What's new and noteworthy
Fresh gear comes fast and furious in the wide-open world of PC hardware—so quickly that even computing faithful like us can’t possibly cover it all. Nobody wants to miss out on an interesting launch though. So welcome to “This week’s new PC hardware,” our new weekly roundup dedicated to keeping you informed of the most intriguing, important PCs, PC components, and peripherals released over the past seven days.
On tap this week: AMD’s biggest-yet Ryzen APU with Radeon Vega cores, Microsoft’s $400 Surface Go, an Asus ROG external drive tricked out with Aura Sync RBG lighting, and a whole lot more. Let’s dig in!
First up: Microsoft’s Surface Go, a $400 tablet that brings the popular Surface lineup back to mainstream prices (though its virtually must-have Type Cover costs another $130.) While it isn’t the best pure tablet around, this is the first Surface that actually works well as a tablet, and its key selling point is its versatility: This affordable slate can be a full-blown PC (with a modest CPU) when you need it. And damn if it doesn’t look great for a $500 laptop. Check out our extensive Microsoft Surface Go review for everything you need to know.
Origin PC's light Core i9 laptops
Up until now, laptops with Intel’s monstrous Core i9 processor leaned toward extremes: You either got huge, hulking beasts like the Alienware 17 R5 that give the chip plenty of room to roar, or the slim and sleek MacBook Pro, which throttles back performance. Origin PC is splitting the difference with two new gaming laptops, the EON15-S and EVO17-S, both of which pack Core i9 and Nvidia GeForce graphics into lightweight (for a gaming notebook) designs. The EON15-S is just 3.4 pounds!
That sounds like another MacBook Pro throttling controversy waiting to happen, but Origin beefed up both laptops to just shy of one-inch thick despite their airy heft. That leaves plenty of room for better cooling capabilities. Stay tuned for reviews to see if the design manages to thread the needle between portability and performance.
AMD's monster APU
AMD’s marriage of CPU cores and Radeon Vega on a single chip has impressed us so far, with both Ryzen desktop APUs and Intel’s Kaby Lake-G delivering solid gaming performance. This week, AMD announced its most potent system-on-a-chip yet, blending a four-core, eight-thread Ryzen chip with a whopping 24 Vega cores on a single package. That’s more than twice the number of Vega cores in AMD’s higher-end $160 Ryzen 5 2400G APU.
Now for the bad news: This beast’s a custom design built for Zhongshan Subor to use in a gaming PC and new console (pictured above) for the Chinese market. Fingers crossed that it’s a herald of what to expect in more mainstream next-gen consoles, though.
AMD B450 motherboards
AMD also announced a new motherboard chipset this week. B450 motherboards essentially offer the same specs and overclocking capabilities as the previous B350 chipset, but with support for StoreMI storage pooling and lower idle power states tacked on. Motherboards like the $120 Asus TUF B450 and $120 Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro WiFi are already available. Check out PCWorld’s guide to Ryzen motherboards to see how B450 stacks up against your other options.
Antec Mercury RGB liquid-coolers
All-in-one liquid-coolers are a crowded market right now, but Antec’s muscling in with its new Mercury RGB series. The coolers pack customizable RGB LEDs galore and PWM fans, natch, backed by a five-year warranty and a design that’s supposed to keep your CPU nice and chilly for up to 40,000 hours. That’s a lot of hours! Antec says the high-performance pump comes with “an ultra-quiet closed impeller design and three-phase motor” to keep noise to a minimum.
The Mercury RGB closed-loop coolers come in 120mm, 240mm, and 360mm designs for 81 Euros, 109 Euros, and 136 Euros respectively. Fingers crossed these land stateside soon.
Asus FX external hard drive
Speaking of RGB, leave it to Asus to drag glittering hardware outside of your PC case. The new Asus FX external hard drive comes in 1TB or 2TB capacities, with a 5Mbps USB 3.1 port, 256-bit AES encryption, and yes, full Asus Aura Sync software support. That way, when you plug the drive into your system its customized RGB lights can match your motherboard, keyboard, and graphics card’s LEDs. Okay.
If you can forgo flashy lights, you’ll get faster performance from the portable SSDs in our roundup of the best external drives.
Seagate Barracuda SSD
The Seagate Barracuda SSD ($120 for 500GB on Amazon) comes blissfully RGB-free. And it gives the Samsung 860 EVO, our recommendation for the best SSD for most people, a serious run for its money. Heck, Seagate’s drive even topples it in some benchmarks. Some unusual, random performance hiccups prevent it from taking the crown. Nonetheless, this is a flat-out fast SSD at a great price. Read all about it in our Seagate Barracuda SSD review.
In Win 915
In Win’s famous for its striking, oft-pricey cases, and this week saw the introduction of a new one. The In Win 915 is an ATX full-tower case with rounded front and rear panels, a body constructed of anodized aluminum and tempered glass, and—get this—a mechanized top panel that raises up at the touch of a button to provide more airflow when you need it.
The 570 x 230 x 645mm chassis packs plenty of configuration options, as you’d expect in a case so large, and it’s expected to hit store shelves soon. For how much? Your guess is as good as ours, but given In Win’s history, don’t expect it to be cheap.
HyperX PulseFire FPS Pro RGB
On the other hand, HyperX’s new PulseFire FPS Pro doesn’t break the bank, costing a mere $60 on Amazon. It’s a pretty straightforward gaming mouse, with six programmable buttons, support for up to 16,000 DPI, and the ability to customize its RGB lighting accents with the HyperX NGenuity software.
Razer Huntsman Elite
Let’s wrap things up with yet another RGB-festooned peripheral. The Razer Huntsman Elite ($200 on Razer.com) didn’t launch this week, but we published our review of Razer’s rare new keyboard design. It stands out from the pack in some interesting ways! For the keyboard nerds: Razer's Huntsman Elite has optical switches. For everyone else: The wrist rest is RGB-enabled. No, seriously.
There’s not much that makes spending $200 on this keyboard worthwhile, however, especially when you can get Corsair’s luxurious K95 Platinum—a keyboard we currently have listed as our “Splurge” keyboard pick—for $165 on Amazon. Still, the opto-mechanical switches feel surprisingly good. Check out our Razer Huntsman Elite review for everything you need to know.