PC Specialist Magma R2 review
The PC Specialist Magma R2 is the first system we’ve seen with one of AMD’s new Ryzen 5 3600XT processors – a chip designed to fight back against Intel’s newer Core i5-10600K.
Elsewhere, the Magma serves up an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super graphics card and a 500GB Samsung SSD for a price of £1,199. That cost undercuts this many rivals, but can it compete with better specifications and beefier graphics cards?
Design & Build
The Magma R2 immediately draws the eye thanks to its Cooler Master MasterBox TD500 chassis.
It’s one of the more gregarious mid-tower enclosures on the market: it’s dominated by a swathe of dark, angled mesh, and that’s surrounded by matt black plastic that maintains the bold angles. The tempered glass side panel is streaked with slats, and the front is illuminated by three RGB LED intake fans.
It’s just as attractive as PC Specialist’s own Fnatic Gaming PC, it’s better-looking than the PC Specialist Vulcan S2, and it’s smarter and more conventional than the AlphaBeta i5 RTX. It’s miles more attractive than the Asus ROG Strix G15DH, which looks dated and dull in comparison.
The Cooler Master case is conventional on the inside – which is no bad thing. The chassis has plenty of cable-routing holes, and PC Specialist has done a grand job of keeping cables neat. There’s a PSU shroud too, which also contributes to a tidy build.
The Nvidia graphics card isn’t too big, which means the system’s extra PCI and SATA slots are accessible, and the installation of the PC Specialist FrostFlow 120 cooler at the exhaust mount means that the two empty memory slots are easy to reach – so upgrading is simple.
There’s a spare M.2 connector with a heatsink and around the back there’s space for another hard disk and two 2.5in drives.
The top of the chassis has two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks, but no Type-C connection. Other missing features are also only usually found on higher-end hardware – the Magma R2’s chassis is a mainstream option, which means no lighting controls on the front panel or fan connector boards around the rear of the motherboard tray.
It’s a better build than rivals. The AlphaBeta system is smaller but less accessible, PC Specialist’s Fnatic and Vulcan systems are trickier to work with thanks to more cramped internals and simpler case designs. And when it comes to case design, the big-brand Asus is underwhelming.
Specs & Performance
The new AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT is similar to the existing Ryzen 5 3600X – the newer part is designed to provide a little extra speed for a few extra pounds. The 3600XT has a base clock of 3.8GHz and a boost speed of 4.5GHz – the former figure matches its predecessor and the latter speed is only 100MHz better. Elsewhere, the 3600XT retains the original chip’s six multi-threaded cores and superb Zen 2 architecture.
The processor is paired with 16GB of 3,200MHz memory, which is smart – AMD chips respond well to quicker DDR4. There’s a 500GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD and a 1TB hard disk, and the rig is powered by a Corsair TX550M, which is a semi-modular PSU with an 80Plus Gold efficiency rating.
It’s a good selection of well-balanced hardware for work and play.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super inside the Magma R2 is made by Zotac and it’s left at its stock speeds. That means solid base and boost clocks of 1,470MHz and 1,650MHz alongside the usual 2,176 stream processors, 34 Ray Tracing cores and 8GB of memory.
PC Specialist uses an AMD TUF Gaming B550-Plus motherboard. It’s got the aforementioned pair of vacant memory slots and single free M.2 connector, and upgrade options elsewhere include five spare SATA ports, an onboard Thunderbolt connector, two free PCI-E x1 slots and a spare PCI-E x16 connector.
Bear in mind, though, that the vacant PCI-E x16 slot isn’t suitable for a dual-graphics configuration. Audio is provided by the Realtek S1200A chipset, which is fine for mainstream use.
At the rear, the Magma R2 has superb 2.5Gbps Ethernet and super-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports. There are four slower USB 3.2 Gen 1 connectors, and five audio jacks alongside an Optical S/PDIF connector. This system also has wireless internet, but the single-band 802.11n card in this system is an entry-level option and the lack of dual-band connectivity is a tad disappointing.
