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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Smart case design
Not the cheapest
Limited front ports
Limited upgrade ability
The Corsair One Pro packs a serious punch in a very slim form factor—but don’t expect to save any money with this gaming desktop PC.
The Corsair One Pro is a gaming desktop PC that combines a clever water cooling setup with a custom tower design to deliver high performance in a surprisingly small form factor. It uses a solid, premium-looking custom aluminum and steel case to accomplish this, along with a tailor-made cooling solution that doesn’t waste an inch of internal real estate.
Corsair has been a venerated mainstay in the PC components world for a long time now, offering popular CPU coolers, power supplies, cases, memory, and a whole lot more. This is the first time, however, that they’ve decided to throw their hat in the ring of pre-built gaming desktops. This has provided a solid platform for Corsair to show off their engineering and design chops—an opportunity I certainly don’t think they’ve wasted.
These are all nice words, but the results speak for themselves. Small form factor PCs can easily suffer from heat limitations, noise problems, or both, but the Corsair One Pro delivers great gaming performance while still keeping both noise and temperatures down.
This has provided a solid platform for Corsair to show off their engineering and design chops.
The only area this model of the Corsair One Pro faces limitations is as a creative workstation—a maximum of 32GB of RAM is a limiting upper threshold for creatives looking for longevity out of their purchase. Regardless, anyone without extensive memory needs will surely find their needs met with Corsair’s desktop. Let’s see how the Corsair One Pro performs, and take a closer look at the design choices that were made and how they impact daily use of this tower.
The first thing I noticed about the Corsair One Pro when taking it out of the box was how small it was, and I was already anticipating a small PC. The 12 Liter case measures just 7.8 x 6.9 x 14.9 inches (HWD)—absolutely minuscule by gaming desktop standards. They also manage to do all this without making the case look like a cheesy aesthetic nightmare designed by an 11-year-old with a Mountain Dew Code Red addiction. A feat, I know. Hats off to Corsair for designing a PC for adults.
The Corsair One Pro is also incredibly dense, which you will surely notice as soon as you pick it up for the first time. The entirely metal case and water cooling setup mean that the system weighs in at 16.3 pounds, which is not obscenely heavy by gaming PC standards, but still feels heavy relative to how small it is.
The Corsair One Pro is also incredibly dense, which you will surely notice as soon as you pick it up for the first time.
One of the first letdowns, however, is on the connectivity front. The back of the case offers 5 USB A ports - 3x USB 3, and 2x USB 2, as well as a USB Type-C port. Not a wealth of options, but not too shocking from a mini-ITX motherboard, and one of the sacrifices you make when you size down this much. The front of the case is a far bigger disappointment, offering a meager one USB port and one HDMI out. This is great if the only thing you use your front connections for is VR gaming, but this lack of connection options on the front means that you’re probably going to spend a lot of time craning your neck around the back of your case.
The Corsair One Pro doesn’t have a window to look into, and that’s probably because there wouldn’t be anything to look at. The internals are occupied by custom radiators on either side, and they have been cut to size specifically to fit the dimensions of the case. One of them services the CPU and the other the GPU, and both are designed to draw cool air directly from the exterior of the case. Corsair probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve the thermals that they have without this custom setup, as any standard AIO solution wouldn’t fit in here.
Most home computer builders scoff at the notion of paying a company a premium to put together a system for you—that’s supposed to be part of the fun! But if you were ever going to sway one of us, this is how you would do it. Put together a custom system using parts that I can’t just buy off a shelf, delivering something that I can’t easily make.
The Corsair One Pro that I tested featured an Intel Core i7-7700k processor, 32GB of RAM, a 480GB M.2 NVMe drive, a 2TB HDD, and an Nvidia GTX GeForce 1080 Ti graphics card. I’m a fan of almost everything about this hardware configuration except for the RAM. It’s certainly enough memory if you don’t do much beyond gaming and web browsing, but it’s quite limiting for any creative applications like video editing and motion graphics.
