nice, crisp and smooth HD video where available. And speaking of video; I hopped on to my Netflix account and screened a couple episodes of my favourite series these days, plus some HD documentaries. Everything was smooth, seamless, lag-free and bright. Sure, it helps that my monitor is a high-end ASUS gaming monitor, but the M32 certainly took care of everything it needed to do on its end to give me the rich cinematic experience I crave.
The M32 uses Sonic Master audio optimization to help boost the sound quality, however, don’t expect anything mind-boggling or special. I’d say that’s the only real place the M32 has its drawbacks. The sound is adequate (and you need some decent headphones or a set of desktop PC speakers), but I don’t think you can really expect too much from something so reasonably priced that is also powerful enough for most everything you’ll want to do with a computer. It’s also pretty quiet, which I also found surprising, considering my memory of previous desktops I owned. Most of those tended to make definite, audible and ever-present levels of fan noise, as I recall. The Asus M32 seems almost whisper-quiet by comparison, even when I was tasking it with HD movies or taxing graphics-intensive video games.
Speaking of games; the Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics card performed really well with all the games I threw at it, from the high-res special edition of Skyrim, to Overwatch, and whatever else I had time to load into the M32’s hard drive. To be honest, in most respects the much more moderately priced ASUS M32 rivals the specs of my expensive gaming laptop. It also performs really well, and keeps up with stuff even a tech geek like me can throw at it. So, you can see why this experience has me thinking “décor be damned.” I want a desktop again. And if I were to go back to a desktop set-up, I would certainly consider the Asus M32, although I would want to get some awesome speakers and headphones that could further improve the sound experience, and also maybe get a better mouse and keyboard. The included accessories are awesome, and ideal for probably most users, however I’d prefer a sturdier keyboard for my gaming needs, as well as a similar mouse.
What about you? Are you looking for a new desktop? What do you think of the Asus M32? Let me know in the Comments section below.