SkyTech Blaze II Review
The SkyTech Blaze II is a custom mid-tower gaming PC with a blingy case and fans kitted out with LED illumination, and a head-turning design. SkyTech even offers custom designs and hardline liquid-cooling on models like the Skytech Shiva and the SkyTech Legacy II respectively, if you want to go the extra mile. Our review unit isn’t so equipped, but that helps keep its price in the realm of reality. (At least for the components inside relative to what you would, say, build it for, it offers real value).
The elite hardware in our tester includes AMD’s Ryzen 6 2600 six-core processor chip and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, making it an ideal platform for 1080p gaming. Coupled with a spacious, well-cooled case and available RGB lighting, this latest iteration of the SkyTech Blaze sets a high standard for an entry-level rig, one that you’ll be challenged to top even if you go the DIY route.
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The Blaze II’s mATX tempered glass gaming case is designed in-house by SkyTech. Minus the glass, curved front panel, it’s made of steel and it feels straight. It sports a straight-edged design that gives it a proper, if alluring, look. The Blaze’s 19.6 by 11.4 by 18.5-inch (HWD) dimensions are typical for a mid-tower. If you look around, you can easily get a similar looking chassis in case you want to DIY your own build.
The front is smooth with a diamond-tip headline on the top, and straight curves on the lower panel with a pair of RGB LED rings. Moving left the tempered-glass side panel does a good job of showing off the RGB-lit internals in this review unit. The panel opens to the side and is held by a pair of hinges at the back. I like the fact that the two thumb screws have retainers so you don’t need to fully remove (and potentially lost) them.
On the inside, cable work is neat, without any stray wires on sight. Maybe the only visible wires are the mother board and CPU power connectors. The port selection along the front edge includes separate and microphone jacks, one USB 3.1 port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. Around the back, there are four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, PS/2 port for older mice, HMDI, DVI and VGA ports.
It doesn’t include a USB Type-C port, but you have extra HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort connectors on the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card. You don’t get a monitor with this PC, but you can buy it as a combo that includes a 24-inch Sceptre C248W-1920RN, but you get a free RGB gaming keyboard and mouse bundled into the package.
SkyTech gives you different model configurations to choose from depending on your budget and needs. Our review model is a mid-tier configuration, powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 processor, 8GB of RAM, 500GB SSD and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics, that should have acceptable performance for most triple-A titles like Fortnite, but it’s slightly below the capabilities of the midrange SkyTech Shiva we reviewed recently.
The priciest preconfigured model in this series is the SkyTech Omega, that packs an Intel Core i9-9900K processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM. It runs at stock speeds, but the SkyTech Blaze II is ready for real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. When not playing, you can use it for media editing, MS Office tasks and pretty everything you’d want to do on a mainstream desktop PC.
The productivity capabilities above are helpful to measure the general processor aptitude, but it’s hard to beat full retail video games for judging a machine’s gaming credentials. Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, are both modern AAA, high-fidelity titles that can be used to illustrate how a systems fares on real-world video games at different settings. These two games are run on the maximum graphics-quality presets – Ultra for Far Cry 5 and Very High for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, played at 1080p, 1440p, 4K resolutions.
All these tests are meant to identify the sweet spot of visuals and smooth playability for any given system, with the results provided in frames per second. The different presets are based on the fact that Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Shadow of the Tomb Raider can be run on DX12.
In our case, targeting a system in this price range means you’re most likely looking to play at full HD (1,920 by 1,080) resolution. Again, not only are 1440p or 4K monitors more expensive, but so is a GPU that will drive games smoothly at those resolutions. As such, our ideal target is 60fps and the Blaze II easily clears that bar with room to spare for more strenuous moments during game play.
In real-world gaming, Far Cry 5 returns impressive scores in Ultra Quality (93 fps – 1080p; 67 fps – 1440p) and the same is replicated on Shadow of the Tomb Raider played at Ultra Quality (66.1fps – 1080p; 35.6 fps – 1440p). On the whole, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is a good GPU for 1080p gaming, not giving you too much or too little.
If your monitor refreshes over 60Hz – can as well consider the Sceptre (C248B-144RN) or the MSI Optix MAG24C both with a 144Hz refresh rate; the extra juice of the 1660 Ti is the way to go. This GPU replaces last year’s GTX 1060, meaning it is VR-Ready so it can run your virtual reality headset (HTC Vive or Oculus Rift) with ease. As you can see, 1440p is much more taxing (unless you’re okay 30fps), and I wouldn’t recommend 4K on this machine.
SkyTech easily accomplishes what it set out to with the new Blaze II: offers a professionally-built platform for enthusiast gaming. The pre-built model we’ve reviewed is reasonably priced as compared to going the DIY (do-it-yourself) route and assembling it yourself from parts. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing a superb wiring job, and the hardware selection in our review unit is simply top-notch. Other highlights in the Blaze II include good cooling, and a spacious design that looks pretty for the price and highly valuable when ordering and upgradeable later. If you’re a semi-pro gamer but not a performance hound, or simply out for a desktop for your kids to play the most popular AAA games without a fuss, this is a great pick.
That said, the iBUYPOWER Element 9260 offers even better performance for around the same price. It boasts a much faster a 9th Generation Core i7-9700F processor, the same Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti, more RAM (16GB) and lots of storage (240GB SSD + 1TB HDD) in a stellar custom chassis. it makes for a recommendable alternative to the SkyTech Blaze II, retaining our Editors’ Choice for the category.