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Corsair's One Pro small-form-factor gaming PC reviewed

One rig to rule them all

Small-form-factor PCs are all the rage these days. It seems like you can hardly open the front page of your favorite hardware news site without seeing another story about a little-bitty PC destined for an entertainment center or  in a living-room near you. These systems can offer a lot of power in a little package, but they pale in comparison to real desktop PCs, right?

Sometimes. Other times, you have a machine like the Corsair One. Make no mistake: the One is quite a bit larger than the last two mini-PCs I've reviewed. At 15" tall and with a 7.9"-by-6.9" footprint (38 by 20 by 18 cm), the One only just qualifies for "small-form-factor" status, much less as a mini-PC. Even so, it's just half the volume (at 13L) of the Fractal Design Nano S, one of our favorite mini-ITX cases.

In this tower of power, Corsair—with MSI's assistance—stuffed in a Core i7-7700K CPU, a Mini-ITX Z270 motherboard, and a full-fat GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. Without a doubt, this is a serious gaming machine for serious gamers. High-refresh gaming at 2560x1440, or (with a few caveats) enjoyable gaming at 4K is the order of the day with hardware like this. That is, assuming the One's thermal measures can keep up with the promise of its hardware.

Here's a table with the key specs on this machine:

  Corsair One Pro
Processor Intel Core i7-7700K
Memory 16GB DDR4-2400 (2x8GB DIMMs)
Chipset Intel Z270 Express
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5X RAM
Storage Corsair Force LE 960GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Audio Realtek ALC1150
Expansion and display outputs 1 USB 3.1 Type-C
1 USB 3.1 Type-A
3 USB 3.0 Type-A
2 USB 2.0 Type-A
2 HDMI 2.0
2 DisplayPort
Communications Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
Intel 8265 802.11ac + Bluetooth card
Dimensions (HxDxW) 15" by 7.9" by 6.9" (38 by 20 by 18 cm)
Weight 15.8 lbs (7.2 kg)
Included cables Standard power cable
OS Windows 10 Home

It's heavy stuff, for sure. The unit I'm reviewing here is not quite the top-end One, though. Corsair also offers a version of the One with a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti inside. That version, like the One Pro here, is only available from Corsair's website. More broadly-available Ones start with a liquid-cooled Core i7-7700 and a GTX 1070 for $1800, while the e-tail-ready Pro features the same CPU and graphics card as our test unit paired with a 480GB SSD and a 2TB mechanical drive for $2200. A big thanks to Corsair for providing our review unit.

Corsair warrants the One for two years, with some caveats. According to the company, removing any of the base hardware voids that warranty, which puts something of a damper on the company's claim that its baby uses "components that are standard sizes, enabling the user to upgrade at will." You can still install a new 2.5" SSD or upgrade the memory without issue, however. We figure that the hardware inside the One should be good for at least two years of speedy performance, but be aware of the company's expectations with a machine this expensive. 

Pillar of processing
Corsair shipped the One to me in a massive Pelican locking storage container. The shipping case was so large I had some difficulty getting it into my house. Based on that, and the promotional shots that I had seen, I was expecting it to be a lot bigger than it actually is. The actual size of the machine might be difficult to wrap your head around because of its elongated shape.

Even though the One is some 13 liters in volume, it's tall and narrow. As a result, it has the footprint of a much smaller PC. In fact, it actually has a smaller footprint than the Zotac EN1070 I reviewed before. I had no problem finding a place for it on my workbench, and unlike MSI's Trident 3, it doesn't need a separate stand to stay upright. Most of the machine's weight is in its bottom, so it's pretty stable despite the height.

On the front of the One, you've got the power button, a USB 3.0 port, and an HDMI 2.0 port. That's a perfect complement of ports for a VR setup. A tasteful grey Corsair One logo is printed just below the two ports, and there are cyan lights that run vertically along the sides of the machine. The omission of RGB LED lighting is curious from a company otherwise so enamored with the stuff. Corsair says that it felt that RGB lighting would "detract from the ethos of a quiet system." The cool cyan lights do give an impression of chilly silence, so maybe Corsair is onto something.

Both sides of the machine are covered in fan grilles with an unusual triangular pattern. These grilles are the intakes for the twin 240-mm radiators on each side of the machine that cool the CPU and graphics card. Air is drawn through the radiators by the fancy Corsair 140-mm ML Series fan at the top of the machine, which is itself capped by a single large fan grille. The bottom of the machine is solid, although it does have a similar external look to the top, giving the illusion that the machine is a stack of fins surrounded by metal plates.

On the back of the One there's a single latch button near the top, and then toward the bottom you have the usual assortment of ports and plugs that betray the Mini-ITX mobo inside. The power connection and video connections—comprising an HDMI port and two DisplayPorts—are simply the female ends of extension cables that connect to the standard SFX power supply and dual-slot graphics card inside the PC.

Thanks to the standard Mini-ITX mobo inside, we get a PS/2 connector, an RJ-45 socket for Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and two USB 3.1 ports, one of which is a Type-C connector. There are also connections for the included Wi-Fi antennae, audio jacks for analog or digital 7.1 audio, and my favorite feature: a rear-panel clear CMOS button. I'm really glad that button is there, because without it resetting a bad batch of firmware settings would be a huge pain.