ASUS M32AD Review – A Decent Prebuilt Desktop PC

We thought we’d take a look the ASUS M32AD prebuilt desktop computer in this review, which from the outside looks basically identical to the very popular ASUS M32CD. We wanted to check out how it compares to the very similar M32CD option which has been so popular (and which we think is a great buy).

In this review, we’ll pick apart the hardware that comes in the ASUS M32AD tower and also look at how it performs and if it is worth upgrading components. We’ll be making a few comparisons to the ASUS M32CD tower (you can see our full review of the M32CD here).

Overview: ASUS M32AD Desktop PC

As usual ASUS have designed the M32AD tower PC to be an easy plug and play solution for those who just want to buy a prebuilt system and get up and running as soon as possible.

The model we are reviewing in this article is the M32AD-US001T which comes with i3 processor, integrated graphics, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage and is preloaded with Windows 10 Home Edition. It also comes complete with a keyboard and mouse, and if buying through Amazon you can include a monitor as well for a complete package if you want that option.

The astute consumer should note that there are actually a few different models of the M32AD available, and the hardware varies slightly with each version. This review relates to the M32AD-US001T model, but if you are after the next step in performance, there is an i5-processor offering complete with a graphics card in the M32AD. If this sounds like you, check out model number M32AD-US007T .

Pros

  • Prebuilt ready-to-go system with Windows 10 Home already installed
  • 1TB storage
  • Excellent peripheral support, including a 6-in-1 card reader, 5xUSB ports, HDMI, VGA
  • In-built wireless card
  • 1 year warranty

Cons

  • Warranty sealed. If you open the case to modify or expand your system, you’ll void any manufacturer warranty.
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Smaller PSU requires upgrade if you want to install dedicated graphics
  • Processor isn’t the latest Skylake architecture

Performance

As usual, the first thing we’re interested in is the performance of this PC. Value-for-money wise, this computer represents reasonable value for money – you would pay about the same or more to buy the individual parts and assemble it yourself – though the hardware is not the most current.

The processor in this computer is the 5th generation Intel Core i3-4170. This is a dual-core processor with a clock speed of 3.7GHz, released in quarter 1 of 2015.  It offers decent performance, but bear in mind it is not the most current (the latest 6th generation Skylake architecture processors were released later in 2015).

Like many general purpose prebuilt PCs, this one does not have a dedicated graphics card but instead uses integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 which is suitable for general purpose tasks such as watching videos, webcam chatting and playing low-end computer games, though you’ll likely have to keep gameplay settings turned down to low for decent frame rates.

In terms of memory the M32AD comes with a single 8GB stick of DDR3 RAM, but has dual DIMM slots meaning there is the option to put in more RAM should you wish to upgrade in the future. The maximum memory supported is 16GB, which is a straightforward exercise by adding a second 8GB stick to the spare slot.

One strong selling point of the M32AD is that it comes with a good 1TB worth of hard drive space, This PC comes with a decent amount of storage with a 1TB SATA 3 hard drive, and with 3 spare interal SATA ports you could even add more storage in the future if you needed to.

Internally, the M32AD computer’s case includes a single 5.25″ bay and two 3.5″ bays for storage or optical drives. Off the shelf, the 5.25″ bay comes occupied by the integrated RW-DVD drive and the 1TB hard drive sits in one of the 3.5″ bays, leaving you with 1 spare 3.5″ bay for any future drives.

Check out the user reviews on Amazon >>

Usage

The M32AD is really an all-rounder computer intended for the everyday user who does not have any overly specialized computing needs. The i3 processor and integrated graphics are a 2015 release by Intel and relatively recent, meaning you’ll definitely have enough computing power here to handle tasks such as: internet browsing, running office applications, viewing/accessing multimedia such as videos and photos, webcam chat, general multitasking and even low-end computer gaming.

It is a good out-of-the-box solution for work or personal use and unless you are running very intensive computer programs or doing heavy multitasking, it will perform well. The case has a sleek design and the exact same case is used for many of ASUS’ prebuilt desktop offerings, so make sure you look closely at the specifications and model number of the computer you are interested in to make sure you’re getting the right one (as the internal hardware varies between models).

Keep in mind that if you do intend on doing any serious amount of more specialist tasks such as video editing, higher end computer gaming, or running programs such as Adobe Photoshop or AutoCAD, then you may need a computer with a little bit more graphics power rather than the M32AD.

Gaming Performance

With casual computer gaming becoming more popular these days, a common question that many have is around how a prebuilt computer such as this offering will handle computer games. If you typically play a lot of games that have a higher video graphics load (think modern titles like Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4, Witcher 3, and the like) then you may struggle to play on high settings and maintain smooth gameplay without a dedicated graphics card.

Here is an example of the i3-4170 processor with integrated HD 4400 graphics running GTA V:

That being said, the integrated HD graphics on the M32AD is still decent and it will likely run less demanding games (e.g. World of Warcraft, Overwatch, CS:Go) at low to medium settings and still be quite playable, so if you’re just a casual gamer it may still suit your needs.

