Elegant compact design. Sleek minimalist aesthetic. HD and 4K gaming power of a larger desktop. Liquid-cooled processor and graphics card. No external power adapter.
Restricted expansion and upgrade capabilities.
- Bottom Line
Corsair's first PC, the One Pro, is the new benchmark for small-form-factor gaming systems. It delivers high-end gaming performance of desktops twice its size, with a sleek look and a sensible price.
Corsair has made its name with high-end hardware and gaming peripherals over the years, putting out some of the most widely used RAM modules, PC cases, and other components on the market. It's never released a fully built desktop, though, coming closest with the Bulldog barebones kit, but that changes with the Corsair One Pro (starts at $1,799; $2,299.99 as tested). This compact, column-shaped PC boasts all the power of a bigger system, packed into a space-saving design with a sleek look. With enough muscle for smooth 4K gaming, and a dual liquid-cooling system to keep things running efficiently, the Corsair One Pro is our top pick for small-form-factor gaming desktops.
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Pillar of Power
The sleek design and compact size are the One Pro's raison d'être. The all-aluminum body is entirely black, with two zig-zag light strips running down the front face. The lights are static sky blue by default, which creates a very pleasing Tron-like aesthetic, but the colors and effects can be changed through Corsair's Link software. Tiny triangular vent cutouts adorn the side panels. They're densely placed toward the bottom and thin out toward the top, looking like a digital fade pattern. Overall I like the slick design and minimalist look quite a bit.
For a powerful gaming desktop, the One Pro is a relatively short pillar that stands at 14.96 by 6.9 by 7.87 inches (HWD). This footprint will take up less desk space than your monitor. Viewed head-on, it looks like a short, but standard-depth desktop. Once I was able to look from a profile view, I was much more impressed that the power and components were slipped into a case of this small size. It is surprisingly dense given the size, weighing 16.2 pounds. It does lend itself well to being moved around since its so small (though not quite as portable as the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube, which has a handle), but I can't imagine most users will seek to move a desktop around very often.
Most PCs that pack GTX 1080 graphics and the requisite cooling are much larger. Take the CyberPower Gamer Master Ultraand the , for instance, which are big, traditional towers. That's certainly the norm for these components, though the is a similarly small desktop with a GTX 1080 card that opts for a thinner and deeper shape, while the Origin Chronos VRis even shorter.
You'll often pay more for your pint-sized gaming PC than you would for the same hardware in a bigger case, since it's pricey to pack high-end components into a compact space, but Corsair has kept the cost relatively reasonable. It's nearly half the price of the Tiki, which has the same CPU and graphics card, and costs the same as the Acer Predator G1-710-70001, which is a couple of inches taller and deeper, and requires an external power adapter, which the One Pro does not.
There are three versions of this desktop, all of which share the same external design: The Corsair One, the Corsair One Pro, and a webstore-only Corsair One Pro. Our unit is the webstore Pro version, which is only available directly from Corsair's site in North America. The Corsair One is priced at $1,799.99, while the standard retail One Pro is $2,199.99, and the webstore Pro model is $2,299.99. The only difference between the webstore Pro and the standard retail Pro is storage capacity: Our unit features a 960GB SSD, while the retail model features a 480GB SSD and a 2TB hard drive. 960GB is a good amount, and it's fast solid-state technology, though only 893GB is free and it will likely fill quickly given the size of modern game installations. As for the non-Pro Corsair One, the differences come in the graphics card, storage, and cooling. The non-Pro includes a GTX 1070 (as opposed to the Pro's GTX 1080), there's only liquid cooling on the CPU (whereas the Pro boasts CPU and GPU liquid cooling), and there's a 240GB SSD plus a 1TB hard drive.
Clean, Cool Design Inside
Corsair has developed an intricate setup to handle the component heat in such a small case. The internals are all high-end, starting with the mini-ITX Z270 motherboard with 16GB of DDR4 memory. The unlocked Intel Core i7-7700K processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card are both liquid cooled via two 240mm radiators. Liquid coolers occupy a sizable amount of space, even in full-size desktops, so Corsair has oriented everything vertically to run the whole height of the tower, and the coolant hoses are much shorter than typical to fit within the case's limits. A single magnetic levitation (ML140) fan, located up top under a metal grate, operates with assisted convection to cool the system, drawing colder air through the radiators and exhausting it out the top. And it's all driven by a modular 80 Plus Gold 400W power supply.
In testing, the One Pro didn't run any hotter than any standard tower PC I've tested, nor does it get especially loud. It's not inaudible under load—you hear the fan ramp up when gaming in high fidelity—but at worst, it's slightly louder than your average desktop, and better than most gaming laptops. The Corsair Link software dynamically judges the temperature of each component and adjusts the fan speeds accordingly, to find the sweet spot of cool and quiet as needed. If you've used other cooling systems, you'll know this isn't unique, but it keeps you from camping out in the system software tuning your fan speeds. If you do want to check in, or feel the fans are getting too loud and want to see if any component is running hot, Corsair Link has constant readouts of every component's temperature.
