Building a modern performance PC has become a disarmingly simple pastime. As our older readers will attest, putting together a rig used to be a process fraught with danger, with certain combinations functioning best, while others tended not to work at all. These days, any AMD Ryzen or Intel Core processor can be deemed a safe bet, it is hard to go wrong with a dual-channel memory kit, take your pick of a GeForce or Radeon graphics card, and once you've added an SSD you're well on the way.
In fact, the process has become so streamlined that there's more reason to circumvent the self-build process and buy a ready-made base unit. System integrators' ability to bulk buy tends to result in keen pricing, and unless you're hoping to achieve something exotic - i.e. small form factor or lavish liquid cooling - a turnkey mid-tower can tick most of the right boxes and typically comes equipped with a warranty to guard against any unforeseen problems.
Enthusiasts and those accustomed to putting together their own hardware will take some convincing, but take the CCL Elysium iCue Gaming PC as an example of a no-nonsense base unit that's hardly worth building yourself. Priced at £1,790 and available for delivery in 10-11 days, the system can quickly get you back into the game, and current circumstances permitting, an optional priority build claims to get the PC in your home within five days for an extra £50.
It's quick and stress-free, and there's not a lot to fault with CCL's default component selection. The CPU of choice is an eight-core Intel Core i7-9700KF capable of speeds up to 4.9GHz and that's joined by 16GB of dual-channel Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4-3200 memory atop a Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro WiFi motherboard. Gigabyte is a key partner for this particular build and the firm's GeForce RTX 2070 Super WindForce OC 8GB graphics card is at hand for high-quality FHD or QHD gaming.
All this is housed inside a tidy-looking Corsair iCue 465X RGB chassis, and rounding out the build are a 1TB Adata XPG SX8200 Pro M.2 SSD, a Corsair RM750 power supply and a Corsair iCue H115i RGB Pro XT liquid cooler. The CPU isn't overclocked, which is somewhat strange given the presence of a 240mm radiator; however, with a build of this sort there's very little to go wrong, and that's the point.
Every meaningful setting in the BIOS is set to auto (save for the XMP memory profile), and there's zero additional bloatware residing on the 64-bit install of Windows 10. Simple is the name of the game, and that applies to cable management, which while tidy enough up front, could be neater around back. Speaking of cables, note that our pictures depict the PC with a Corsair RM750x power supply, but the system will in fact be sold with a regular RM750; current stock shortages forced CCL to send out our review unit with whatever was available at the time.
In terms of peace of mind, the Elysium iCue Gaming PC is backed by a three-year UK warranty that covers all parts, labour and carriage costs for the duration. Do note, however, that while the system is initially built and tested in CCL's Bradford production facility, warranty cover is provided by MendIT, a third-party repair centre based in Burnley.
We've no experience of MendIT repairs, so can't comment on punctuality or service, though CCL does state that "In the event of your system failing due to a hardware error, MendIT will send a courier to collect it from you. It will then be repaired by a fully qualified MendIT service engineer and returned to you within five working days."
In-house repairs would be preferable, yet CCL is suitably competitive on price. When attempting to source all the separate parts from multiple retailers, we reckon the same exact rig can be assembled at a cost of around £1,720, meaning CCL is charging less than a five per cent premium to build, deliver and guarantee.
There's a lot to be said for keeping it simple and the Elysium iCue Gaming PC ought to perform on the requisite fronts. Let's run the benchmarks to see if that holds true.