Computex 2018 kicked off this week, bringing a raft of news and announcements from the biggest names of the industry -- Intel, AMD, Asus and Nvidia. Here are the nerdy highlights!
Asus ROG phone released with vapour cooling, a high refresh rate screen and overclocked Snapdragon 845 processor
In the world of PC gaming, there are three big trends right now: multicoloured RGB lighting on absolutely everything, silky-smooth high refresh rate displays and overclocked, water-cooled hardware. It wouldn't be surprising for well-known gaming brand Asus to bring out a product with all three elements here at Computex 2018, but this week the company applied these trends to something new: a smartphone.
Asus' ROG Android phone incorporates every one of these trends, starting with its vapour-cooled, overclocked 2.96GHz Snapdragon 845 processor designed to offer the best performance possible for competitive gamers playing mobile ports of PC and console titles like Player Unknown's Battlegrounds. In aid of that goal, the phone is the second on the market (after the Razer Phone) to sport a high refresh rate 90Hz display. Compared to the 60Hz displays found on other smartphones, this allows for a more fluid experience, making it easier to hit moving targets and making the whole phone feel quicker and more responsive. The display also impresses in its colour reproduction and contrast, which should make games and movies look better too. Finally, the phone is also dressed in gaming clothing, with an RGB logo on the back that can light up in any colour of the rainbow; you can even synchronise with up to four other ROG Phones to show your squad's togetherness.
Of course, the ROG Phone doesn't stop there. It also comes with a brace of other gaming features, including plenty of accessories like attachable gamepads, "air triggers" to free up screen space and even a desktop dock that lets you turn your phone into a full desktop PC with 4K monitor, keyboard and mouse support. It's not entirely sporting to destroy your PUBG opponents this way (not that it's stopped people trying), but as Asus note, it could be pretty good for getting work done too.
The Asus ROG Phone will go on sale later this year for an undisclosed price -- but expect it to be expensive, particularly if you spring for the optional accessories too!
Intel and AMD continue core war with 28 and 32-core processors
This week the two leading processor makers for PCs, Intel and AMD, tried to one-up each other with increasingly ridiculous multi-cored CPUs.
Intel went first, showing off an extreme 28-core processor that ran at 5GHz and will be available by this winter. A few hours later, AMD successfully one-upped them, promising a new processor with 32 cores that can handle 64 processor threads, available this autumn.
In comparison, even high-end gaming PCs using Intel processors tend to have between four and six cores, while PCs used by video editors or 3D modellers might include the previous core champions, like a 16-core AMD Threadripper CPU or an 18-core Intel Core i9 Extreme. Moving to 28 or 32 cores should come with a substantial boost in performance for creative users, and should even be less expensive than specialist multiple processor systems that offer similar numbers of cores.
Intel also announced a special edition 8086K processor which will be the first Intel processor to reach 5GHz without overclocking, in recognition of the company's 50th anniversary and its famous 8086 processor which spawned Intel's massively successful x86 architecture. 8,086 units will be given away via Intel's site, or you can buy them as usual from June 7th.
Asus announce laptop with touch display instead of a trackpad
Here's a cool idea -- what if your laptop didn't have a touchpad, and instead it had a proper smartphone-sized touchscreen? You could use it to mouse around your computer, but you could also have apps and controls there. That's the idea that Asus had when creating the Zenbook Pro, and it's pretty cool. The Windows laptop comes with a 1080p touchscreen below the keyboard that can play YouTube videos, launch apps or be used as a calculator, calendar or numeric keypad.
In other respects, the Zenbook Pro is competitive as well -- a sleek design, 15.6-inch 4K or 1080p screen, GTX 1050 graphics card for some gaming, Core i5, i7 or i9 processor depending on how much performance you need and a battery life rated for up to 10 hours of use.
The Zenbook Pro isn't cheap though, costing about £2000 with a US release date of July. Hopefully, this feature becomes a trend on cheaper laptops too -- it seems to make a lot of sense to me! What do you think?
Intel's Low Power Display Technology will cut the energy used by laptop screens in half
Did you ever notice that your laptop's screen brightness and resolution has a massive impact on battery life? For example, I'm typing this on an XPS 15 laptop that comes with the option for a 1080p or 4K screen. The 1080p version gets about 9 hours of battery life, while the 4K one only musters 6 hours despite a bigger battery. That's why Intel have been researching ways to reduce the amount of energy consumed by laptop screens, and they think they have a solution.
Intel unveiled a new power management technology and special display at Computex that can drop screen power use by up to 50%, which they demonstrated on an XPS 13 laptop. Intel are claiming that this can result in between four and eight hours more battery life, potentially allowing laptops to last for two full days before needing a recharge. Combined with smartphone-style processors we covered earlier this year, laptops might become capable of many days of use even without massive battery improvements.
Nvidia's next-generation graphics card won't be released for "a long time"
One notable omission from Computex was a new next-generation graphics card from Nvidia. Rumours had suggested that the PC gaming event would be a prime opportunity to show off the company's long-awaited and oft-delayed next-generation graphics cards, which would supercede the firm's current GTX 1060, 1070, 1080 and 1080 TI cards.
However, no such announcement was made, with Nvidia's CEO promising that these cards wouldn't be available until "a long time from now." That means PC gamers looking to upgrade their PCs are better off sticking to the existing offerings, or delaying their build even further. Thankfully, these existing graphics cards are at least starting to return to normal price levels after months of inflated prices due to the rise of cryptocurrency mining.
Thanks for checking out the highlights from Computex 2018! Which story did you find the most interesting? Let me know in the comments below!