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Corsair One i500 review: a water cooled wooden wonder

This stunning-looking, high-end compact mini gaming PC has a monstrous specification, fantastic build quality, and a fully custom design.

Corsair One i500 review

Our Verdict

A deliciously compact, good-looking, and powerful mini PC, with a unique internal layout and cooling system. I especially loved the touch-sensitive RGB slider on the front panel, and the blistering gaming performance from the liquid-cooled RTX 4080 Super. However, it’s very expensive and has limited CPU cooling, and it could do with more storage space.

Reasons to buy
  • Great build quality
  • Very compact
  • Excellent gaming performance
Reasons to avoid
  • Very expensive
  • CPU gets quite toasty
  • Can be noisy under load

If you’ve dreamed of owning a high-end mini gaming PC, but didn’t want the hassle of building one yourself, the Corsair One i500 effectively does this for you and then some. This custom case isn’t just great looking, but it also features a unique internal layout and cooling system, with dual AIO liquid coolers strapped to the CPU and graphics card. It’s exceptionally well made, and gorgeous-looking, plus its performance annihilates most full-size gaming PCs.

This Corsair mini PC isn’t just about high-end hardware, though. The One i500 features a beautiful wood-plated front panel with touch-controlled RGB lighting. It’s as elegant as a computer can come, and there isn’t much more you could want from it, other than a clear side panel to see your hardware. Is this really the best gaming PC you can buy in this form factor? I took it for a spin, using it as my gaming PC for a few days, to see how it performs and dissect its inner workings.

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Specs

Corsair One i500 (as reviewed)
CPU Intel Core i9 14900K
Graphics card Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Super
RAM 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance 6,000MHz DDR5
Motherboard MSI B760M Mortar WiFi
Storage 2TB Samsung PM9A1 SSD
PSU Corsair SF1000L
CPU cooler Corsair custom AIO liquid cooler
Networking 2.5Gbps Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E
Operating system Windows 11 Home
Front ports 2 x USB-A 3.0, 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, mic/headphone jack
Rear ports 4 x USB 2, 3 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2, Ethernet, 6 x audio jacks
Warranty Two years parts and labor return to base (repair or replacement). Lifetime 24/7 technical support
Dimensions (W x D x H) 187 x 300 x 393mm
Price $3,599 (£3,499)

With a footprint that would fit inside a shoebox, the Corsair One i500 saves a huge amount of desk space compared to a full-size ATX system, but interestingly it doesn’t use a mini-ITX motherboard like earlier Corsair One PCs. Instead, an MSI micro-ATX motherboard is used, which practically stretches edge-to-edge inside the case. This gives you a bit more flexibility for upgrades than a mini-ITX board too, with four DIMM slots rather than two, for example, as well as a couple of extra PCIe slots beyond the usual 16x graphics slot.

There are two specifications from which to choose, with our review sample sporting an Intel Core i9 14900K, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Super, a 2TB Samsung PCIe 4.0 SSD, and 32GB of Corsair 6000MHz DDR5 memory, which costs $3,599.99.

Corsair One i500 review: Right with side panel on

If you pay an extra $1,100 you’ll get a GeForce RTX 4090 and 64GB of memory. It’s a shame, though, that there’s no option to upgrade the SSD, given that the micro-ATX motherboard has plenty of free M.2 slots, and this is meant to be a high-end gaming PC. For nearly five grand, you’d expect a 4TB SSD as standard.

It’s still a monstrous specification, though, with the Core i9 14900K offering a total of 24 cores (eight P-Cores for all-out performance, and 16 more power-efficient E-Cores). and a peak clock speed of 6GHz. However, the first issue we saw is that the CPU rarely, if ever, hits this speed, and its multi-threaded load boost clock speed across all P-cores was only around 5.4GHz. That’s a couple of hundred megahertz lower than we’ve seen this CPU model hit under multi-threaded workloads in other rigs.

A big factor is, of course, the high temperature output of this CPU, as well as the amount of power it consumes, but the situation isn’t helped by the fact the Corsair One i500 only has a 120mm AIO cooler dealing with this monstrous processor, with only a single slim 120mm fan shifting hit away from its radiator. That’s simply not enough cooling horsepower to deal with Intel’s current flagship CPU.

Corsair One i500 review: 120mm AIO CPU cooler

Thankfully the GPU has double the cooling capacity, with a 240mm radiator, and its peak GPU temperature in games of 64°C was excellent, easily being on par with the best air-cooled cards out there. The graphics card memory became quite toasty at 76°C, but this wasn’t hot enough to reduce its frequency.

