PCSpecialist Lunar Spark Review
Published: 11th May 2021 | Source: PCSpecialist | Price: £999 |
We love to build systems with various limits, it's almost like a puzzle. Anyone could produce a build that ticked every box if money was no object, but as anyone who has tried to get a whole system for under a certain price will know, just the act of getting a case, PSU and some form of storage already eats a significant chunk of your budget before you've reached the fun stuff.
Until now the Topaz Elite was one of the most affordable PCS systems we'd reviewed, and certainly one of the very best in price/performance terms. To go even cheaper than that, to the three figure (!) price of the Lunar Spark, some compromises had to be made whilst still bringing good performance. First and foremost you have to decide exactly what it is you're building for. All-rounders are more expensive than single-purpose systems. Naturally it had to be a gaming system, and the RTX 3060 is a very good card for the money. This is particularly true if you're gaming at 1080, although as you saw on our gaming page if you want to game at the increasingly popular 1440 resolution that's doable too in all but the most demanding games. Well, it's doable here too although you'll be below 60 FPS in a couple of titles. At 1080 you'll be fine even in Cyberpunk 2077.
Processor and motherboard was an easy decision. The Z590 is pretty disappointing when you look at the majority of the launch offerings - although the pricing has become more sane recently - and the B560 chipset brings everything you actually need for a gaming system without busting the budget, particularly in the TUF B560M-Plus form. The CPU is our favourite of the 11th Gen models, the Core i5. Either Core i5 11400 or 11600 is - by a wide margin - the best of the 11th Gen offerings and we have previous with the Core i5-11400 so it was a no-brainer. Similarly whilst an M.2 is nice, a decent OS SSD is still no slouch and using a HDD for data storage is still a popular option.
Already you can see that you're very close to that 1000 limit and we have neither case, power supply, cooler nor operating system yet. The PCS P209 case has a surprising amount of things that you want. Glass side window, ARGB front lighting, PSU cover for neatness, compact dimensions. Okay the glass isn't the thickest we've ever seen, and the back side panel is extremely thin, but at this price all we ask of a case is that it looks nice and you can fit everything in it. Box ticked. The PCSpecialist FrostFlow 100 V3 air cooler does a magnificent job of being both quiet and keeping the Core i5 cool. We hit 80°C under extremely heavy, lengthy, load but in regular use it's more than up to the job and an AIO would be a significant price hike. Lastly 1 stick of RAM will never perform as well in the DDR4 bandwidth benchmarks as a dual-channel setup, but as you can see that doesn't negatively impact our gaming performance. It didn't really do much to the CineBench tests either.
PCSpecialist are famous for their system configurator so if any of these elements - air cooler, RAM, case, intake fans - particularly stuck in your craw then you can change it if you like. However, as anyone who has ever specced their build will know, once you hit your budget that upgrade of X to Y might only be £20, but when you've gone "ooh for an extra twenty I could get an AIO, and for another twenty I could have 16GB or DDR4, only another thirty would give me an RGB intake fan" a few times you suddenly add 50% to your total cost. If you really wanted a more all-round system we'd suggest going with the PCS Topaz Elite that provided todays comparison system.
If what you want is a gaming system that will let you play anything at 1080P at max detail and nearly anything at 1440P, and does it quietly in a nice case for under a grand then the PCSpecialist Lunar Spark is a fantastic bargain build available from here should you fancy a look: https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/configure-review/435/