ASUS ROG GR8 Review: Better than a Gaming Console?

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Looking for a desktop PC that can rival those latest gaming consoles? Maybe this could be your answer.

Console gaming has become popular in the late 80’s thanks to the contribution made by Nintendo, and it is still going strong despite the trend of mobile gaming has become a phenomenon. Making a gaming console has to focus on the following criteria: the cost, the availability of games and the ease of access. Now Asus is trying to venture to this audience with their Republic of Gamers GR8 desktop PC. Instead of aiming towards their hardcore PC gamers, they are now trying to tap the home console gamers into shifting to the PC gaming, but will this idea work for these long-time hardcore gamers?

Before we start, here is the specs for the Republic of Gamers GR8

  • Operating System

Windows 8.1

  • Processor

Intel® Core™ i7 4510U Processor

  • Chipset

Integrated

  • Graphic

NVIDIA® GeForce GTX750Ti 2GB
Intel® HD Graphics 4400

  • Memory

8 GB Up to 16 GB
Dual Channel, DDR3L at 1600MHz
2 x SO-DIMM

  • Storage

2.5″ 500GB Up to 1TB SATA 6Gb/s Hard Drive (7200RPM)
2.5″ 128GB Up to 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
2.5″ x 1 extension bay for additional HDD/SSD

  • Wireless Data Network

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac , Built-in Miracast receiver

  • LAN

Intel Ethernet
10/100/1000/Gigabits Mbps

  • Audio

ROG SupremeFX Audio
High Definition 5.1 Channel Audio
Sonic SoundStage/Sonic SenseAmp/Sonic Studio/Sonic Radar II
DTS Connect

  • Front I/O Ports

2 x USB 2.0

1 x Headphone

1 x Microphone

  • Back I/O Ports

1 x RJ45 LAN
1 x HDMI
4 x USB 3.0
1 x Kensington Lock
1 x DC-in
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Display
3 x Audio Jack(s) (Line in/Mic in/Speaker out)

  • Power Supply

120 W Power adaptor

  • Dimensions

6 x 24.5 x 23.8 cm (WxDxH)

  • Weight

1.284 kg

 

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The GR8 has a slim structure with a sleek and edgy design and an engraved ROG logo at the side, and with a size of that is almost half that from a PlayStation 3 console, you can place this anywhere on your desktop or even behind your large monitor/ LED TV and it does not eat much space. In regards to ports, it has two USB 2.0 at the front along with the audio and microphone 3.5mm jack, pretty handy when plugging a gamepad or other gaming peripherals for a quick plug and play. And at the back of the gaming mini PC, it has 4 USB 3.0 ports where you can plug any external drives for additional storage, however it only has one HDMI port so you can’t have a multiple monitor set up. Though it also has a Display port available that allows you to runs 4K resolution at 60hz, unfortunately the GR8 won’t be able to run any recent games with that kind of resolution, but you can experience 4K videos for your viewing pleasure.

Running with an Intel® Core™ i7 4510U Processor and GeForce GTX750Ti, you might be wondering how noisy the fans of the GR8 would be to maintain an optimal temperature, but surprisingly the fans can maintain a low noise, or rather almost silent noise even when the GR8 is running with a heavy application.

Upgrading the components on the mini PC has its limitations; you can only upgrade the hard drive and memory, as for the graphic card and processor, they are both built in the board. Upgrading the memory and storage drive is easy as you only need to slide off the back panel of the unit to access the drives.

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The GR8 includes a Gladius gaming mouse and an illuminated mechanical keyboard in the package, sadly there is no included game controller or a remote control for that added console-like experience. For more details on the ROG Gladius, you can check out our review. The included mechanical keyboard does not have any fancy gimmicks aside from having keys that light up, there are no dedicated media keys that are found in some high-end gaming keyboards, it would have been nice if both peripherals were wireless so users can use on their living rooms as their entertainment machine for gaming and movie viewing.

As for performance, the GR8 is capable of handling any applications thanks to its i7 processor, after testing the unit with PCMark, it shows some great results. As for the graphical performance, we tested out some benchmark tools and a series of games to see if it can run high-end games. Most newer games like Far Cry 4 has some difficulty getting at least 30 fps on high setting and 1080p resolution and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Final Fantasy Type-0 HD can only go at around 30 fps on high settings, while some games like Ultra Street Fighter IV, Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Gauntlet can maintain a 60 fps even on the highest settings. You can check the video below on how the game perform on the GR8. As far as heating concerns, the GR8 can handle around 50 to 65 degrees Celsius when playing some heavy games, and like we mentioned before, the fan noise wasn’t that noticeable.

The bundled ASUS apps provide some convenience in using the GR8, the Sonic Radar 2 provides enhancements on your gameplay experience especially on competitive games. It guides you on certain locations where gunfire and explosions were heard, giving you some advantage on incoming enemies. The AI Suite app lets you optimize your computer by tweaking some components such as overclocking the CPU performance or your graphic card clock memory, you can even adjust the wattage of your GR8 or create a preset where it is power efficient when kept idle for hours.

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Overall, the GR8 is a neat gaming PC in a small package. It surpasses the performance from current generation  game consoles but it still lacks the convenience of a console for quick access on games and when used on a living room, if only the bundled peripherals were wireless and a special dedicated app that can be used as a launcher for games and media in a single press, this could have utilized the full potential of the GR8 as a media device, so you may have to invest on wireless gamepad, mouse and keyboard to fully experience it, plus having a steep price tag could turn away some prospect consumers since the idea of having a gaming console is more cheaper. But the GR8 can still pack a punch as a gaming PC that can handle some games at 1080p with some adjustments on the graphic settings.

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