The Phanteks Eclipse P300 chassis isn’t the most “out there” gaming case around, particularly so for the black version we were sent. There are numerous alternatives available from Overclockers UK which you can select via their configurator – many of which have significantly more “bling”. But the P300 is neat and understated, which we like.
However, it still sports a glass window to show off your components, and there is a variety of LED lighting available to accentuate this. Our sample came with the Phanteks RGB Starter Kit, which came installed around the front of the windowed area.
The packs of Haribo that Overclockers UK always puts in its shipping boxes never fail to bring a smile.
The front-accessible ports have a slightly unusual location on the Phanteks P300. Instead of being on the front, or front edge of the top, they sit on the right-hand edge of the top. You get two USB 3.0 and audio mini-jacks for headphones and a microphone. This is still a convenient place for these ports, particularly if you place your system on the floor to your left.
As we already mentioned, the centrepiece of the system is the Intel Core i3-8350K processor. This is a 4GHz quad-core CPU with no Hyper-Threading, but Overclockers UK has set all cores to run at 4.8GHz (although they will still drop down below this when not in use). The processor is kept under control by an Alpenfohn Brocken ECO air cooler with a 120mm fan, so it should provide plenty of airflow without burning your ears off with noise. It’s rated to dissipate 160W of heat which should be more than enough for the Core i3-8350K, even when overclocked by 20 percent.
The processor is backed by 16GB of 3000MHz DDR4 memory. Since the Core i3 only sports a dual-channel memory controller, this is supplied as two 8GB DIMMs. This is CAS 16 memory, which is pretty standard for 3000MHz modules, so Overclockers UK hasn’t cut any corners here, nor have they gone overboard with expensive DDR4. There are also two slots free should you wish to increase the amount of memory at a future date, although 16GB will be enough for now.
The CPU and memory sit on an ASUS TUF Z370-Plus Gaming motherboard. This is a LGA 1151 model (obviously), with four DIMM slots and a maximum RAM capacity of 64GB RAM. It also supports memory frequencies up to 4,000MHz. There are two PCI Express x16 slots, but only one supports x16 speed. The other is limited to x4. There are also four PCI Express x1 slots.
Overclockers UK has made the sensible move of opting for graphics based around the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, making it great for 1080p gaming. The GTX 1060 in question is the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo 6GB model, and it’s good to see OCUK opt for the 6GB variant instead of the 3GB model. The clocks have been left at stock, with GPU base of 1,506MHz and 1,708MHz boost, plus 8,008MHz GDDR5 memory on a 192-bit bus. It boasts 1,280 CUDA cores.
The ASUS motherboard includes two M.2 NVMe sockets stacked on top of each other, but neither have been used by Overclockers UK. Instead, a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SATA-connected SSD is included for operating system and main applications, plus a 1TB Seagate BarraCuda (ST1000DM010) 7,200rpm SATA hard disk for main bulk storage, which will be a requirement for all those 50GB game installs you’re likely to have after a month or two. The BarraCuda is a fairly standard HDD, and 1TB is towards the bottom of the scale these days in terms of capacity. But it does offer 64MB cache and is rated for 210MB/sec sustained throughput, which is decent for a HDD.
The two drives are hidden behind the chassis front fascia, which simply pulls off, and occupy the two 3.5in bays. There is also a vacant 2.5in caddy, with the mounting point for a second, behind the motherboard. You would, however, need to obtain the second caddy if you want to populate both. To install a second 3.5in hard disk, you would need to move the 2.5in SSD to the vacant caddy. There are six SATA ports in total on the motherboard, with two already taken.
The Cougar VTX 550W 80 Plus Bronze power supply follows the trend of other components. It’s reasonably efficient at 88 per cent and should provide more than enough power for the installed components .
Aside from the top ports we have already mentioned, the motherboard presents an adequate selection on the rear. There’s a combined PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, in case you have a legacy input device to attach, with two USB 2.0 ports underneath. Then there’s DVI-D and HDMI for the processor’s on-board graphics, which you won’t be using. In between these is a USB Type-C port capable of 5Gbits/sec, not the full 10Gbits/sec of USB 3.1 Gen 2. However, there are two Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports further along, and two Gen 1, with a Gigabit Ethernet port above the latter. Only three audio mini-jacks are provided, so you would need to enlist the front ports as well for eight-channel analog audio.
Overall, the Cobalt is a well put together system considering it’s low-to-mid-range status, with well chosen components that keep the price down but don’t cut any corners. Our only quibble is that the SSD is SATA not NVMe. The latter would add £39 to the price, and the performance benefits are sufficient for this to be a recommended upgrade if you can spare the extra quid. We’d also suggest a 2TB drive whilst your at it, but that’s not so essential.