Here’s a look at what the integrated HD 4400 graphics does on Counterstrike:Go:

If you do find yourself wanting a little bit more graphics processing power, the good news is that the M32AD has a full size PCIe expansion slot which will allow you to fit in a dedicated graphics card if you choose to upgrade the system down the track. ASUS actually offer the M32AD in several different variations, some of which include dedicated graphics cards. From the ASUS website, it will definitely support the following cards (since these are offered as official variations!):

  • NVIDIA GeForce GT620 1GB/2GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT625 2GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT630 2GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT640 4GB
  • AMD Radeon HD8350 1GB
  • AMD Radeon HD8570 2GB
  • AMD Radeon R5 220 1GB
  • AMD Radeon R7 240 2GB

It should be noted though, that the above are older cards – some being released back in 2012, for example. You could also opt for a newer graphics card as performance will be better, but keep in mind that you may need to upgrade the power supply in the M32AD if you are thinking of upgrading to the more power-hungry graphics cards.

 

Screens/Video

You’ll find two display outputs on the rear of the case on the M32AD – one VGA port and one HDMI. There is no DVI port on the particular OEM motherboard that ASUS have used on this product, but with just the VGA and HDMI you should be able to run dual screens as long as you have the correct cables (or plug adaptors to suit VGA/HDMI).

If you only have a DVI cable for plugging in your monitor, you’ll need a DVI female to HDMI male adaptor like this one.

Upgrading the M32AD

ASUS’s M32 series of desktop computers are quite good base offerings, which makes them a popular candidate for future upgrading.  Be aware that if you are thinking of upgrading this PC in the future, it does come with a warranty seal on the case – this means that if you open the case and break the seal, you void the manufacturer’s 1 year warranty. A good option is to hold off on any upgrades until after the computer is out of the warranty period.

For reference, we’ve included a list of the full specifications at the end of this article for those looking to customize or upgrade in future.

Key components that you might consider upgrading on this computer are the memory (add another DDR3 stick), addition of a dedicated graphics card, and/or upgrade to a larger power supply (only required if you are putting in a larger graphics card).

Note that if you are looking to purchase the M32AD with the intention for future upgrading, we think that the M32CD version is a better choice. The reason? Because the M32CD has a more recent and better performing processor, it makes it just that little bit more future proof than the M32AD.

Graphics Cards For the M32AD Desktop Computer

 

If you want to put in a dedicated graphics card into the M32AD then one of the common limiting factors is the stock 350W peak supply that it comes with. Prebuilt computers always seem to have limited information available about the exact power supply model used and unfortunately this one is no exception. We are assuming that it has the same 350W peak power supply as the M32CD desktop, which is actually has a nominal powere rating of 286W.   This means you may not have a lot of spare capacity to play with; so depending on the graphics card you are looking at you may need to upgrade the power supply as well.

Given the similarities between the M32AD and the M32CD, please refer to our post on upgrading the M32CD for some suggested graphics cards (they will be the same) and there are also some videos to assist you with installation of a new graphics card (the process should be similar despite the different PC model numbers).

Power Supplies For the M32AD Desktop Computer

Again, due to the similarities between the M32AD and the M32CD, you can check out the information we put together on recommended power supply upgrades for the M32CD. These would carry across to the M32AD if you have this computer and are wanting to put in a larger power supply.

If you do find yourself interested in upgrading individual parts you can find more ideas in our gaming PC builds section.

ASUS M32AD Specifications

Model Number:

M32AD-US001T

Operating System:

Windows 10 Home

CPU:

5th Generation Intel i3-4170 Dual-Core 3.7 GHz processor, LGA1150

Graphics:

On-board graphics adapter model: Intel HD Graphics 4400

 

Motherboard:

H81M-E / M51AD / DP_MB  (OEM Motherboard)

Chipset: Intel H81

Memory: 2 x DIMM, max. 16GB DDR3, 1600 MHz

Expansion slots: 1 x PCIe x16 , 1 x PCIe  x1 , 1 x mini PCIe

Audio: Realtek ALC887, SonicMaster High Definition 8 Channel Audio

LAN: 10/100/1000 Mbps

SATA: 2 x SATA 3Gbit/s , 2 x SATA 6Gbit/s

USB: 2 x USB 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1) Type-A ports  (Front) , 3 x USB 2.0 (Rear)

Details above were taken from the official Asus specs (covers a range of the different M32AD variations), as well as here and here (note that the M32AD does have a proprietary board so exact specifications are hard to find, but should be quite similar to the H81M-E  motherboard given the motherboard model number is a variant of the H81M-E).

Back I/O ports:

3 x USB 2.0
1 x HDMI-Out
1 x VGA(D-Sub)-Out
1 x RJ45 LAN
3 x Audio Jack: Right Speaker, Left Speaker, Central Bass
1 x Line in
1 x Line out
1 x Microphone

Front I/O Ports:

2 x (3.1 Gen 1) Type-A ports
1 x 6-in-1 Card Reader (SD/ SDHC/ MS/ MS Pro/ xD/ MMC)
1 x Headphone
1 x Microphone

Memory:

Internal memory: 1 x  8 GB DDR3  1600MHz

Maximum internal memory: 16 GB

Storage:

1TB SATA III 6Gb/s Hard Drive (7200RPM)

Power Supply:

350W Peak

Wireless:

802.11ac  integrated Wi-Fi card

Optical Drive:

SuperMulti Integrated 24x DVD-RW Drive

Dimensions/Weight:

6.9 (W) x 15 (H) x 16 (D) inches

18.3 pounds

The official ASUS M32AD user manual can be found here.

Summary

The ASUS M32AD desktop computer is a good value-for-money computer that will suit most computer users and is quite versatile. However, for a very similar price range we would have to definitely recommend the M32CD offering by ASUS instead. With the M32CD you are getting what essentially looks like the same computer, but with a more recent and more powerful processor (we think this makes the M32CD more worthwhile for future upgrading as well).

Click here to check out the M32AD on Amazon

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