Expandability is often the area of compromise for a specially designed, compact tower. Such is the case with the One Pro, which Corsair isn't billing as a DIY system, for good reason. It's not especially user-friendly in terms of upgrades due to its complex design, and is not a case of just swinging a tower door open and swapping components. If you're looking for a system with room to grow, with a lot of potential for expansion and upgrades, you should look elsewhere.
To access the interior, you push a button on the case's rear to remove the top cap and fan, which isn't difficult, but there's very little room in which to work once it's open. You're greeted with a screwed-in metal bracket, which is laid across the back of the power supply underneath, and with the side-mounted cooling and graphics card, there's virtually no space to maneuver. There's an open 2.5-inch drive bay in our unit since it only includes one SSD, so you can get in there if you start unscrewing and removing components, but I don't think most users will want or need to delve inside the case. If you do order the standard retail One Pro, you'll get a huge 2TB drive, and thus few reasons to ever think about expanding. For most users, since it's so precisely designed and there are so few configurations to choose from, I'd consider this a plug-and-play desktop.
Connectivity options are plentiful. The front panel features the Power button, a USB 3.1 port, and an HDMI port, which makes plugging in a VR headset easier since you don't have to go around back for the required ports. The rear panel does hold the majority of other connections, though: three USB 3.1 ports, a USB-C port, a USB 2.0 port, audio lines, and a gigabit Ethernet jack. There are two DisplayPort connectorss and an HDMI port leading to the graphics card as well, though this is one fewer DisplayPort than typical for a GTX 1080 because of the layout. Instead, these connections are pass-throughs to the vertical graphics card, another reason it would be complicated for the average user to swap out parts.
Other features are standard, including dual-band 802.11ac wireless. Corsair keeps the system clean, with no egregious bloatware installed, but there are a few inclusions of note. The PC Doctor is a built-in troubleshooter, and a two-year warranty with around-the-clock technical support and free repair shipping supplement that offering. Since Corsair knows its audience, there are also .exe files for the Steam, Origin, Battle.net, GOG, and uPlay digital game clients ready to go in a folder called Game Launchers. These programs aren't preinstalled, but the installation files are waiting should you want them. I can't imagine this would bother many people since you can ignore or remove them easily, and it's a clever alternative to making you search and download some or all of these clients individually.
With its exquisite planning and design, and premium components, the Corsair One Pro sings. With liquid-cooled processing and graphics, the machine is a powerhouse on all fronts, and the overclockable CPU gives you even more overhead. As configured out of the box at 4.2GHz, it scored very well on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional productivity test, coming in ahead of the Ryzen-bearing CyberPower Gamer Master Ultra and a bit behind the Acer Predator G1-710-70001. Mutlimedia projects should be a breeze, as well, should you need to work on video or photo editing between gaming sessions: it trailed the Gamer Master Ultra on average, but beat the Predator G1, and can hang with all but the most high-end desktops.
Its gaming capabilities also go toe-to-toe with the Predator G1, and match the Gamer Master Ultra. On the Heaven and Valley gaming tests at Ultra-quality settings and 1080p resolution, the One Pro and its GTX 1080 soared to 132 frames per second (fps), far above the ideal 60fps target. Bumping these same tests up to 4K resolution, which is very demanding on any system, and the One Pro hit 31fps on Heaven and 40fps on Valley. Those are still smoothly playable frame rates, and typical for the GTX 1080 across the board, as you can see in the benchmark numbers on the other desktops using this graphics card. The fact that the One sticks so close to the 2017 Falcon Northwest Tiki and Origin Chronos VR's scores bodes very well, given the price differences.
4K in a demanding modern title at maximum settings is a slightly different story than the synthetic benchmark. I tested Doom in 4K at Ultra settings, and there were definitely frame rate drops during combat. Any card but the GTX 1080 Ti (and even it is not immune) or the Titan X will experience drops in 4K, so you'll have to do some settings tweaking if you want to maintain that resolution. VR is also well within the means of the Corsair One, as the GTX 1060 is generally the floor for a smooth virtual reality experience, and so this system can power your headset of choice with no problem.
Corsair's debut build pushes the boundaries of small-form-factor desktops, elegantly marrying a compact, well-designed body with the power of a much larger machine. The condensed form isn't costing you performance from any potential heat or bottleneck issues relative to comparably equipped desktops, which should really pique your interest if the space-saving design holds any appeal. Given the engineering and hardware involved, the price is also very reasonable when looking at the competition. You're sacrificing some expandability, but the same can be said for the Acer Predator G1, and the One Pro manages to avoid an external power supply and offers a more pleasing visual design. The Corsair One Pro is our Editors' Choice for small-form-factor gaming desktops.
Matthew Buzzi is a junior analyst on the Hardware team at PCMag. Matthew graduated from Iona College with a degree in Mass Communications/Journalism. He interned for a college semester at Kotaku, writing about gaming. He has written about technology and video game news, as well as hardware and gaming reviews. In his free time, he likes to go out with friends, watch and discuss sports, play video games, read too much Twitter, and obsessively manage any fantasy sports leagues he's involved in. More »
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