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I hate prebuilt gaming PCs — but the Corsair One i500 changed my mind

The Corsair One i500 sitting on a coffee table.
Corsair One i500
MSRP $4,700.00
“The Corsair One i500 is a small PC that screams premium and exceeds expectations.”
Pros
  • Beautiful case design
  • Surprisingly capable performance
  • Minimal bloatware
  • Back I/O light
  • Upgradeable
Cons
  • Expensive
  • CPU is a bit too hot to handle

I review some of the best gaming desktops, but I’ve never seriously considered buying one for myself. I like building my own PCs, and every time I approach a review, there’s an understanding that a prebuilt is created for a certain audience. The Corsair One i500 is challenging my position, however.

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It’s the first prebuilt I’ve come across that makes an argument for buying a ready-made gaming PC. Remarkable build quality, shocking performance, and impressive thermal management set the Corsair One i500 apart. Even with its high price tag, the Corsair One i500 feels worth every penny.

Corsair One i500 specs and pricing

A logo on the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Corsair only has two configurations for the One i500, and they’re expensive. Both models are built around the Intel Core i9-14900K and a 2TB SSD, but the other core specs differ. The cheaper of the two models includes an RTX 4080 Super and 32GB of RAM, while the more expensive model includes an RTX 4090 and 64GB of RAM.

The prices are high. You’ll spend $3,600 on the RTX 4080 Super model and $4,700 on the RTX 4090 model. For reference, a similarly configured Alienware Aurora R16 with an RTX 4090 will run you about $3,350. On the flip side, an HP Omen 40L with an RTX 4080 Super and similar configuration will run you close to $3,500.

  Corsair One i500 (Origin PC edition)
CPU Intel Core i9-14900K
GPU Nvidia RTX 4090
Cooling Liquid cooling for GPU and CPU
Motherboard MSI B760 Micro ATX
Power supply Corsair 1000W SFX, 80 Plus Gold
Storage 2TB NVMe SSD
Memory 96GB Corsair Vengeance DDR5-6000
Networking 2.5G Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, Elgato 4K Pro capture card
USB port 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 3x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1
List price $5,700

I reviewed the Origin PC version of the Corsair One, which has more customization options. You can cram in up to 8TB of storage, an Elgato capture card, and 8TB of storage. It comes at a premium, though. The configuration I reviewed will run you $5,700, though it’s tricked-out from top to bottom. There aren’t any differences between the Corsair and Origin versions, outside of the additional customization options.

Some amount of the price here isn’t going into the raw components but rather the tightly designed case and high-quality parts that Corsair uses. You’re not getting some no-name components here. You’re getting Corsair Vengeance DDR5 memory with speeds capable of 6,000 MT/s, as well as a small form factor 1,000W Corsair power supply with an 80 Plus Gold certification.

Most importantly, however, you’re getting liquid cooling on both the CPU and the GPU. This, without a doubt, is what bloats the price of the Corsair One the most, and it’s something the other, larger PCs can trim to achieve a more reasonable price.

Ports on the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

There’s no doubt that the Corsair One i500 is a premium product, but it’s not a crazy price for what the company is offering. To get a similarly small PC like the Falcon Northwest Tiki, you’ll spend upward of $5,000, and that’s with an RTX 4080 Super. Even if you configured and built a small form factor PC with the same components, you’d easily spend $3,500.

The Corsair One i500 feels worth its premium price. My only issue is that you’re very limited in your configuration options. Corsair doesn’t allow you to add another hard drive, for example, or swap out the CPU with a model that doesn’t get as hot. You get the two preset configurations, and that’s it.

Design and build quality

The power button on the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Corsair One i500 is a work of art, and I don’t say that lightly. I haven’t seen such a tightly, purposefully designed PC since the Falcon Northwest Tiki a few years ago. Everything has a place, and Corsair wraps up the flagship hardware inside a beautiful case with plenty of quality-of-life features.

You’ll probably be familiar with the external design of the One i500. It hasn’t changed much in its overall form, but Corsair now includes a lovely wooden finish on the front. You have the option between a light or dark finish (my review unit came with a dark finish), both of which are surrounded by LED strips on the sides that light up the front of the case.

The Corsair One i500 is more than just a pretty face externally.

Turning on the Corsair One i500 feels like powering up some futuristic piece of tech. The large metal Corsair logo in the middle of the wooden front is the power button, and it lights up alongside the LED strips. Combined with some underglow provided by LED strips on the sides of the One i500, the PC manages to mash old and new designs together in a way that shockingly works.

