Corsair bucks the trend with many of its pre-built PCs, instead offering a high-performance package in a diminutive and compact case where many would opt for a more standard mid-tower. The Corsair One a200 is no less an exciting proposition, bringing together the latest AMD Ryzen and Nvidia GeForce technology in a surprisingly neat and well-managed package no bigger than a bread bin.
If you're familiar with Corsair's compact One lineup, you'll know that looks can be deceiving. This isn't Corsair's first attempt at a compact gaming PC, and we've previously ranked its compact machines as some of the best gaming PCs going, small form factor or not. Being only 20 x 17.3 x 38cm in size seemingly has very little impact on these PCs' performance—the new and improved a200's specs list is every bit as mouth-watering as it should be.
That all starts with the a200's AMD Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, which is powered by the highly-successful and well-rated Zen 3 architecture. It's a 12-core/24-thread chip with plenty of grunt, rated to 3.7GHz at its worst and 4.8GHz at its best. Since it's our top pick for the best CPU for gaming today, I expected a lot out of it even before getting the a200 out of the box.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
Memory: 32GB DDR4 @ 3200MT/s
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
Front I/O: 1x 3.5mm audio jack, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C.
Rear I/O: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C), 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1, audio ports, 2.5G ethernet, 3.x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, LAN
PSU: 750W SFX 80 Plus Platinum
Dimensions: 200mm x 172.5mm x 380mm
Price: $3,800 / £3,300
Playing the supporting role for this performant package is 32GB DDR4-3200 memory. That's loaded into a bespoke motherboard with B550 chipset alongside a 1TB NVMe SSD of Corsair's own design, the Corsair Force MP600. That's a PCIe 4.0 drive, too, for faster load times and transfer speeds.
The recent introduction of SFX PSUs capable of driving over 1000W has helped cement the concept that a small form factor PC can also be a high performance one. Yet even the compact a200's 750W SFX PSU offers enough wattage for a commanding PC build. Efficient wattage, too, rated to 80 Plus Platinum.
Crucially for our gaming needs that 750W PSU is enough to give the a200 surreptitious command over an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. Coming in as our favourite graphics cards today, we couldn't ask for much more from the Corsair One. Without anything holding it back, the RTX 3080 makes quick work of 4K and 1440p.
And I'm pleased to report that nothing is seemingly holding it back.
In Metro Exodus at 4K, the Corsair One manages to stay abreast of our desktop Founders Edition RTX 3080. No small feat for such a tiny machine. It's only negligibly slower than our desktop test bench in Horizon Zero Dawn, too.
3DMark Time Spy: 11,601 (CPU) 17, 563 (GPU)
Hitman 3 (Dubai): 228fps (1080p) 176fps (1440p) 102fps (4k)
F1 2020 (Ultra, DX12): 216fps (1080p) 167fps (1440P) 127fps (4K)
Metro Exodus (Ultra, DX12): 126fps (1080p) 101fps (1440p) 66fps (4K)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Ultimate) 155fps (1080p) 129fps (1440p) 77fps (4K)
3DMark Port Royal: 11,640
Metro Exodus (RTX) 109fps (1080p) 88fps (1440p) 63fps (4K)
Cinebench R20: 8,020 (Multi) 601 (Single)
X264 v5.0.1: 67.87 fps
Sandra (memory bandwidth): 31.48 GB/s
Hitman 3 (Dartmoor) : 117fps (1080p)
Final Fantasy XIV Game load time: 9.016 Sec
What that means for the actual gaming performance is 60fps or more at 4K in some of today's latest games, which is what you might expect from these parts on paper, but perhaps not so much from the form factor.
Perhaps the key to the a200 puzzle lies with its thermal performance. When so much of CPU and GPU performance now lies with thermal headroom, increasingly so with Zen 3 and Ampere, it is also increasingly important to over-spec your thermal solution to hit max performance potential. Thankfully, the a200 does just that, allowing the CPU and GPU to deliver their best in line with less confined desktop parts.
That's by and large thanks to the twin liquid cooling solution of Corsair's design. Both CPU and GPU are liquid-cooled, independently of one another, with each component's respective radiator located on either side of the PC's case. Fresh, cool air is then whipped up past either radiator through the use of a single fan located at the top of the PC.
The result is a max GPU temp during benchmarking of 69°C, the envy of even some discrete desktop coolers. The max CPU temp may not spark quite so much envy, however, coming in at 91°C. That's notably within AMD's thermal spec, but also in excess of usual operating temperatures for such a chip with a reasonably chunky liquid cooler.
The single system fan also has to work hard at times to keep the PC operating comfortably, which means it can get quite loud under load. That said, it is a single-fan system, which is notably quieter than some desktop builds I've had with four or five fans all running on an identical fan curve.
Simplicity and usability, though, are something that Corsair can deliver in swathes with the a200. The ports are within easy reach on the rear of the machine, and there's a handy USB Type-C port on the front to make life just that much easier. The innards can also be exposed through the top, too, which means you could access the SSD or RAM if you fancied a shakeup.
You could even access the GPU and CPU blocks if you so wished, although finding compatible boards with the current cooling solution may be a bit of a struggle.
Then to the overall aesthetics of the Corsair One and the a200 is quiet tame for a gaming all-in-one, it must be said. There's just two addressable lighting strips extending nearly the entire length of the machine, which is some miracle. Its smart exterior would definitely fit the role of powerful workstation in a pinch, too.
So I'm coming away impressed from Corsair's latest small form factor PC, especially now that it's running with the latest cutting-edge technology. It's clearly a well thought out gaming PC and designed with the user in mind. By its nature, it's more restrictive for future upgrades than some other small form factor cases, but it's nonetheless a brilliant machine for today.