We all love fast hardware -- burly graphics cards, oodles of RAM, multi-core processors -- but one of the unsung heros is cooling. Crucial as it may be to a stable running machine, cooling isn't always glamorous or sexy. That being the case, it was refreshing to see a few vendors showing off new fan designs, including Zalman, which brought to CES a crop of cooling (and case) products.
One way AMD has been able to stay in the game, so to speak, is by focusing on graphics performance. It's been a point of emphasis ever since the chip designer acquired ATI, and especially since the introduction of APUs (Accelerated Processing Units). The emphasis on graphics and gaming in general was on display at CES, where AMD showed off a controller accessory for 10-inch tablets and a Nano PC running FIFA 14.
Fans, fans, and more fans (and a fanless power supply)
Things can get crazy at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but one company that kept its cool is Enermax. We mean that literally, folks. Gordon stopped by Enermax's booth at the show to see what the company brought to show off, and the answer is fans. Lots of fans, some of which lit up and reacted to sound. On the flip side, Enermax also brought with it a fanless power supply that's 80 Plus Platinum certified.
MSI is in a tight race with ASRock to become the third largest motherboard maker behind heavyweights Asus and Gigabyte. ASRock took a slight lead in 2013, but looking ahead, MSI is expected to leapfrog into the No. 3 spot with 8 million motherboard shipments. Either way, system builders will have plenty of MSI motherboards to sift through in 2014, several of which we had a chance to glimpse at CES.
It didn't take long for Asus to jump into the 4K monitor market and claim it as its own. If you thought the price of the Philips UltraClear was reasonable (compared to 30-inch panels with lower resolutions), take a gander at the Asus PB287Q, a 28-inch display with a 4K ultra high definition resolution (3840x2160), TN panel, and blazing fast 1ms response time for just $799. Business users should take note as well.
Case and PC peripheral maker Cooler Master has been kicking out some nifty gear the past few months, including the HAF Stacker. Cooler Master made sure to bring its modular case design to CES where Maximum PC Online Managing Editor Jimmy Thang had a chance to check it out up close and on camera. In addition, Cooler Master also demonstrated a few brand new cases and some sweet new mechanical keyboards with unique transitional lighting effects.
Corsair's been making computer cases for a long time, but up until now, the company didn't have a mini-ITX chassis on its resume. That changes with the introduction of the Obsidian Series 250D, a tiny enclosure designed specifically for users looking to build a small form factor (SFF) system. On the flip side, Corsair also unveiled a couple of full tower cases, the Graphite Series 730T and 760T.
Lian Li has been known to flirt with funky looking case designs. Remember the shell-shaped PC-777 Memorial Edition chassis? And then there was the PC-CK101, a train themed enclosure that rolled into view towards the end of 2012. There have been others and there will be more, not all of which turn into shipping products. One prototype that's up in the air is the DK-01, which is a computer case that doubles as a desk.
It's been quite a ride for ASRock, the motherboard maker that came into this world as a budget-oriented subsidiary of Asus. ASRock is now owned by Pegatron, which itself is a spin-off of Asus, and these days it competes with all comers (including Asus) in every section of the motherboard market, even the high-end. Pegatron's spunky subsidiary ended 2013 as the third largest motherboard maker in terms of shipments, though it may relinquish that spot to MSI before the new year is over.
Intel doesn't yet offer an 8-core processor for consumer desktop applications, but by the end of the year, that's going to change. The world's largest semiconductor company, despite being motivated to aggressively compete in the mobile market, is said to be readying the launch of 8-core Haswell-E chips in third quarter of 2014. If you're hoping to pick one as you send your Ivy Bridge-E setup into retirement, you'll want to start saving up now.