Corsair One a200 Review: Liquid-Cooled Ryzen and RTX 3080
For a whole host of reasons, AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X and Nvidia’s RTX 3080 have been two of the hardest-to-find PC components since late last year. But Corsair has combined them both in a handy, compact, liquid-cooled bundle it calls the Corsair One a200.
The company’s vertically-oriented One desktop debuted in 2018 and has since been regularly updated to accommodate current high-end components. This time around, the options include either AMD or Intel’s latest processors (the latter called the One i200), and Nvidia’s penultimate consumer GPU, the RTX 3080.
Not much has changed in terms of the system’s design, other than the addition of a USB Type-C port up front (where an HDMI port was on previous models). But with liquid cooling handling thermals for both the CPU and graphics in a still-impressively compact package, there’s really little reason to change what was already one of the best gaming PCs for those who want something small.
The only real concern is pricing. At $3,799 as tested (including 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a 2TB HDD), you’re definitely paying a premium for the compact design and slick, quiet cooling. But with the scarcity of these core components and the RTX 3080 regularly selling for well over $2,000 on its own on eBay, it’s tough to discern what constitutes ‘value’ in the gaming desktop world at the moment. You may be able to find a system with similar components for less, but it won’t likely be this small or slick.
Design of the Corsair One a200
Just like the One i160 model we looked at in 2019, the Corsair One a200 is a quite compact (14.96 x 7.87 x 6.93 inches) tower of matte-black metal with RGB LED lines running down its front. To get some sense of how small this system is compared to more traditional gaming rigs, we called Alienware’s Aurora R11 “fairly compact” when we reviewed it, and it’s 18.9 x 17 x 8.8 inches, taking up more than twice the desk space of Corsair’s One a200.
The 750-watt SFX power supply in the a200 is mounted at the bottom, pulling in air that’s expelled at the top with the help of a fan. The heat from the CPU and GPU also gets expelled out the top. Both components are liquid-cooled, with radiators mounted against the side panels and air getting drawn in through them with the help of the large main fan in the lid.
The primary external difference with the updated a200 over previous models is the replacement of an HDMI port that used to live up front next to the headphone/mic combo jack and pair of USB-A ports. It’s been replaced with a USB-C port. That makes for three front-facing USB ports, a surprising amount of front-panel connectivity for a system so compact. But there are only six more USB ports around back (more on that shortly).
Overall, while the design of the One a200 is pretty familiar at this point, it still looks and feels great, with all the external panels made out of metal. Just note that the matte finish does easily pick up finger smudges.
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5900X|
|Motherboard||ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax|
|Memory||32GB (2x16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200|
|Graphics||Liquid-cooled Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)|
|Storage||1TB M.2 NVMe; 2TB 2.5″ SATA HDD|
|Networking||802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), 2.5 Gb Ethernet|
|Ports||Front: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) Type-A, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-C ; Combination Mic/Headphone Jack; Rear: 4x USB USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) Type-A, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A, Type-C), Ethernet, HD Audio, 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI|
|Video Output||(3) DisplayPort 1.4a (1) HDMI 2.1|
|Power Supply||750W Corsair SFX 80 Plus Platinum|
|Case||Corsair One Aluminum/Steel|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home 64-Bit|
|Dimensions||14.96 x 7.87 x 6.937 inches (380 x 200 x 176 mm)|
|Price As Configured||$3,799|
Ports and Upgradability of the Corsair One a200
Since the Corsair One a200 is built around a compact Mini-ITX motherboard (specifically the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax), you won’t quite get the same amount of ports that you would expect with a larger desktop. Since we already covered the three USB ports and audio jack up front, let’s take a look at the back.
Here you’ll find four USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) Type-A ports, plus two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (one Type-A and one Type-C). Also here is a 2.5 Gb Ethernet jack, three analog audio connections and connectors for the small antennae. The ASrock board also includes a pair of video connectors, but since you’ll want to use the ports on RTX 3080 instead, Corsair has blocked them off behind the I/O plate so most people wouldn’t even know they’re there.
The video connections from the RTX 3080 graphics card live next to the Corsair SF750 power supply, and come in the form of three DisplayPort 1.4a ports and a single HDMI 2.1 connector.
As for internal upgradability, you can get at most of the parts if you’re comfortable dismantling expensive PC hardware. But you can’t add any RAM or storage without swapping out what’s already there (or at least without removing the whole motherboard, more on that soon). That said, the 32GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 RAM, 1TB PCIe 4.0 Force MP600 SSD and 2TB Seagate 2.5-inch hard drive that’s already here are a potent cadre of components. If you need more RAM and storage (as well as more CPU cores), there’s a $4,199 configuration we’ll detail later.
