Best of CES: The coolest PCs, PC components, and PC spectacles we saw

Set aside all misconceptions that CES is a brilliant house display, a house leisure display, or perhaps a automobile stereo display. CES is a pc display, and we’ve were given the combat scars to end up it. For the final 4 days, the PCWorld body of workers has immersed itself in all of the laptops, chips, elements, equipment and outright PC monstrosities it would in finding, and now we’re learn to call the Very best of CES 2019.

2019 best ces pcwIDG

To win a Very best of CES award, a product has to turn distinctive promise and technical innovation—however do take note those aren’t ultimate opinions. Test again right through the yr as we check this tools, and factor our ultimate overview verdicts. For now, simply bask within the spectacle…

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

Nvidia groin-kicked cost-conscious players when it offered its GeForce RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti at a long way upper costs than their older opposite numbers. Even worse, there was once no ray-trace-ready choice for mid-range players. Smartly, it seems that Nvidia heard the howls of anger and made up our minds to introduce the RTX 2060, the primary card able to hybrid ray tracing at a virtually affordable $350. We have been in fact in a position to study the RTX 2060 earlier than its grand CES unveiling, and gave it four.five out of five stars. Then, bam, the cardboard was once with regards to far and wide at CES apparently moments after Nvidia introduced it.

dsc00476 Brad Chacos/IDG

Because of driving force and sport enhancements for the reason that authentic RTX Turing release, the $350 card can run hybrid ray-traced video games at first rate body charges. In fact, this doesn’t allay fears of a dearth of ray tracing-enabled video games, however the excellent news is the RTX 2060 is set as speedy as a GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, which nonetheless fetches $500.

Nvidia GeForce RTX for laptops

GeForce RTX is simply too sizzling, and too power-hungry for laptops, they stated. Smartly “they” have been flawed. Nvidia proved all of the naysayers to be, smartly, nay, by means of now not simply introducing GeForce RTX GPUs in laptops, however by means of introducing 40 other designs that experience its latest cell GPU. Whilst there are nonetheless questions on how smartly cell RTX plays, you’ll be able to’t dispute that 40 wins is moderately an accomplishment. We actually noticed dozens of laptops working the brand new GPU, and working hybrid ray tracing at that.

geforce rtx 20 series laptop family Nvidia

The final hurdle, in fact, might be pricing. However in talks with more than one companions, we realized that the cost build up tied to the GPU by myself is rather small (although, clearly, different elements pressure up computer prices, and the ones may make RTX laptops moderately pricey). Even supposing you’re a hater, it’s important to appreciate that Nvidia pulled off a hell of a feat, and up to some other folks would wish to brush aside it, hybrid ray tracing isn’t going away.

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

Acer’s Swift 7 already held the crown for the thinnest, lightest mainstream computer round, however the Acer Swift 7 (2019) lightens it nearly a 3rd of a pound extra, to simply 2.2 kilos. That’s merely insane.

Acer Swift 7 Mark Hachman / IDG

If that’s all that Acer completed with the newest Swift 7, that will most probably be sufficient to win a Very best of CES award. However Acer didn’t forestall there. No, it additionally sliced the demonstrate bezels down to simply 2.57mm, sufficient in order that the display nearly seems to hide all of the demonstrate.

There’s extra. Acer’s Swift 7 (2018) lacked a clickable touchpad, a major deficiency that the Swift 7 has rectified within the 2019 model (often referred to as style SF714-52T). Upload to new Intel “Whiskey Lake” processor and Thunderbolt three ports. We’re extremely desperate to get our palms on a brand new Swift 7 for ultimate checking out. It looks as if it’ll be as amusing to make use of as it’s to take a look at.

Acer Predator Triton 900

When Acer first published the Predator Triton 900 thought in 2018, the loopy, swivel-display gaming computer was once hidden below glass—as a result of that’s the way you blow their own horns that’s so audacious, it’s going to by no means achieve the manufacturing line. However at CES 2019, the Predator Triton 900 suddenly became very, very real with a projected release date of March this year. Sure, it’ll cost you $3,999, but that’s the buy-in if you want to play in laptop crazytown.

Acer Predator Triton 900 Mark Hachman / IDG

8th-gen Intel Core i7? Check. Mobile RTX 2080? Yes, it includes Nvidia’s just-announced GPU. Props to Acer for including top-shelf, ray-trace-ready silicon. But what really earns this Predator one of our Best of CES awards is the 17-inch 4K G-Sync display—it swivels on what Acer calls an “Ezel Aero Hinge,” affording incredible positioning flexibility, from laptop mode to tablet mode to impress-your-most-jaded-friends mode. Sure, the Triton 900 is something of a parlor trick, and we still need to test the machine, but this one scores off the charts for CES wow factor.

AMD 3rd Generation Ryzen

The rumbling you hear? That’s AMD’s 3rd gen Ryzen freight train coming down the CPU tracks, straight at Intel. Don’t believe us? At CES 2019, the company showed off an 8-core Ryzen standing toe-to-toe with Intel’s “best gaming CPU,” the Core i9-9900K. Even more impressive: AMD leapfrogged Intel straight to a 7nm process.

dscf7024 ryzen3 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

While most take that to mean a 3rd gen Ryzen will equal a Core i9-9900K, it should really be seen as an indication of the minimum performance that might come from the chip. But that’s what happens when a company releases the first 7nm x86 consumer CPU, and the competition is on its third retread of a 14nm process. While no one yet knows all the details, it’s entirely possible the demo chip could materialize as a 3rd gen Ryzen 5. So buckle up, nerds, and prepare for months of speculation as the hype train roars down the tracks.