Meanwhile, upgrading the PC is relatively easy, as two side fans, including the 120mm AIO liquid cooler, swing out on a bracket, giving you easy access to the memory, SSD, CPU, and the MSI B760M Mortar WiFi micro-ATX motherboard. That’s just as well, because Intel’s next-generation Arrow Lake CPUs won’t be compatible with this motherboard.

Corsair One i500 review: CPU AIO cooler pump and motherboard

Features

Despite the Corsair One i500 being very compact, it boasts the full complement of ports on both the front and rear panels, with both these areas having a USB-C port, and the rear one offering 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 speed too.

There are two USB 3.0 ports on the front panel and a total of seven Type-A USB ports on the rear I/O panel, so no one will be left wanting here. There’s no Wi-Fi 7 support, but this is pretty rare on any motherboard at the moment, and the Corsair One i500’s Wi-Fi 6E support and 2.5Gbps Ethernet port are fine for networking options.

Corsair One i500 review: Front ports

Meanwhile, the central spine on the front panel is a slide control for the RGB lighting in the front and base, for example, allowing you to control the brightness and color, while the freely available Corsair One dashboard software gives you finer control, including lighting effects. Sadly, the software didn’t allow us to alter the fan speeds, while the Corsair One i500’s motherboard EFI (BIOS) only seemed to control one of them, so most of the fans are automated and can’t be tweaked.

I was really pleased to see Corsair going beyond the usual one-year basic warranty for this PC system, though. Should anything go wrong with the PC, then you have a two-year parts and labor warranty, with Corsair either fixing or replacing the whole unit, and you get a lifetime of technical support too.

Corsair One 500 review: Back of PC showing rear ports

Design

The Corsair One i500 case is elegant, well-made, and sturdy – the build quality on display here is just superb. The dark wood paneling on our review sample also looks fantastic, and a lighter wood is available if you prefer as well. Cable tidying can be troublesome in small PCs, but Corsair has done an excellent job inside the small confines of this system, especially on the rear panel where the wires are all neatly tucked away and secured with Velcro ties.

Two magnetic dust filters are attached to side panels to keep any muck out of the interior. The underlying vent pattern in the side panel is also quite attractive, but the dust filters hide a lot of lower RGB lighting, which is only able to shine down onto your desk. We don’t doubt having large vents is useful for airflow, but they don’t feel quite in keeping with the luscious materials used elsewhere in the system.

The airflow system also means that dust ends up getting trapped on the exterior of the case too, requiring regular cleaning to keep up appearances, especially over the two 120mm side intake fans. You’ll need to avoid placing anything on the roof too, as this is the main hot air exhaust area.

Corsair One 500 review: Cable tidying round motherboard tray

The RGB lighting could also be a little more visible on the front panel. Two RGB lighting strips sit on either side of the wooden fascia, but the side panels hide it at most angles unless you’re facing the PC head-on. Given how much the lighting can be customized, we’d honestly like to see more of it given the unique RGB controller Corsair has gone to the trouble of making.

If there’s one complaint about the design, it’s that the Corsair One i500’s fan noise is fairly loud in games, with the two roof fans that cool the GPU’s liquid-cooling radiator producing most of the noise; more than you’d expect from an average air-cooled RTX 4080 Super card.

Again, the lack of any fan control here does mean you’re stuck with this noise, which is a shame as we’d prefer to cut fan speeds slightly, given that the GPU ran far cooler than average in our tests. The noise isn’t deafening, but we’d definitely describe it as intrusive, especially if you have the PC on your desk a couple of feet away from you.

Corsair One 500 review: Top of PC showing vent pattern

Benchmarks

While half the point of the Corsair One i500 is to turn heads and create a compact custom tower of power, the other half is very much about performance in games and content creation, where benchmarks reveal all. Cyberpunk 2077 is a great workout for the latest games hardware, and the Corsair One i500 averaged 75fps in this game at 2,560 x 1,440 with the Ultra ray tracing preset enabled.

That’s already a decent result, but it went all the way up to 106fps with some help from Nvidia DLSS 3 and frame generation enabled. This clever tech uses AI to create extra frames in between the ones rendered by your graphics card, in order to smooth out the frame rate, and it works remarkably well.

Corsair One 500 review: 1440p game benchmark results graph

We couldn’t quite get this spec of the Corsair One i500 to return a smoothly playable frame rate at 4K with the same settings and DLSS frame generation, but its average of 51fps here is still pretty good – you’ll only need to drop the settings a little, or enable DLSS Super Resolution, to get this game running smoothly at 4K.

