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Computex 2016 - MSI is the latest to join the VR PC backpack craze with a new prototype model that essentially lets uses strap high-end PC hardware to their back for portable VR gaming.
The aim of MSI's new VR backpack--and others like it--is to abolish the irksome cords that tether VR users to desktop PCs, thereby making the experience much more mobile. Now that your hardware is on your back, there's no worry about tripping over cords while wearing room-tracking HMD's like the HTC Vive. The form factor for MSI's backpack is actually smaller than mini-ITX, but it supports full desktop-grade video cards like the GTX 980. In fact, MSI plans to slot in desktop-sized NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 and NVIDIA's new VR powerhouse the GeForce GTX 1080 into the backpack.
MSI has yet to fully announce the VR PC backpack and the hardware is still in its early stages. The unit demoed to press was a sample, and sported an Intel Skylake Core i7 K-series processor paired up with a desktop-grade NVIDIA GTX 980. Users will also be able to swap out and upgrade hardware components like video cards and power supplies. The demo unit provided about 90 minutes of VR gaming on a single charge, but the backpack can be plugged into a wall socket to continue gaming.
Computex 2016 -- TweakTown is on the ground in Taipei for Day 0 of Computex 2016, and we just stumbled across a new, currently unannounced system from ASUS that stuffs a pair of NVIDIA's Pascal-based GTX 1080 video cards into its small-form-factor frame. Say hello to the ROG G31 Edition 10 PC.
While you drool over the eyecandy potential that a pair of GTX 1080s brings to the table, we'll tell you that the ROG G31 also contains an Intel Core i7 CPU (likely the 6700K) and up to 64GB of RAM, though we're not yet sure if it's DDR3 or DDR4.
ASUS is also cramming up to four M.2 PCIe SSDs into the G31, and a Blu-Ray disc writer.
Computex 2016 - We snuck into the Nangang halls earlier today to get a sneak peak at the goods being displayed at Computex this year, and one of our first visits was the huge ASUS booth.
ASUS were showing off plenty of gear, but they weren't completely done yet. Something that they did have setup was the latest version of their Ghost Rider PC, which looked absolutely awesome. It has three huge skulls at the top, and a beastly custom design that looks like it was pulled directly out of DOOM.
Computex 2016 - ASUS has just revealed its new ZenBook 3 at the Zenvolution event in Taipei.
The ZenBook 3 is a direct competitor to Apple's MacBook, with an incredibly thin 11.9 mm lightweight frame and powerful specs that beats the MacBook's performance two-to-one. ASUS's Johnny Shih boasts that the ZenBook 3 is "the world's most prestigious laptop," with onboard specs ranging up to an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIE SSD. The sleek laptop features a 12.5-inch display and is powered by the "world's thinnest" 3mm fan for cooling.
The ZenBook 3 also sports fast-charging capabilities with built-in Thunderbolt 3/USB-C support. ASUS affirms the laptop can jump from a depleted charge up to 60% in just 49 minutes flat, with overall battery life ranging from 9 hours of use. The ASUS ZenBook 3 has three different pricing tiers: $999 for the Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 256GB SSD; $1,499 for the Intel Core i7 CPU and 512GB SSD; and $1,999 for the Intel Core i7, 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM and 1TB SSD variant.
Most people would think that Apple has a decent handle on Mac sales in the US, but this quarter the company was beaten by Chromebook sales.
Market research firm IDC has said that Apple sold 1.76 million Macs in the US in the last quarter, and while it was up from the 1.56 million units in the same quarter as 2015, it didn't beat out Chromebook shipments. IDC only breaks down PC shipments by manufacturer, so it's hard to know how many more Chromebooks were sold, we just know it was 'more'.
Chromebooks have been especially popular for education purposes and those on lighter budgets, as Apple Macs can range from thin-and-light notebooks, all the way through to workstation-class desktops. Chromebooks are mostly low-cost laptops from various companies, with Apple's closest competitor being the iPad. This quarter, Apple sold 10.3 million iPads in the US, not bad at all.
ZOTAC impressed me a few hours ago with their GeForce GTX 1080 PGF for the Chinese market, but the company has also just unveiled their new Windows 10-powered stick PCs.
The new ZOTAC ZBOX PI220 and PI221 are powered by quad-core Intel Atom X5-Z8300 processor clocked at 1.44GHz (and it bursts up to 1.84GHz). There's also Intel HD Graphics with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and 32GB of eMMC storage - which is expandable through microSD/SDHC/SDXC.
The new ZOTAC ZBOX stick PCs feature an HDMI connector, 1 x USB 3.0 port, a 10/100 Ethernet jack, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. ZOTAC will include a universal power adapter, a recovery disk, an HDMI extension cable, and a detachable external antenna. The PI221 is passively cooled, while the PI220 is a little more fancy, cooled by something ZOTAC calls a "SmartFan" system. The passively cooled ZBOX measures in at 131.38mm x 42.5mm x 17mm while the model with the fan checks in at 131.5mm x 42.2mm x 15.8mm.
