PC Specialist Vulcan X 02
AMD’s Ryzen chips just keep on giving: the Vulcan delivers performance we’re not used to at this price
SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £833 (£999 inc VAT) from pcspecialist.co.uk
Now that AMD’s barnstorming Ryzen 7 chips have made their mark, the rest of the family is emerging. The Vulcan X 02 is the first system we’ve seen with a Ryzen 5 CPU – nominally a mid-range chip, but still a very powerful chunk of silicon. It comes with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, boosting to 4GHz as load demands. When AMD’s XFR technology decides that there’s enough room in the “thermal envelope”, you can get an extra 100MHz on top of that. If you’ve been paying close attention, you may notice that these speeds precisely match those of the top-end Ryzen 7 1800X – and the 1600X also comes with the same cache configuration, combining 512KB of L2 cache per core with 16MB of shared L3 cache.
The difference is the core count. Where the 1800X features eight physical cores, the 1600X offers “only” six, with AMD’s SMT technology allowing them to handle 12 simultaneous threads. Notably, this still represents more parallel processing power than any of the Core i7 chips in Intel’s Kaby Lake lineup. It’s reported that the next-generation Coffee Lake series will include six-core models, but if you want to wait for those that’s up to you: Ryzen is here right now.
To back up the powerful processor, PC Specialist has equipped the Vulcan X 02 with a full 16GB of 2,133MHz DDR4 RAM. This is thoughtfully provided as a pair of 8GB DIMMs, leaving two free slots in the Asus RoG Strix B350-F Gaming motherboard, should you want to add more.
Storage comes in the form of a 256GB M.2 WD Black SSD – a speedy drive offering sequential read rates of over 1,200MB/sec – plus a 1TB Seagate hard disk. It’s not a generous provision, so it might be worth upgrading to a larger hard disk at time of purchase.
With such powerful internals, it was no surprise to see the Vulcan romp through our benchmarks. It scored an excellent 142 in our image-editing test, putting it almost on par with a typical Ryzen 7 1800X system: Yoyotech’s Redback N6, opposite, scored 151 in the same test.
Predictably, the Vulcan dropped further behind in more heavily multithreaded benchmarks. In the video-editing and multitasking tests it achieved scores of 203 and 237, versus the Redback’s 260 and 317. Even so, it’s one heck of a performer: we’d expect a top-end Core i7 system to nudge slightly ahead in singlethreaded tasks, but the Ryzen 5 1600X wins hands down when it comes to multithreaded computing.
Compare the Vulcan’s overall benchmark score of 210 to the 185 scored by the Core i7-7700K-powered Chillblast Fusion Strix we tested back in issue 269. Then remember that this PC costs half as much, and the extent to which AMD has shaken up the market becomes clear.
To be fair, as well as a cost-effective CPU, PC Specialist has chosen a cheaper graphics card – a 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. This isn’t an enthusiast-grade card, but it’s still perfectly capable of delivering
“The Ryzen 1600X offers six physical cores, and 12 threads, which is more parallel processing power than any Core i7 chip”
an immersive experience. In Metro: Last Light Redux we enjoyed a smooth 52fps at Full HD with high detail settings. Anything more ambitious is probably out of reach, though: switching to 2,560 x 1,440 saw the average frame rate fall to 30fps, marred by visible hiccups and stuttering.
Perhaps our least favourite aspect of the Vulcan X 02 is the InWin 101 enclosure. The eye-catching design avoids straying over the line into gaudiness, but it’s not a versatile case. It won’t take an optical drive nor a card reader, and the diagonal power button (tucked beneath the InWin logo) is plain weird. The chassis is also larger than necessary, with the clip-on glass side exposing swathes of empty space inside.
On the upside, that Asus motherboard provides excellent connectivity. You get two front-facing USB 3 ports, and a further four at the rear, plus two 10Gbits/sec USB 3.1 sockets, twin USB 2 and eight-channel audio. If you want to upgrade the Vulcan X 02’s gaming capabilities, there’s a second full-speed PCIExpress 3 x16 slot sitting next to the first. Three PCI-E x1 slots complete the line-up – helpful, perhaps for adding a Wi-Fi card, since the board lacks a wireless controller of its own. In all, PC Specialist has put together an exceedingly tempting package. The case isn’t our favourite, and it would have been nice if the budget had stretched to a 2TB hard disk. Cautious shoppers might hold out to see what Coffee Lake has to offer before leaping in – but frankly it hardly seems worth the wait. The Vulcan X 02 is a seriously highperformance PC, with 3D capabilities to satisfy all but the most die-hard gamer, for a price that very recently would have seemed unthinkable.
BELOW The InWin 101 chassis looks great, but it isn’t the most versatile of cases SPECIFICATIONS 3.6GHz AMD Ryzen 5 1600X CPU 16GB DDR4 2,133MHz RAM Asus Strix B350-F Gaming motherboard 6GB GeForce GTX 1060 graphics 256GB WD Black M.2 SSD 1TB hard disk InWin 101 chassis 1yr RTB warranty (first month C&R) 226 x 445 x 480mm (WDH) Windows 10 Home
ABOVE There’s room for expansion, from more hard disks to a second graphics card