PC Specialist Magma Zen Review

Written by Antony Leather

March 20, 2017 // 9:08 a.m.

Tags: #amd-ryzen #ddr4 #gtx-1070 #pascal #ryzen

Companies: #pc-specialist

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review

Manufacturer:PC Specialist
UK price (as reviewed):
£1,400 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): N/A

There's a real shortage of AM4 boards at the moment and not just for consumers - even system builders are struggling to get them. As a result, there are precious few AMD Ryzen systems available, but somehow PC Specialist has managed to put together a decent system that takes aim at high-resolution gaming and includes our favourite Ryzen 7 CPU, too - the 1700.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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For the £1400 price tag, you get AMD's non X-series eight-core, 16-thread CPU, which as we found here, can overclock very well, bringing it into line with the flagship Ryzen 7 1800X and bettering pretty much all of Intel's offerings in many tests too. Its stock speed performance is reasonable, certainly in multi-threaded tests, where it matches or outperforms the more expensive Intel Core i7-6850K.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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In games, as many of you will be aware, the Ryzen 7 1700's performance can dip below faster-clocked Intel CPUs, plus lack of optimisation can also be an issue. The Core i7-6850K was a couple of frames per second faster at stock speed in Fallout 4 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, for example, and AMD is well off the pace in Ashes of the singularity's DX12 CPU test. For the most part, it's a small difference, though, and at resolutions above 1,920 x 1,080, which is where the Magma Zen is aimed, the differences are often smaller, too.

The downside is that PC Specialist hasn't been able to apply an overclock to the Magma Zen, but once it, like other companies, has had the chance to play around with Ryzen, it will be issuing overclocking BIOS profiles to customers should they want them, which are easy to apply to the Asus EFI. Or of course, you can have a stab at doing it yourself, but our policy is not to overclock PCs - we test the out-of-the-box performance.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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The choice of memory is perhaps a tad on the slow side, but getting above 2,666MHz has proved troublesome for many so PC Specialist has opted for a 16GB kit of 2,133MHz Kingston HyperX Savage. although 2,666MHz kits are available in the company's online configurator. You get a standard reference cooler-equipped Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, which is a great choice for sub-4K gaming, and this is all plugged into an Asus Prime B350-Plus AM4 motherboard.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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This retails for around £100 and includes USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, an M.2 port and a snazzy red-and-black colour scheme. However, it's worth noting that it only sports Realtek ALC887 audio, which isn't as potent as the ALC1220 codec found on more expensive AMD and Intel boards. If that's an issue, then you could consider raising the bar and going for the Asus Prime X370-Pro in PC Specialist's configurator although, with a price increase of over £60, you may as well buy a discrete sound card instead, and thankfully these are also available in the configurator.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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An interesting choice is the use of WD's Blue M.2 SSD. It's a SATA-based device, so you won't be getting the crazy speeds you'd see from the likes of Samsung's 960 Evo, but SATA-based M.2 and 2.5in SSDs are now pretty much aligned in terms of price and performance, so M.2 is now worth opting for even to reduce cable clutter. Of course, there are plenty of faster options that use Samsung's Polaris SSD controller in the configurator too. In addition to the 250GB M.2 SSD, there's a 2TB hard disk, which will be handy for rarely-used programs and data - needless to say, we'd definitely suggest paying a bit more for a 500GB SSD as there's not much left with Windows and a few large games installed.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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The case looks like something from Fractal Design, but it's actually from a company called Solleron and is called the SR-620. It offers nearly all the modern comforts, from magnetic dust filters, a side window and even a three-speed fan controller plus four USB ports on the front panel. Cable tidying is pretty good and PC Specialist has made the most of this with a neat effort in the main chamber and behind the motherboard tray.

PC Specialist Magma Zen Review
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In terms of value, the Magma Zen appears to cost a tad more than the sum of its parts, but for that extra £100 or so, you're getting a three-year warranty, a pre-built system with the OS installed plus the prospect of a ready-made stable overclock too.

Specifications (as reviewed)

  • CPU AMD Ryzen 7 1700
  • CPU cores/threads 8/16
  • Memory 16GB (2 x 8GB) Kingston HyperX Savage 2,133MHz DDR4
  • Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • Motherboard Asus Prime B350-Plus
  • Storage 1 x WD Blue M.2 SSD, 1 x 2TB Hard disk
  • Case Solleron SR-620
  • Dimensions (mm) 220 (W) x 470(H) x 416(D) mm
  • Cooling ID Cooling SE-214X
  • PSU Corsair 650W CS Series
  • Networking 1 x Gigabit LAN
  • Audio 7.1-channel Realtek ALC887 (onboard)
  • Operating system Windows 10 64-bit
  • Audio and USB ports Rear: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 3 x audio jacks, S/PDIF out; Front: 2 x USB 3.0, headphone, microphone, fan controller
  • Warranty (Configurable) 3 years: 1 month collect and return, 1 year parts, 3 years labour

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