A cornucopia of computer gear
Heading into the month, it seemed like there was no way September’s new PC hardware releases could top August’s. Between Intel’s Skylake launch, Google’s router debut, and the full reveal of AMD’s itty-bitty Radeon Nano graphics card, August’s hot new hardware was ferocious.
But September pulled it off.
In the past 30 days, we’ve seen the introduction of the first mobile graphics card that fully matches its high-end desktop counterpart, the most powerful, enthusiast-ready router ever, and face-blisteringly fast new SSDs that blow away the storage in your PC today. Let’s dig in!
Nvidia GTX 980 for laptops
Our first entry is one of the most eye-opening in a month full of cutting-edge hardware announcements. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980—nope, no 'M'—is the first mobile graphics processor that matches its desktop counterpart spec-for-spec. It’s not nerfed in any way. The mobile version rocks the same 2,048 CUDA cores, the same memory bandwidth, and the same 256-bit memory bus as its desktop cousin.
In other words, mobile graphics have finally achieved parity with desktop graphics—at least in this chip. But that no-compromise gameplay doesn’t come cheap: Laptops rocking the GTX 980 are expected to sell for several hundred dollars more than laptops with the weaker GTX 980M.
Asus GX700 gaming laptop
In fact, the GeForce GTX 980 is so powerful that it will only fit into larger laptops. One, the new Asus GX700, takes advantage of the chip’s overclocking friendliness with the help of liquid-cooling—yes, in a laptop. The GX700’s the first gaming laptop with a full-fledged, no-joke water-cooling solution.
Well, kind of. The GX700 actually comes with a separate water-cooling dock that the laptop slides into, with the extra chill allowing the laptop to overclock the graphics and crank things to 11. Check out our GX700 hands-on from IFA for more info.
Asus RT-AC5300U router
Whereas Google’s OnHub router takes away a lot of user choice to be more noob-friendly, the Asus RT-AC5300U appears to be a networking enthusiast’s dream router. Heck, on paper it looks like the most powerful consumer router ever released.
Bristling with eight—yes, eight—antennas, this 4x4 router promises to deliver two 5GHz 802.11ac wireless networks with TCP throughput up to 2165Mbps each, and one 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi network with up to 1000Mbps of TCP throughput. Translated: Holy crap it’s fast.
Curious? Be sure to read PCWorld’s write-up of the Asus RT-AC5300U’s announcement for many, many more details.
Samsung 950 Pro SSD
So we’ve covered the first graphics card with true desktop-like performance, the first water-cooled(ish) laptop, and the fastest consumer router yet. But we’re not finished!
In late September, Samsung revealed its new 950 Pro SSDs, which marry the company’s cutting-edge V-NAND memory tech with blazing fast NVMe speeds delivered over a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, all on a cozy little M.2 SSD form factor.
That’s a lot of technical terms, but all you need to know is that it’s very small and ridiculously fast. The 512GB version of the 950 Pro hits sequential read speeds of up to 2.5GB/sec and write speeds up to 1.5GBps. Traditional SATA-based SSDs, by comparison, max out around 550 megabytes per second.
Here’s everything you need to know about Samsung’s 950 Pro SSDs. While we’re on the subject, you may also want to check out our review roundup of numerous M.2 SSDs. (Hint: They’re all fast.)
Intel’s 5GBps DC P3608 SSD
Samsung didn’t hold the SSD speed crown for long. The very next day, Intel revealed its DC P3608 SSD—a new SSD that hits 5GBps sequential reads and packs up to 4TB of capacity in a single PCIe card. Whoa.
Intel accomplished the trick by basically slapping two of its blisteringly fast 750 SSDs on a single board, then configuring them in a RAID 0 array. You can read all the nitty-gritty details in our Intel DC P3608 SSD hands-on, but be warned: Merely reading the prices for the various models may cause heart palpitations. The bleeding edge doesn’t come cheap.
