Welcome to the show
"I didn't realize PAX is like... the PC gaming show," said my colleague Gordon Mah Ung after his first day on the convention floor. And indeed it is. At E3 I get excited if I see a single PC in a developer's booth. But at PAX, where indie games and hardware companies reign supreme? It's PCs everywhere.
We spent the weekend snagging photos of some of the coolest hardware on the show floor. A computer with a blood bag! A computer that shoots paper planes! A wall made out of keyboards! And uh…Corsair's new light-up mousepad. Have to include that.
Here's the mousepad in question. The Corsair MM800 is similar to Razer's Firefly-LEDs on the facing edge, normal mousepad on top. The MM800 adds 15-zone lighting though (Razer's is single zone) and USB passthrough.
Also it's $60. Oof. - Hayden
Corsair's RGB fans
Continuing the RGB LED theme in Corsair's booth were a bevy of machines sporting light-up fans, which cycled through the spectrum of colors.
You too can live in a Tron reality—though it does seem a bit distracting, to say the least. - Hayden
Intel's Extreme Rigs - CyberPower
Intel ran the Extreme Rig Challenge during PAX, making its booth the place to be for impressive PC hardware. On display? Seven gorgeous PCs, all constructed with a budget of $10,000.
I'm a sucker for In Win's H Tower chassis, used here by CyberPower and which I first saw back at E3. Instead of thumb screws, the $2,400 case splits apart like a Transformer to allow access to its innards. Stupid, but so slick. - Hayden
Extreme Rigs cont'd - AVADirect
High-end builds are also obsessed with glass, the better to show off those custom liquid-cooling loops and the slick cable management inside. And if you want glass, you can't get much crazier than this build from AVADirect.
It's hard to get a good picture of, but the case is basically two huge glass side panels with a bit of metal on the top. That's it. It's perhaps not the most functional case, but it's certainly one of the more eye-catching. - Hayden
Computer Power User and CyberPower
Another crazy case, and another mention for CyberPower-here's it's the Fang Trinity, a beast of a computer with a unique (read: weird) shape. This beaut was on display in Computer Power User's sixth floor booth, and damn I'm jealous. - Hayden
We spotted an Asus ROG GX800 on the floor packing the elusive and powerful GeForce GTX 1080 GPU. Besides the 10-series GPU, the GX800 also packs an overclockable quad-core Skylake CPU and a liquid-cooling dock. - Gordon
Red cases from iBuyPower with red LED lighting inside. Headsets with red accents and red cabling. DXRacer seats with-you guessed it-red leather seats. This could only be AMD's booth, home of Team Red.
One interesting note: These machines are all running last generation's high-end GPU, the 390, since the oft-rumored 490 has yet to make an appearance. Maybe by the next PAX. - Hayden
And where there's Team Red? Well, you've got to have Team Green.
Nvidia's booth was dedicated to showing off the power of its new 10-series graphics cards and G-Sync monitors, but also the company's support for virtual reality. You can see the big "VR Demos: Sign Up Here" banner on the left-hand side, and with Oculus taking a pass on the show floor this year that left Nvidia as one of the largest VR purveyors at PAX 2016. Weird. - Hayden
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (or a dystopian nightmare)
Following on from that, here's a picture of four people playing Ubisoft's Star Trek: Bridge Crew demo in Nvidia's booth.
Virtual reality is cool, and we loved Bridge Crew at E3, but I freely admit this picture still looks like a scene out of someone's nightmares. - Hayden
Logitech wins the award for best booth display at PAX 2016, thanks to this enormous pixel-art animation-made from keyboards. There are over 150 total, mounted in a grid. The custom translucent keycaps turn each RGB LED key into a single pixel, and from there it's all a matter of programming in the animation itself.
Creative, artistic, and impressive. - Hayden
Razer, Logitech, Astro—always a presence at PAX. But it's rare we see some of the more traditional headphone manufacturers visit the floor.
Audio-Technica was around this year to show off its gaming lineup though—the ATH-AG1X and ATH-ADG1X, plus a smattering of other headsets. - Hayden
Granada Hills Charter High School custom PC
Coolermaster’s booth featured a mod contest between the robotics team of the Granada Hills Charter High School and a NASA-founded Girl Scout Troop. The robotics team used an open heart surgery theme for its PC, which included a chest spreader and heart. - Gordon
If it bleeds, it leads
Granada Hills Charter High School’s modded PC also featured an IV hanger with blood bag—which makes a great place to hang your headset too. - Gordon
Competition for Granada Hills? The NASA-founded girl scout troop, Space Cookies, which entered this modded PC into Coolermaster's contest. The theme of the machine was the International Space Station. - Gordon
Space Cookies (cont'd)
The Moffet-field based Space Cookies added a motorized paper air plane launcher onto their modded PC. - Gordon
I've become oddly fond of Alienware's Area 51 over the years, if only because in a world of boring black rectangles, it's pretty damn easy to pick out of a lineup—and you know it's full of top-of-the-line hardware.
This year Alienware had 10 of them networked together on the show floor to demo Cliff Bleszinski's upcoming PC-only shooter, Lawbreakers. - Hayden
World of Warcraft
It wouldn't be a PC sights-and-sounds list without a mention of World of Warcraft. The latest expansion, Legion, launched last week and Blizzard made sure it was at PAX in force. Time to get back on the ol' treadmill again, I guess. - Hayden
Dawn of War III
Another PC mainstay on the show floor: Relic's Dawn of War III. It's probably the most anticipated real-time strategy game of 2017, and a treat for people to get their hands on at PAX.
Find your friend who claims the PC has "no exclusives" and bring that person to PAX. Rub it in a bit. - Hayden
Tucked into a corner of the Indie Megabooth? Ron Gilbert's Thimbleweed Park, a game in the vein of the SCUMM point-and-clicks he used to make at LucasArts (and LucasFilm Games). Or a game that should feel like "finding an undiscovered LucasArts adventure game you’ve never played before," as Gilbert told us back in March.
It's due to arrive in January of next year, which feels like an interminable wait. - Hayden
Okay, this isn’t a modded PC, but it's damn cool. It’s an actual Soviet-era T34 tank that Wargaming.net trucked in for a crushathon at PAX 2016. Among the items crushed for the crowd: a player piano, a drum set and bubble wrap. - Gordon