A quality little gaming rig, but this spec just feels a little pricey.
Beautiful build quality
Still not a 4K gamer
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There's little doubt that were you to purchase this wee box of gaming joy from XMG, you'd be as happy as a badger at a barbecue pulling the Prime from its box.
It's a quality gaming PC all the way from components to build to performance; but then it really ought to be considering you're paying nigh-on £2,000 for the privilege.
But a privilege it would be to own such a machine.
The Fractal Design Node 304 chassis is as sleek and minimally stylish a Mini-ITX case as you could want, and being finished with the Nvidia-green highlights gives it a little edge, too. It's a visually pleasing system and also one that won't take up too much space.
You're not sacrificing any functionality or performance opting for this smaller form factor.
Thanks to advances in motherboard technology and miniaturised case designs, the Mini-ITX motherboard is more than a match for its full-scale brethren and is the only compromise to diminutive components that you need to make. Everything else XMG has crammed into the Prime is standard ATX size, whether that's power supply, CPU cooler or graphics card.
The Gigabyte Z97N-Gaming 5 mobo is a quality mini motherboard, offering top-spec performance and is easily a match for the Devil's Canyon Core i7-4790K XMG has installed in this review machine.
Our only issue with that Gigabyte board is the fact that, despite rocking the modern Z97 chipset, there's no support for PCIe-based storage in either SATA Express or M.2 trim. Granted, that's not a massive issue right now, but does put some needless limits on storage upgrades in the future.
The factory overclock this board offers the CPU though is a pretty hefty 4.5GHz.
We've had the same board capable of hitting 4.6GHz with our old 4770K, so it could go even further were you feeling particularly sadistic towards the poor Devil of a processor. Also supporting this overclock is the Corsair H80i closed-loop liquid chip chiller. With a pair of fans arrayed around the cooling radiator in a push-me-pull-you configuration, it's able to keep the CPU cool and the machine quiet during use.
Well, aside from at boot where the fans spin right up, like a heavy smoker's first deep lung-cough of the morning…
On the graphics front we're looking at the top of the GPU tech tree right now, with our sights firmly on the pinnacle of Nvidia's Maxwell graphics architecture.
The GeForce GTX 980 is supplied in EVGA Superclocked style. It's a moderately overclocked GPU, but is still essentially the Nvidia reference design with the same Titan-esque cooler and without the latest spin of EVGA's ACX cooling.
That means you couldn't call the setup silent in-game, but it's definitely not loud enough to be any sort of problem.
The XMG Prime is up against a pair of the priciest gaming rigs we've tested in recent months – the Carbon brothers from Chillblast and Scan. The Chillblast machine is some £700 more expensive, thanks to its twin-GPU AMD R9 295x2, and the similarly priced Scan is rocking a full X99 setup inside.
The super-expensive Chillblast wins the gaming argument at the tested 1600p settings, and also has some serious 4K chops too, but the old GTX 780 Ti in the Scan rig is starting to show its age when throwing around Battlefield 4.
But gaming performance is pretty much a given, or ought to be, when you're spending this much cash on a PC.
You don't have to though as XMG's configuration options do allow you to create a more reasonably priced setup - using an overclocked Devil's Canyon i5 and GTX 970 pairing offers performance that's not far off this for a good £400 less.
The Core i7/GTX 980 combo pushes the price up too much considering it isn't going to deliver decent 4K performance – you'll realistically be gaming at 1440p, or 1600p at most, and the recently-maligned GTX 970 is more than capable of that.
At under £1,500 though we'd say the XMG Prime becomes worth very serious consideration in terms of both price and performance; this review spec though smacks of overkill.
Ooh, that Fractal Design chassis really does add a certain Scandinavian chic to the design of the XMG machine. It's a lovely small case that will happily contain the finest tech on offer.
And with such gaming tech inside the XMG Prime really does fly in the benchmark suite we've been putting it through. The GTX 980 is a stunning GPU and, because of its low power and cool-running, feels perfectly at home in a tiny chassis.
It really is difficult to justify spending nigh-on £2,000 on a gaming machine and at £1,885 the XMG Prime is right up there.
If you can afford the ticket price this configuration of the XMG Prime will certainly please your gaming sensibilities, but if that's a little too rich don't be afraid to tinker with the specs. Either way, this gorgeous mini gaming build is a great little rig.