GBAtemp? More like PCtemp amirite?
Skytech Gaming is one of many gaming PC system builders you'll find out there, up against the likes of iBuyPower, CyberPower, Origin PC, and Maingear, to name only a few. Up for review today is the Skytech Archangel 3.0 gaming desktop, one of the latest additions to their lineup for customizable pre-built PCs that feature AMD's new Ryzen 3000 series CPUs. As with most system builders, there's quite a bit of variety of parts you can put into the system, but the particular specs of the Archangel PC I received are the following:
- CPU: Ryzen 5 3600
- Motherboard: Asrock B450M Pro4
- RAM: Ballistix 16GB 2400mhz DDR4
- GPU: Zotac GTX 1650 OC
- SSD: 500GB Seagate SSD
- PSU: 600W Thermaltake Smart series
- Case: Thermaltake TG RGB H200
- Cooling fans: 3x Skytech Addressable RGB fans, 1 standard intake fan.
- OS: Windows 10 Home
The first thing we'll take a look at is the packaging of the Skytech PC. As is typical with most system builders, the PC was packaged nice and snug in the large Skytech branded box using plenty of soft foam packing material. The PC was covered in a large plastic bag, to avoid dust getting anywhere near the system during transport, and the inside of the PC included the usual nice, rigid foam packing material PC builders normally use to protect the various hanging components of your system. Skytech helpfully includes some warnings and notices around the PC any novice PC users, so you don't accidentally turn the PC on before removing that packing material, and to avoid users plugging in their display to the motherboard instead of the GPU. Included with every Skytech Gaming purchase is their own branded keyboard and mouse, which is something you generally find with most system builders. The keyboard is a metal based, rubber dome keyboard with basic RGB lighting, and the mouse is a six button RGB gaming mouse. Quality-wise, they're not much to write home about (although the metal backed keyboard is perhaps the nicest "free" keyboard I've seen from system builders), but it's a nice bonus that will perfectly accent the ever-important RGB aesthetic of your gaming setup, assuming you don't have something else around.
Documentation wise, you'll get a nice little Skytech Gaming folder that contains a quick start guide informing you how to go about setting up your PC, a small maintenance guide giving you some advice on how to keep your PC working well, a small troubleshooting flow chart to help even new users fix common startup issues, a "quality control" certificate to give you peace of mind that your PC was checked for the right components that are working correctly and all ready to go when you plug it in and that everything is performing as expected, and they even offer you a chance to earn a $10 Amazon Gift Card by reviewing the product on whatever shop you bought the PC from! How nice! However, there is one rather crucial piece of info that is missing from this little pack of documentation: the specs of the computer you actually bought! Now, I imagine this is likely because this was a review unit, and not an actual purchase, so I'm sure they include an invoice showing the specs of the PC you bought, but this wasn't included in my particular case and was slightly disappointing not to have, as when we were offered the review we were simply given the base model name of the PC we were receiving, but we weren't given any specific specifications so I was expecting a bit of a different build than what I got. But, as this isn't a normal circumstance for buying a Skytech PC, I can't really complain.
Visually speaking, the Thermaltake H200 case has a minimalist but gorgeous look, with this particular model being all white with a simple RGB line down the front of the case and a tempered glass side panel to display your glorious rig inside. The front panel IO is pretty standard for most mid-sized ATX cases and includes two USB 3.0 ports, microphone and headphone ports, the power button of course, and a physical RGB button that allows you to change the RGB's of the system between 20 different settings, with solid colors, breathing effects, swirling RGBs, and more. The three RGB fans included look great, and are sync'd up with the case's front RGB strip so your rig can have the same RGB effect across each piece of hardware which is a nice touch. In terms of build quality, Skytech's builders have done an all-around good job in getting a nice and clean look out of the PC. Cable management is pretty decent, although with this particular case you can see a bit of wire spaghetti spilling out in a gap of the case, but it's not too awful and, honestly, is probably better than what I would have personally done. In terms of expansion in the case, you'll find a second SSD mount on top of the PSU shroud, and on the back side of the case you'll find a single 3.5" expansion bay...that's unfortunately being used to help hide some of the wire spaghetti in the case, so getting a storage drive in there yourself may be a bit tricky.
