I DON’T WANT TO RETURN IT! Corsair ONE i165

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I never thought I would say this, but the Corsair ONE i165 is the only compact pre-built system that I have ever actually liked, and I’ve been using it for the past six months because it has a ton of processing power. However, now Corsair wants it back, and I’m really having a hard time dealing with that fact.

For starters, the Corsair ONE i165 is a very good looking, extremely powerful, quiet, and compact. It features a small 12L enclosure, which is tiny compared to my usual Phanteks P600s cases that takes up a chunky 66L. While I appreciate what Corsair have done by building the system from the ground up I do want to compare it to my own build with the same specs. Hopefully, my identical DIY system is superior… I mean how could it not? I have the best CPU cooler on the planet for its size, the best fans, the most air flow heavy enclosure, the graphics cooler alone is like half the size of the Corsair ONE, so this comparison this should be fun.

I know it’s not exactly fair to compare the Corsair ONE to my full tower case, but even next to other mini-ITX options like the Silverstone LD03, the DAN A4-SFX V4, or even the massive NZXT H210, this Corsair package looks impressive. My exact model is the Corsair ONE i165 with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPU and Core i9-9900K CPU, both liquid cooled, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and a 2TB hard drive. My own full-sized system, which I will be using as the comparison system, has a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPU, Core i9-9900K CPU, 64GB of RAM, and my own set of SSDs.

Let me show you exactly why I love this machine so much and why I don’t want to return it. The first thing I need to impress you with is cooling. My own system has six fans and unrestrictive airflow from the front of the case, but as you can see lots of wasted space. The Corsair ONE has a single 140mm more fan exhausting air from the top, and that’s it. There is an extra fan for the GPU, but it’s pretty insane given how well the system is cooled compared to my own desktop system. Both the CPU and the GPU are liquid cooled via slim radiators, and airflow is a passively intaked from each side of the case and then exhausted from the top.

Despite the passive air-cooled radiators the cooling results are quite respectable. After 30 minutes of stress testing the CPU on the Corsair ONE is only 3°C hotter, with a much cooler GPU might I add, and that is awesome to see. I kept everything on auto clocks to see what frequencies I would get and they are pretty damn close, with around 1900MHz on both machines for the GPU and the i9-9900K auto-boosted to 4.7GHz on all cores while in game. The fact that they are so close in performance while being the so different size wise is impressive. This means all my gaming and synthetic results are basically identical, with only slight variations here and there. It’s good to see that there are no significant performance penalties with the Corsair ONE.

This is what custom compact engineering delivers versus a more standard PC configuration. There is no GPU throttling, which is great, and no loud noise behaviour either. While my CPU is 3°C cooler with a giant Noctua heatsink, all the fans are running at 2000 RPM, which means my own system is so much louder. I honestly was not expecting the Corsair ONE to perform this well in the acoustics department.

Now as for CPU performance, the Corsair ONE reaches 4.7Ghz fine in-game, but in Blender for example it dropped down to 3.6GHz even though there’s enough thermal headroom. Outside of gaming, the ONE’s CPU performance is slower by default, because my own machine clocks to 4.7GHz and beyond easily during those intense renders. It looks like the motherboard on the Corsair ONE isn’t able to deliver enough power to the i9-9900K to stay above 4GHz at full load. When it comes to overclocking, it is only partially available in the BIOS. I tweaked a few settings and got to 3.9Ghz on all cores at full load, but unfortunately it’s still locked to the 95W power limit by the motherboard.

Another aspect of my own system that is superior is the I/O connectivity, just more USB ports from the motherboard and a USB Type-C port in the front. While the Corsair ONE has merely adequate connectivity. There’s an HDMI port at the front instead of a USB Type-C because of the original VR focus of the ONE lineup. I started using the OINE i165 after my water cooled system was finished because that was only used for video production, and the tiny size of the ONE meant I could simply place it beside the monitor, plug it in, and enjoy some games, so my work and play computers are separated.

Now I do want to address some of the long-term concerns I’ve had with the Corsair i165. First one being that there are no dust filters on the side panels. This is supposedly for the sake of cooling performance, otherwise it will block off whatever air is trying to enter through that top exhaust fan. Nevertheless, the ONE is still looking very clean when I looked inside, no dust bunnies, but there is a tiny layer of dust on the pump and like around the components. Therefore, you should potentially vacuum up anything from the sides and that would freshen up the system a little bit.

The warranty for Corsair systems is two years, so if he needs to replace anything beyond that time, the CPU, the RAM, the hard drive, the power supply are all accessible and replaceable. Of course, by opening up the machine you void the warranty. It’s really disappointing to me that overclocking is so limited because the motherboard locks the TDP of the chip to 95W and nothing beyond that. That kind of sucks because at $3,500 USD for my Corsair ONE i165 machine, I mean you would expect the same potential performance as you would with a DIY system with the same components. This brings me to my last point and that is the lack of availability of this standalone enclosure. Corsair is doing this for multiple reasons, most likely they’re not going to be making a lot of money off it because of low volumes. Also, it’s actually quite difficult to build in, but I feel like that’s where the ITX market is heading into any way. You can always expect a little bit of challenge when it comes to building something extremely compact and powerful. Nevertheless, I would love for Corsair to at least think about offering the Corsair ONE enclosure with the side radiators and maybe like a power supply in the bottom as a package unit. The components inside the machine are off the shelf anyway, so the end-user could populate the system with their own GPU, motherboard, CPU, RAM, and storage.

Overall, I’ve had a really good run with the Corsair ONE, and it’s got me thinking I want to build something equivalent specifically for gaming while maintaining that very compact form factor. I already have the DAN A4-SFX V4 in house, so I’m really excited to put an ITX motherboard in there, some beefy GPU, and then this thing can live on my desk as my dedicated gaming machine that is separate from my production machine. Stay tuned for that article!

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