Asus ROG G20CB review: The Little Engine that Could
If you’ve wondered what an Obelisk of Light looks like on your desk, or just want to comfortably game instead of researching which parts to assemble for your next PC, look no further than the Asus ROG G20CB. Loaded with Nvidia’s latest GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card and an Intel Core i7-6700 CPU, this small form factor desktop packs a solid punch at S$3,198. Despite its seemingly prohibitive price tag, it’s undoubtedly a high-performance Christmas gift that will blow any gamer away.
The star of the show within the G20CB is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. Based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture and TSMC’s 16 nm FinFET fabrication process, the GeForce GTX 1080 draws about 10% more power than its predecessor GTX 980, which we reviewed in the ROG GX700 VO. It also performs significantly faster. In fact, the GTX 1080 sometimes outperforms the twin GTX 980s in SLI mode, which is a considerable performance leap for GPUs that are just one generation apart.
The desktop also comes with Intel’s Core i7-6700 CPU, which delivers superb performance at a maximum clockspeed of 4.0GHz using Intel’s 6th-generation Skylake architecture. Some might wonder whether this is a reasonable compromise, considering that the latest Intel 7th-generation Kaby Lake CPUs were recently launched. However, such worries are unfounded. CPU improvements in the Intel camp have been marginal, with chips of the same clock speed seeing performance increases of roughly 10% with each successive generation. This performance gap is even less-pronounced in the case of the 7th-generation Kaby Lake, which essentially uses the same micro-architecture as Skylake.
Weapon of Destruction
In terms of aesthetics, the front of the chassis resembles a weapon of destruction from the Brotherhood of Nod. Fortunately, it focuses its concentrated laser beams on the inside, within the vertical DVD drive. The front panel also comes with programmable lights, a couple of USB ports, and mic and audio jacks.
The rear of the system is packed with multiple connectors, including 6 USB ports (2 x USB 3.1, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0), 2 HDMI ports, 2 DisplayPorts, and 1 DVI port. Aside from that, the rest of the specifications for the G20CB are typical of high-end gaming PCs. The system supports 7.1 surround sound, is loaded with 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 256GB SSD, and a secondary 2TB SATA hard drive @ 7200rpm. Lastly, connectivity includes a Gigabit Ethernet port, and dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.
What surprised me slightly was the need for 2 power adapters, which meant that I needed another socket freed up around my desk. Nonetheless, the compact 9.5L chassis weighs in at a relatively-light 6.38kg, resulting in the G20CB taking up a small footprint. That said, the desktop may not be easily portable because of the power adapters required to keep the system chugging. Asus should ensure that a future iteration of the G20 just requires one power adapter and socket, especially since graphics cards are beginning to draw less power because of the smaller die sizes of their chips.
One noteworthy characteristic of the G20CB is that it runs very quietly. There was no discernible whir of fans, or the clicking of the secondary mechanical hard drive, all throughout the time I spent with it. Thermal management of the G20CB is definitely a strong point of the system, especially when I gamed for prolonged periods of time, without the need of an air-conditioner, in Singapore’s warm climate.
I won’t delve into many performance benchmarks in this review because systems with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 have been reviewed to death. However, I did put the G20CB through its paces with 3DMark. Click through the images below to view details of each benchmark run:
Although the respective scores fall short of 3DMark’s comparable 4K gaming PCs, remember that actual performance depends largely on the game in question. Newer games in the market are normally limited by the GPU, especially since game developers focus more on producing stunning visuals, and gamers often play at screen resolutions higher than Full HD. In contrast to that, some of 3DMark’s benchmarks, particularly the CPU tests, place more emphasis on CPU performance than necessary. This impacts some benchmark scores, such that systems with faster CPUs but slower graphics cards might occasionally obtain higher 3DMark scores. In essence, 3DMark should be used as just one of the indicators of system performance.
