GAMING PC PC Specialist Ignis
C Specialist’s Ignis stands out with its use of a Parvum case, made from 5mm acrylic rather than metal. There are obvious differences between the Parvum Veer 1.0 and more conventional cases deployed in other mini-ITX chassis. The matt black material throughout is divided by red acrylic that looks especially impressive when it catches sunlight and its smart, layered design is augmented by good-looking touches.
The red layer behind the front panel is visible through a Parvum logo cutout and sleek banded areas, while indents on both sides reveal more red acrylic. Meanwhile, a huge window along one side gives a great view of the components, although it also attracts dust and fingerprints.
The machine is well put together on the inside too. The motherboard sits on a raised section that allows the PSU and its cables to stay hidden, and the GPU and Corsair H100i GTX liquid cooler sit in parallel above the board. It’s consistently tidy, which helps show off the red interior panels.
The Parvum chassis looks great, but it also has some downsides. When you lift the system you notice more give in the Parvum’s acrylic panels than in most metal cases. The chassis creaks as the plastic rubs, and the material beneath the PSU bends to accommodate the cables. The Ignis never feels weak, but there’s no denying that metal feels stronger. The Chillblast Fusion Fury Nano (see Issue 147, p56), for example, uses a smaller Raijintek Metis mini-ITX chassis, which feels sturdier. Like most mini-ITX cases, the Parvum case doesn’t excel in the upgrade department either, with just one 2.5in slot spare.
However, PC Specialist has kitted out the Ignis with an impressive specification. The most potent part is a Zotac GeForce GTX 980. It isn’t an overclocked model, but the GPU’s 2,048 stream processors and 1,126MHz core clock will make it formidable in games. It’s paired with a quad-core Core i5-6600K processor, although its stock speed of 3.5GHz hasn’t been overclocked, despite being cooled by a dual-radiator liquid cooler. That’s unusual for a machine in Custom PC, but it’s PC Specialist’s choice – we’re told the firm doesn’t tweak its mini-ITX machines.
Meanwhile, the 16GB of DDR4 RAM is plenty, and the Ignis foregoes platter-based storage for a Kingston HyperX Savage 960GB SSD. That capacity is as large as many hard disks and the drive will beat any hard drive for speed too.
3.5GHz Intel Core i5-6600K
16GB 2133MHz Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4
Zotac GeForce GTX 980 4GB
960GB Kingston HyperX Savage SSD Parvum Veer 1.0
CPU: Corsair Hydro H100i GTX with 2 x 120mm fans; GPU: 1 x 90mm fan
Front: 2 x USB 3; rear: 4 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.1 type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 type-C, 1 x optical S/PDIF, start and reset buttons, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio
10 Home 64-bit
One year parts and labour, plus two years labour only, one month collect and return, then return to base
PC Specialist has installed one of the market’s best miniITX motherboards too. The Asus Maximus VIII Impact sits right at the top of the firm’s range of tiny PCBs, and it’s impressively feature-packed, with dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a discrete sound card beneath the rear I/O panel. That rear panel is busy too, with four USB 3 ports alongside USB 3.1 ports in type A and C flavours. The board also sports on-board power and reset buttons, and a dual-figure POST. As with any mini-ITX motherboard, though, there’s not much internal upgrade room, with the two memory slots and single 16x PCI-E slot already occupied.
Finally, the PC Specialist’s three-year warranty is reasonable, if a little meagre. It has the essential year of parts and labour coverage, plus two years labour only, but there’s only a month of collect and return cover before it reverts to a return-to-base deal.
The Ignis didn’t have any trouble with 1080p games, and it played every game at 2,560 x 1,440 without dropping below 35fps. However, it isn’t quite capable of 4K gaming, only managing a playable frame rate in Shadow of Mordor.
The Ignis fell a little behind in applications, though, because of that stock-speed processor. For example, we’ve seen an encoding score of 259,334 from an overclocked i5-6600K before, but the Ignis only scored 222,556. It’s doubly frustrating when you see the huge liquid-cooling system and know that the CPU’s unlocked multiplier would make it capable of so much more.
The stock-speed Core i5 silicon won’t be a significant bottleneck in games and it has enough power for most applications, but there’s definitely more potential here. There’s scope for overclocking the PC Specialist’s K-edition processor, at least. We’ve previously tweaked this part to 4.6GHz and beyond, and the huge Corsair Hydro H100i GTX cooler means there’s ample headroom in this PC – the