Aftershock Impulse SFF Gaming PC Review


The Impulse is a small form factor gaming
PC from Aftershock, a company who specialise in custom gaming PCs in Singapore who recently
came to Australia. In this review we’ll check out gaming performance, overclocking,
thermals and basically everything else too. The Impulse is available with different hardware
configurations. In my unit there’s an Intel i5-8600K CPU, Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics, 16GB
of memory running in dual channel, a 256GB M.2 SATA SSD and 1TB hard drive. When ordering online you’ve got the option
of selecting different hardware, check the link in the description to see what’s available.
For the CPU you can select the i3-8100 up to i7-9700K, for graphics you can go from
the 1050 Ti all the way up to a 2080 Ti, while memory can go up to 32gb in the two available
memory slots. You’ve also got the option of picking between a H310 of Z370 board, so
if you’re going for a K CPU and plan on overclocking make sure you pick the Z370 board
upgrade too. They seem to be using the Kolink Rocket Mini-ITX
case here, it’s made of aluminium and has a brushed finish on all panels. Aftershock
are also offering custom paint jobs though if you want something other than the default
silver. The left and right side panels have holes for airflow, and each panel can be removed
by taking out four screws with a phillips head screwdriver, giving us access to the
internals. The sides of the panels were a little sharp in areas, so be careful there. On the left we’ve got the vertically mounted
graphics card, in this case the Zotac Gaming RTX 2070 mini. Otherwise on this side we can
see the 600 watt power supply. On the right we’ve got the motherboard, and in this case
an Intel stock CPU cooler, however you’ve got the option of upgrading this when ordering,
and I’ll cover the thermal performance a bit later. I’ve got a H310 motherboard here, so I wasn’t
able to overclock the i5-8600K CPU, there is a Z370 option for $39 more though. At the
top of the board there’s a single M.2 slot and it’s got two memory slots. There are
two 2.5 inch drive bays found below the case, and they simply slide out. For I/O on the back of the motherboard we’ve
got HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI for using with the Intel CPU graphics, as well as two USB
2.0 Type-A ports, PS/2 port, gigabit ethernet, two USB 3 Type-A ports, WiFi antenna and 3.5mm
audio jacks. On the 2070 graphics card there are three DisplayPort outputs, HDMI and DVI
port, though all of this will vary based on the motherboard and graphics selected. On the front there are two USB 3 Type-A ports
along with the power button just above which lights up white while running. The white lighting
matched the Zotac graphics card in this particular build, which could be seen through the left
side panel. Underneath there are just four sticky rubber
feet, while the top of the case is just smooth brushed metal. Now let’s look at the thermals, testing
was completed with an ambient room temperature of 26 degrees celsius, a bit warm as it’s
summer here at the moment. Testing was completed with the side panels on, however results will
of course vary greatly depending on hardware selection. Starting at the bottom of the graph I’ve
got the idle temperatures, and it was running fairly cool and quiet, no problems there.
I tested gaming with Watch Dogs 2 as it uses a good combination of CPU and graphics, and
both were around 80 degrees Celsius, not too bad. I wasn’t able to boost the fan speed
of the stock Intel cooler, so instead went with a -0.1v undervolt on the CPU, and I maxed
the fan out of the graphics card while overclocking it by 200MHz with MSI Afterburner. By doing
this the CPU temperature lowered 4 degrees and the graphics temperature rose 5 degrees
from the overclock despite the boosted fan speed. The stress test results are from running the
Aida64 stress test and Heaven benchmark at the same time, in order to try and fully utilize
both the processor and graphics in a worst case scenario. Continuing up the graph at
stock both CPU and GPU are in the mid 80s, and by undervolting the CPU and overclocking
the graphics again with the fan maxed out the results basically swap. These are the average clock speeds for the
same tests just shown. The 200MHz graphics overclock and fan boost is giving us a nice
improvement, we’ll see how this affected gaming performance a bit later. The CPU clock
speed was the same regardless, it was sitting at a 60 watt TDP at stock, no thermal or power
limit throttling so it was able to achieve its 4.1GHz all core turbo speed no problems
even with the Intel cooler. Again I wasn’t able to overclock the 8600K as my unit didn’t
have a Z370 motherboard. As there was no way to modify the CPU the
Cinebench test was pretty boring, no way to improve performance as it’s already performing
as best as it can here. As for the fan noise produced by the system
I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was still audible, the fans of
the Zotac 2070 don’t seem to stop when not doing anything. Under stress test with the
fans at stock it gets fairly loud, similar to while gaming. With the graphics card fans
maxed out it’s now quite loud, and again I wasn’t able to boost the CPU fan speed. While gaming I did notice that the case felt
fairly warm to the touch, so I pulled out the thermal camera and had a quick look. It
was getting close to 50 degrees Celsius in some parts, so fairly warm, but realistically
not an issue, it’s not like you’ll be leaning on it or anything. The only exhaust
is a single 80mm fan up the top. Overall despite the Intel CPU cooler it performed
perfectly fine with no thermal throttling with this hardware combination, however if
you’re looking at picking a higher tier CPU I’d recommend going for the cooler upgrade
as well. By default Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal paste is used which is great, and
you’ve got the option of upgrading to conductonaut if you’re after liquid metal, which may
honestly be required in such a small build if you go for the 9700K. The CPU and graphics
have access to their own fresh air through either side of the case, though it’s worth
noting that there is no dust filtering in the case. I’ve also measured total system power draw
from the wall, at idle we’re looking at around 50 watts, then 263 watts with the Aida64
stress test and Heaven benchmark running. This rises by around 30 watts once we overclock
the graphics. I didn’t show it here, but we could drop around 20 watts with the -0.1v
CPU undervolt, which as we saw earlier also improved CPU temperature. Finally let’s get into some gaming benchmarks,
I’ve tested these games at stock settings as that’s probably how most people will
