Cerise Circular review: This Mac Pro wannabe gets sidetracked by gaming – PCWorld

Cerise’s Circular computer wants to be like Apple’s Mac Pro. The company, which primarily makes Windows PCs for digital content creators, has brought the same cylindrical “hot air rises” concept to a system that’s hand-built by one person, using a custom-designed, Mac Pro-like case that’s made in the United States. Cerise’s business model makes the Circular computer pretty unique, and pretty expensive—our test unit cost $3,339.

The puzzler is the specific configuration we tested. There’s nothing wrong with it—it’s just more like a gaming PC than a Mac Pro killer (unless you opt for a version with more powerful Xeon or Broadwell-E parts). Viewed from the obsessive bang-for-buck perspective of gaming builds, the Circular’s boutique pricing becomes a liability.

Circular logic

The idea behind the Circular is to lift the system off the ground an inch or so, put a huge fan at the bottom, and suck cool air into the rig. As the air rises, it pulls heat up and away. That avoids situations you’ll sometimes find in a standard tower, like when heat from the GPU washes over the CPU, or when warm air has nowhere to go and forms pockets of heat.

The Circular’s design is so good at thermal exhaust that during testing, it actually served as an auxiliary heat source on cold days. As long as you don’t mind also plugging your peripherals into the top of the computer, the concept works.

Unlike the Mac Pro, Cerise’s Circular uses off-the-shelf parts and everything is upgradable—in other words, it’s what the Mac Pro should have been. Though we want powerful systems, we also want the ability to upgrade them, even when they’re custom designs.

Cerise Circular Computer Top Half Shot Alternative Monica Lee

The Circular offers this flexibility, and easy accessibility. Although the case is made of steel, and thus a little heavy, up top is a handle/cable-management hole that makes lifting it simple. In a production environment that requires hauling around a computer, we’d much rather deal with this than a heavy tower.

The other benefits of the Circular’s design are that it takes up less space, and runs cool and quiet with just a single fan.The cylindrical tower measures 15 inches tall and 12 inches across, and sports a single 140mm fan (plus a filter) at the very bottom.

Sitting vertically in the center of the column are all the parts: In our test unit, they were an Asus Pro Gaming Z170 motherboard, an Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake CPU with a low-profile Be Quiet! CPU cooler (the only other fan in the system), 32GB of Crucial DDR4/2133 RAM, a Gigabyte GTX 1070 GPU, a Silverstone 500W PSU, a 480GB Intel 540 series SATA boot drive, and a512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe NVMe drive. If you need more storage, there’s room for two more SSDs and one mechanical drive, too.

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