Acer just announced their Predator G1 gaming desktop, which is much smaller than the slightly older siblings, making it portable enough to take along with you to those ancient LAN parties. The best news is that the redesigned case is only smaller, and doesn't sacrifice anything other than space. Their newest gaming laptop, the Predator 17X also made an appearance with updated internals, fast ones too.
If you feel like, you're able to configure this with up to an NVIDIA Titan X, a Skylake K series chip and 64GB of DDR4 RAM. Of course in the storage region you'll be able to have 512GB of solid state storage or even throw in a 4TB HDD for good measure. Essentially what Acer has done with the new, smaller, G1 is take the internals from the larger G6 and stuff them into a smaller case. The case is attractive, too, with customizable lighting and sleek lines that definitely speak the gamer language, but in a sophisticated way. The new G1 is also completely VR ready with it's powerful internals.
The Predator 17X gaming laptops is the follow-on replacement to last years 17-inch powerhouse and comes with the option for up to a 4K screen, a completely unlocked, and overclockable, Skylake i7-6820HK and up to 64GB of DDR4 with an NVIDIA 980 coming along of the ride. Storage options include 512GB NVMe enabled drives and room for 4TB of storage. It packs Thunderbolt 3, just in case you're thinking about external GPU solutions too. With the potential for so much heat in such a small area, Acer has developed a three-fan setup that sucks in copious amounts of air from the side and then rushes it to through the back. It's portable, sort of.
Maingear just added a new 15-inch portable workstation to their lineup of portable powerhouses. The new Pulse 15 Pro combines NVIDIA's Quadro M2000M professional graphics with Intel's mobile Xeon's to make for a very productive, yet thin, mobile workstation.
Maingear has stuffed a lot of fast technology into a very small package with the new Pulse 15 Pro. It's only .75-inches thick but has an Intel Xeon E3-1505M running at 2.6GHz installed with up to 16GB of ECC enabled DDR4-2133MHz RAM and can have up to two Samsung 950 Pro NVMe enabled M.2 drives in RAID 0 for some insane read and write speeds. The shining star, of course, is the Quadro M2000M with 4GB of RAM with 640 CUDA cores capable of accelerating any OpenCL or CUDA workload you might run across. That can drive up to a 4K (2160P) IPS screen. As with all of Maingears products, you can choose from a variety of paint schemes where they apply automotive grade paint to the top cover. This all starts at a $2549.
The idea is that content creators and professionals of all types can use this to properly edit 4K video while on the go. It's also quite useful for anyone that needs a bit of power and the safety of ECC memory. "The Pulse 15 Pro will offer even the most demanding creative professional, with incredible processing power, blazing speed and impeccable graphics performance," said Wallace Santos, CEO and Founder of MAINGEAR. "With 4K video so easily accessible, even some of the most powerful machines can 'hiccup' when rendering it, however we've built this new workstation to effortlessly power through it."
VR is really taking off now that the two major players have finally released their headsets into the wild. There just remains one issue for those content creators that wish to make pretty things in VR for us to consume; the system to use for that creating. HP is helping to make that decision easier with their new Z series of workstations, make especially for creating highly demanding VR content, which might need a bit more horsepower than usual.
These new workstations are built around two of Intel's newest Broadwell-EP Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors so you can have up to 44 actual cores and 88 threads to process those difficult to render high-resolution scenes. On the graphics front they went with up to dual NVIDIA Quadro M6000's with 24GB of VRAM. That means you can basically keep all your assets in memory and not have to worry about slow load times in whatever engine or program you're working with. For system RAM, you can configure it to have up to 256GB of DDR4 or up to 1TB of LRDDR4 if need be. Storage can e equally as monstrous with a massive six STA ports, eight different SAS ports and up to two PCIe 3.0 NVMe capable m.2 ports.
This can be one monster machine if you want it to be to handle just about any rendering or creation task you want it to. Some might ask why one would want to buy anything premade, and the answer is the support that comes with it. That is, the technical and warranty support that might come in handy from running these systems hard for many hours on end. The new Z840 from Hp starts at $4366, a hefty price tag but for a system that packs a mighty punch. Keyboard and monitor are sold separately, as are the VR HMD's of choice.
GDC 2016 - ZOTAC unveiled their MAGNUS EN980 gaming PC leading up to the Game Developers Conference, but the company had it in the flesh in the Valve suite at the show.
We got some hands-on time with the not-yet-finished prototype, so there will be some changes before it is final. Inside, there's a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (the full desktop version, the same one that was shrunken down late last year for gaming notebooks) and much more.
ZOTAC is providing support for up to four displays thanks to the GTX 980, and is pushing it for VR gaming. The MAGNUS EN980 also features dual Gigabit ethernet, USB 3.1 Type-C connectivity and a super-small footprint that would fit perfectly in your living room, or for gamers on-the-go.