PCs

Computer Shopper - - CONTENTS - James Archer

The Ryzen 5-based CCL Reaper is an ex­cel­lent all-rounder, with a 1440p-ca­pa­ble GPU and enor­mous mul­ti­task­ing power

It’s a lit­tle noisy, but the CCL Reaper is the best all-rounder we’ve seen at this price

IT’S TAKEN A few months, but the trickle of fully AMD-based PCs on the mar­ket has turned into a steady stream. While there’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong with the reli­able com­bi­na­tion of In­tel and Nvidia, AMD’s Ryzen chips cer­tainly of­fer some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent to In­tel’s Core i range, and the RX 500 series of Radeon graph­ics cards com­prises the new­est con­sumer GPUs on the mar­ket.

The ex­tra choice alone is good for po­ten­tial PC buy­ers, though it would all be for naught if th­ese new com­po­nents didn’t make for qual­ity sys­tems. For­tu­nately, it’s been good news so far, judg­ing by the Over­clock­ers Ti­tan Mer­lin (Shop­per 356) and, now, the CCL Reaper.

This is an up­per-mid-range desk­top, com­bin­ing a hexa-core Ryzen 5 1600 (a mid­dle part of the Ryzen 5 line-up, above the 1400 and 1500X but be­low the 1600X; see page 38) with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 4GB Radeon RX 580 GPU, the re­place­ment for last year’s po­tent RX 480.

The list of en­cour­ag­ing specs con­tin­ues: in ad­di­tion to a 250GB Sam­sung 850 Evo – our favourite SATA SSD – a mas­sive 2TB hard disk is on hand to pro­vide backup stor­age. CPU cool­ing is han­dled by an all-in-one Cooler Mas­ter MasterLiq­uid Lite 120, with fans on both sides of its ra­di­a­tor, while an un­usu­ally gen­er­ous three 120mm in­take fans sit at the front, and can all be cus­tomised with RGB light­ing (as can the graph­ics card and moth­er­board, a Gi­ga­byte GA-AB350-Gam­ing 3). They’re red by de­fault, in keep­ing with the Cooler Mas­ter MasterBox Lite 5 case’s red and black styling.

HUM­MING AND AHHING

Ad­mit­tedly, this case is the clos­est thing the Reaper has to a weak link. It looks nice enough, but it soon be­comes ap­par­ent that the fancy full-size side win­dow is ac­tu­ally made of bendy acrylic, not the tem­pered glass it so ob­vi­ously tries to im­i­tate.

A mod­er­ately ag­gra­vat­ing buzzing noise also started em­a­nat­ing from the mid­dle in­take fan af­ter less than an hour out of the box – a quick poke around in­di­cated that while the fan it­self was se­curely screwed in, it would vi­brate against a strip of plas­tic run­ning across the case’s mount­ing point, pro­duc­ing the buzz. This could be fixed by tak­ing off the front panel and pulling the blade hub away from the shaft, seem­ingly re­duc­ing the vi­bra­tions, but it was an­noy­ing nonethe­less.

Even with­out such rat­tling, this is hardly the qui­etest of PCs, es­pe­cially when deal­ing with heavy loads. The wa­ter­cooler is the main of­fender, ris­ing to a drone that you’ll need head­phones or some de­cently loud speak­ers to drown out, and the GPU’s dual-fan cooler pipes up quite a bit dur­ing games as well. To be fair to the lat­ter, it can also run on pas­sive cool­ing when per­form­ing sim­ple tasks, so can go com­pletely silent as well.

Why, then, have we given a Best Buy award to some­thing we’ve just spent a couple of hun­dred words com­plain­ing about? Mainly, it comes down to the Reaper’s ap­pli­ca­tion ex­per­tise. In our 4K bench­marks, CCL’s PC scored 124 in the im­age test – de­cent, but un­spec­tac­u­lar for the price – then rock­eted ahead of any In­tel-based com­peti­tor with sky-high video and mul­ti­task­ing scores of 185 and 214 re­spec­tively. This gives the Reaper an over­all score of 189, an in­cred­i­ble 44 points higher than our cur­rent £1,000-ish pick, the Chill­blast Fu­sion Hub­ble (Shop­per 350), which runs off an In­tel Core i5-7600K.

ZEN-LIKE STATE

We ex­pected a Ryzen CPU to outdo its In­tel equiv­a­lent in mul­ti­threaded tasks while slip­ping be­hind on sin­gle-thread­ing, as is the Zen ar­chi­tec­ture’s wont, but the sheer ex­tent to which the 1600 shot through our de­mand­ing bench­marks was a very pleas­ant sur­prise, and we re-ran them a few times to make sure they weren’t too good to be true. CCL hasn’t even over­clocked the CPU; it was run­ning at the stock 3.2GHz base clock with a 3.6GHz boost clock. With that healthy 16GB of RAM, this PC can def­i­nitely han­dle tough jobs such as me­dia edit­ing, video en­cod­ing or stream­ing pretty much as well as you can get for the money.

You can over­clock the Ryzen 5 1600, but judg­ing by our stand­alone tests (page 40), this won’t nec­es­sar­ily give you a big per­for­mance boost. At least the wa­ter­cooler does a good enough job that you shouldn’t have to fear rais­ing the tem­per­a­ture too much; at stock speeds, the CPU never ex­ceeded 70°C, and the 1600 can safely go as high as 95°C.