To get inside the Corsair One a200, you don’t need any tools, but you’ll want to be a bit careful. Press a button at the rear top of the case (you have to press it quite hard) and the top, which also houses a fan, will pop up. But before you go yanking it away in haste, note that it’s attached via a fan cable that you can disconnect after first fishing the plug out from a hole inside the case.
To access the rest of the system you’ll have to remove two screws from each side. But again, don’t be careless, as radiators are attached to both side panels via short tubes, so the sides are a bit like upside-down gull-wing doors. You can’t really remove them without disconnecting the cooling plates from the CPU and GPU.
It’s fairly easy to remove the RAM, although the 32GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 occupies both of the slots. The 2TB Seagate 2.5-inch hard drive is also accessible from the left side, wedged under the PCIe riser cable that’s routed to the GPU on the other side.
At least the 1TB Force MP600 SSD on this model is mounted on the front of the motherboard under a heatsink, rather than behind the board on the i160 version we looked at a couple years ago.
You can open the right panel as well, though there’s not much to do here as the space is taken up by the GPU, a large radiator and a pair of fans mounted on the heatsink to move the RTX 3080’s heat through the radiator and out the vents on the side.
As with previous models, you should be able to replace the RTX 3080 with an air-cooled graphics card at some point, provided it has axial rather than blower-style cooling, and that it fits within the physical constraints of the chassis. But given that the RTX 3080 is the best graphics card you can buy, you may be ready for a whole new system by the time you start thinking about swapping out the graphics card here.
Aside from wishing there were more USB ports on the motherboard, I have no real complaints about the hardware here. If I were spending this much, I’d prefer a 2TB SSD, but at least the 1TB model Corsair has included is a PCIe 4.0 drive for the best speed possible. Technically the ASRock motherboard here has a second PCIe 3.0 M.2 slot, where you could install a second SSD. But it’s housed on the back of the motherboard, which would mean fairly major disassembly in cramped quarters, and remember that you’d have to disconnect the pump/cooling plate from the CPU before even attempting to do that.
Gaming Performance on the Corsair One a200
With AMD’s 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X and Nvidia’s RTX 3080 running the gaming show inside Corsair’s One a200 — and both of them liquid-cooled — we expected Corsair’s compact power tower to spit out impressive frame rates.
We pitted the a200 against MSI’s Aegis RS 11th, which also has an RX 3080 but an 8-core Intel Rocket Lake Core i7-11700K, and a couple other recent gaming rigs we’ve tested. Alienware’s Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 sports a stepped down Ryzen 7 5800X and a Radeon RX 6800XT. And HP’s Omen 30L, which we looked at near the end of 2020, was outfitted with a last-generation Intel Core i9-10900K and an RTX 3080 to call its own.
While the Corsair One a200 didn’t walk away from the impressive competition, it was almost always in the lead in our gaming tests. And that’s all the more impressive given most of the systems it competes with are much larger.
On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (highest settings), the game ran at 147 fps at 1080p on the One a200, and 57 fps at 4K. The former ties it with the Aegis for first place here, and the latter beats both the Aegis and the Omen 30L, just slightly, giving Corsair’s system an uncontested win.
In Grand Theft Auto V (very high settings), the Corsair system basically repeated its previous performance, tying the MSI machine at 1080p and pulling one frame ahead of both the Omen and the MSI at 4K.
On the Far Cry New Dawn benchmark, the MSI Aegis pulled ahead at 1080p by 11 fps, but the One a200 still managed to tie the MSI and HP systems at 4K.
After trailing a bit in Far Cry at 1080p, the One a200 pulled ahead in Red Dead Redemption 2 (medium settings) at the same resolution, with its score of 117 fps beating everything else. And at 4K, the Corsair system’s 51 fps was again one frame ahead of both the MSI and Alienware systems.
Last up in Borderlands 3 (badass settings), the Corsair system stayed true to its impressive form. Its score of 137 fps at 1080 was a frame ahead of the MSI (and ahead of everything else). And at 4K, its score of 59 fps was only tied by the HP Omen.
Aside from the One a200’s gaming performance being impressive for its size, this is also one of the quietest high-end gaming rigs I’ve tested in a long time. Lots of heat shot out of the top of the tower while I played the Ancient Gods expansion of Doom Eternal, but fan noise was a constant low-end whirr. The large fan at the top does its job without doing much to make itself known, and the radiators on either side help move heat out of the case without adding to the impressively quiet noise floor.
