CCL Elite Strix 100 ReviewManufacturer: CCL
UK price (as reviewed): £529.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed):
With Nvidia's GTX 950 launching today, the low-end of the PC hardware spectrum has received a timely boost as the back to school season hits. As we showed in our review, the new GPU isn't quite up to the task of reaching above 1080p in demanding games, but at this very popular resolution its perfectly able to dish out minimum frame rates at 30fps and above, even in tough games such as The Witcher 3. CCL's Elite Strix 100 takes advantage of the new standard in £130 GPUs and as you probably guessed by the name, it uses the Asus Strix version of the GTX 950.
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This offers a core speed overclock of 116MHz and Boost overclock of 141MHz with the memory running at the default 1.65GHz (6.6GHz effective). It's a chunky dual-slot card, but is fairly compact, sporting two fans that can switch themselves off when the GPU is under light loads for silent running. In fact, the switchover seemed to happen at 60°C, so unless you're in demanding games, you'll benefit from a silent graphics card.
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On opening the case, though, we were met with a slightly cringe-worthy sight - an Intel stock cooler. Given the system's price, and the fact it offers an SSD, 8GB of RAM and 1080p-capable GPU, we knew there would be corners cut and we can imagine the comments at the bottom of this article now. However, as the CPU is a Core i3-4170 and not an overclocked K-series model, there's little need to opt for anything too outlandish here. In fact, the cooler was quiet, even under load and kept the CPU below 75°C even using Prime95's smallFFT test. The likelihood is a third party cooler would likely knock 15-20°C off the load temperature, but the system is far from being limited by it, which is a relief.
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The CPU itself sports a turbo frequency of 3.7GHz and while it only has two physical cores, it does offer hyper-threading so can offer four threads to boost performance in multi-threaded applications. Being a Haswell-based CPU, we are of course dealing with LGA1150 here and not the new LGA1151 socket launched earlier this month. As such, the Elite Strix 100 isn't compatible with SKylake CPUs. That said, being a Core i3 system, you'd see a decent upgrade just by opting for a Core i5, and something like a Core i5-4690K will likely be able to be snapped up at much less than it's current price soon as Skylake production ramps up and people start upgrading.
You notice we recommend a K-series CPU here and the eagle-eyed out there will have noticed the motherboard is in fact an Asus H97M-E and not a Z97-based board. Despite previous setups requiring Intel's premium chipset to be able to tweak the multiplier of unlocked CPUs, Asus released BIOSes for its H97 boards last year that allowed you to access multiplier control on K-series CPUs. As such, you can drop in a K-series CPU into the Elite Strix 100 in future and will be able to apply a reasonable overclock.
You'll need a better cooler and as there are no motherboard heatsinks, you'll need to keep things in check, but it's clear that while there's no Skylake/LGA1151/Z170 upgrade potential without replacing the board, memory and CPU, the ability to drop in a K-series Haswell CPU further down the line and to overclock it means there's still decent upgrade potential and the board even sports an M.2 port.
Aside from the CPU, motherboard and graphics card, CCL has opted for two 4GB sticks of Kingston 1,600MHz HyperX Fury DDR3 memory and a HyperX Fury 120GB SSD too. As we mentioned with the Cyberpower Infinity X55 Pro GT
system, 120GB isn't really enough if you're an avid gamer - GTA V will take up more than half of the space left over from the OS install alone so you'll likely need to keep game installs to a minimum. There is a 1TB Toshiba hard disk included too, but you'll see much better load times and responsiveness from the SSD.
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The rest of the internal hardware includes a DVD drive and 500W Cooler Master PSU with a sting of RED LEDs too that do a good job of jazzing up the interior. The case in question is a Thermaltake Versa H15, which is limited to micro-ATX motherboards but sports a large side window and plenty of room for all-in-one coolers in the rear, roof and front, with the latter two locations sporting dual 120mm fan mounts and enough space for dual 120mm-fan half-height radiators. The roof section would need you to remove the 5.25in cage though. Included with the case is a single 120mm fan located in the rear as an exhaust, while CCL has done a mostly decent job of tidying the cables.
The system comes with Windows 8 64-bit pre-installed, but you can, of course, upgrade to Windows 10 for free within the first year. Actually, the main reason CCL didn't include Windows 10 to start with was due to the fact that the release driver for the brand spanking new GTX 950 GPU had issues with Windows 10, so that's Nvidia and Microsoft's fault - not CCL's.
- CPU Intel Core i3-4170 (up to 3.7GHz)
- CPU cores Two physical, four logical
- Memory 8GB 1,600MHz Kingston HyperX (2 x 4GB) DDR3
- Graphics Asus Strix GeForce GTX 950 2GB
- Storage 1 x 120GB Kingston HyperX Fury SSD (OS), 1 x 1TB 7,200rpm Toshiba hard disk
- Motherboard Asus H97M-E
- PSU Cooler Master RS-500
- Optical Drive DVD-RW
- Cooling Intel Reference
- Case / Dimensions (mm) 198 x 411 x 378 (W x D x H)
- Networking Gigabit LAN, 802.11n PCI-E WiFi module
- Audio Realtek ALC887 8-channel Codec (on-board)
- Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
- Audio and USB Ports 4 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2.0, 3 x audio out + headphone and mic
- Warranty 3 years Collect and return