It has been a long time since Corsair is no longer content to offer components or peripherals for PCs. Full of ambition, the American brand has been thinking and marketing its own stationary machines for gamers and creatives for a few years: the Corsair One. Until now, these warheads only embed Intel Core processors. In 2020, it seems that part of the fleet is now flying the red flag, that of AMD’s Ryzen. The Corsair One a100 (“a” for AMD) therefore arrives in a few handpicked brands and, above all, on the Corsair online sales site, to satisfy those who want to bet on Ryzen rather than Core for their creative and video game tasks.
The version we tested is quite simply the cream of the crop and displays more than 4,600 euros on the label. At this price, we will be uncompromising, this sailor has an interest in pushing hard!
Change in continuity
Despite the evolution of the content, the container of One has not changed an inch. We regret it a bit. The best configs are done in old boxes (geek version of the original), sure, but we expected Corsair to make a few small changes compared to the One i160 version (“I” for Intel), which we had last September. And we’re not talking about adding more RGB LEDs, there are already enough of them.
So it is this beautiful and sober familiar box, almost 13 liters, which stands proudly on the desk (placing it on the ground is excluded), with a few bands of light (red) to contrast with the omnipresent black. The whole of this tower is made of steel. The structure is robust and no worries of finishes are to be deplored. We appreciate the thickness of the whole, which contributes to ensuring excellent insulation and ensures that the active and passive heat dissipation of the components trapped inside is the best possible.
To put it simply, the entire configuration is cooled mainly passively (according to the principles of convection and chimney). Fresh air comes in through the bottom of the housing and, above all, through the heavily perforated walls of the machine.
At the top, a single, huge fan is responsible for propelling the calories generated by the components out of the structure. At the height of the activity, we noted a noise of 43.6 dB (it is audible, but not too much) and when we surf the web, the machine does not make a noise: 31.8 dB.
As with any current self-respecting desktop PC case, the connections are distributed between the front and the back of the machine. There are a total of 10 USB sockets (2.0, 3.1 Gen 1 and 2 and Type-C Gen 2), audio connectors on the back and a microphone / headphone socket on the front, not to mention a Wi-Fi module 6 whose two antennas protrude from the back of the machine.
In terms of video outputs, there is an HDMI socket on the front to connect a possible VR headset or … your screen. Thinking of plugging your HDMI gaming monitor into the back of the One? Missed ! Corsair has placed the three DisplayPort sockets of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti at the rear but continues to position the HDMI socket at the front. Permanently connecting a video cable to this location disfigures the machine. It is very regrettable.
A powerful configuration built to the millimeter
Like previous models, the One a100 is forced to deal with its internal space to accommodate all its little people. The precision of the assembly is impressive and everything has been thought out down to the millimeter. It’s not the first time we’ve opened up a Corsair One but each time the passionate PC builder in us is impressed with the internal design of this tiny case.
On the left side, are the Ryzen 9 3950X processor and its 16 multithreaded cores, clocked at 3.5 GHz in classic mode and up to 4.7 GHz in Turbo mode. This monster is cooled by a water-cooling device with a very large radiator. A solution that allows it to engage Turbo mode quite often and continue to properly cool it even when you stress all the compute channels.
It is also from this side that DDR4 memory (32 GB of Corsair Low Profile) and storage units are accessible. There are two here: an SSD in M.2 format 1 TB and a 2 TB hard drive, classic, in 5400 rpm. It is also on this side, at the bottom of the machine, that food has taken up residence.
On the right, the RTX graphics card takes up all the space and, too, is cooled by a large heat sink identical to those found on CPU water-cooling kits. Corsair has also added an active fan here and for good reason: it is necessary to cool the power stages of the 2080 Ti and the 11 GB of GDDR6.
However, considering the location, shape and function of the blade device, it will be necessary to think about dusting it often to prevent an accumulation of “sheep” from overheating the card and, in the (very) long term, from causing it be fatal.
The main drawback of the a100 is its lack of scalability. You can add more memory and swap the hard drive for another, larger capacity, but not much more.
Change the processor? Strictly speaking, since the next Ryzen 4000 chips can take place on the same motherboard base as the current Ryzen 3000 (socket AM4). The motherboard of the a100 being a high-end model (from Asus by the way), we can therefore imagine that the set of components (chipset) in charge of identifying and composing with the processor will be able to accept the one of the future chips of AMD … still it is necessary that this last decides to announce them!
The One a100 can do it all
Let’s be brief: there are few creative apps or games that will manage to bring this Corsair One a100 to its knees. And not even any of those we have confronted him with. And we didn’t skimp on the quantity.
Gaming: you can play in Full HD and 1440p, with (almost) all the details at maximum, without having to fear that any slowdown will spoil your pleasure. In Full HD – for example – the figures fly away: between 160 and 202 fps (ips) to the counter in The Division or Rise of the Tomb Raider, the first in DX11 and the second in DirectX 12. A walk in the park for this cylinder.
If you opt for a 4K display, you will have some adjustments to make in the options so that the frame rate remains above the 60 fps plateau in the most recent AAAs, in order to reconcile beauty and fluidity in all circumstances.
In The Division or Rise of the Tomb Raider, scores are between 74 and 86.1 fps depending on the level of detail (High or Extreme) in 2160p (4K).
In games that are already older, there really won’t be a problem. For example, in 4K, in Dirt 3, we flashed the Corsair One a100 at over 243 fps.
To compare, we unearthed the video game scores of the Corsair i160, it was equipped in the same way as the a100, except for the processor of course. It was an Intel Core i9-9900K that was at the helm, a chip that has 8 physical cores and 16 threads, which is half the units of the Ryzen 9 3950X.
In terms of frequencies, there are also small differences since the Intel chip can turbinate between 3.6 and 5 GHz in Turbo (against 3.5 and 4.7 GHz for AMD, as a reminder).
In 4K, in Dirt 3 in 4K, the i160 manages to generate up to 285 frames per second. And enter 75.7 fps and 88.8 fps, sure The Division and Rise of the Tomb Raider, still in 4K.
Production and digital creation: there, we took our justice of the peace in the matter, PC Mark 10 and his tests Productivity and Digital Content Creation. Each in their field, they pass a certain number of tests to the platform and rate its performance.
In Productivity, the a100 wins with 8846 points against 8051 points for the i160. In DCC, same observation, the a100 is in the lead but the differences are not gigantic: 12,101 points for the a100 and 11,426 points for the i160.
Balance sheet: older Intel Core i9s hold up well against AMD’s Ryzen 9s. The former prove to be better in video games; the latter still have a few small efforts to make on this point. For the rest, the Ryzen has the advantage of processing units and stands out quite logically once the applications are fully optimized to take advantage of this type of architecture.
And on the take, who achieves the best performance?
Good question. The Corsair One a100 consumes 86 watts at rest. We repeated the measurements several times to make sure that nothing disturbed our reading, but no, it consumes twice as much as the i160 (41.9 watts).
In the heat of the moment, however, the two machines are almost on an equal footing: 446 watts for the Intel model against 488 for the a100. All in all, this remains reasonable given the condensed power that Corsair has concocted.