All the big news from IFA Berlin 2015 is in and wow, if this eye-grabbing lineup doesn’t help the PC industry make it rain this holiday season, what will?
As a follow-up to the Windows 10 introduction in July, we got details on Intel’s latest “Skylake” Core chips, some amazing gaming laptops, a modular PC, a new Compute Stick design, wireless charging for your laptop, and…oh, geez, just check it out—and prepare for a serious case of tech envy.
Skylake's full launch
Intel’s “Skylake” sixth-generation Core processors are the key to everything that was announced at IFA Berlin. It’s kind of like the second act for PCs following Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 10. Combined, the WinTel alliance will deliver powerhouse PCs rocking 4K displays, infrared cameras for facial recognition, and gesture-based computing. On top of that, Skylake packs the usual boost in speed and reduction in power consumption typical of new Intel processors.
For all the hard details, check out these Skylake cheat sheets, which include data on everything from new 91-watt desktop processors down to the 4.5W Core m (formerly Core M) chips and everything in between. We’ve already reviewed the high-end desktop chips.
Asus' liquid-cooled laptop
Laptop? Yeah, right. You’ll need a sturdy table for this monster, at least when it’s docked to that “gigantic bulbous butt.” Asus’ GX700 gaming notebook comes with an overclocked quad-core Skylake mobile “K” series processor and a 17-inch 4K (3840-by-2160) display, plus it’s rocking an as-yet-unreleased Nvidia mobile GPU.
Asus is mostly hush-hush about the laptop, but it appears the water cooling rig is that growth in the back. The clamshell can undock from it for a more portable PC. Hook it up at home, however, and you’ve got water keeping your components cool so they don’t melt under the stress of Witcher 3 on Ultra settings.
No pricing info yet, but the GX700 should head our way before the end of the year.
Acer Predator gaming notebooks
Acer introduced two new gaming notebooks at IFA: the Predator 15 and Predator 17. Both laptops pack a Skylake Core i7-6700HQ chip, GTX 980 graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. The Predator 15 has a 15.6-inch display with your choice of 1080p or 4K (3840-by-2160) resolution. Acer decided not to follow Asus’ lead by packing 4K into a 17-inch screen, opting for 1080p only on the Predator 17.
Acer has also added some neat gamer-centric features, such as a Cooler Master fan module you can slap into the optical drive bay for extra cooling during intense gaming sessions. The Predator gaming rigs are priced at $1,500 and $1,600 for the 15- and 17-inch models, respectively, and roll out in November.
Acer Revo Build
We’ve already seen a Lego-inspired modular computer, now Acer is coming out with its own stackable PC that snaps together. The Acer Revo Build mini PC uses pogo pins and magnetic alignment to join modules together.
The base unit is contained in a 1-liter chassis with a 4.92-by-4.92-inch footprint. Modules—which Acer calls “blocks”—include an external hard drive in 500GB or 1TB sizes, a wireless charger, and an audio module with speakers and microphone. Acer promises more blocks to come.
U.S. pricing and availability for the Revo Build were not announced. In fact, Acer’s not even sure it will get here. Nevertheless, it’s a cool concept, and there’s always Amazon and eBay if you really want this PC.
Acer's Windows 10 PC Phone
Acer is the first company to take up Microsoft’s challenge to use Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum feature to transform your phone into an ad hoc PC, but it won’t be the last. Acer’s slick Jade Primo packs a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, a 21-megapixel rear-facing camera with dual flash, and an 8MP front-facing camera, all supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 processor. The Primo will also have an optional dock to connect to an external monitor over HDMI for that PC-like experience powered by your phone and Windows 10’s universal apps.
True, there have been a few phones to try this trick in the past, such as the Motorola Atrix. Continuum's a highlight feature for Windows 10 Mobile, though, so expect to see at least a few more “PC phones” in the next year—including new flagship Lumias from Microsoft itself.
Lenovo Miixes it up with Surface
It took the Microsoft Surface three generations to achieve its original aims, but there’s no question it was a solid concept from day one. Lenovo appears to agree, as it's—er, borrowing some Surface concepts for the Ideapad MIIX 700 rolling out in November, with prices starting at $700.
This 12-inch, 2-in-1 tablet can hold up to a Skylake Core i7 processor, maxes out at 8GB of RAM, and offers a 256GB SSD, an LTE upgrade, and an optional Intel RealSense 3D camera. There’s also a Lenovo Keyboard Folio accessory to convert the tablet to a laptop.
The Miix 700 was only one small part of Lenovo’s avalanche of announcements. From the Ideacentre AIO 700 to Skylake-toting ThinkPad Yoga convertibles, check out the rest of Lenovo’s Windows PC blitz at IFA.
Intel's Core m Compute Stick
Forget about pipsqueak Atom processors. Intel’s next Compute Stick design—which turns your HDTV into a PC via HDMI—will come rocking a Skylake-based Core m processor.
The change is thanks to Skylake’s extreme scalability, which allows it to power 90W desktop processors all the way down to the puny 4.5W Core m. Even better, this Compute Stick will be able to display 4K video. Talk about a pocket rocket.
Asus' audacious home router
Google isn’t the only company rethinking the router. At IFA, Asus introduced the RT-AC5300U, a powerful 4x4 home router that can broadcast two 5GHz 802.11ac networks with TCP throughput maxing out at 2165Mbps each. There’s also a single 2.4GHz 802.11n network that gets 1000Mbps of TCP throughput. Simply put, it looks like this will be the most powerful consumer router ever when it launches later this year
When you’re not connecting to the Internet, this claw-shaped monster also doubles as a coaster for your Klingon blood wine. Well, not really, but it sure looks like it could. Kaplah!
Intel goes wireless
Intel’s push for a cable-free future for the PC continued at IFA with a new way to wirelessly charge your laptop in 2016. The system doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s the result of merging standards from the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance. When it hits the market, Intel aims for it to deliver up to 20 watts of power to your device—double the amount of power delivered by most current wall adapters for tablets.
Intel also used IFA to show off WiGig, a wireless gigabit data link for connecting monitors, hard drives, and other peripherals. WiGig is currently supported by Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
Toshiba's impressive Satellite
Toshiba held nothing back in the convertible Satellite Radius 12 laptop. This powerful 12.5-inch road warrior could give Lenovo’s X series a run for its money—at least on the spec sheet.
The top-notch model of this PC includes an IPS touchscreen display with 3840-by-2160 4K resolution, Technicolor-certified color accuracy, an infrared camera for use with Windows Hello, and of course, a Skylake processor. That’s basically everything you could ask for in a Windows 10 laptop.
Toshiba hasn’t revealed pricing yet, but look for the Radius 12 to roll out before the end of the year.