I also put the desktop through Tom Clancy’s The Division, an online 3rd-person shooter released by Ubisoft earlier this year that comes with a built-in benchmarking tool. The game plays through a short sequence as shown in this YouTube video. Following that, it reports the average FPS, typical FPS, average CPU usage, and average GPU usage. Running the benchmark at Full HD (1920 x 1080) and Ultra settings, both the CPU and GPU hardly broke a sweat when when Vsync was switched on; My monitor’s native refresh rate is 60Hz. Switching Vsync off, which forces the graphics subsystem to work at its maximum, the benchmark reported an average 94.6FPS.
The Division, like many other games today, pushes the GPU much harder than the CPU. Hence, if you’re ever wondering whether to spend that extra $200-$300 on a faster component for gaming, you’d be better off spending that money on a faster graphics card. That’s exactly what the G20CB did here by loading an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, which typically retails for more than S$1,000. That said, one could still comfortably play this game on a much older CPU by popping in a current-generation graphics card like the GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB).
I also gave the G20CB a brief spin on Grand Theft Auto V‘s in-game benchmark. Similar to the test in The Division, the system was flawless when running in Full HD mode, and frequently pushed more than 100 FPS when a whole bunch of graphics features were switched on. You’ll notice that as long as you’ve got a GTX 1080 loaded, playing the game at 4K resolution will be very comfortable – Just check out this vid from a similar custom-built rig.
All things considered, the Asus ROG G20CB is a high-performance gaming PC that meets expectations at a price that is very close to similar custom-built rigs on the market. If your budget for a performance machine is in the S$3,000 range, the Asus ROG G20CB is deserving of serious consideration.
Asus ROG G20CB
Value for Money
A high-performance gaming PC that meets expectations at a price that is very close to similar custom-built rigs.
The G20CB packs Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, which delivers excellent performance for every gamer. Its compact size means that it only has room for a single graphics card, but with performance at this level, there’s no need to ask for more. The system’s 16GB of RAM helps a little as well, but games these days run equally fine even with just 8GB.
The small form factor meant that Asus had to carefully choose what to pack into the case. The decision to load a relatively low-capacity 256GB M.2 SSD drive could have been better, as it is well known that mechanical hard drives run substantially slower, and gamers wouldn’t want to use the system’s 2TB SATA drive as frequently. Connectivity is great though, especially with dual-band Wireless ac and Gigabit Ethernet on-board. Do note however that this system does not come with a screen, so make sure you budget for one!
The noiseless operation of such a powerful but small rig was a welcome surprise. Reviews rarely discuss the noise generated by computers, but this was particularly silent. Apart from that, it would have been nice if an SD card reader was included in the chassis for typical home and work use.
The G20CB’s form factor makes it compact and attractive for gamers bringing this to LAN parties. However, the need for 2 power adapters doesn’t help its cause, so portability is still somewhat limited. That said, for everyday use, it’s common to have the power adapters tucked away, leaving just the desktop visible. In this regard, the G20CB works really well in small spaces because of its tiny footprint.
Value for Money
A custom-built rig would cost upwards of S$2,700, using similar components that Asus put together in the G20CB. Considering that the G20CB retails at S$3,198, which is less than a 20% premium compared to a custom-built rig that wouldn’t look half as pretty, the G20CB certainly is value-for-money.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6700 8MB Cache @ 3.4GHz (4.0 GHz Turbo)|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5 Memory|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 2133MHz (Dual Channel)|
|Storage||256GB M.2 SSD|
2TB SATA Hard Drive (7200rpm)
|Network||RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet with GameFirst III traffic management|
Dual-Band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
|Audio||7.1 Surround Sound with Asus SonicMaster|
|Interface||USB 3.1 (2 ports – Rear)|
USB 3.0 (2 ports – Rear)
USB 2.0 (2 ports – Rear)
HDMI 1.4 (Intel HD 530 IGP)
HDMI (2 ports – GTX 1080)
DisplayPort (2 ports – GTX 1080)
DVI (1 port – GTX 1080)
Mic and Headphone Jack (Front)
|AC Adapter||19V 230W + 19V 180W|
|Dimensions||104mm x 358mm x 340mm|
12.5L edge to edge (9.5L Actual)
|Operating System||Windows 10, 64-bit|