ASUS ROG G20CB: Blood, sweat and tears in 4K

Have your dreams ever come true? One of mine did recently. It was all a question of timing really, but the ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) G20CB (Rs 1,22,990) came in for review just as I was nearly done with the review of the Samsung's latest line of 4K TVs. Gaming on a 55-inch screen in 4K? Who doesn't want to do that!

The G20CB was compact enough to find space on my wall unit. The matte grey and fiery red cabinet looked bright, though a tad flashy for my liking. What intrigued me was the angular pattern all over the console-sized cabinet. Due to the crazy angles, the unit can't be placed on its side; in fact, it can only be placed vertically, with the base being broader than the top. The G20CB bundles a combined double brick as the power supply - two leads need to be connected to the PC while two 5A three-pin plugs need to be connected to the power sockets, which could be a problem if you have a lot of peripherals.

I hooked it up to the TV (via HDMI), connected the bundled keyboard and mouse and set it up, discovering the tiny lights all over in the process. It was overwhelming to work on such big a screen (and in 4K) while setting up Windows 10 but I got the job done.

Next, I logged into my gaming accounts. And I was set to play the games at the highest settings. First stop was an old favourite, Dirt: Showdown. I always sucked at showboating, but all the pyrotechnics never looked better. Another thing I noticed was while ASUS bundles in nifty software to map the lights and optimise the rig for gaming, not all of it is useful. While the lights can be modified in millions of ways, not all combinations look good with the red colour of the chassis. And while some background processes can be shut down while gaming, optimisations such as for the LAN card are something of a hit-and-miss.

Then it was time for NFS: Most Wanted. As I raced all over town from dawn till dusk, the sun's rays caressed my red Bugatti, letting off a sheen I'd never seen in the virtual world. Next up was Tomb Raider, where everything from Lara Croft's expressions to the ripples of a wave were in vivid detail. This led me to invest in Rise of the Tomb Raider, a game I hadn't bought till then because my three-year-old gaming rig wouldn't be able to handle it at high settings.

Well, I was floored. It looked as if I was watching a live-action movie; and the atmospherics somehow enhanced the experience - I can still visualise the dance of the shadows on the walls of a cave, something I had never noticed while playing on my usual rig.

Since the G20CB's optical drive could play Blu-Rays, I picked my copy of Frozen - it was flawless, but for the notifications cropping up. I was ready for more, so I popped in my copy of FIFA 16 for a Gareth Bale vs Lionel Messi. Since I was rusty, and am a Real Madrid fan, I was certain FC Barcelona would lose if I played as that team. And I was right; the frustration on Messi's face was as real as when he failed to win this year's Copa America. A caveat: The bundled keyboard and mouse are okay for everyday use but a disappointment for any gamer; I reverted to using my ancient Logitech gear - the G15 keyboard and the legendary MX518 gaming mouse.

Next, I tried playing Mortal Kombat X but the gory visuals were a bit too much in 4K detail. I'm no lily-livered bloke, but if you seriously like watching guts hanging out in vivid detail, you need to visit a shrink. On a positive note, this rig, powered by 32GB of RAM, a 4GB NVIDIA GTX980 graphics card and an intel i7-6700 processor is good enough to drive contemporary VR headsets such as the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, though I didn't have these around to check them out. Also, the operating system runs fast on the 256GB SSD, while a 3TB hard drive should be good for those gargantuan games. But since it's a compact system and the processor isn't unlocked, this isn't for any tinkerer.

The ASUS ROG G20CB is for those who want a PC with insane gaming power and the the size of a console, but don't want to get their hands dirty building a rig.

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