Despite the amazing progress that has been made in miniaturisation, it's still almost impossible to get impressive gaming performance from a small PC while staying within a reasonable budget. We've looked at a few mini-ITX systems recently, but haven't found one we would unreservedly recommend – at least not for gamers. The Tranquil PC ixL was beautifully built and utterly silent, but severely limited in the graphics department, while Dino PC's Mini Carnivore allowed us to play most games, but never at anything close to high detail. The Cryo Pico was the only machine a serious gamer would consider, yet it was barely small enough to be considered a mini-ITX system and slightly noisier than we would have hoped.
Now we have an entrant from Cyberpower that might well steal the crown. Its daringly named Game Qube is far smaller than the Pico yet almost as powerful (more so in some regards). It packs a water-cooled, overclocked quad-core Core i5 CPU, USB 3.0 motherboard and overclocked DirectX 11 Nvidia GTX 460 graphics - all in a case that has nearly the same footprint as the Mini Carnivore (though it's twice as high). Best of all, this diminutive monster can be yours for a mere £899.99, which is cheap considering its size and specialised components.
Cyberpower has housed its tiny gaming PC in Silverstone's brand-new Sugo SG07 case, which measures 222 x 190 x 350mm (WxDxH). While not quite up to the perfectly-machined finish of the ixL, it's certainly attractive, with a brushed gun-metal front panel set into a steel matt black main chassis. Build quality is also good, though there's a little flex in the side and top panels. Impressively, it's the smallest case on the market that will take an over-sized graphics card like the Radeon 5970, providing the room, cooling and power to install a truly high-end mini-ITX setup.
Its front connectivity is a little disappointing, as all you get are two USB 2.0 ports to either side of 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks. At the bottom left corner is a large power button and a blue hard drive LED. There's little chance that you'll ever press the reset button by mistake with this PC, as it's actually located around the back.
This is also where the rest of the PC's connectivity is located and, thanks to its use of the same Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 motherboard as found in the Mini Carnivore, the selection is very generous. A combined mouse and keyboard PS2 port, six USB 2.0 plus two USB 3.0 ports and powered eSATA are all on hand for hooking up peripherals and external storage. These are joined by Gigabit Ethernet for networking, while audio outputs are provided by six analogue jacks plus a digital optical jack. FireWire is the only notable casualty of the machine's small size.
Of course there's also a selection of onboard video connectors, but these are inactive because the Intel Core i5 750 doesn't carry integrated graphics. However, the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 provides dual DVI and mini-HDMI out, though it lacks DisplayPort as on ATI's cards.