The Corsair One i500 is more than just a pretty face externally. Around the sides, you’ll find two cloth grates that cover the full sides of the chassis. These magnetically snap to the metal frame that the One i500 is constructed out of, and you can easily remove them to clean out dust and other grime that they block from getting inside the case.

The back ports on the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The back is where the real magic is. Corsair includes a string of lights above the ports at the back of the case that automatically light up when they detect your fingers. This little bit of light does wonders when you’re reaching behind the PC to plug in your cables. The sensor doesn’t work perfectly, and it occasionally missed my fingers when I reached around the PC. It worked more often than not, though, and it’s a great touch.

Everything is tightly compacted inside the Corsair One i500, and it’s clearly not built for easy servicing. Under the magnetic dust filters, you’ll find a series of screws that open up the side panels, which reveal even more screws for fans mounted on nearly every edge of the PC. Corsair wastes no space inside the One i500, and that means getting inside is tough.

Fans inside the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s not any more difficult than a typical small form factor PC, however, and I’d argue it’s a bit easier. In the main chamber, Corsair includes three 120mm fans. One is used for a 120mm all-in-one liquid cooler for the CPU, while the other two serve as additional intakes. Corsair has all of the fans mounted to brackets, so you don’t need to worry about rebuilding the PC for some routine maintenance.

Surprisingly, there’s room to upgrade here. I mean, there isn’t physically room to upgrade, but Corsair is using all standard-sized components, including an SFX power supply and a mini-ITX motherboard. Upgrading the One i500 will take some work because of its small form factor design, but it’s possible.

Performance

Internals on the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Corsair One i500 sacrifices some performance. There’s no way around that. It’s a small form factor design, and it’s packing the most powerful hardware money can buy. The performance compromises aren’t severe, though. The fact that Corsair is able to manage the monstrous performance that the One i500 offers in such a small design is mighty impressive, in fact.

The most obvious compromise is the CPU. The Core i9-14900K is a beast, and not always in a good way. Corsair settles for a 120mm liquid cooler for the CPU, and that’s not enough to keep this chip cool under a full workload. I’ll dig into that more in the next section, but you can see from my Cinebench R24 below that the One i500 falls slightly short of the Falcon Northwest Talon with a similar configuration in both single and multi-core performance.

  Corsair One i500 (Core i9-14900K / RTX 4090) Falcon Northwest Talon (Core i9-14900KS / RTX 4090)
Cinebench R24 (single/multi/GPU) 134 / 2061 / 34469 137 / 2132 / 34924
PCMark 10 10603 10250
Pugetbench Premiere Pro 11581 10848

Shockingly, that performance discrepancy doesn’t hold up in other applications. In PCMark 10, the Corsair One i500 managed a higher score, despite the fact that the Talon is larger, more expensive, and includes the pushed KS version of the Core i9-14900K. The same was true in PugetBench for Premiere Pro, and not by a thin margin. The performance Corsair is able to manage in the One i500 is truly astounding, especially considering the limited CPU cooling available.

  Corsair One i500 (Core i9-14900K / RTX 4090) Falcon Northwest Talon (Core i9-14900KS / RTX 4090) Custom RTX 4090 PC
3DMark Fire Strike 47741 49014 N/A
3DMark Time Spy 33072 33534 31409
3DMark Port Royal 25415 N/A 25667
3DMark Steel Nomad 9190 N/A 9350

Gaming is no different when looking at 3DMark. The Corsair One i500 managed to match or beat a custom RTX 4090 gaming PC in both Time Spy and the ray tracing-based Port Royal, and it came up close behind the Falcon Northwest Talon in Fire Strike. I’ve also included results for the new Steel Nomad benchmark, which are slightly below where an RTX 4090 should land. This is a new test, however, so we need more data from it.

  Corsair One i500 (Core i9-14900K / RTX 4090) Custom RTX 4090 PC
Horizon Zero Dawn 4K Ultra 159 fps 163 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 4K Ultra 123 fps 125 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 4K Ultra 67 fps 73 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 4K Ultra RT 40 fps 43 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 4K Ultra RT w/ DLSS 3 121 fps N/A
Returnal 4K Ultra 104 fps 113 fps
Returnal 4K Ultra RT 89 fps 91 fps
Returnal 4K Ultra RT w/ DLSS 3 144 fps N/A

In real games, the Corsair One i500 ended up a few frames behind a custom RTX 4090 gaming PC. It’s worth keeping in mind that this custom PC was on an open-air test bench with access to much more cooling, so it’s not surprising to see the One i500 lag behind by just a bit. Still, this is excellent performance. You’re easily passing 60 frames per second (fps) at 4K with the highest graphics settings, and with room to spare for ray tracing in many cases.

