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Performance and Thermals
There are three main variants of the Asus ROG GR8 II on the market right now:
- Intel Core i5-7400, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD - $896
- Intel Core i5-7400, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD - $970
- Intel Core i7-7700, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD - $1,197
All models also come with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 3GB of GDDR5, plus an Intel Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 4.0 combination. All come with Intel H110 motherboards, and as I stated earlier, neither the CPU nor GPU can be upgraded in this system.
My review unit was configured slightly differently to the models currently available. It packs an Intel Core i7-7700 and 16GB of RAM, but it has a single 256GB M.2 SSD rather than the 512GB + 1TB SSD/HDD combo in the model you can actually purchase.
The Core i7-7700 is the highest-performance locked Kaby Lake CPU in Intel's current line. It packs four cores and eight threads clocked at 3.6 GHz, with a maximum single-core boost frequency of 4.2 GHz. It has 8 MB of L3 cache and a 65W TDP. For those that closely follow the desktop CPU space, you'll notice that these specs aren't as impressive as the unlocked i7-7700K, which sports a 4.2/4.5 GHz base/boost clock speed and a higher 91W TDP.
As the i7-7700 is a locked processor, unfortunately it cannot be overclocked, which is disappointing for those wanting to squeeze a bit more performance out of their system. Similarly, the i5-7400 found in cheaper GR8 II models cannot be overclocked either. Those opting for the cheaper model will get four cores and four threads at 3.0 GHz with a 3.5 GHz boost, plus 6 MB of L3 cache in a 65W TDP.
It's also disappointing to note that Asus has opted for the GTX 1060 3GB model, which isn't as fast as the GTX 1060 6GB. The 3GB model features a GP106 GPU with 9 SMs instead of 10, which cuts the core count down to 1152 with 72 TMUs and 48 ROPs; the 6GB model comes with 1280 cores and 80 TMUs. The GTX 1060 3GB is still clocked at 1506 MHz with a rated boost frequency of 1708 MHz. Memory wise we're looking at 3GB of GDDR5 at 8000 MHz on a 192-bit bus for 192 GB/s of bandwidth.
I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time discussing the exact performance of this system, because it performs basically exactly as you'd expect for a system with an i7-7700 and a GTX 1060 3GB inside. We have plenty of articles that already illustrate how this GPU performs, including a full review, which you should check out if you want more detailed information about this hardware. We also have some useful benchmarks using the i5-7400 which you should check out if you're interested in the cheaper model.
We do usually test desktop graphics cards with a faster CPU than the i7-7700 or i5-7400, but as you'll be mostly GPU bottlenecked with the GTX 1060 3GB, I've found the results in our previous review coverage to be very close to how the GR8 II performs. In fact for the most part, you won't notice a difference in gaming performance between the model with the i7-7700 and i5-7400, so if you're on a budget or just want to save money, the i5-7400 model will be fine.
Where you will see benefits from the higher-clocked i7-7700 is in workstation workloads like video encoding and simulations, where the extra clock speed and hyper-threading support will lead to a faster experience. But I suspect most people will be buying a GR8 II for gaming.
For those that are curious about what sort of games you can play on the GR8 II and at what settings, I managed to hit an average of 55 FPS in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided while playing at 1080p using the High quality preset. Pushing up to the Very High preset, the game dropped to an average of 47 FPS, which is in line with what we've seen with the GTX 1060 3GB on our test bench.
I also played a decent chunk of Watch Dogs 2 on the GR8 II, and achieved frame rates in the 40-50 FPS range. I tested on the Very High preset at 1080p, with the Ultra preset dropping the FPS rate by 10 on average. As this is one of the most intensive games out there, which hits both the GPU and CPU, it's pretty indicative of what experience you'll get with the GR8 II: it's good for 1080p gaming at around 60 FPS at high or very high quality presets in most games.
The GR8 II is a pretty loud system under load, which is a byproduct of its limited cooling solution. The GPU fan makes a loud whine when it spins up, which can be heard over game audio if the system is placed too close to you. Most standard gaming PCs built in tower cases will be quieter than the GR8 II in games, though these systems will naturally be much larger with better cooling.
Luckily the GR8 II is reasonably silent under idle or low usage, however any time the fan decides to spin up for moderate or heavy usage, you'll notice.
Crushing the GR8 II in AIDA64's stress test leads to CPU temperatures above 90°C, which leads to throttling, although the GPU sits at a rather comfortable 68°C. In Watch Dogs 2, though, CPU temperatures sat at a more reasonable 78°C with 70°C on the GPU, which is perfectly fine for a mini PC. Again, it's pretty loud at these temperatures.
Overclocking the CPU is out of the question, but with GPU temperatures at 70°C under load, I thought I'd check out whether the GTX 1060 can be overclocked to any reasonable extent. Setting a power target of 116%, I was able to push up the GPU's core and memory clocks to 1746 MHz and 2147 (8588) MHz respectively. This lead to a 52 FPS average in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at its Very High preset at 1080p, which was a modest 11 percent improvement.
With this overclock applied, the GR8 II was slightly louder and the GTX 1060 hit 73°C. This is well within what I'd consider reasonable operating ranges, so it's worth playing around with GPU overclocking if you purchase a GR8 II.