The Reaper is no slouch when it comes to gam­ing, ei­ther. Dirt Show­down en­joyed a slick

129fps when run­ning at 1,920x1,080 with Ul­tra set­tings, and this only dropped to 101fps at 2,560x1,440. At 3,840x2,160, its 56fps av­er­age was still nice and smooth, but since this is a rel­a­tively un­de­mand­ing game, we wouldn’t sug­gest us­ing a 4GB RX 580 for 4K gam­ing un­less you’re will­ing to turn down set­tings.

DES RES

Case in point, Metro: Last Light Re­dux only pro­duced 10fps at 3,840x2,160 when run­ning maxed out. Drop­ping to High qual­ity and dis­abling SSAA, this still only rose to 32fps, so we dropped fur­ther to Medium qual­ity, which fi­nally re­sulted in a pleas­ant 45fps.

Still, back at full set­tings, the Reaper did just fine at 1,920x1,080, scor­ing 46fps. The 26fps it put out at 2,560x1,440 isn’t ideal, but a sim­ple dis­abling of SSAA im­proved this to 50fps with­out any no­tice­able drop in qual­ity.

It should be said that of all th­ese per­for­mance scores across both games, Dirt Show­down at 1080p was the only test in which the Reaper pulled sig­nif­i­cantly ahead of Over­clock­ers’ Ti­tan Mer­lin; in all other cases, the CCL PC was only a hand­ful of frames faster, de­spite the Ti­tan Mer­lin hav­ing only an RX 570 GPU and cost­ing a couple of hun­dred pounds less. The Reaper’s SteamVR Per­for­mance Test score of 6.7 is also just 0.2 points ahead of the Ti­tan Mer­lin’s.

Still, this is more to do with the Ti­tan Mer­lin be­ing good than the CCL Reaper be­ing bad, and the lat­ter does in­deed ef­fec­tively match the Fu­sion Hub­ble on gam­ing per­for­mance, so it’s not be­low par at all.

READ­ING COM­PRE­HEN­SION

The Reaper also has ben­e­fits that the Ti­tan Mer­lin doesn’t, and not just its ex­cep­tional mul­ti­task­ing prow­ess. We’ve al­ready praised the huge ca­pac­ity of the Reaper’s dual-drive stor­age setup, but it’s the SSD speed that re­ally makes it spe­cial: se­quen­tial read speeds of 513.84MB/s and se­quen­tial write speeds of 491.37MB/s, ac­cord­ing to the AS SSD bench­mark. It’s not an NVMe drive, which would surely be even faster, but the 850 Evo’s blend of per­for­mance and value makes it the next best thing.

If you do ever wish to add an NVMe SSD, you can do so via the moth­er­board’s empty M.2 port. This is joined by ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect on a mid-range ATX board: four RAM slots, three PCI-E x16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots and six SATA ports. Only one of the PCI-E x16 slots (the one oc­cu­pied by the GPU) runs at true x16 speeds, though, with the other two run­ning at x4 and x1 re­spec­tively. Keep that in mind if you ever plan to add a sec­ond graph­ics card run­ning in Cross­Fire mode.

The case is quite short of drive bays: there are only two dual-pur­pose 2.5in/3.5in trays un­der­neath the PSU shroud, and both are taken up by the ex­ist­ing stor­age drives. There are mount­ing holes for a 2.5in SSD on the in­ter­nal chas­sis, so to add a sec­ond hard disk, you’d need to re­move the 850 Evo, move it to the chas­sis then re­place it in the tray with your new drive. In­ter­nal 5.25in drives are out­right in­com­pat­i­ble with the case de­sign.

NOT SO GRIM

Own­ers of ex­pen­sive au­dio equip­ment will ap­pre­ci­ate the Reaper’s con­nec­tiv­ity: there are op­ti­cal S/PDIF, C/SUB and rear speaker out­puts, as well as two USB2 DAC-UP ports, all on top of the stan­dard line in, line out and mic jacks. The gen­eral mix should work for ev­ery­one, though, with four USB3 ports join­ing two even faster USB3.1 ports on the back, with two HDMI, three Dis­playPort and two DVI-D video out­puts for mul­ti­ple mon­i­tors.

The rear I/O panel can also be fit­ted with two in­cluded an­ten­nas, en­abling the built-in Wi-Fi. This is a handy ex­tra if your desk is too far away from your router for an Eth­er­net con­nec­tion, though it is just 802.11n rather than the su­pe­rior 802.11ac.

It’s far from per­fect, but the CCL Reaper’s suc­cess­ful jug­gling of qual­i­ties makes it too good to pass up. Chill­blast’s Fu­sion Hub­ble is cheaper, but only by about £40, which is small change at this point – and the Reaper matches it in games, hugely out­per­forms it in mul­ti­threaded ap­pli­ca­tions, has a bet­ter SSD and a larger HDD, and it comes with bonus Wi-Fi. Only the noise is an is­sue, and un­like poor per­for­mance or over­heat­ing, this can be worked around with rel­a­tive ease.

Note that on CCL’s web­site, the Reaper is mainly ad­ver­tised at the price of £1,000; this is with­out a Win­dows 10 in­stal­la­tion, which it re­quires to, well, work. Even at the ‘true’, OS-in­clu­sive price of £1,090, how­ever, it’s still Best Buy ma­te­rial.

The ex­tent to which the Reaper shot through our de­mand­ing bench­marks was a pleas­ant sur­prise, and we re-ran them a few times to make sure they weren’t too good to be true

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.