use the PC, don’t worry we’ll look at overclocking after. I’ve tested at 1080p,
1440p and 4K resolutions at all setting levels so that we can really see what this hardware
is capable of. Let’s start out with Battlefield 5 which
was tested in campaign mode, as that can actually make use of RTX which our 2070 supports. At
1080p it was kind of playable at ultra and high settings, not excellent I’d definitely
be sticking to medium or low settings, but even there the 1% lows weren’t great. Personally
I’d stick to RTX off, at least with this hardware, ultra settings with RTX off looks
nicer than medium settings with RTX on in my opinion, and it performs way better. Stepping
up to 1440p RTX on is still able to average 60 FPS with the 2070 at medium settings or
below, but again same deal looks nicer at ultra with it off and performs better. At
4K you’re not going to want to bother with RTX on at all here, even the 2080 Ti struggles
with it at 4K, and low settings with RTX off were required for a solid 60 FPS. Fortnite was tested using the replay feature,
and as a well optimized game at 1080p we were getting very high frame rates even with the
settings maxed out at epic, no problems at all. At 1440p the frame rates are still excellent,
with over 100 FPS achievable with max settings. At 4K 60 FPS was still possible with high
settings, while stepping down further was still able to maintain well above 100 FPS. Far Cry 5 was tested with the built in benchmark,
and at 1080p it was performing quite well, over 100 FPS at ultra settings with decent
1% lows. At 1440p the results are still quite respectable, still above 80 FPS even at ultra
settings with the 1% lows again not too far behind the averages. 4K really drops the performance
in this test, with 60 FPS averages no longer possible even with low settings. CS:GO was tested with the Ulletical benchmark,
and as usual on modern hardware we get very high frame rates in this test, with over 300
FPS possible even with all settings on maximum. At 1440p 300 FPS was still almost possible
with all settings maxed out, though fairly good 1% low improvements at the lower settings
which is likely what you’d use playing competitively anyway. 4K was still playable, with almost
300 FPS achievable with the settings on minimum. Rainbow Six Siege was tested using the built
in benchmark, and as another pretty well optimized game we were seeing very high frame rates
in this test, running very nicely even at ultra settings at 1080p. At 1440p the results
are still quite high, with 180 FPS reached with ultra settings with a 1% low that’s
still quite high. The 1% low results at 4K are still quite decent, so not many dips in
performance, and the average frame rates are still decent too, with above 100 possible
at high settings. PUBG was tested using the replay feature,
and at 1080p as usual there wasn’t too much of a performance difference seen between the
different setting levels, with over 100 FPS at ultra settings. At 1440p there wasn’t
much change at the lower settings, but the higher levels drop back as the hardware gets
put to work, with 100 FPS averages still possible at high settings. Not sure why you’d be
playing this game at 4K if you’re actually after the chicken dinner, but with very low
settings it was still going alright, with the 1% low still above 60 FPS. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested using
the built in benchmark, and at 1080p even with the highest settings 100 FPS was only
just out of reach. At 1440p highest settings still scored over 60 FPS, with 100 now possible
at low settings, and then finally at 4K lowest settings were required to maintain above 60
FPS averages in this test. I’ve also got some Dota 2 results at 1080p,
keep in mind that I tested this using an intensive replay that doesn’t represent actual game
play, it’s a worst case scenario so that I can compare these results with other machines.
I did play a quick game with the settings maxed out though, and I was able to average
around 120 FPS there. We’re seeing pretty nice performance from
the i5-8600K CPU and RTX 2070 graphics at both 1080p and even 1440p with good settings.
While some less demanding games are capable of running at 4K on this hardware, I don’t
generally consider the 2070 a 4K graphics card, so I’d suggest going for something
higher if you’re after 4K. As mentioned before it was possible to improve
performance by overclocking the graphics, so let’s take a look at how these settings
helped out. I did also undervolt the CPU, though as we saw earlier this had no practical
effect to performance as there was no throttling. I’ve retested Far Cry 5, and we can see
that there is an improvement to frame rates with the overclocks applied. I’ve only tested
ultra settings at all three resolutions, and at 1080p there was just a 1% improvement to
average FPS. At 1440p there was a larger 7% improvement to average FPS and a 4% improvement
to 1% low, and then finally at 4K there was a larger 10% improvement to both average frame
rates and the 1% low. Performance improves at higher resolutions as the CPU becomes less
of a factor, and as shown here we can get some nice boosts. I’ve used Crystal disk mark to test the
storage, and my 256GB M.2 SATA SSD was performing fairly, and the 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive was
perhaps a little above average, although results will vary based on the hardware you select,
you can go up to a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD and 2TB 2.5 inch SSHD. For up to date pricing check the links in
the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording, here in Australia
with these specs it’s going for around $2400 AUD. Before all my international viewers say
that’s too high, again this is in Australian dollars, stuff here not only costs more but
we also have a 10% tax on top of everything too, without our tax and after conversion
it’s around $1500 USD. The Aftershock Impulse has quite a lot of
different hardware selection available. The Kolink rocket case is nice and small and in
my opinion looks great, although smaller sizes always come at the cost of having limited
cooling options, an AIO liquid cooler for example is not possible here. This machine
is definitely prioritizing the amount of physical space that it takes up at the expense of other
options such as cooling, however with the decent specs I had here it wasn’t thermal
throttling, though this did mean it needed to run the fans somewhat louder than I’d
like, but you’d likely see better results going with the cooler upgrade and liquid metal
option. Let me know what you guys thought about the
Impulse from Aftershock down in the comments, and if you’re new here get subscribed for
future tech videos like this one.

