Be it top-of-the-class gaming or VR, with serious performance comes serious components. And usually a big ol' case to stuff them all into. At the very highest end, enthusiasts usually build their own rig, carefully choosing parts to fit a budget and a design that they're happy with.
Small form PCs aren't anything new, even when looking at gaming PCs. But when you shrink down the size you usually have to compromise somewhere. Less space means less room for cooling, smaller power supplies, less drive space.
But if you want a small PC and you want it to blow the doors off anything you throw at it there are options out there. The latest refresh to the G20 by ASUS' Republic of Gamers boffins is one that should definitely make the shortlist.
The G20 chassis has been available for a few years now in various levels of trim. This newest one takes the performance up to 11, as its had a full GTX 1080 graphics card squeezed inside. This thing is a monster at half the size.
It's also very much a "look at me" design, with a red and black color scheme and aggressive angles all over it. Where we might criticize a laptop designed in this fashion, it's less of a judgment on a desktop since it stays at home. If you like it, fantastic. If you don't, you don't. Personally I think it looks excellent.
You even get an optical drive slipped in, hiding in plain sight in the red stripe that runs vertically up the front. It might not be top of your shopping list on a desktop anymore, but why not have one if it'll fit, right?
Inside the case (which you can't open if you value the warranty) is an Intel Core i7 6700K processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and 1TB HDD storage and that whopping GTX 1080 graphics card from NVIDIA. This is what's mostly responsible for the "Oculus Ready" sticker on the outside and contributes towards the two power supplies.
Yes, you heard correctly. There are two power supplies.
Part of what keeps the G20 so compact is that it uses an external power brick. Only there's so much junk in the trunk here it needs more than one brick can provide, so it has two. ASUS straps them together but you will need two power outlets to power this desktop PC. Which itself is positively bananas.
But while being mildly inconvenient in a sense of using up one more space on a power strip, having the power supply external to the case allows for much more inside without increasing the net volume. If a small form PC is what you're looking for, there's no point filling it up with power supply.
If you go and have a nose around the back of the G20 you'll see four more Oculus logos adorning some of the USB ports. Not being an Oculus owner, it means little to me, but it's a neat way of highlighting the high speed connections that the VR connoisseur will want to utilize. You've also got everything you'd expect to see on a high-end desktop, including a DVI, HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs. The G20 will push a lot of pixels, remember.
One thing that is a little disappointing is the choice of accessories ASUS bundles in the box. This is a high-end gaming PC so you'd expect some form of gaming mouse and keyboard thrown in? Except there isn't. The ones that do come with it are pretty bargain basement. This is either because ASUS knows gamers will use their own stuff anyway, or an oversight, but it's still disappointing to see in the box with a machine like this one.
Make no mistake, though, this is a desktop for the enthusiasts. Not everyone wants to deal with building their own rigs and any issues that come from it, and this is a tremendous option for that kind of buyer. Right now it will gobble up anything you want to throw at it, and it's your first leg on the road to 4K gaming. You'll have a mind-blowing experience at 1440p, though, with the NVIDIA GTX 1080 being arguably the best consumer graphics card right now.
It doesn't completely break the bank, either. It's not cheap, with this spec coming in at just under $2,000, but the graphics card alone is worth around a third of that. It won't take up a lot of room, it'll run fairly quiet in day-to-day use unless you're hammering it with frame rate shredding games. Either way, it's something to take note of. It's a fantastic little — and beastly — machine.
Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine