It’s probably time to upgrade your PC, and Xotic wants the honor of building it for you.
The company has its Drone desktops with the Asus Z170 motherboard that start at $1,100, and I’ve tested it out with a configuration that features the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 and an Intel Core i7-6700K at 4Ghz . It’s attractive combination, and one that I would recommend for gamers who want something unique that professionals assemble.
What you’ll like
Compact and handsome with plenty of room
One of the major benefits of having a company like Xotic build you a PC is that you will typically get the most out of the hardware. I know plenty of people take pride in their cable management, but it’s a skill that I lack. But Xotic delivered the Drone to me in its Mini-ITX case and did such a fine job with it that the final package is both smaller and roomier than my own ATX-cased build.
This makes the system eye-catching both at first glance and when you take a long look at it. You’ll want that because the system’s size enables you to potentially put it in an entertainment center, where it’ll stand out but won’t look ridiculous.
Gallery: Xotic Drone Z170
Silent even under immense load
You can order the Drone in a number of configurations, but all of them are going to run at quietly. I ran it through the benchmark for The Division while Chrome and Photoshop were both open, and it only reached a hum that I usually couldn’t even register.
This is another reason that you can use it in your entertainment center or as the workhorse in an audio or video studio that needs a powerful machine that won’t overpower the microphone.
Plenty of ports and opportunities for modifications
The Z170 motherboard comes with just about every port you’re going to need. In addition to several USB 3.0 ports, you’ll find a USB 3.1 and a USB-C input on the back. And if you need to add something, the Mini-ITX case has slots open for upgrades, and panels cover these are easy to remove.
Here’s the system as I tested it:
- Core i7-6700K
- GeForce GTX 1080
- Asus Republic of Gamers VIII Gene Z170 motherboard
- 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum memory
- 500GB Intel SSD
And the results:
Easily handles VR
I tried this system with the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, and it had no issue running anything I threw at it. That included games like Valve’s minigame adventure The Lab, VR Ping Pong, and Out of Ammo.
It has horsepower to spare with VR, which should make it relatively futureproof as we get into the second and third generations of VR hardware and software.
What you won’t like
The only problem with the Z170 inside the Drone is its lack of Wi-Fi. I know that’s not a problem for a lot of people, but I’m renting my home, and I haven’t convinced my landlord to let me run Cat-6 through the walls yet. If you’re in a similar situation, you’ll want to upgrade to the Z170 Deluxe. That isn’t an option for this build.
Modifications can still be scary
One of my problems with premade — especially ones that use components I haven’t used before — is that I don’t know instinctively how to take them apart and troubleshoot them. While the case is attractive and Xotic has its innards organized and glowing, I would hesitate to make any changes to it because I’m not the one who pieced it together. This is a problem with most PC builds that you don’t do yourself, but it’s one that this machine doesn’t do much to solve.
If someone asked me what PC they should buy, I would tell them that “they should build one.” But I also recognize that if someone told me the best car to get is one that I put together myself, I’d laugh and take a bus to the Toyota dealership.
If you’re deadset on having someone put the machine together for your, the Drone Z170 is one I’d point gamers to based on its size, its organization, and its noise levels. And if you want things even quieter, you can exchange the Mini-ITX case for a larger ATX, but I think that’s unnecessary.
And that’s the point, Xotic gives you all the options of building a system yourself at only a slight premium. On top of that, you get support and a system that you know is ready to go. It’s something I feel good recommending.