AT A GLANCE
The ASUS G11CD-DB73-GTX1080 is a sleek gaming desktop designed for enthusiast gamers who want to play most titles in high settings even at 4K but are on a tight budget. While the 512 GB SSD storage is quite modest, it is still a good choice to have without breaking the bank.
PROS: Very fast performance. Reasonable price for the power. Eye-catching chassis.
CONS: Storage is on the lean side. Expandability is limited.
The ASUS G11CD-DB73-GTX1080 combines a powerful aesthetic with equally decent internal components, resulting in a bold-looking and high performing gaming desktop. Design-wise, it has the compelling motif of a gaming rig with the much-hyped Mayan-inspired detailing. With a Skylake Intel Core i7-6700 processor, an SSD, a ton of RAM, a useful array of ports, and a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, the DB73 is capable of playing latest titles even at 4K resolution and in virtual reality (VR) with ease.
When not playing, you can tinker with it on the most demanding of tasks including media projects or 3D modelling. For those essentially buying without a budget, the Asus ROG GT51CA sits at the top of the high-end gaming desktops ladder with future-proof dual Pascal graphics cards. But for the midrange category, the ASUS G11CD-DB73 gets our Editors’ nod as a capable gaming PC that represents a good value for the power it offers.
Design and Features
There’s no doubt that the ASUS G11CD-DB73 is made to be seen, with bold Mayan-inspired markings on the chassis, creating a perfect blend with its red and black color scheme. In fact, it has the same design like its younger sibling from last year, the ASUS G11CD-DB72 though what lies inside is completely different. The custom desktop case hasn’t changed much since we tested the Asus G11CD-WB51, perhaps, because it was a rare beast to begin with immense gaming power and a design to match. To that, add a refreshed exterior clad in customizable chassis lighting with 8-million color LED light effects on the front top and bottom, as well as on the sides.
It measures 17.3 by 6.9 by 16.6 inches and weighs 9.8 pounds, making it ideal for the most common desktop surfaces, but is not as small as the Alienware X51 AX51R3-1510BLK, designed to fit in the most constrained of working spaces where space saving is a matter of priority. The midsize tower is a nice change form most gaming desktops we’ve seen in this category with excellent connectivity options. Bundled into the package is a chicklet keyboard and USB mouse; monitor is bought separately, though, you might consider the Acer Predator X34 or AOC C3583FQ.
The ASUS G11CD is loaded up with port options. The front panel holds two USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports, two USB 2.0 (Type-A) ports, a 6-in-1 card reader, microphone and headphone jacks, and button for Power and another ODD button (more on that later). The back panel includes two more USB 3.1, two USB 3.0 ports ports and two USB 2.0 ports, as well as an Ethernet jack and headphone/microphone jack. For video outputs, you have an HDMI-out and VGA via the mainboard’s chipset; and, our test unit was configured with an additional HDMI-out, DVI and 2 DisplayPorts in the graphics card that support Ultra HD-4K video output. This means that you can hook up to four displays in panorama mode to a single CPU, especially when running different projects at the same time.
That many USB and video ports, plus the graphics power, makes this system ideal for plugging in a VR headset. A Gigabit RJ-45 port and 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth adapter provides a gateway to the Internet and other networked systems, while a DVD burner and a card reader allows you access to most media files.
As far as expandability, you have options—just not a whole lot of them. There are two DDR4 LONG DIMM slots, which can hold up to 32GB of memory, two 3.5-inch drive bays (one available), and two 5.25-inch drive bays (one available). The configuration we tested came with 8GB of memory—two 4GB DDR4 DIMMs—and a 1TB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive. There’s only one PCle x16 slot, however, which is taken up by the GTX 1080, alongside a PCIe x1 Slot and Mini PCIe Slot. So, if you want two 10-series cards, you’re out of luck. But these are minor quibbles, considering this setup is plenty for the target demographic.
With a sixth generation Intel Core i7-6700 Quad Core 3.4 GHz processor (Turbo Boost up to 4.0 GHz), 16GB DDR4 memory, a 512 SSD and the latest Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card with 8GB DDR5 VRAM, the ASUS G11CD-DB73 is a real powerhouse. It’s more than what you’d need for media projects, web design, 3D modelling and VR gaming. In fact, it sufficiently checks all-boxes for VR gaming, crunching the recommended specifications: A VR-capable machine, ought not be too expensive, though, if that’s your goal–check out the Asus Rog GT51CA. The CPU in this system is fine-tuned out-of-the-box to deliver impressive gaming and multimedia scores.
Tested in standard mode, without overclocking engaged — considering that most gaming rigs opt for the perks of high-performing Core i7 processors, it held its own as a surprisingly potent performer. Perhaps this affirms the impressive 3,392 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional productivity test. This is quite acceptable for a midrange PC, since it even comes close to expensive PCs–making it a suitable desktop for any day-to-day tasks or processor-intensive projects regardless.
It’s no secret that gamers are the main target for the DB73, so gaming scores are the best way to measure it. In this review, we’re primarily interested with the impact of the newest cutting-edge components from Intel and Nvidia. In fact, we wanted to see how well the system plays with our latest power-hungry obsession, the virtual reality world. For a couple of weeks, I primarily used it as my main HTC Vive test machine, and it gave me a nice entry into NVidia’s latest GeForce 1070 graphics card.
Particularly, I used it with the new Everest VR app designed for the HTC Vive alongside Nvidia’s VR Funhouse app–both of these are intended to sip some extra graphics and physical processing power built into the new Nvidia GPUs.The Asus DB72 handled both smoothly, at the highest possible details settings without struggling. It also delivered amazing scores in other challenging VR apps, which is quite impressive for a gaming PC of its ilk. Compared with VR, which requires that you have two separate screens in order to run a game at 90 frames per second (FPS) each, this rig pushed gaming to a new frontier, and 2D games like No Man’s Sky are just a breeze.
On the gaming front, you can play most titles in 4K with good frames per second (FPS) with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (Founders Edition) tested on 4K (3840-by-2160) resolution averaging: NFS 2016-47FPS; Hitman-34FPS; Fallout 4-42FPS; and, Battlefield 4-90FPS. Even with the promising benchmarks on 4K and high settings, it is clear that the GTX 1080 as a single chip GPU isn’t the fastest, perhaps, the reasons we are seeing dual GPUs in high-end gaming rigs. This means the performance is still not sufficient enough to avoid stutters in very demanding scenes. Still, you can easily enjoy the 4K resolution with a slight reduction in respect of AA or details.
For some reason, you might be convinced that you can’t get a decently priced gaming desktop–an assumption that might be off-putting to gamers who aren’t looking for a gaming rig that isn’t hulking and futuristic. And the ASUS G11CD-DB73 delivers the gaming chops you’d exactly hope for when buying a midrange gaming desktop PC, with enough muscle to sufficiently run anything currently on the market at maximum settings and is VR-ready.
It doesn’t quite reach the extreme heights of its beastly sibling the Asus ROG GT51 which is slightly up in the price ladder, the DB73 does at least commit to both performance and style, which is more than you can say for lots of computers. That said, the ASUS G11CD-DB73-GTX1080 is a ready-made powerhouse that will keep you playing on high settings for years to come, making it a desktop that gamers hunting for a bargain should put near the top of their list.