Software-wise, Skytech thankfully includes very little bloat with their factory Windows image...but they fall short in a few places. When you first boot to the desktop, after going through the usual Windows first install procedure, you'll find a few things: a Skytech Support "application", Prime95, Furmark, Google Chrome, and some Asrock programs that can be used to manage your motherboard and install some "Asrock approved" drivers and software. This is one of the first iffy things you'll find, as the "Asrock App Store" includes scammy casino programs, recommends Norton Security as an antivirus (AKA one of the worst), and suggests you download toolbars for your browser, all of which a PC illiterate person may wind up doing and, to be perfectly blunt, will make their Windows install worse. The most interesting of the included programs, in my opinion, is the Skytech support application which is just Teamviewer with a Skytech logo, something I found a tad odd. Opening this up will prompt you to sign in to Teamviewer, which I assume would be used so their live support can help troubleshoot issues with your PC, which is a nice thought but probably not the way I would've setup support. Second most interesting are the stress testing programs already installed on your PC, which shows they, at the very least, probably did run some benchmarks to ensure your PC is running as expected. And that's it really, which is great! Definitely far better than most pre-built PCs and system builders out there. What's not so great, however, is the Windows install I had. Pre-installed on the SSD was Windows 10 Home. I prefer Pro, so I can tinker with extra things, but Home is definitely fine for most users. What's not fine, however, is that the Windows install wasn't activated out of the box, and then couldn't be activated by me at all, with a generic "This activation key is blocked" error message. After trying a few of the usual fixes, nothing would activate Windows officially, so I resorted to contacting their customer support. Something interesting I noted while doing this is apparently this issue is widespread enough that on their troubleshooting page on their website, they already had a FAQ on what to do if your Windows install isn't activated, which suggests they're aware of the issue, but haven't/can't seem to fix it for whatever reason. After a quick email exchange that took perhaps 2 hours total, I was offered a brand new Windows 10 key, as long as I provided an invoice number, and that was that. All in all, a quick and easy solution, thankfully, but one that shouldn't really be required in the first place.
Looking at the hardware itself, the Archangel 3.0 I received makes for a pretty decent mid-range gaming PC, and uses some quality manufacturers for their parts. The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 included in this configuration is absolutely the star of the build, thanks to AMD's massive improvements in IPC and pure performance that (finally) knocks Intel out of the first place they've been in for many years now. The 16GB Ballistix RAM capacity is perfect for gaming, although the frequency is a little low for Ryzen CPUs. But, Asrock's B450M of course allows for XMP, and I was able to boost the frequency to 3200mhz without issues or bumping CAS latency too high, which is a pretty decent speed for this CPU. The CPU Cooler is the stock AMD Wraith Stealth, which is AMD's lowest end cooler; this is perhaps a bit of a downer if you're planning to do some heavy CPU-based workloads, but for most gaming it should be plenty. The motherboard also includes some decent IO support, featuring two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (one type A and one type C), four USB 3.1 ports, the usual onboard 7.1 audio, and gigabit ethernet. Storage is one of the weaker parts of the system, with only a 500GB Seagate SSD installed in this particular config. While a 500GB SSD would be pretty good for a boot drive plus some important files, with AAA game sizes what they are today it's a little slim for a gaming PC. And then we get to the absolute weakest point of the system, the GPU. Included in this build is the GTX 1650, which is Nvidia's latest low-end offer for budget gaming, and wow is it low end. But to really see why it's so bad, lets take a look at some benchmarks below.
But How Does it Perform?
Below you'll find benchmark results from the quick benchmarks I ran across five different PCs I happen to have lying around the house, each one a pretty different config that might represent a build the average person wants to upgrade from/compliment. The first is my own personal gaming PC, which sports an i5 7600k, 16GB of DDR4, and a GTX 1070. My work PC has an i5 3470, 16GB of DDR3, and a GTX 770. My HP laptop has a Ryzen 5 2500u APU, with Vega 8 integrated graphics and only 8GB of DDR4. And finally the eBay PC is a build that I recently picked up for $200 has an i5 3340s, 16GB of DDR3, and a GTX 970 in it. All in all a pretty varied range of hardware: a moderately recent gaming rig, a mid-range gaming PC from yesteryear, a semi-modern laptop that's somewhat capable of gaming, and a cheap, slightly upgraded pre-built rig for gaming on a budget.
|PC||Cinebench R15 (CPU)||Cinebench R20 (CPU)||Realbench (Overall)||Furmark
|3dMark Firestrike (Overall)||3dMark Firestrike (Physics) (CPU)|
As you'll note in the scores above, CPU-wise the Ryzen 5 3600 pretty much blows everything I have out of the water, in all cases by a very hefty margin thanks to its six cores and twelve threads. Intel's past CPUs can't even hold a candle to the massive performance gains that AMD have gotten with their Ryzen 3xxx series CPUs, and Intel's current 9xxx series offerings are only just ahead or equivalent, but are still significantly more expensive. GPU-wise, however, the Skytech Archangel I received is really lacking. The GTX 1650 included in this particular build is Nvidia's latest budget GPU, being the successor to the GTX 1050, and as such is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of performance. In some cases, it barely outpaces the 6 year old mid-range (at the time) GTX 770 that was in my work PC, and even lost in the Furmark and 3Dmark overall test to it, which is a little disconcerting if you're looking for a heavy gaming PC.
But those are just synthetic benchmarks, and don't really mean that much to the average person in the real world, so what about actual game performance? Here, the 1650 fares a little bit better. In terms of actual gaming use the 1650 makes for a pretty decent 1080p experience, with older games like Rocket League, Fortnite, and DOOM 2016 running great at 1080p with max settings. Newer games however, heavier titles like Metro Exodus, Monster Hunter World, or Shadow of the Tomb Raider will require you to lower some details to get a playable 1080p/60fps experience. If you're looking to buy a high end rig that won't require upgrades within the next year or two, the 1650 just isn't quite good enough, and I would strongly recommend upgrading to at least a 1660 or better. Emulation-wise, the Ryzen 5 3600 is an excellent CPU for those tougher-to-run emulators like Cemu, RPCS3, and even some games on Xenia. I was particularly glad to see I could finally play a 60fps modded Demon's Souls without facing too many frame drops, which is something that's definitely not possible on my current gaming rig and, as an avid Soulsborne fan, I thoroughly enjoyed.