37 thoughts on “Aftershock Impulse SFF Gaming PC Review

  1. Jarrod'sTech
    Hey Remember Me If You Do Then Like ME And Pin AND Press read more This Time It Will Work

    I LOVE YOU MAN YOU ARE THE BEST TECH YOUTUBER

  2. Compares the SFF PC with a banana! LOL! Yeah, the MB and the stock Intel cooler are definitely holding the CPU back.
    Good review Jarrod. Tried the link, but it doesn't work.
    Have a great day!

  3. So comparing this to the msi trident, I'd 10 times prefer this over that. I think there's more cooling overall, and this is an SFF well made imo. Perhaps cooling on cpu could be done better but that would make the case a little bit bigger. Great video as always J, I'm excited to build my pc this summer with new ryzen 🙂

  4. my friend just unscrewed the side panel and attached those baby stroller clip on fans to both sides to help with the cooling! ahaha

  5. Also does my gaming laptop has any hdd storage in it? it doesn’t say anything about the hard drive from the website it originally comes from

  6. Hay I want to buy a Asus Strix Scar rtx 2070 in 17.3 inch form factor and I am visiting new zealand in May so which electronic store will you suggest

  7. Case name is Kolink Rocket. It's a Dan A4-SFX knock-off. It's not a bad case overall if you're looking for something cheaper than the high quality sff cases like Dan A4-SFX, Ncase M1, Loque Ghost S1, Streacom DA2 or the upcoming MJOLNIR case.

  8. i find boring telling you "as always good videos etc…" so this time i can say that you're one of the very few suggested channel within mine… (not this account of course LoL)

  9. Good review Jarrod, while I'd love a nice compact sff-pc, the thermals and noise are just too high. My current mid-tower runs cool and is quiet even while gaming. Also I feel that the sff doesn't really allow much headroom for OC, so essentially you're throwing away cash because you can't utilize the hardware to its full potential.

    So this was pretty convincing that I'll probably go with a mini-ATX build instead. My mid-tower case is big and heavy and I don't want to lug around something this unwieldy when I move. So my next build will be half the size. I should add an AIO is a must if you're into high-end gaming. I've used air before but realized the AIO is far superior-it's quieter, has lower temps and can oc better.

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