The Age of Glass and Light Continues
While there weren't a ton of new cases on display at PAX West, the few that were showcased clearly followed a pattern: all new high-end cases will feature both glass and RGB lighting. We actually love the trend, and we think the CoolerMaster H500P is a perfect example of why gamers should be excited about these slick new cases. To be released in October at the $150 pricepoint, it looks to be taking the competition head on, and improving upon the venerable CoolerMaster HAF line in just about every way! Here's our interview with CoolerMaster about the pending release of this hotly-anticipated new case.
We actually spoke at length with CoolerMaster, a long-standing brand in the PC component industry, about the degree to which every manufacturer is working to expand into new gaming-focused markets. In an off-the-record conversation, a CoolerMaster rep made clear that the feeding frenzy is making it harder for one-time partners to continue working together, as they suddenly find themselves as competitors. For example, when RAM manufacturers and case manufacturers both reveal their new mice, keyboards, and headsets, it's a bit harder for them to cross-market each other's older gear. And there's a reason that peripherals are where all these companies are converging: they're easy. According to CoolerMaster, all peripherals are made in just a handful of factories in China, so all the big gaming brands end up tweaking existing designs to come out with their "new" peripherals lineups. Where we find this most confusing is in the keyboard market, where there's just not room for original thinking; we have to question, for example, whether it makes sense for every PC gaming brands to have its own mechanical keyboard.
The last thing we'll say is that while VR didn't play quite as big a role in PAX West displays as last year, when the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were brand-new products, there was still a significant VR presence at the show. Notably, a number of big OEMs are getting into the ring, with Dell, HP, and Lenovo all marketing their own mixed reality headsets. This led to some relatively awkward demos, where, for example, Dell was promoting the HTC Vive in a "Raw Data" demo on the front side of its booth, and was promoting its own headset on the backside of the booth, notably in such a way as to prevent the two from being photographed (or even seen) together. We can definitely thank Oculus for making VR a "thing," but going forward, we're betting that VR headsets will be as easy to find as monitors, and that every manufacturer will have one.
It's amazing to see the degree to which a great convergence is underway. AMD is essentially dropping out of the GPU market, component manufacturers are all racing to be the next "one stop shop", and VR is becoming as commonplace as "HD". But there's one area that only the big guns can play, and that's in CPUs. So it's incredibly exciting to see that AMD had risen (ryzen?) from the grave to challenge Intel's decade-long dominance. In our opinion, it is the tech news story of 2017, and it will hopefully mean that while other areas of PC tech may start to feel a little stale, gamers will continue to get fresh products and ever-increasing performance per dollar from their CPUs.