Is it Worth the Price?
As noted above, the Skytech Archangel I received has the below listed specifications. In this section, we'll talk about the approximate value of the components on their own, and whether or not you're getting a good value in regards to the amount of system builder tax (aka the price of the components + being professionally built + any warranties or special features you get with a system builder) vs building a PC on your own.
- CPU: Ryzen 5 3600 - $200
- Mobo: ASRock B450M PRO4 - $80
- GPU: Zotac Amped GTX 1650 - $150
- RAM: 16GB 2400mhz DDR4 Ballistix RAM - $68
- SSD: Seagate 500GB SSD - $68
- PSU: Thermaltake Smart 600W PSU - $50
- Case: Thermaltake H200 - $80
- Total Cost of Components (not including Windows key): ~$700
- Total Cost of PC from Skytech: $750
- Warranty included with your Skytech PC purchase: 1 year parts and labor.
For the money you’d spend on the exact same components (not including Windows license), this is a pretty good deal all said and done. You’d be spending a whopping $50 more with Skytech, and $50 to have someone build that PC for you is great value, especially with the decent quality build Skytech has provided. As noted above, the warranty included with every Skytech PC covers just 1 year for both parts and labor, so if any particular part of your Skytech PC fails within a year of purchase, Skytech will gladly replace it (assuming you didn't break it yourself). Though this sounds pretty good, after some research this isn't exactly a massive length of time compared to other system builders, or even individual part warranties...but other system builders will charge quite a bit more for the same specifications. After twiddling on some other popular system builder sites, I've found that similar builds with the same base specs can cost you anywhere from $800-$1000 total, $50-$250 more than what Skytech is charging, which is quite a big chunk of change in terms of PC components. I'm not entirely sure how Skytech does it, but if you're looking for a pre-built gaming PC and want the best performance for your money, then I would 100% recommend Skytech, every time. Their price/performance compared to other system builders is just miles better than you'll find elsewhere.
Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story. While the price of those exact same components to build the PC yourself is only $50 cheaper, and the overall value of Skytech's pre-built is MUCH better than any other system builder, there is of course always the option to build the PC yourself. If you’re capable or willing to learn to build your own PC and make a few changes to the specs, like say going for a cheaper case, a lower wattage PSU, and a mechanical HDD instead of an SSD, you could get the following components for $700-$750, depending on MIR’s and sales, and get a much better bang for your buck:
- CPU: Ryzen 5 3600 - $200
- RAM: 16GB 3000mhz LPX’s - $65
- HDD: 1TB HDD - $40
- GPU: GTX 1660 - $250
- PSU: EVGA 500W - $60
- Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L - $45
- Mobo: Asrock B450M Pro 4 - $80
- Total Cost: ~$750
For the same $750 price tag, you'd get double the storage and a massive upgrade for the GPU, nabbing nearly 30-40% increase in performance depending on the games you play. And those are just brand new parts I quickly put together; if you’re willing to search for some used deals, you can grab a GTX 1070 for around $200-$225 ($25-$50 cheaper than a brand new GTX 1660) and get an even bigger performance boost, with some benchmarks showing a nearly 80-100% performance difference between the GTX 1650 and 1070, depending on the application.
If you're adamant about Intel and looking to buy something around the same price, you can still get just ahead of Skytech's offering with the following:
- CPU: i5 9600KF - $230
- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo - $35
- GPU: RX 580 - $200
- RAM: 16GB 3000mhz LPX - $65
- HDD: 1TB - $40
- Case: Deepcool MATREXX 50 - $50
- PSU: EVGA 500W - $60
- Mobo: Gigabyte B360M - $85
- Total Cost: ~$775
The CPU won’t be as powerful (you only get 6c/6t with the i5 9600kf vs the 6c/12t in the Ryzen 5 3600), but you still get a better GPU and double the storage space, even if it is slightly slower than a SATA SSD. And, as noted before, if you go the used route you could replace that brand new 580 with a used GTX 1070 for about the same price and get monstrously more performance compared to the 1650 offered here.
So is the Skytech Archangel really that much of a good value for your money? If you have no knowledge of PCs and you don't want to learn to put them together yourself, absolutely. Skytech's Archangel series is just such a better deal than you'll find from any other system builder out there, and their quality build and decent support is well worth the minuscule $50 up-charge you'll spend having someone build the PC for you. But if you’re comfortable with building PCs, or if you’re willing to watch some YouTube videos and learn, I’d probably have to say no. The price/performance you get building something yourself will always outweigh any pre-built or system builder, but I'd be lying if I didn't say Skytech's offerings are perhaps some of the best price/performance you can get from any system builder today.