MSI GS75 Stealth

We’ve come a long way, baby. Just two years ago, a 17-inch gaming laptop almost needed a wheelbarrow to move around. But MSI’s GS75 Stealth will shock you at just how little it weighs: 5 lbs. That’s basically not much heavier than most 15-inch laptops.

msi nb gs75 stealth photo01 MSI

Thanks to narrow bezels, the GS75 Stealth has a footprint not much bigger than most 15-inch gaming laptops, too. And the GS75 Stealth doesn’t compromise on the specs either. With its 17.3-inch, 144Hz FHD screen, 8th gen Core i7, and GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU, you can have your gaming and take it with you, too. Eight hours of battery life likely won’t set any records, but for a gaming laptop it’s pretty good.

Alienware Area-51m

Not everyone is comfortable taking a small, dainty gaming laptop to the café—even if your plan is to sip a chai latte while reading French poetry. Sometimes you gotta go big, and nothing says big like Alienware’s new Area-51m, a truly in-your-face gaming laptop if there ever was one.

alienware area 51m dark side lid lunar light open Daniel Masaoka/IDG

It’s got a newly revealed Alienware design language, but you might be more impressed by the parts inside it: A socketed and upgradeable desktop Core i9-9900K and a GeForce RTX 2080. But the real reason we’re so jazzed by the Area-51m is what Alienware is prepping to deliver to enthusiasts: upgradeable graphics.

The problem with gaming laptops is that once their graphics cards get stale, there’s really nothing you can do except buy a new laptop. But Alienware says it designed a proprietary graphics module for the Area-51m, and it fully expects that when a new graphics chip comes out, you can either swap it out yourself or have a service rep visit and do it for you. This is basically the Holy Grail of laptop features.

Corsair Capellix LED technology

The horse probably didn’t think of much of the first Model T that passed it on the road, but Corsair’s new Capellix tech has that same game-changing potential—for RGB LEDs. You may scoff, sure. You may think new LED tech isn’t as significant as a new CPU, GPU or SSD. But we’d bet that RGB LEDs can help sell a gaming computer more than a new graphics card, at least to the average person.

corsair capellix 3 Gordon Mah Ung

Capellix shrinks the size of LEDs by 90 percent while also increasing efficiency by 60 percent and upping brightness by 40 percent. You can basically fit 132 Capellix LEDs on a postage stamp, while a normal SMD LED used in today’s PCs would maybe fit 10.
The upshot? Capellix could deliver incredibly bright and power-efficient LEDs in places never before seen in a gaming PC. And, yup, it’s the razzle-dazzle that’s wins most of the time.

Creative Super X-Fi Theater and Air

Just as we were coming down from the high of using Creative Lab’s impressive Super X-Fi dongle, the company dropped two more Super X-fi products at CES 2019, and they’re just as impressive. Please meet the Super X-Fi Theater and the Super X-Fi Air.

hero sxfi mobile Creative

The Air is a Bluetooth headset that features Super X-Fi built directly inside. Creative calls Super X-Fi “headphone holography,” and it’s probably not the wrong phrase to use. It works by mapping out the shape of your head with a phone camera, and then with the aid of special-sauce algorithms, it creates a virtual surround-sound system using just normal headphones. In our testing of the Super X-Fi USB dongle, we can tell you it works. And it works damned well.

Even cooler: Super X-Fi Theater takes it to the next level by letting you hook up anywhere from one to eight low-latency headphones for communal movie watching. Each, of course, features that same Super X-Fi audio magic.

Royole FlexPai

OK, it’s a phone, not a PC, but it’s cool. And we simply refuse to listen to arguments that the first folding Android phone, the Royole FlexPai, may never ship into the United States. Is the $1,300 price tag too high? Almost certainly. But in our time playing with the FlexPai, we honestly didn’t see too many turnoffs. We kept doubting it would work… but it did!

Royole FlexPai Mark Hachman / IDG

The FlexPai makes a very compelling argument for folding phablets—in a vivid, tangible, “it’s working right now” kind of way. The phone folds over itself into a chunky slab that’s far thicker than the spec sheet’s claim of 7.6mm, but unfolds into a full 7.8-inch screen running a custom version of Android 9. Even better, you can run Android apps in multi-window in both its folded phone configuration or in the unfolded tablet.

A phone when you need it, a tablet when you want. If nothing else, the FlexPai is a fantastic concept that we’ll use as a comparison point if and when Samsung rolls out its own folding phone.

iBuypower Snowblind X4

CES isn’t just a trade show for new products. It’s also the show where PC vendors dig deep to create crazy, over-the-top project PCs to catch the attention of the press and net one of those snazzy “best of” buttons. Well, after seeing dozens of crazy computers—including one with a Nintendo Switch built inside—the winner of “America’s Got Crazy PC” contest is easily iBuypower’s Snowblind X4.

project snowblind x4 IDG

Not only does it feature four crazy Snowblind doors with motion color graphics, the entire PC rotates like one of those rotating restaurants at the top of a hotel. What’s really impressive, though, is that iBuypower has come up with a way to pass not just power from the base, but also data and video too. The company tells us it used a hub similar to those used in windmills. Honestly, we don’t care. We just know that when we want to see the right side of our liquid-cooled graphics card, we don’t want to get up move—we want the PC to move for us.

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