Toshiba Satellite Radius 12
A veritable flood of hardware news rolled out at the IFA convention in Berlin early in September, including this beauty of a laptop that’s basically Microsoft’s vision of a Windows 10 PC personified: Toshiba’s Satellite Radius 12.
This swanky, metal-clad 2-in-1 packs Intel’s new Skylake processor, a 4K display option for its 12.5-inch IPS display, support for Windows Hello biometric security, and—of course—Windows 10 itself. That’s every major Windows 10 bullet-point, checked. Look for it to land in stores something this year for an unspecified (but no doubt extravagant) sum.
Toshiba Satellite Click 10
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Toshiba Satellite Click 10. This 2-in-1’s most notable for being one of the first to pack Intel’s brand spankin’ new Atom x5 “Cherry Trail” processors. The fact that’s it’s a convertible laptop with a full 1080p display for a mere $350 is pretty darn interesting, too, as cheap Windows 10 machines increasingly bring the battle to Chromebooks.
AMD Radeon R9 Nano
Let’s start shrinking things down.
After having its tech specs teased in August, AMD’s $650 Radeon R9 Nano hit the streets in early September, and sheesh it’s an exciting—though highly niche—graphics card. This itty-bitty six-inch card can’t quite hang with the Fury X or Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti, but it goes toe-to-toe with the $580 Asus Strix Fury and a highly overclocked EVGA GTX 980 FTW. If you’re looking to build a small-form-factor PC, there’s simply nothing else like it. Props to AMD for creating a truly innovative product.
Acer Revo Build
Continuing with the small hardware theme, the Acer Revo Build advances a long-time dream for PC enthusiasts: It’s a truly modular PC. Want a bigger hard drive? Buy a 500GB/1TB block and plop it on top using a proprietary pinned connection. An audio block and a wireless charging block are also planned. You’ll need to break out your screwdriver on the main module if you want to upgrade the Revo Build’s 8GB of RAM, though.
It’s a pretty thrilling concept—anybody can update their PC in seconds with no headache!—but tread carefully. Modular PCs may not be as exciting as they seem.
Intel's Core M Compute Stick
Intel’s Compute Stick may look like a flash drive, but this pint-sized wonder’s a fully functioning PC. The first-gen Compute Stick stuck to Intel’s humble Atom processor due to thermal constraints, but at IFA, Intel announced a new version built around the company’s far more powerful Core M Skylake processors.
The Compute Stick isn’t the only diminutive PC-on-a-stick in town. Check out our roundup of 13 radically tiny PCs that fit in the palm of your hand for a taste of what’s out there.
Acer Predator gaming notebook
Acer’s first full-on gaming laptops may not have a water-cooling dock, but they sure don’t mess around. The new Acer Predator 15 and 17 rock Intel’s high-end Core i7-6700HQ Skylake chip, Nvidia GTX 980 graphics, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, crazy-fast 512GB NVMe PCI Express SSDs, and—in the 15-inch version—a 4K display option.
Whew. That’d be plenty if Acer stopped there, but the Predator notebooks also feature unique features to help keep temperatures low and frame rates high, including a fan module that can slip into the optical bay. A CoolBoost app lets you customize and increase the airflow inside the machines, while Acer’s DustDefender technology strives to keep the laptop’s major components free of grime.
Acer Jade Primo
Acer’s Jade Primo is the first announced Windows 10 “PC phone,” a Windows 10 phone designed to take advantage of the operating system’s thrilling Continuum feature. Continuum allows your phone to shift its interface to mimic a PC’s when you connect the device to an external display, with those new Universal Apps expanding to behave as they would on a traditional computer. If you really want to get fancy, Acer will also ship a dock for the phone when it ships later this year.
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 700
What’s so special about Lenovo’s new Ideapad Miix 700 hybrid? Well, it’s basically a cheaper, better-feeling Surface clone with a Lenovo keyboard. That description might not be the most thrilling, but for a lot of people, it’s a lot to get excited about.
Office isn’t hardware, but Microsoft’s productivity software is found on vast number of PCs across the globe, so Office 2016’s getting a shout-out now that it’s finally here.