At the time of review, Overclockers UK’s retail price for this particular configuration is £1321 including next day delivery. The basic model is on offer this week for £929.99 but lacks the graphical horsepower from the GTX 970 and suffers in the storage department. To determine a system’s value proposition, it’s vital to down a component rundown and work out the cost of building the system yourself. This task is made quite easy due to OCUK’s large quantity of stock.
According to current pricing, the total cost of this system is as follows:
- Case: Phanteks Evolv ITX Windowed Gaming Case – Black = £49.99
- Motherboard: MSI Z97I AC (Socket 1150) ITX Motherboard = £89.99
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4790K = £289.99
- Processor Cooler: OCUK Techlabs 240mm AIO Liquid Cooler with Noiseblocker Fans = £84.99
- System Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2x4GB) PC3-19200C11 2400MHz Dual Channel Kit = £55.99
- Main Boot Drive: Samsung 120GB 850 EVO SSD = £62.99
- Additional Storage Drive(s): Samsung 1TB 850 EVO SSD = £269.99
- Graphics card: KFA2 GeForce GTX 970 OC Silent “Infin8 Black Edition” 4GB = £289.99
- Power Supply: SuperFlower HX 550W 80+ Gold Rated PSU = £59.99
- BitFenix Spectre PRO 140mm Green LED – Black = £13.99
- BitFenix Alchemy Premium Modding LED Strip = £9.29
This equates to a rough total figure of £1277 including weekly promotional discounts, so the recommended retail price is very close to the system’s Overclockers UK’s fee of £44 for the build is extraordinarily generous given the painstaking work involved in tightly spaced ITX designs. In terms of value, the Evolution Envy Mini is an attractive package given the premium component selection and excellent customer service.
The Evolution Envy Mini’s portable stature doesn’t come at the expense of overclocking headroom, heat dissipation or raw performance. Rather surprisingly, the system is more than capable of matching a full-size ATX build and encapsulates the viability of high-end ITX designs. The Phanteks Evolv ITX is aesthetically pleasing and able to withstand the strain of our vigorous testing procedure. Although, the front plastic panel leaves a lot to be desired at this price range and doesn’t evoke a sense of premium build quality. Nevertheless, this isn’t a major criticism, and the chassis’ weight lends itself beautifully to LAN parties.
On another note, the CPU and GPU temperatures were shockingly good and I expected the chassis to heat up exponentially. On many small form factor PCs, the chassis struggles to expel the internal heat build-up and results in very warm load-level results. Thankfully, the Evolution Envy Mini remains relatively cool due to the efficient closed-loop-cooler and front 200mm fan. However, in extreme situations, the radiator fans’ RPM can dramatically increase causing a noticeable curve. At first this was quite bothersome, but my ears adjusted to the load level noise within a few hours. It’s important to reiterate that the system isn’t loud under extreme testing, but other review units have fared better.
The MSI Z97I AC motherboard is reliable and features a comprehensive BIOS. Additionally, the manual overclock of 4.5 GHz was achieved using a sensible voltage rating to reduce load temperatures without impacting on stability. There wasn’t any complications from the motherboard’s 4-pin CPU power connector and remained perfectly stable under extreme wattage strain. Overclockers UK also opted for a sensibly priced ITX motherboard without unnecessary features such as on-board BCLK adjustments. The average end-user shouldn’t feel overly intimidated by the motherboard’s tweaking options and will become more confident about diagnostics in due course.
In terms of gaming performance, the Evolution Envy Mini is spectacular and finds the perfect balance between cost and frames-per-second. The GTX 970 is an affordable graphics card compared to the higher-end NVIDIA behemoths and still performs beautifully at 1920×1080 and 2560×1440. Throughout the gaming benchmarks, the GTX 970 attained superb results to create a fluid experience on maximum detail settings. Clearly, there are some exceptions and future games might need the odd setting turned down, but it’s a wonderful card for the money. However, I would recommend a 1920×1080 monitor to accompany this setup given the soaring VRAM demands in modern titles. In my opinion, the GTX 970 is up there with the 8800GT (for it’s time) in terms of value, and the perfect accompaniment to visually rich 1080p PC gaming.
The main concession from smaller chassis is the lack of room to perform tidy cable management. Sadly, the Evolution Envy Mini suffers in this department and close up macro shots make the cabling look rather ordinary. Despite this, Overclockers UK did a good job and I didn’t encounter any problems when shutting the side panel door. Additionally, the rubber grommets, case straps and zip ties combined rather nicely to make a flush finish without any protruding cables. Another highlight is the decision to hide the molex adapters in a dedicated section and it’s great to see labelled fan headers. Overall, it’s not the best cabling I’ve encountered but pretty good when you factor in the chassis’ size limitations.
I’m a little perplexed by the dual SSD storage selection in this particular configuration. Surely, it would be better to use a 250GB-500GB SSD and a large 2-3TB mechanical data drive or SSHD. Opting for a 120GB boot and 1TB data drive might suit some customers but I’m guessing this selection will be very niche. Thankfully, you can alter the default hard drive configuration to fit your storage requirements. In all honesty, this was probably the default setup on my review unit and will be quite uncommon on consumer models.
In conclusion, the Overclockers UK Evolution Envy Mini is a fantastic portable gaming system and offers exceptional value-for-money. While the cabling could be slightly neater, the complete package is difficult to beat. Therefore, if you’re in the market for a small-form-factor gaming PC, the Evolution Envy Mini should be high up on your list.
- 200mm chassis fan is a welcome inclusion and helps keep the temperatures down
- Fantastic value proposition for high-end PC gamers
- Flawless performance in visually demanding games at 1920×1080 and 2560×1440
- Green LED strip and rear fan adds an exuberant touch
- Great alternative to Skylake-based PCs which incur a hefty price premium
- Lovely stealth black colour scheme
- Impeccable temperatures given the ITX form factor
- Stable overclock with a high frequency out-of-the-box
- SuperFlower power supply is whisper quiet
- Wonderful packaging
- Cable management could be neater
- Radiator fan curve can become loud during benchmarking (easy for user to change)
- Secondary 1TB SSD is a strange choice, but can be changed at POS
- Chassis’ front plastic cover feels a little cheap, but is hardly a deal breaker
“The Overclockers UK Evolution Envy Mini adopts a compact, convenient design and rivals the performance of hefty, full-size ATX systems at an affordable price point.”
Thank you Overclockers UK for providing us with this sample.