The PC Specialist has a good specification, but its rivals are more expensive and sometimes offer better components. The AlphaBeta PC has an RTX 2070 Super graphics card, for instance, and both the Fnatic and Asus machines have more powerful AMD CPUs.
Despite that, the Magma’s components deliver solid gaming pace. When running Far Cry and Wolfenstein at 1080p and at Ultra settings the PC Specialist delivered average framerates of 85fps and 144fps, and at 1440p the PC Specialist ran those titles at 73fps and 97fps.
There’s enough gaming grunt here to play any modern game on 1080p and 1440p displays, and this GPU will also handle esports games at the speeds required for 144Hz and 240Hz output. It’s only going to struggle when tasked with 4K displays and higher-resolution widescreens.
The Magma R2 is not able to overhaul its rivals in benchmarks; at best, it’s able to keep in touch with the competition at 1080p and is only marginally behind at 1440p. It’s not slow by any means, though, and the margins involved are slight.
Note: This the first desktop machine we’ve tested with Wolfenstein and Far Cry so the older Warhammer benchmark is included for comparison.
The Ryzen 5 3600XT is a great CPU. In Geekbench it was able to outpace the older Core i5 chip inside the AlphaBeta, and it’s virtually as quick as the older Core i7 part inside the award-winning PC Specialist Vulcan. It keeps up with the new Core i5-10600K in single-threaded benchmarks and is slightly faster in many multi-threaded tests.
The Ryzen chip is only beaten by rivals that include better AMD silicon at higher prices: the PC Specialist Fnatic rig and the Asus ROG both used the eight-core Ryzen 7 3700X.
Nevertheless, these solid benchmark scores bode well for real-world use. You won’t have any game bottlenecks, and the AMD chip can handle photo-editing, mainstream content creation and streaming. You’ll only need more CPU power if you want to tackle tough photography and video workloads or other professional applications.
The Magma R2 is reasonable in thermal tests too. The fan noise is low and consistent when gaming and only a little louder during tough CPU workloads – a headset or speakers will easily handle the noise.
The PC Specialist costs £1,199 and, as usual, almost every aspect of the specification can be changed prior to purchase.
That’s standard for UK-based system builders like PC Specialist – if you want more graphics power, a better processor, extra storage or some more memory, it’s easy enough to configure the PC. Similarly, it’s possible to dial back the hardware if you want to save some cash.
The PC Specialist Fnatic and the AlphaBeta system can be configured similarly, but the big-brand Asus machine can’t be altered.
Check our round-up of the best gaming PCs to see what else is available and how the Magma R2 compares.
The PC Specialist Magma R2 is consistently impressive.
Its design is good-looking while offering a neat, versatile experience, and the specification is solid – the new CPU is joined by a good graphics card, solid memory and storage and a motherboard with fast wired networking and decent mainstream features.
AMD’s new Ryzen CPU beats any Intel option at this price, and the graphics card can easily handle 1080p gaming, 1440p titles and eSports games at fast refresh rates.
There are only minor issues to consider with the Magma R2.
Its good benchmark figures are beaten elsewhere, for instance, but only by machines with higher prices and beefier components – and never by much. The wireless networking could be better, this PC isn’t suitable for dual-graphics, and a Type-C USB port on the top of the case would have been welcome.
They’re tiny issues that shouldn’t put you off, though. The Magma R2 is fast, well-balanced and affordable – a superb all-rounder and a worthy award-winner.
PC Specialist Magma R2: Specs
- Processor: 3.8GHz AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
- Graphics: Zotac GeForce RTX 2060 Super 8GB
- Motherboard: Asus TUF Gaming B550-PLUS
- Memory: 16GB Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 3200MHz DDR4
- Storage: 500GB Samsung 970 Evo Plus M.2 SSD, 1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD Case Cooler Master MasterBox TD500 Mesh
- Ports: Front: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2 x audio
- rear: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 5 x audio
- Connectivity: 2.5Gbps Ethernet, Single-band 802.11n wireless
- PSU: Corsair TX550M 550W
- Warranty: 3yr Labour (1mth C&R, 1yr parts)