PAX loves PCs
The PC is taking over PAX. I don't know how it happened, or why it's happening, but there is more PC hardware at PAX this year than I've ever seen before—and definitely more than we see at E3 and GDC. Everyone is here, from Asus to Alienware to Corsair to Razer to Cooler Master to…well, basically everyone except AMD, for whatever reason.
People are building PCs on the show floor. There are motherboards laying in the open. There's Fallout-themed case mods. There's liquid cooling galore. If you like to drool over machines, there's quite a bit of eye-candy at PAX.
If you're still at PAX today, let this be a guide for stuff you should seek out. And if not, at least there are pictures.
Alienware might be known for its high-end hardware, but its booth this year is focused almost entirely on the other end of the market—its mid-tier Steam Machine, which goes out to a few early adopters in October and will release properly in November.
Cooler Master's oasis
Props to Cooler Master for representing what the PC community's about at PAX—teaching others to build machines, helping with build questions and overclocking, and generally showing people how easy this whole scene actually can be.
This is probably the best booth at PAX. Tons of display hardware, friendly staff, and a laid-back atmosphere make this a great oasis in the middle of the glitzy show floor.
Corsair - Fallout 4
Next to Cooler Master, Corsair has maybe the best PC presence at PAX 2015. The company is giving away multiple modded builds, like this excellent Fallout 4-themed tower. It's a bit hard to tell from this angle, but the inside components have also been decked out to look like rusted iron.
Entering the vault
Oh, that's a better angle.
Corsair - Assassin's Creed
And while it doesn't stand out quite as much as the Fallout case, this Assassin's Creed-themed tower is just as detailed.
Corsair - Keyboards
Cherry Blue, Cherry Brown, Cherry Black, Cherry Red, Cherry Red - Silent. There are a lot of options when buying a mechanical keyboard, and Corsair wants to make sure you get the right one. This expansive set-up lets you bang on a bunch of mechanical switches until you figure out the one that works best for you.
I wish I'd found something like this when I bought my first mechanical keyboard.
Intel was showing off some incredible builds in its booth, like this liquid-cooled monstrosity with transparent tubing, dual GTX 980s, and Intel Core i7-5960X, and not one, not two, but three SSDs. Hallelujah.
Here's another flashy intel build, this one from Maingear.
...here's a close-up.
And one more from Intel: Cyberton contributed this red and black beast.
So much hardware, so little space. This imposing tournament set-up fills half of Gigabyte's booth with machines. They're not the flashiest builds we've seen at PAX, but put a dozen of them in the same space? It's a work of art.
Asus doesn't have an especially flashy set-up at PAX either, but it definitely has one of the biggest. This massive "Republic of Gamers" booth takes up a solid chunk of the sixth floor, with dozens of computers from gaming laptops all the way to full-sized towers.
Also, this Asus Steam Machine is incredibly tiny. (Red Bull for scale.)
Green lights? Tons of PCs? It must be Nvidia's booth.
On display: GTX 900-series cards and a whole army of G-Sync monitors waiting for you to put the latest PC games through their paces.
EVGA has this bouquet of motherboards hiding out on the sixth floor, in case you want to get up close and personal with some circuitry.
Speaking of motherboards, MSI also had a bunch of naked mobos lying around—this time on little glowing pedestals. And in the background is a display case full of graphics cards. It's like porn for build fanatics.
For Kingston, it was all about showing off those SSDs (and a ton of RAM, in another display case).
Razer had its usual display of keyboards, mouses, and et cetera at PAX, but the real standout was its new tournament-grade Wildcat "Xbox One" controller (it'll work just fine with your PC). I don't know whether people will prefer this or Microsoft's first-party Xbox One Elite controller, but both are damn nifty—and incredibly expensive, at $150.
Logitech has quite a bit of hardware on display at PAX, including multiple setups to show off its new G29 racing wheel. But it also marks the debut of its new flagship G633 and G933 headsets—the former of which is shown here.
Of course Astro was also on hand to show off its headsets, the iconic A40 and A50. Same silhouette as always, but quite a range of designs on hand nevertheless.
With less than six months until the Rift's consumer edition finally ships, Oculus is out in force at PAX. They've brought their massive E3 booth to PAX, and it takes up a hefty amount of the show floor. But still no solid release date or price—expect that information out of Oculus's self-run Connect convention in September.
I got a chance to check out the latest HTC Vive/SteamVR prototype—this is, I was told, the second-generation dev kit. It's pretty close to the shipping model we'll see in November, though there are still a few extra wires.
Please uh…ignore the ugly hotel carpet.
I was also allowed to take a picture of the Lighthouse tracking system that comes with the Vive. You'll need to find a place for two of these when the system launches—up high, if possible.
Okay, just one more look. Geez that's pretty.