Today we’re reviewing the ASUS M32CD desktop computer – Amazon’s number 1 best seller computer at the time of writing. Let’s see how well this machine actually stacks up.
In this review article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the pre-built ASUS M32CD tower and check out it’s performance and also upgradeability. Out of interest, we also compared the hardware to our recommended $500 Gaming PC Build, since the M32CD can be kitted out with a few upgrades to become a very decent gaming machine.
Overview: ASUS M32CD Desktop PC
ASUS have designed the M32CD desktop tower computer to be a plug and play solution for those looking to purchase a computer package with minimal setup.
The package we are reviewing is the M32CD-US003T with i5 processor, integrated graphics, 8GB RAM and 1TB storage. It also comes complete with Windows 10 home edition, a keyboard and mouse, and there’s the option to include a monitor as well if you’re looking for a truly complete package.
Bear in mind that there are a few different versions of the M32CD available, and the hardware varies slightly with each version. This review relates to the M32CD-US003T and M32CD-AS51 models. These two models are identical, except for the RAM type (DDR3 in the M32CD-US003T versus DDR4 in the M32CD-AS51).
- Latest Skylake architecture, including decent on-board graphics
- 1TB storage
- Excellent peripheral support, including a 5-in-1 card reader, 8xUSB ports, HDMI, VGA
- In-built wireless card
- 1 year warranty
- 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
The first thing we’re interested in is the performance of this PC. In terms of value for money, it’s definitely an excellent all-rounder.
The processor in this computer is excellent. ASUS have used the quad-core Intel i5-6400, a 2015-release 6th generation Skylake processor. It has a clock speed of 2.7GHz with a turbo speed of 3.3GHz.
There is no dedicated graphics card, but the integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 on the i5 can still handle low end gaming and will run video smoothly at 4K/UHD resolution.
It comes with a single 8GB DDR3L RAM stick, but is upgradable to 32GB (though this may be an expensive exercise). Upgrading to 16GB by adding another 8GB stick of RAM is very feasible though.
This PC comes with a decent amount of storage with a 1TB SATA 3 hard drive, and enough space and SATA ports to run up to 3 hard drives simultaneously if you needed more space (though you would need to get creative with how you mount the third drive).
The case has a single 5.25″ bay and two 3.5″ bays provided. The 5.25″ is occupied by the optical drive and one of the 3.5″ bays is taken up by the 1TB hard drive.
The i5 processor combined with 8GB of RAM on this PC means it caters for the everyday user and will comfortably cope with multiple applications, making it perfect for work or personal use. It also looks pretty sleek with a brushed metal look finish.
If you typically use your computer for tasks such as skype, browsing the internet and facebook/social media, viewing videos (and this computer will easily handle UHD/4K!), or even casual gaming, this PC will meet your needs.
A common question is ‘how will this computer handle games’? While the lack of a dedicated graphics card is not ideal for gamers, the integrated graphics will give decent playability on some recent games if you are happy to keep settings on medium and use lower resolutions to get playable frame rates.
If you are a more serious gamer, don’t discount the M32CD completely yet. This base computer can be upgraded to yield an overall cost-effective gaming computer, which a lot of people have done.
Since this seems to be such a common practice, we decided to compare the M32CD hardware with our $500 Gaming PC Build, which is a similar price point to the M32CD.
First of all, we compared the CPUs. As previously stated, the processor on the M32CD is excellent, one of the latest and it does outperform the lower model i3 that we’ve specified in our $500 build according to the synthetic benchmark test scores below. However, you’ll notice that the i3-6100 that we’ve chosen for our $500 build offers more performance per dollar spent, which is why we opted for that processor for that build (allowing more to spend on a graphics card is a better approach when selecting components for a gaming computer).
From this comparison you can really see one of the main strengths of the M32CD – it’s recent-release processor that will remain relevant for some time to come.
The M32CD can support up to two displays through it’s single VGA and single HDMI port. If you want to run more displays you’ll need to look at options for running via a USB/display port adapter.
The HDMI output supports 4K displays.
Upgrading the M32CD
If you are thinking of purchasing this with the intention of upgrading it, just be aware that this computer comes with a warranty seal on the case – if you open the case and break the seal, you void the manufacturer’s 1 year warranty.
This means that any upgrades like adding hard drives, extra RAM or a graphics card will void your warranty, so bear this in mind. Some people opt to use the computer as-is for the first year, and make a move towards custom upgrades once the product is out of warranty.
The ASUS M32CD is a very versatile unit out of the box, and the below unboxing video shows exactly what you’ll be looking at (stock) if you decide to purchase this unit.
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.
If you have future upgrades in mind for this computer you may want to pay particular attention to motherboard slots – for example, there is only one PCIe x16 port, so running multiple cards is out.