In the productivity-focused benchmarking suite PCMark10, the Corsair One Pro scored a respectable 6,399, putting it marginally ahead of the average score of 6,187 across all systems tested with this CPU and GPU configuration.
On the gaming side, things were slightly less rosy, with the Corsair One Pro scoring an 8,602 in the synthetic gaming benchmark Time Spy in the 3DMark suite. Compare this with an average of 8,890 for systems with this hardware configuration. To put this in perspective, the average score on a system with a GTX 1080 instead of a 1080 Ti averages 7,180, so the Corsair One Pro is still doing just fine.
It’s certainly enough memory if you don’t do much beyond gaming and web browsing, but it’s quite limiting for any creative applications like video editing and motion graphics.
The Corsair One Pro features Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2. While most serious users will want to get off of Wi-Fi and onto Ethernet as soon as they can, the presence of Wi-Fi is still very critical. Not everyone has access to Ethernet, or at least not right away, and sometimes being able to hop on Wi-Fi in a pinch makes all the difference.
I didn’t have any trouble on the networking front with either the Wi-Fi or the Ethernet. My test setup was about 50 ft from the nearest router in direct line of sight, so I didn’t expect too many issues, but I was happy with the stability that I enjoyed during testing.
Software is definitely an area where most buyers appreciate seeing as little extra as possible, and Corsair certainly knows this. There isn’t a ton of flashy bloatware clogging the user experience of the Corsair One Pro, and we’re all the better for it. You can make use of the Corsair Link software, nonetheless, to monitor and manage the internals from the comfort of your windows desktop.
Corsair Link is capable of monitoring CPU, GPU, motherboard, and SSD temperatures and reports on fan speeds as well. Beyond this, you can configure settings of the subtle blue LED strips on the exterior of the case from here, toggling settings like light patterns and brightness.
The Corsair One Pro as configured can be found online for between $1700-$1900, which is a pretty great deal for this system. I put together a comparable build on PCPartPicker and despite cutting a few corners still ended up at around $1600 all-in. A $100-300 premium for a well-built, compact desktop like this is incredibly reasonable by any measure.
My main concern if I was flirting with pulling the trigger on this system wouldn’t be if the price is fair, it would be if the older processor is going to hold me back in the future, and if I’m going to get enough longevity out of it to justify the price. Since you won’t be doing much in the way of upgrading this system, you’re more or less stuck with what you are buying.
Corsair has since released newer versions of the One with updated internals and a more sensible set of front-facing ports. The cheapest option from this newer generation, the Corsair One i145, will run you $2500 for an i7-9700F, RTX 2080, and 16GB of RAM. This is certainly less of a deal, but the newer models also offer even more power if you can expand your budget considerably.
These systems are quite different, inside and out, but they represent roughly the same effort: building an affordable high-performance gaming desktop in a smaller-than-average form factor. HP’s approach to this is in the form of the HP OMEN Obelisk (see on HP), which uses an Intel i9-9900k and 32GB of RAM in conjunction with an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super.
This particular model of the Corsair One Pro that I tested is handily outpaced by the HP OMEN Obelisk (view on Amazon) and for a relatively meager premium. The Obelisk can be found for around $2000, representing dramatically better value. The Obelisk is also a lot more upgradeable, with room for another 32GB of RAM and SATA cables already pre-wired to support an additional two hard drives.
While HP wins the price-to-performance battle, they lose to Corsair just about everywhere else. The OMEN Obelisk is louder, has worse thermals, and has a bigger footprint than the One Pro. The case is also constructed mainly of plastic, making it a bit more of a liability long-term. It’s not a simple case of a clear winner, but both of these systems have a lot to offer.
A pre-built gaming PC fit for novices and veterans alike.
Corsair has done an admirable job putting together a pre-built PC that can satisfy everyone from the total novice to the PC-building veteran. The Corsair One Pro is beautifully designed, space-efficient, quiet, and cool. To top things off, they aren’t even charging an extraordinary premium over what the parts would cost if purchased individually. Buyers should be able to consider the Corsair One Pro with very few reservations.