When ASUS asked if I would review its new mini PC ProArt PA90 I said sure, send it over. What arrived was a very large box containing a 5.8kg, 365 (H) x 176 (Square) tower.
It did not stop there. Two power supplies for its massive Intel Core i9-9900K processor and NVIDIA Quadro Pro P4000 8GB card, four Display Port outputs, and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. It is the most powerful PC GadgetGuy has tested to date. But Mini it ain’t.
It is a true workstation class PC disguised as a modern speaker!
Who is it for?
It targets Mac Pro buyers who want to use Windows 10 Pro instead. A Mac Pro costs from around $5,000 and can hit well over $10K with similar processor, RAM and storage options to the ASUS. I will resist discovering the ProArt PA90 price until I finish the review! So, number one you must be able to flash the cash.
Next, with four Display Ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) and four USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports it is for those who want to hook up lots of accessories – digitisers, pens, external SSD, and more. Greats for designers, still and video editors and creative types.
Finally, it has a unique ‘stay-cool’ system with a ‘pop-top’ that raises and lowers when the CPU temperature rises above 80° allowing 38% more airflow into the chassis. Not that you need it as there is liquid cooling in there as well.
Review: ASUS Mini PC ProArt PA90
Australian website here
Note: This is a review sample and specifications may change.
You can get an unlocked (overclocking perhaps?), Intel 9th generation Core i7-9700K or an i9-9900K. Both use the new Intel Z390 chipset and have an embedded Intel UHD Graphics 630 as well as the NVIDIA GPU card. Price is around US$500 for the CPU.
The i9-9900K uses a 14nm die, 8 core/16 thread, 3.6/5.0Ghz drawing 95W TDP (Thermal Design Power). It only runs with DDR4-2666Mhz RAM. Passmark is 20179. As it has 16 threads, it is roughly twice as fast in multi-core use than the i7-9700K.
The i7-9700K is also 14nm, 8 core/8 thread, 3.6/4.9GHz drawing 95W TDP and uses the same RAM. Passmark is 17200.
In comparison, an Intel 8th generation Core i7-8700K has a passmark of 15,963, so it’s a reasonable jump.
The AMD Threadripper 1950X and 2920X just beat the i9 at 21950 and 21334 respectively. Although the Threadripper 2950X is substantially faster again. TechSpot has a good rundown on processor speeds and game frame rates here.
UserBench said this CPU demolishes everyday tasks such as web browsing, office apps and audio/video playback. Additionally, this processor can handle intensive workstation and even full-fledged server workloads. Finally, with a gaming score of 100%, this CPUs is suitable for 3D gaming.
GadgetGuy’s take: Currently the fastest Intel desktop CPU. Gaming enthusiasts are more likely to want the Intel Core i9-9980XE, 18-core but it costs $1500 more and draws 165W TDP, so I think ASUS has made the right choice for its target market.