Everywhere you look, another PC
Like usual, I spent most of my time at PAX West 2017 admiring the PC’s presence. After the console focus of E3, PAX is always the perfect RGB-lit mouthwash to close out the year.
Unfortunately 2017 was a bit less spectacular than last year—a show that featured a PC that fired paper airplanes, another with its very own blood bag, and a wall made entirely from keyboards. PAX West 2017 couldn’t possibly live up, and indeed it was a bit slimmer on the custom case front.
All the latest peripherals were floating around though, plus a few surprises—from Alienware’s 6-plus foot monitor setup to Corsair’s cool logo.
Winds of fortune
“Cool logo.” Get it? Because it’s made from fans.
Yes, Corsair wins “Best Gimmick” for 2017. Two or three of these panels hung above the Corsair booth, each made up of at least 60 RGB case fans. (I counted.) It’s not quite as stunning as Logitech’s RGB keyboard wall/video screen last year, but still a pretty cool idea.
Okay, Corsair actually had the two best gimmicks at PAX 2017. After ogling the light-up logos you might spot this miniature thunderstorm-in-a-box sitting on a nearby table. Inside? Corsair’s spill-resistant K68 keyboard—one of the few spill-resistant keyboards that’s also a mechanical keyboard, featuring Cherry MX Red switches.
Whether this particular K68 would actually work if you pulled it out of the enclosure? I’m not sure, though I guess the fact the lights still work is probably a good sign.
No, it's not Nvidia's booth
Don’t be fooled by the bright green lighting and the telltale graphics card—this isn’t actually Nvidia’s booth. That can only mean...Razer.
Indeed, this is the latest partnership between Razer and an established PC manufacturer. CyberPowerPC, in this instance, and the custom P400 ATX case. Unveiled right before PAX, it took over the center of Razer’s booth.
Not shown: The three-headed Razer logo emblazoned on the front of the case.
Another “unveiled right before PAX” product, this is Astro’s new A20 gaming headset. It’s basically the A10 that Astro showed off in June, but wireless and with a few additional features—most importantly, a chat mixer. That makes it sort of a baby A50 which is an interesting prospect, especially at half the price.
Still can’t say I love the design though. A bit blocky.
Okay, PAX 2017 wasn’t completely devoid of RGB keyboard walls, though on a much smaller scale than Logitech’s 2016 installation. This year it was Cooler Master, which brought this much more modest setup to the show. I count 25 keyboards?
Every time I walked past it was only playing a random lightshow—nothing like the fancy pixel art videos Logitech made. Still eye-catching, though.
I used to own one of Cooler Master’s High Air Flow (HAF) cases, and let me tell you: It was nowhere near this stylish. Pictured is the new Cooler Master MasterCase H500P, which Cooler Master is referring to as the HAF’s “younger brother,” for some reason.
Don’t rush to Amazon quite yet: The H500P was revealed at Computex, but isn’t set to release until the end of September. Looks like a hell of a showpiece though. So...transparent.
Okay, one more Cooler Master photo. Listen, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t include at least one RGB mousepad in this slideshow.
This one is Cooler Master’s. It looks pretty much the same as every other RGB mousepad. Just as pointless, too.
All in the family
The headset’s a favorite, and the G603 mouse is intriguing—Logitech claims it’ll get 500 hours of gaming off two AA batteries, with the accuracy and performance of the famed PWM3366 sensor. As for the G613? Well, I don’t see a huge reason to own a wireless keyboard if you’re deskbound, but it looks nice enough.
We're gonna need a bigger desk
At Alienware’s booth I was quickly ushered over to look at this incredible (ridiculous) set-up. Featuring three of Alienware’s new 34-inch AW3418DW G-Sync monitors, the width of all three combined was over 6 feet and 10,320 pixels by my (admittedly rough) calculations.
Two GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards in an Alienware Area 51 chassis pushed that astonishing 10,320 by 1,440 resolution, for just about the most overwhelming Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice experience I can imagine.
PAX is also the first time I’ve gone hands-on with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Mixed Reality headsets—although that’s really an umbrella term for the platform, not the hardware itself. Case in point, the Dell Visor featured here is only a Virtual Reality (VR) headset, like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
It’s less feature-packed than its upscale competition, but also slightly cheaper—at $350 (or $450 with motion controllers) the Dell Visor is relatively inexpensive compared to the $500 Rift or $600 Vive. This could get interesting.
Wolfenstein 3D Pt. 6
Just a glimpse here of how far the PC’s come in the last decade or so: All the games I saw at Bethesda’s booth were being demoed on PC, with mouse and keyboard controls available. That includes Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Elder Scrolls Online.
And yes, I’m happy to report that Dishonored: Death of the Outsider ran fine on the PC I used. Hopefully that holds true of the full release.
The lighting isn’t a red herring here—this was taken in AMD’s booth (as was the first photo in this feature).
Not much to say about this machine in particular. I mostly found myself impressed with the design of those Radeon RX Vega cards—they look really sleek, with that simple type-logo in the bottom left. Just beautiful hardware.
Now if only the cryptocurrency miners would stop scooping them all up.
Another PC that’s not so much impressive as it is incredibly beautiful, I spotted this build over in EVGA’s booth. The EVGA GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 (phew) really gets a chance to shine here, with that honeycombed chassis oriented towards the glass window.
It’s also beautifully color-coordinated, with the rainbow of RAM providing a nice pop of color in the center. A simple build with stock parts, but gorgeous nevertheless.
Lights on your headset, mouse, mousepad, keyboard, RAM, case fans, case, and graphics card? Oh, sweet summer child, you know nothing—your build won’t truly be complete until you’ve slapped an RGB motherboard inside, like this one from Aorus.
Have we gone too far? Have we strayed from the path, somewhere along the way? I’m starting to think perhaps the answer is yes.
Window on the world
Oh look, it’s longtime PC favorite Civilization! Sort-of.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice this version of Civilization is actually a board game—Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn, to be exact. It looks vaguely Catan-esque, though I guess anything with hexes looks vaguely Catan-esque to me.
Morituri te salutant
And to close out: This Thunderdome-esque spectacle. Not strictly hardware related, but I was impressed that Devolver Digital built out an entire arena to show off its VR title Gorn, a super-violent gladiator game that also happens to be one of the year’s best VR games. It’s highly recommended, even if you don’t have your own personal Thunderdome to play in.