The Asus G11 is proof that getting into PC gaming doesn't require an exorbitant budget or a wealth of computing know-how. This gaming desktop's price tag ($849 starting, $999 as reviewed) is as inviting as its sci-fi-inspired design, and its Core i7 processor and GeForce GTX 960 GPU can handle the latest graphically rich games without breaking a sweat. The hassle-free G11 is an ideal starter PC for gamers, though its lack of upgradability limits its shelf life.
The Asus G11 is a compact desktop PC with a fun and futuristic design that manages not to be overly gaudy. The computer looks like a relic from a distant, gaming-obsessed planet, with Mayan-inspired etchings on the top and front panels flanked by glowing LED strips. The G11's lights pulsate by default, making the desktop look like some sort of breathing, robotic beast right out of the box.
The PC's LED "mouth," as I like to call it, can be customized to glow just about any color you want it to using Asus' included software. The surrounding light-up panels, however, are limited to red — you can only control how brightly they glow.
At 17.3 x 16.6 x 6.9 inches, the G11 demands very little desk space. It's considerably shorter and slimmer than the similarly entry-level Digital Storm Vanquish 4 (21.7 x 17.3 x 8.3 inches), though not as sleek or living-room-ready as the 13.5 x 12.5 x 3.7-inch Alienware X51.
Ports and Upgradability
An armorlike plate on the G11's front panel provides easy access to the desktop's main ports, which include two USB 3.0 connections, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVD-RW optical drive and a 6-in-1 card reader. Headphone and microphone jacks are located just above those ports and slots.
In the back, you'll find two more USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports and an Ethernet connection. The G11 packs your essential audio ports (side, rear, subwoofer, line-in/out, mic), as well as HDMI and VGA-out for video. If you prefer to plug directly into the PC's GeForce GTX 960 graphics card, the GPU's three DisplayPorts, HDMI port and DVI connection give you plenty of options for creating a multi-monitor setup.
Tinkerers will want to look elsewhere, though. Because the G11 is built to be a hassle-free, plug-and-play gaming PC, there's no easy way to pop the machine open and swap out its components.
Powered by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 graphics card with 2GB of VRAM, the G11 is muscular enough to play many modern games cranked to high settings at quad HD. It can even handle short bursts of 4K gaming.
Asus' PC faithfully rendered Metal Gear Solid V's gorgeous open worlds at 2560 x 1600 with graphics set to high, allowing me to see everything from Snake's war-weathered face to the game's realistic foliage in close detail. The G11 maintained a steady 60 frames per second throughout most of my sessions, allowing me to silently pop off enemy guards with no stuttering.
The computer made quick work of Rainbow Six Siege during our benchmarks, running the tactical shooter at 124 fps on low settings and 55 fps on high at 1080p. The game slowed to a still-playable 31.5 fps on low settings when we switched to 4K resolution but sunk to an unplayable 11.9 fps on high.
When benchmarking the more demanding Metro: Last Light, the G11 turned in low/high settings results of 113 fps and 29 fps at 1080p, respectively. As with Siege, Metro was playable at 4K on low (41 fps) but was reduced to a slideshow on high (8 fps).
The G11 scored 6,486 on the 3DMark Fire Strike graphics test, trailing the GTX 970-powered Digital Storm Vanquish 4 (10,519) as well as our 12,857 average for gaming desktops.
Packing a 6th-gen Intel Core i7-6700 processor with 8GB of RAM, the G11 is plenty powerful enough to handle your workload once you're done gaming. The desktop held up gracefully against the pile of tasks I threw at it, even as I watched six video streams, downloaded a game and ran Metal Gear Solid V all at once.
Asus' desktop netted a 14,788 on the Geekbench 3 performance test, falling behind the Core i7-6700K-powered Vanquish 4 (18,890) and our 20,847 average.
The G11 completed our spreadsheet test (matching 20,000 names to addresses) in a fairly brisk 3 minutes and 14 seconds. However, that wasn't quite enough to top the Vanquish 4 (2:52) or our 3:12 category average.
On our file-transfer test, the G11's 1TB, 7,200-rpm hard drive (with an 8GB SSD) copied 4.97GB of multimedia files in 1 minute and 27 seconds, resulting in a transfer rate of 58.49 MBps. That might be good enough for moving around some pictures and videos, but it's not nearly as fast as the Vanquish's 250GB SSD (221 MBps) or our 243-MBps gaming desktop average.
Keyboard and Mouse
The G11 comes with its own keyboard and mouse, and although they're no match for dedicated gaming accessories, they're perfectly fine for gamers who want to start playing right away.
The included charcoal keyboard is pretty ordinary, save for some red backlighting and a large knob at the top that lets you quickly adjust volume. I found the membrane keys to be a bit mushy, likely due to their 3.7-mm travel and fairly high actuation of 65 grams. Still, that didn't stop me from blazing through the Key Hero typing test at a speedy 106 words per minute with perfect accuracy (my average is about 85 wpm). Plus, you're more likely to use the keyboard to run around virtual worlds than to chop away at a report as fast as possible.
The G11's mouse is even more straightforward, sporting a standard button layout and a basic black design that's highlighted by red stripes on either site. I did enjoy how ergonomic the curvy accessory felt, and had no real problems when navigating websites or playing games.
The G11 comes loaded with Asus' exclusive Aegis II software, which places a small widget on your desktop that lets you monitor performance, customize the PC and record gameplay. Unfortunately, the software's interface is a little awkward, and not all of its features worked reliably in my testing.
In the Aegis app, you can play with the PC's lighting, choosing from 8 million colors for the front panel and whether the lights pulsate or stay steady. You can also keep track of the PC's performance load and utilize the Boost Launcher, which allows you to automatically close certain apps when launching a game for optimal performance. Also, for some strange reason, the Aegis map lets you view a map of the world that pinpoints what city you're in.
While those features worked just fine, capturing my gameplay didn't go as smoothly. The app's GameALive tool often crashed after taking a few screenshots, and failed to capture video at all. Fortunately, there are plenty of free and reliable ways to record gameplay on a PC, including the Nvidia ShadowPlay tool that comes preinstalled as part of the GeForce Experience app.
The G11CD's starting $849 configuration packs a 6th-gen Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive with an 8GB SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 GPU. Our $999 model has a speedier Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM.
The G11's $1,399 config ups the storage to 2TB and the RAM to 16GB, and features a stronger GTX 970 GPU. The highest-end $1,699 model has a GTX 980 card.
The Asus G11 is an impressive value for those looking to dip their feet into PC gaming. Its compact design and included mouse and keyboard make it easy to get right to playing, and its Core i7 processor and GTX 960 GPU provide gaming muscle that defies its budget price.
However, if you're looking for an entry-level gaming PC with better staying power, consider the Digital Storm Vanquish 4. It's available in similar pricing configurations, and while it doesn't look as pretty as the G11, the Vanquish offers faster flash storage options and can be easily upgraded over time. Overall, though, the G11 has everything you need to play modern games at high settings for less than $1,000, and that's what counts.