Meanwhile, Formula 1 2023 was a little easier for this spec of the Corsair One i500, with an average frame rate of 63fps at 4K and 111fps at 2,560 x 1,440, rising to 94fps and 145fps respectively once DLSS was enabled. This is edging into high refresh rate monitor territory, which is amazing for these high graphics settings.

Corsair One 500 review: 4K game benchmark results graph

Finally, Total War: Warhammer 3 also saw some monstrous frame rates, with a minimum of 121fps at 2,560 x 1,440 of 121fps and an average of 151fps. Its 4K performance was unsurprisingly lower, but it still managed a respectable average of 80fps in this game. Basically, this mini PC really can play games at very high graphics settings with decent frame rates.

Meanwhile, our synthetic benchmarks revealed performance that’s typical of a GeForce RTX 4080 Super, sitting just below an RTX 4090 in the 3DMark Time Spy Extreme test, with an overall score of 14,136 and a graphics score of 14,349. The standard Time Spy test revealed a similar result, with the graphics score of 28,676 right at the top of what we’d expect from this graphics card.

Corsair One 500 review: 3DMark benchmark results graph

The CPU is really fast too, even if it struggles to hit its peak clock speeds. Switching to the 3DMark CPU profile test resulted in the maximum threads score of 16,114 pipping the Ryzen 9 7950X to the finish line, and more than doubling the score you’d typically see from a Ryzen 7800X3D too. Meanwhile, Cinebench R23 is a freely available benchmark and here the single-threaded score of 2,289 is faster than any result AMD can currently muster, while the multi-threaded score of 37,392 was a match for what you’ll typically see a Ryzen 9 7950X scoring too.

Remarkably, this high-powered spec doesn’t draw an enormous amount of power from the mains either. We noted a peak of 531W being drawn from the wall during gaming sessions, which is pretty efficient for the amount of gaming power on offer, especially with this notoriously power-hungry CPU.

Price

There’s no denying the Corsair One i500 is extremely expensive, but you do get a high spec in both options. The price of the Core i9 14900K CPU and RTX 4080 Super GPU alone are already $620 and $999 respectively, before you’ve even accounted for the rest of the gear, and then you need to factor in the ingenious design work that’s gone into the gorgeous custom chassis and cooling system.

Yes, a similarly specified, full-size desktop PC will be cheaper in a lot of cases, but it won’t be as small and stylish, and that’s all a part of the One i500’s package. It’s expensive, but the price is (just about) fair for what you get.

Corsair One 500 review: Cooling fans under side panel

Verdict

The Corsair One i500 is one elegant, achingly sexy PC. The wooden panels look fantastic, the desktop footprint is small, and Corsair has put a serious amount of work into the design of its custom chassis. Hats off to the engineering team for managing to squeeze a liquid-cooled Core i9 14900K and RTX 4080 Super into this compact space.

This mini PC does have some shortcomings, though, namely the limited cooling for its hot-running Core i9-14900K processor, and a GPU liquid cooling system that, while effective, dishes out more decibels than most air-cooled RTX 4080 Super cards I’ve tested.

Corsair One 500 review: Front wood panel with RGB lighting on

Corsair will no doubt argue that this liquid cooling system was necessary to be able to house such a graphics card in such a small space, but the ability to tune the fan speeds would really help here. Thankfully, the hot-running processor still performs as expected in all our tests, and it’s never going to be running at peak load across all cores when you’re gaming either. The noisy GPU cooling system is more of an issue, though, as it sounds intrusive in games, and we can only imagine the RTX 4090 model will compound that issue given it has the same cooler.

You won’t notice that noise so much if the machine is under your desk, but the Corsair One i500 isn’t a system you want to hide away – you’re going to want its good looks on display on your desk. If you have the money, and you want the best-looking, most powerful mini PC you can buy, then the Corsair One i500 is it, but we recommend gaming with a headset to drown out the fan noise.

Alternatives

Origin Chronos

Origin, which is owned by Corsair, also makes a range of tower-shaped mini PCs with a small desktop footprint, and with similarly high specifications. The Origin Chronos V3 can similarly be kitted out with a Core i9 14900K and a GeForce RTX 4080 Super, but there’s also the option to spec up a cheaper version based on a Core i5 14600K with an RTX 4060 Ti. The Chronos V3 doesn’t have the smart good looks of the Corsair One i500’s wooden chassis, but it’s similarly compact and much cheaper.