Asus ROG Strix GL10CS full review
The Asus ROG Strix GL10CS is a big-brand gaming PC with a budget price, decent specs and wide availability. That sounds great on paper, especially if you’re looking for an affordable machie from a trusted name – rather than building it yourself, or buying from an unfamiliar manufacturer.
Is the Asus a bargain, though, or does this big-brand box fall behind its rivals? Find out in our full review.
Price & Availability
The Asus’ £849 price makes it one of the cheapest gaming desktops around. The machine reviewed here includes an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card and an Intel Core i5-9400F processor.
Several different specifications are available if this rig doesn’t suit. A £799 version drops down to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics and ditches the SSD. Paying £1,199 will get you a more powerful rig that reinstates the SSD and upgrades to RTX 2060 graphics.
In the USA, the Asus is configured slightly differently. The cheapest model, at $849, includes a Core i5 CPU and a GTX 1050 GPU. The $899 model upgrades to a Core i7 chip, and you’ll have to pay $1,399 for a GTX 1660 Ti alongside that Core i7 processor.
Surprisingly, the Asus price compares well with machines from local companies – big-brand machines like this are usually more expensive.
more than $1,100 at CyberPower to get a desktop with the GTX 1660 Ti and a Core i5 CPU, although prices drop a little if you accept an older AMD chip.
Check out the best gaming PCs we've reviewed and ranked.
Design & Build
The Asus looks good: its front panel is a slab of angled plastic, and a bold band of glowing RGB LEDs slashes its way across the centre. And, at 428mm tall and 180mm wide, it’s noticeably smaller than most of the mid-tower systems on the market.
Get hands-on with the Asus, though, and it becomes clear that this PC has been built to a budget.
The front panel is made of plastic, not metal, and the metal side panel is flimsy. Build quality is reasonable elsewhere, but this tower is not particularly sturdy.
There isn’t much in the way of connectivity. The front has two USB 3.1 ports, but only one audio jack. At the rear you’re given two USB 3.1 ports and two slower USB 2 connectors alongside three audio jacks and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
However, there’s no USB Type-C, no extra full-size USB ports and it’s not uncommon to find five audio jacks at the rear of desktop machines.
There’s not much to shout about when that flimsy side panel is removed. The interior is made of plain metal. There’s no provision for adding any extra fans, no cable-tidying to speak of and no room for extra storage either.
None of this is a surprise really – the Asus is a gaming PC that is designed to be bought, used, and never opened. However, it’s still disappointing if you may want to tinker and upgrade in the future.
If you are interested in that, systems made by your local companies will be better. Locally-made machines at this price will have more storage space and cooling room, and those cases will also often have painted interiors, Perspex side panels and better connectivity. Build quality will be improved too.
Specs & Performance
The GTX 1660 Ti uses Nvidia’s latest architecture, but it keeps the costs down by omitting the hardware for Ray-Tracing and DLSS – so you don’t get access to those high-end features.
Elsewhere, the GTX 1660 Ti is designed for 1080p gaming with 1,536 stream processors and 6GB of memory. The Asus card here is basic, with a single-fan design and no overclocking – so it runs at its stock boost speed of 1,770MHz.
The GPU has ample power for 1080p gaming. Even with games like Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided running at Ultra settings the Asus returned average framerates of 55fps and 58fps.
That’s enough pace to deliver consistently smooth gameplay. It’s also enough to handle any esports title and any more casual games with a 100fps framerate. That’s important for delivering super-smooth 1080p gaming on high refresh-rate screens.
However, the stock-speed GPU is still outpaced by GTX 1660 Ti machines that have dual-channel memory – it’s not unusual for rigs to be five frames quicker in Ultra gaming tests. The difference can be seen in theoretical benchmarks. The Asus’ 3D Mark Sky Diver result of 30,528 is fine, but it’s not unusual to find machines scoring a couple of thousand points more, especially with an overclock.
This middling GTX 1660 Ti pace is not a deal breaker – the machine still has enough ability to handle all kinds of 1080p scenarios. However, be aware that more speed can be found elsewhere.
The processor is similarly mid-range. The Core i5-9400F has six cores and a stock speed of 2.9GHz alongside a Turbo peak of 4.1GHz, but it’s not Hyper-Threaded. Nevertheless, we have no issues with CPU performance. A Geekbench 4 result of 17,065 is solid, and its PC Mark 10 score of 5,421 is similarly impressive.
It’s enough pace to avoid any gaming bottlenecks at 1080p, and it also means that the Asus will handle day-to-day computing tasks with no issues. Whether it’s web-browsing, Office apps or light photo-editing and media duties – it’ll be fine.
Here you can see the results compared with some more expensive machines, the PC Specialist Vulcan S2 (RTX 2070), Overclockers Hoplite (RTX 2060) and Yoyotech Warbird i7s (RTX 2070). These are all priced close to or over the £1,500 mark.
Sadly, the rest of the specification does the Asus no favours. The 8GB of memory is fine, but it’s installed in single-channel arrangement – using dual-channel memory would deliver a solid performance boost.
The 256GB NVMe SSD isn’t huge, and its read and write speeds of 1585MB/s and 909MB/s are mediocre. The Strix GL10CS' drive is still better than any SATA disk, which means reasonable boot and load times – but this is another area where it’s easy to find better hardware.
The motherboard, too, disappoints. It looks plain, with no snazzy heatsinks or lights and it only has the bare minimum of upgrade room: one spare memory slot, a few empty SATA connectors and an empty PCI-E x1 socket.
Of course, many people won’t care about the limited motherboard or poorer connectivity. If you want to plug and play, the Asus will do the job.
However, local-made machines tend to have motherboards with more upgrade options, better rear connectivity and smarter looks – so those rigs will be more versatile. They also tend to have faster SSDs and dual-channel memory as standard.
The Asus is also noisy. When idling there’s noticeable fan noise, which is poor – at this point the PC isn’t even doing anything. The rig takes a step-up during games, producing a loud, high-pitched whine and adding a CPU stress-test saw the noise increase further.
When idling, the noise is caused by the basic CPU cooler and the small exhaust fan, but during gaming the graphics card’s single fan also contributes – and the whole PC ramps up during a full-system test.
It’s disappointing. A headset or speakers will sometimes struggle to mask this level of noise, and any system you buy from a local builder will be far quieter.
The Asus ROG Strix GL10CS has enough gaming ability to handle any esports and mainstream title at 1080p. It’ll also play today’s top single-player games at that resolution.
Elsewhere, the processor offers solid everyday pace, the front of the machine has RGB LEDs, and it’s not particularly large. It’s also a little cheaper than many equivalent machines.
Those upsides are undermined in a few ways though.
The GPU is fine, for instance, but more power is easy to find. The motherboard is basic, the storage is mediocre, the memory is installed in single-channel configuration and the machine is far too loud. The case has few features and mediocre quality.
The Asus is just about acceptable if you want to buy a desktop for 1080p gaming – and then plug it in and forget about it. However, that noise is disappointing, and you’ll get a faster, more versatile and more effective machine if you do a bit of research and spend a little more cash.
Asus ROG Strix GL10CS: Specs
- Processor: 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-9400F
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
- Memory: 8GB 2,666MHz DDR4
- Storage: 256GB Kingston SSD, 1TB Toshiba hard disk
- Ports: 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 x USB 2, 1 x HDMI, 3 x audio, 1 x headphone
- Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0
- Dimensions: 180 x 430 x 428mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: 8kg