Graphics Cards For the M32CD Desktop Computer
A very common upgrade to this computer is to add a dedicated graphics card. With this upgrade, the M32CD becomes a very capable gaming machine.
If you intend to do this, be aware that the 286W (350w peak supply) power supply that comes with the M32CD does not have a lot of spare capacity; so depending on the graphics card you choose you may need to upgrade the power supply as well.
The stock M32CD also does not come with any case cooling fans; if you are installing a dedicated graphics card it may pay to invest in a case fan for additional ventilation. The motherboard supports adding a single case fan.
The good news is that there’s plenty of space to fit in full sized, gaming graphics cards!
Out of interest, we compared the M32CD integrated graphics with our $500 gaming build graphics card selection (our $500 build has a larger power supply so is able to support a more powerful card that the stock M32CD can handle).
The latest generation Skylake processors have decent onboard graphics capability, but adding a dedicated card blows this out of the water. We compared the synthetic benchmarks for graphics performance below:
The GTX 750 Ti is one of the more powerful cards which can fit into the M32CD without having to upgrade the power supply, so we included this in our benchmark comparison above.
Some examples of other graphics cards that will fit in the M32CD include (but not limited to):
- GeForce GT 730 (can use with existing PSU)
- GTX 750Ti (most powerful card which will fit with the existing PSU’s capabilities)
- GTX 950 (may be able to get away with using the existing PSU, but would recommend upgrading it for optimal performance)
- GTX 960 (will need to upgrade the PSU)
- AMD Radeon R9 380
If you need some guidance on installing a new graphics card and power supply, check out this great video on Youtube.
Power Supplies for the ASUS M32CD
To upgrade to one of the higher end cards, you’ll need an upgraded power supply. Check out these two popular, low cost power supply options.
If you’re looking to go for a GTX950 or GTX960, go for the EVGA 500W W1 – Check it out on Amazon here. You might even just get away with a GTX970 on this power supply but it would be right on the edge of the Power supply’s limits.
If you’re aiming more high end nVidia like the GTX970, GTX980 or GTX980ti aim for an even larger power supply such as the ThermalTake 650w – See it here on Amazon.
If you need more ideas on budget gaming PCs, don’t forget to check out our gaming PC builds section.
ASUS M32CD Specifications
Windows 10 Home
6th Generation Intel i5-6400 Quad-Core 2.7 GHz processor (turbo to 3.3GHz), LGA1151
On-board graphics adapter model: Intel HD Graphics 530
On-board graphics adapter outputs supported: DisplayPort, Embedded DisplayPort (eDP), DVI, HDMI
On-board graphics adapter base frequency: 350 MHz
Can handle output of 4096 x 2304 pixels – which means it can safely run 4K resolution.
Chipset: Intel H110 Express
Memory: 2 x DIMM, max. 32GB DDR3, 1866(OC)MHz
PCIe slots: 1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x 16
Output Support: HDMI/DVI/VGA
Audio: Realtek ALC887
Gigabit LAN: 1 (Realtek)
SATA: 4 x SATA 6Gbit/s
USB: 2 x USB3.1 Gen 2 Type-A 4xUSB 3.0
Details above were taken from here under the “H110M-PLUS D3” heading.
Back I/O ports:
2 x USB 2.0
1 x HDMI-Out
1 x VGA(D-Sub)-Out
2 x USB 3.1
2 x USB 3.0
1 x RJ45 LAN
3 x Audio Jack: Side Speaker, Rear Speaker, C/Sub Speaker
1 x Line in
1 x Line out
1 x Microphone
Front I/O Ports:
2 x USB 3.0
1 x 5-in-1 Card Reader
1 x Headphone
1 x Microphone
Internal memory: 1 x 8 GB DDR3L-SDRAM 1600MHz (M32CD-US003T)
The M32CD-AS51 model number has DDR4 RAM instead of DDR3.
Maximum internal memory: 16 GB
Total storage capacity: 1000 GB, Storage media: HDD, Hard drive interface: Serial ATA III. 7200rpm
Integrated Realtek 8821 AE Wireless LAN 802.11ac (takes up 1 mini PCIe x1 port)
Integrated 24X DVD-RW Drive
6.9 (W) x 15 (H) x 16 (D) inches
The official VivoPC M32CD manual can be found here.
The M32CD desktop computer is a great mid-range computer which will suit the everyday user, and also can be a good option for gamers (with a few tweaks). The obvious flaw is the lack of a dedicated graphics card, but this is only going to be an issue for serious gamers.
The i5 processor will give you decent performance for the foreseeable future. The combination of peripherals, in-built wireless and bluetooth connectivity, and 8GB RAM all make this computer extremely versatile and it forms an excellent base computer if you are thinking of upgrading individual parts within it in the near future.