Power, portability, price: Why Computex 2017 got us psyched – CNET

The tech year might kick off in January with CES, but it’s midway through the year at Computex, Asia’s biggest tech show, when we start to see the computing power that’s really driving next-gen technology.

This year, when the tech world descended on Taiwan, it was all about smarter processing, new form factors for better gaming and bringing all these superior experiences to the masses for a better price.

Notebooks and gaming

Before Computex had even officially started, Asus chairman Jonney Shih was back giving crowds what they love best at the company’s presser — shiny new notebooks and a serious dose of pep (running onstage like a cheerleader, this guy’s enthusiasm is infectious).

He showed us the new ZenBook Pro (the tech world is loving that “P” word right now), new entry-level devices and the sexy ZenBook Flip S — a convertible that’s thinner and lighter than the MacBook Air. Samsung followed suit two days later with its own convertible, the Notebook 9 Pro (complete with S Pen).

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Asus’ slim ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop.

Claire Reilly/CNET

Wearing a different hat, this time for Asus’ gaming brand ROG, Shih unveiled the Zephyrus gaming notebook on the first day of the show. With a Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU inside, it’s a “carry-in-one-hand” notebook that pointed to one of the big trends of the show — more grunt, without the weight (more on that below).

While Microsoft wasn’t focusing heavily on its hardware (the company launched its new Surface Pro earlier in the month), it did show off a range of new partner devices. But the big focus was its full Windows ecosystem — Microsoft wants to play in the future of IoT (internet of things), to get Cortana in your Smart Home and to make sure Windows 10 is everywhere in your life.

Dell brought us two new all-in-ones, including the first to pack an octa-core processor, as well as a low-cost gaming PC born out of the company’s partnership with AMD. Dell is clearly eyeing off the gaming space and it wants a slice of the pie.

Also on the gaming front, MSI was showing off PC power in a notebook form factor, with the Titan GT75VR gaming laptop that can pack two GeForce 1070 GPUs and a world-first cooling system.

These brands clearly all want to up your screen time, and they’re willing to offer some seriously powerful specs or lower prices to do it. 

Processing power

Chip manufacturers Intel and Nvidia aimed high with their futuristic visions for processing power.

Nvidia unveiled its Isaac Initiative, an artificial intelligence platform for training the robots of the future in a virtual environment known as a Holodeck (kind of like “The Matrix“). The robots might just be playing ice hockey right now, but expect big things. We also saw the company’s Holodeck virtual reality platform with humans inside the virtual space — it’s good to know we can join the robots occasionally.

Intel laid out a vision of our AI future, pivoting away from pure discussions of chipsets, to talk about the future of IoT and big data.

But for the PC purists Nvidia and Intel also had plenty on offer. Nvidia talked up its new Max-Q technology, which delivers maximum performance at the maximum efficiency point, allowing notebook manufacturers to slim down sizes (ROG’s Zephyrus was the big poster child here).

Intel unveiled its X-Series of “extreme megatasking” 18-core processors (eat your heart out VR streaming fans and video editors) as well as its new credit card-sized portable Compute Card, which puts a PC in the palm of your hand.

AMD didn’t quite make it to 18 cores, but showed off the still impressive 16-core Ryzen 9 series 1998X CPU, which will certainly give Intel a run for its money.

And… the fun stuff

It wouldn’t be Asia’s biggest tech show if we didn’t see plenty of weird and wonderful gadgets on show. We went one-on-one with a chess playing computer (and lost badly), practised sign language with smart gloves that translate sign gestures to text, and we got a sex ed class with the VaGenie — a smart, connected Kegel exercise device.

There were the usual collections of seriously awesome peripherals, including the Flaretech Switch keyboard, an impressive HyperX lineup and the Corsair Concept Zeus mousepad that charges your mouse between pwns.

And of course, the gaming rigs. Our pick was Allied Control’s Immersion Cooling demo, but a serious shout out to all the case modders who turned out some of the best mods we’ve seen. You make the long Computex days all worthwhile.

Check out the rest of CNET’s Computex 2017 coverage here.

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