Nvidia’s DLSS 3 works wonders, too. In games like Returnal and Cyberpunk 2077, you’re able to crank all the graphics settings with ray tracing and still get frame rates in the triple digits. You might fall short of peak performance in some games and apps with the One i500, but the fact that Corsair is able to get close in such a slim form is incredible.

Thermals and cooling

Fan bracket on the Corsair One i500.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Corsair packs the most powerful hardware money can buy in one of the smallest cases available with the One i500, so it’s no surprise that thermals are important. The PC has the heat these parts can generate under control, and in a way that doesn’t cause undue fan noise. But you’ll still hit a performance wall in some situations.

That mostly comes down to the CPU. As I covered in the previous section, the Core i9-14900K underperforms compared to a stock Core i9-14900K in a larger case with a larger cooler. In a Cinebench R24 multi-core run, the Core i9-14900K hit its thermal limit of 100 degrees Celsius in the Corsair One i500, which isn’t surprising. I’ve seen this chip creep toward its thermal limit even with a 360mm all-in-one liquid cooler.

There’s less of an issue with the Corsair One i500 and more of an issue with the Core i9-14900K. I’m not sure why Corsair chose such a notoriously hot, power-hungry CPU in its small form factor design, and why that’s the only option across configurations. It’s astounding that tiny Corsair is getting most of the performance of the Core i9-14900K given the size of the One i500. However, there should be an option for a more efficient CPU.

It’s astounding that tiny Corsair is getting most of the performance of the Core i9-14900K.

Thankfully, you’ll only hit the thermal limit under a full CPU load. I played about 45 minutes of Ghost of Tsushima on the PC, and the Core i9-14900K peaked at 86 degrees with an average of 66 degrees. That’s totally acceptable. The GPU temperatures were more impressive, though.

After 45 minutes, the RTX 4090 peaked at just 55 degrees and averaged about 48 degrees throughout the gameplay session. That’s because the GPU is liquid-cooled along with the CPU. It’s a showcase of what an efficient piece of hardware looks like when combined with liquid cooling. I can’t imagine how the Corsair One i500 would look with a more efficient CPU.

Noise wasn’t an issue, either. You can hear the Corsair One i500, even when the PC isn’t doing much, but it’s not distracting. Even putting strain on the PC through Cinebench and Ghost of Tsushimaa window air conditioning unit a room away from me was enough to drown out the sound of the fans.

Bloatware and configuration

One of the big benefits of the Corsair One i500 over more mainstream options is that it’s ready to go out of the box. There’s little bloatware, and the BIOS is configured properly to get the best performance right away. Corsair is using an MSI motherboard, too, so you don’t have to deal with any funky, OEM-only BIOS screen.

This is what a PC should look like out of the box.

You have two main utilities. One is a diagnostics tool that shows you information about your PC, where you can run a scan or even stress test your individual components to troubleshoot issues. The other gives you access to system vitals, and it allows you to customize the lighting that’s placed around the PC. I never saw a pop-up pestering me to open these apps, nor any intrusive bundled software begging me to spend more money.

The configuration is right, too. Corsair has the overclocking profile for the memory enabled, so you’re getting the true 6,000 MT/s that the memory is capable of (you’d be surprised how many system builders get this wrong). In addition, Corsair enables Resizeable BAR for the GPU, giving you an extra performance boost in a few select games.

This is what a PC should look like out of the box, and it’s no surprise that Corsair nailed it. The company owns Origin PC — read our Origin Neuron review from a few years ago — and I suspect it picks up a lot of the build and configuration work for devices like the One i500. At the very least, Corsair is taking the mentality of a custom system builder here with the proper configuration and little bloatware.

Should you buy the Corsair One i500?

The Corsair One i500 sitting on a coffee table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Corsair has made something special with the One i500. I don’t agree with the choice of Intel’s more high-end — and power-hungry — CPU, and the price of the One i500 will make you wince. But I can’t deny that Corsair manages to make it work. The One i500 offers competitive performance, and it manages to handle the immense heat that its components put out, all without devolving into a noisy mess.

Further, the One i500 feels as premium as its price tag would suggest. The beautiful wooden finish, premium trimmings, and additions like the I/O port light give the One i500 a unique spot among the endless prebuilt PCs you could buy. Although the Corsair One i500 is expensive, it’s the PC you should buy if you’re in the market for a high-end behemoth.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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