The Asus ROG GT51 ($4,999) combines a powerful aesthetic with equally strong internal components, resulting in a distinctive looking and high-performing gaming desktop. Design-wise, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s definitely a conversation piece—if you want your rig to look like the gaming system it is, it’ll probably work for you. With dual Pascal graphics cards, a ton of RAM, and a useful array of ports and storage, the GT51 is able to run any modern game at maximum settings with ease, even in 4K. For those essentially buying without a budget, the Falcon Northwest Talon (2016) is our Editors’ Choice gaming desktop for its superior power (making it even more future proof) and gorgeous paint job, but the Asus ROG GT51 earns an Editors’ Choice of its own for its extremely fast performance at roughly half the price.
Design and Features
There’s no question that the GT51 is made to be seen, with a bold, robotic design that makes it look as if your games are being powered by Megatron. This is particularly clear in the front: A bronze, turbine-style air intake at the bottom dominates the panel, with a color-changing ring of light that gives it the appearance of a living, thinking machine. Two red light strips run vertically up the panel, evoking the distinct look of Battlestar Galactica‘s Cylons. There’s a window on the left side panel for seeing into the surprisingly low-key interior—there isn’t much going on in there with lighting aside from a soft glow from a set of LEDs. Both the interior and front lighting are customizable with eight million color options. Some circuit patterns on the top of case further suggest robots, as does the hexagonal mesh over the side window.
The angular design has a lot in common with that used on the ROG laptop line. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other, but there’s no question that it screams gaming, which you may not want. The Talon is much more understated, and the Maingear Rush X99 Super Stock looks like an art installation in comparison. The design of the more expensive Digital Storm Velox, on the other hand, is underwhelming. As far as size, the GT51 will take up a good chunk of desk real estate. It measures 23.11 by 10.31 by 22.99 inches (HWD), a little larger than the sizable X99 Super Stock (21.4 by 8.8 by 22.6 inches) and a fair amount bigger than the Talon (17.5 by 8.2 by 19 inches). If you’d like something that saves more space (and money), the Acer Predator G1-710-70001, our midrange Editors’ Choice, measures only 16.46 by 4.33 by 13.70 inches. The GT51 also ships with a basic but satisfying mechanical keyboard and a mouse with adjustable sensitivity settings.
Prebuilt and with no options you can customize when ordering, the GT51 isn’t really geared toward DIY work. The interior is oddly difficult to access, requiring the removal of three extra-long screws and tugging harder than should be necessary to open the side panel door. There’s a little room for some additions inside, but for the most part it’s complete. There are no open memory slots since the configuration includes four 16GB DIMMs for 64GB total, but there is plenty of room for additional storage thanks to five open drive bays (a total of six drives can fit). As-is, there’s 1TB of hard drive storage, plus one additional terabyte thanks to two 512GB NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) in a RAID Level 0 array.
The ROG GT51 is loaded up with port options. The front panel holds three USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, microphone and headphone jacks, and buttons for Power and Overlock (more on that later). The back panel includes six more USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports, as well as an Ethernet jack and audio out. Between the two graphics cards, there are three DisplayPort and two HDMI outputs on the back, as well. That many USB and video ports, plus the graphics power, makes this system ideal for plugging in a VR headset. The desktop also boasts 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. Asus supports the GT51 with a one-year warranty.
With an Intel Core i7-6700K processor—overclocked out of the box from 4.2GHz to 4.6GHz—64GB of memory, and dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, the GT51 is a powerhouse. It’s more than sufficienct for VR gaming, easily clearing the recommended specs. (A VR-capable machine need not be quite so expensive, though, if that’s your goal—check out or list of best PCs for virtual reality). The CPUs, in addition to the one-click overclock activation through the button on the front, are aged 40 hours by Asus and fine-tuned, which in theory leads to better-than-stock performance. (We kept the overclock active for testing, since most users looking for the best out of their system will likely keep it on when gaming.)
It scored well across the board, earning 3,392 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional productivity test. This falls into the lower end of the same range as the Talon (3,433) and the X99 Super Stock (3,412), though the CybertronPC Titanium (4,350) and the Maingear F131 X99 Super Stock (3,977) saw even more success on this test. The GT51 fell a bit further behind on the multimedia tests, but they are more expensive PCs, and the GT51’s scores were still plenty fast—it’s suited to any day-to-day tasks or processor-intensive projects regardless.
It’s no secret that gamers are the main target for the GT51, so the 3DMark and Heaven and Valley tests are the best ways to measure it. On 3DMark Cloud Gate and Fire Strike Extreme, it scored 36,479 points and 15,964 points, respectively. Those scores blow away most other systems’—as they should, given the dual GTX 1080s—and only other super-expensive desktops are in the same ballpark or better. The Talon scored 39,259 and 19,013 on these tests, while the X99 Super Stock scored 60,308 and 18,484. These both beat the ROG by a fairly sizable margin; there are definitely diminishing returns in real-world gaming scenarios for the time being, but it does future proof you for longer if you’re willing to pay. The Acer Predator G1, priced at $2,299.99, scored somewhat close on Cloud Gate at 30,584, but fell way behind on the Fire Strike Extreme test at 9,263, which demonstrates the gap in power with a single-card desktop.
The same goes for the gaming results: On Heaven and Valley at 1,920-by-1,080 resolution with the graphics set to Ultra, the GT51 averaged 210 frames per second (fps) and 139fps, respectively. Turning the resolution up to 4K caused frame rates to drop, but they remained eminently playable at 60fps and 74fps. (The Digital Storm Velox, a pricier desktop, only scored 36fps and 45fps on the same settings, while the very expensive Origin Genesis scored 65fps and 81fps.) These scores were reflected in my anecdotal testing with Doom—at 4K and maximum settings, the GT51 was able to maintain 60fps constantly during gameplay, not even dipping slightly during hectic combat sections. The Predator G1 was able to hold around 30fps on these tests at 4K, which is pretty solid, but more demanding games will require you to turn down some settings since it’s just over the threshold, unlike the ROG.
When paying this much for a high-end gaming desktop, the performance offered by the Asus ROG GT51 is exactly what you’d hope for. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the more extreme Maingear Rush X99 Super Stock or the Falcon Northwest Talon—both of which are nearly double the price—but it is more than sufficient to run anything currently on the market at maximum settings. It doesn’t have the elegance of the X99 Super Stock or the understated beauty of the Talon, but it does at least commit to a style, which is more than you can say for a lot of computers. The Talon is still the top premium gaming desktop we’ve tested, but not everyone can justify spending quite that much. The GT51 is a ready-made powerhouse that will keep you playing on high settings at 4K for years to come, and at half the price of the Talon, that makes it worthy of an Editors’ Choice.