We also subjected the Corsair One a200 to our Metro Exodus stress test gauntlet, in which we run the benchmark at the Extreme preset 15 times to simulate roughly half an hour of gaming. The Corsair tower ran the game at an average of 71.13 fps, with very little variation. The system started out the test at 71.37 fps on the first run, and dipped just to 71.05 fps on the final run. That’s a change of just a third of a frame per second throughout our stress test. It’s clear both in terms of consistent performance and low noise levels that the One a200’s cooling system is excelling at its job.
During the Metro Exodus runs, the CPU ran at an average clock speed of 4.2 GHz and an average temperature of 74.9 degrees Celsius (166.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The GPU’s average clock speed was 1.81 GHz, with an average temperature of 68.7 degrees Celsius (155.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
While the Ryzen 9 5900X isn’t quite as potentially speedy on paper as the top-end 5950X (thanks to a slightly lower top boost clock and four fewer cores), it’s still a very powerful 12-core CPU. And paired with Nvidia’s RTX 3080, along with 32GB of RAM and a fast PCIe 4.0 SSD, the Corsair One a200 is just as potent in productivity and workstation tasks as it is playing games.
On Geekbench 5, an overall performance benchmark, the Corsair system was just behind the leading systems in the single-core tests, with its score of 1,652. But on the multi-core test, it’s 11,968 was well ahead of everything else.
The Corsair PCIe Gen 4 SSD in the a200 blew past competing systems, transferring our 25GB of files at a rate of 1.27 GBps, with only the HP Omen’s WD SSD also managing to get close to the 1GBps mark.
And on our Handbrake video editing test, the Corsair One a200 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in an impressive 4 minutes and 44 seconds, while all the other systems took well more than 5 minutes to complete the same task. Video editors in particular will be able to make good use of this system’s 12 cores and 24 threads of CPU might.
Software and Warranty for the Corsair One a200
The Corsair One a200 ships with a two-year warranty (plus lifetime customer support) and very little pre-installed software. Aside from Windows 10 Home, you get the company’s iCue software, which can be used to control both the lights as well as the system fans. The company even seems to have avoided the usual bloat of streaming apps and casual games like Candy Crush, which ship with almost all Windows machines these days.
Configuration Options for the Corsair One a200
If you’re after the AMD-powered Corsair a200 specifically, you have two configuration options. There’s the model we tested (Corsair One a200 CS-90200212), with a 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD, 2TB hard drive, and an RTX 3080 for $3,799. Or you can pay $400 more ($4,199) to step up to the 16-core Ryzen 5950X and double the RAM and SSD to 64GB and 2TB respectively (Corsair One Pro a200 CS-9040010). The latter configuration is overkill for gaming, but the extra storage, RAM and four more CPU cores are well worth the extra money if you can actually make use of them.
For those who aren’t wedded to AMD, there’s also the Intel-based Corsair One i200, which now includes 11th Gen “Rocket Lake” CPU options, with up to a Core i9-11900K and an RTX 3080, albeit running on a last-gen Z490 platform. It starts a little lower at $3,599. But that model is currently out of stock with any current-generation Intel and Nvidia components, leaving exact pricing up in the air as of publicatioon.
We tried to do some comparison pricing, and were able to find a similarly equipped HP Omen 30L, as HP often sells gaming rigs on the more-affordable side of the spectrum. But when we wrote this, all Omen 30L systems with current-generation graphics cards were sold out on HP’s site. We were able to find an Omen 30L on Amazon with an RTX 3080 and an Intel Core i9-10850K, along with similar RAM and storage as our Corsair a200, for $3,459. That’s about $340 less than the a200, but the Omen 30L is also much larger than the a200 and has a now last-generation CPU with fewer cores, plus a slower SSD.
With one of the best CPUs and graphics cards, both liquid cooled and quiet, in an attractive, compact package, Corsair’s One a200 offers a whole lot to like. The $3,799 asking price is certainly daunting, but in these times when that graphics card alone is selling on eBay regularly for more than $2,000, the Ryzen 9 5900X often sells for close to $800, and even most desktops with current-gen graphics cards are mostly sold out, it’s tough to which high-end gaming rig is more or less of a bargain than something else.
If you spend some time looking you can probably find a system with similar specs as the Corsair One a200 for a bit less. But unless and until the ongoing mining craze subsides, that system probably won’t cost substantially less than Corsair’s pricing. And with its impressively compact shell, quiet operation, and top-end performance in both gaming and productivity, the a200 is easy to recommend for those who can afford it. Just know that upgrading will be a bit more difficult and limiting than with a larger desktop, and if you need lots of USB ports, you may want to invest in a hub.