YoYoTech's compact YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE is family PC that is small enough to fit into the smallest living room yet comes packed with some impressive features.
Featuring a 3.1GHz AMD FX8120 processor, the YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE is an eight-core system and scores rather better in the benchmarks than the quad-core contenders.
At £658.98 it appears to be inexpensive too, but you'll have to add in the cost of a monitor and speakers to this price, a factor which could add around £200 to the total cost, depending on your selection. Even so, the Piranha Cobalt SE is certainly a relatively inexpensive option.
The YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE is supplied with a V7 CK2P0 wireless keyboard and mouse set, which is hardly the highest quality peripheral you'll ever use but comes with multimedia keys and is more convenient for home use than the wired model supplied by Eclipse. The Piranha Cobalt SE also comes with a useful multi-card reader and a Blu-ray drive included.
Although it's certainly fast for an AMD-based PC, it's still no match for the power of the Intel Core i5 chips found in the majority of competing systems at general application performance. The YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE's 2TB hard disk is supplemented by a 120GB Samsung 840 (non-Pro) SSD which certainly boosts system responsiveness, so you're unlikely to find the system slow to use unless you use some very demanding applications.
It's fitted with an Asus-branded AMD Radeon HD7770 graphics card with 1GB of RAM which enables the YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE to deliver high-end gaming performance.
Inside the system case, YoYoTech has obviously had to cram a lot into a small space, but everything has been kept tidy despite the lack of built-in cable management. Room as also been found for a large Arctic Freezer 7 processor cooler which helps keep fan noise down while keeping those eight cores cool.
YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE: test results
PCMark 7 score: 3718
Sniper Elite V2: 40.9 / 8.5
AVP: 45 / 23.2
Power consumption: 100 / 183
YoYoTech Piranha Cobalt SE: verdict
The low purchase price of the Piranha Cobalt SE is somewhat deceptive, as the system ships without a monitor or speakers. It's still one of the less expensive PCs of the group and the only eight-core system on offer. It comes with a large hard drive and speed-boosting SSD, but still can't keep up with the Intel-based PCs when it comes to raw overall speed.
How we test: General system performance
Core system performance is measured using PCMark 7, an industry-recognised test suite that uses 25 different workloads to measure areas such as storage, computation, image- and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. We understand that results from this benchmark are not absolute, with Intel driver issues in Windows 8 meaning video-transcoding tests can present sub-optimal results. Nevertheless, the results give an idea of the relative performance.
As well as the overall PCMark 7 result, typically a point score between 3,000 and 7,000 with current hardware, we have also published results garnered from some of the suite's sub-routines. These are designed to gauge performance in, for example, creativity and entertainment scenarios. Another test highlights the difference between storage technologies. This is an area that impacts perceived speed more than ever, now that even the slowest modern CPUs are more than fast enough for everyday PC duties. PC Mark also measures multimedia transcoding performance which can take advantage of GPU acceleration.
How we test: Gaming performance
As entertainment centres plugged into your TV, media PCs might be used to play games. Power and noise requirements usually prohibit the use of the best graphics cards, so we tested each PC running Stalker Call of Pripyat at 720p resolution with Medium quality settings and then at 1080p with Ultra quality settings. We also ran the Aliens vs Predator benchmark at 720p and 1080p resolutions, with both tests set to maximum quality.
How we test: Overclocking
We allow overclocked systems to be submitted only for our dedicated gaming PC reviews. All other components are run at stock speeds, with the exception of factory-overclocked graphics cards designed and sold at boosted speeds. We do, however, allow underclocking for the purposes of reducing power consumption.
How we test: Subjective assessment
We also pay close attention to the physical characteristics of each PC, its noise output and its build quality, delving inside the case and taking note of the quality of components used, cabling and airflow. Good-quality peripherals are also important, and where they are supplied we note the ergonomics of the keyboard and mouse. A media PC also needs a remote control and, preferably, a keyboard that can be operated from the sofa.
How we test: Support
Differences in warranty terms can impact our scoring. Long warranties are sought after, but we also look at the terms and conditions – specifically, whether faulty systems must be returned to the vendor at your own cost and if both parts and labour are included. Ensure the vendor offers full software support and preferably a home installation for more complex systems
How we test: Gaming performance
A typical family PC is likely to be used to play a game or two in its lifetime, but pricey graphics cards tend to be outside the budget of such systems.
However, you'll be able to enjoy most modern games when run at slightly lower resolutions and quality settings. Indeed, we used the Sniper Elite V2 and Alien Vs Predator to test the graphics capabilities of each PC. Sniper Elite is configured with Medium and then Ultra quality settings at 1080p resolution while Aliens Vs Predator is run first at 720p and then at 1080p resolutions with the highest quality settings selected both times. Both of these games have benchmark versions you can download yourself to try out on your own system to see how much improvement you're likely to get.