Manufacturer: PC Specialist
UK price (as reviewed): £1,199.00
US price (as reviewed): N/AIf you need a PC for 1080p and 1440p gaming, Nvidia's GTX 1660 Ti is a solid choice right now, retailing for around £280 and delivering decent frame rates in the latest games at both of those resolutions. What you use in the rest of your system deserves some serious consideration too, but there's not too much poor hardware out, which means building the perfect system can require a lot of tough choices when it comes to CPUs, cases, and cooling. PC Specialist's Enigma S1 seeks to make those choices for you, adding a touch of premium to the £1,200 price bracket with some interesting hardware to boot.
At the helm of the Enigma S1 is a Core i5-9600K, overclocked to 5GHz. With six cores and no Hyper-Threading, the CPU lacks the multi-threaded clout of AMD's similarly-priced CPUs, but you can't argue with its consistently high gaming performance, especially when it's overclocked to these kinds of levels.
The graphics card is Zotac's stock-clocked GTX 1660 Ti, which we reviewed here. There's little exciting about it, but the same is true of all GTX 1660 Tis that hit reference pricing. It's quiet, cool, and does what it needs to regarding frame rates.
The motherboard is Asus' TUF Z370-Plus Gaming II, and no that's not a typo - this is indeed a Z370 motherboard, not Z390. According to PC Specialist, this was down to other similarly-priced Z390 boards not offering quite as good bang for your buck when it came to overclocking on a budget. The Asus board makes up for Z370's lack of USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) by including an ASMedia controller that nets you two such ports on the rear panel, although both are Type-A. There is a Type-C port too, but it's limited to USB 3.0 speeds (5Gbps). You also get two apiece of regular USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports.
PC Specialist also includes a Wi-Fi card, but it's a low-end one limited to 802.11n (now also called Wi-Fi 4) and speeds of 300Mbps, which may impact anyone lucky enough to have one of the faster UK broadband packages.
We do have concerns, given Intel's recent antics with compatibility, as to whether Z370 might artificially lack support for some future CPUs. That's just guesswork at the moment, but it's certainly one reason why in general we like to see the latest chipsets being used. In reality, though, if you're buying a PC, the likelihood is that you probably won't be upgrading for three or four years anyway, and by then even Z390 probably won't support the latest CPUs, so we can probably let PC Specialist off here.
Sadly, the board only has a trio of audio outputs, meaning if you have an eight-channel speaker system you'll need to use the case's headphone jack for your fourth output. The onboard audio is limited to Realtek's ALC887 codec rather than the more capable ALC1220 as well.
Memory prices are back to reasonable levels, so 16GB of Corsair's 3,000MHz LPX modules are probably exactly what we'd pick for a build of this calibre.
For storage you get a 250GB Samsung 970 Evo Plus M.2 NVMe SSD and a 2TB Seagate Barracuda. The former is not, for some reason, located in the motherboard's heatsink-equipped M.2 port, instead using the bare top slot. Both ports support either SATA or PCIe SSDs, so it's silly not to make use of the heatsink given the choice. The capacity is maybe a tad stingy too, and unfortunately the price you see here is specifically for our tailor-made review sample rather than straight from PC Specialist's configurator. If you go the custom route, you'll lose the additional value applied to this specific system, and the same spec with an equivalent 500GB M.2 instead will cost around £1,350 as a result.
Cable tidying is done reasonably well, although there were a few loose ends including a system speaker that looks like it may have been glued to the case at some point.
To cool the overclocked CPU, PC Specialist has opted for CoolerMaster's MasterLiquid Lite 240, which sports a 240mm radiator and offers more than enough cooling to deal with the CPU running flat out.
Powering the system is a Corsair TX550M, which is semi-modular and 80 Plus Gold rated too - no complaints there.
This is all housed in a Fractal Design Meshify C that has an additional RGB LED strip fitted along the front edge and connected to one of the board's two RGB headers. This is not a cutting edge case, but it picked up a Recommended award in our review. This case does not include a USB Type-C connector on the front panel.
PC Specialist's standard three-year warranty only includes one month collect and return, though you can upgrade this to one year for £5. However, it'll cost £135 to get a full three-year collect and return package - something Overclockers UK and Stormforce both offer as standard.
October 14 2021 | 15:04