The big guns
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. But nobody wants to miss out on an interesting launch! So welcome to “This week’s new PC hardware,” our weekly roundup dedicated to keeping you informed of the most intriguing, important PCs, PC components, and peripherals announced over the past seven days.
This week was a doozy. We finally got our hands on the first-ever 32-core consumer processor, Nvidia revealed its next-gen GPU with some radical changes inside, and even Intel’s diminutive NUC mini-PCs unveiled some notable firsts. All sorts of new laptops and PC components were announced, too. Let’s go!
Nvidia Turing and GeForce RTX 2080 teases
We have to start with the long-awaited arrival of next-gen graphics cards. Okay, Nvidia’s formal unveiling of its radical new Turing GPU was limited to the pro-focused Quadro lineup, but the design points to what’s coming to the GeForce lineup. It looks like us gamers won’t have to wait long to find out, as a secret-packed Nvidia video all but said that the GeForce RTX 2080 will be unveiled at Gamescom on Monday.
Yes, RTX—not GTX. These high-end Turing GPUs are the first graphics cards to include dedicated hardware for real-time raytracing, a.k.a. the holy grail of games. Fingers crossed. While we wait for Nvidia’s Gamescom event, here’s what PC gamers need to know about Turing, Quadro RTX, and the GeForce RTX 2080.
AMD Threadripper 2990WX review
After weeks of unboxings and exclusive interviews with AMD’s computing chief, reviews for the monstrous 32-core 2nd-gen Threadripper 2990WX ($1,799 on Amazon) went live this week, and as Gordon put it, “for those of us who actually do push pixels around for a living, this new 32-core Ryzen Threadripper is Thor’s hammer falling right into your hands with a crackle of lightning and thunder.”
Not many people truly need that many cores. The 8-core Ryzen 7 2700X ($330 on Amazon) is more than enough CPU for most of us. But if you can’t resist the allure of loading up a whopping 64 threads and making Task Manager’s performance graphs freak out, be sure to read our Threadripper 2990WX review.
Wraith Ripper cooler
AMD partnered with Cooler Master to create the Wraith Ripper, a hulking tower cooler designed to keep Threadripper CPUs running cool and looking glamorous. Wraith Ripper features dual aluminum heatsinks with seven heat pipes and a high-powered 120mm fan in between to keep air flowing. Despite its towering height, the footprint is relatively small, and the cooler shouldn’t cause compatibility issues with memory modules, the company’s say. Installation looks to be a breeze, too, relying on four tall screws reached at the top of the cooler.
And look at those RGBs. Just look at them. Wraith Ripper sure is purdy. If you prefer a tower to a closed-loop cooler like the Enermax Liqtech TR4 II 360 ($160 on Newegg), look for Wraith Ripper to appear in stores in September for $120—a hefty premium compared to most air coolers.
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R
That’s not all Cooler Master was up to this week. The company also announced its first-ever 360mm closed-loop cooler, the MasterLiquid ML360R ($160 on Newegg). The beast of a cooler is laden with addressable RGB lights on both the fans and the waterblock, which can be configured using the RGB software included in motherboards from Asus, MSI, or ARock. Got another brand? You can set up your light show using Cooler Master’s own MasterPlus+ software, too.
Wait. Is that pronounced “MasterPlus,” with the addition sign for emphasis, or is it actually “MasterPlus Plus”? Either way, Cooler Master’s proud of the AIO’s “precision machined microchannel cold plate” and tubing that contains durable FEP material on the inside and attractive black sleeves without.
Intel "Cannon Lake" NUCs
Way on the other end of the size spectrum, Intel unleashed a flurry of NUC kits and mini-PCs this week, all bearing 8th-gen Core processors. Of particular note, the pair of fully outfitted NUC mini-PCs bring some notable firsts to the palm-sized computers.
Each comes equipped with the 2.2GHz, dual-core Cannon Lake Core i3-8121U processor, bringing chips built on Intel’s beleaguered 10nm process to small form-factor PCs for the first time. (The NUC kits stick to traditional Coffee Lake cores.) That CPU’s paired with a AMD Radeon 540 GPU—the first time that discrete graphics have appeared in the mainstream NUC lineup. Don’t expect it to compare to the power custom Radeon Vega CPU in Intel’s enthusiast-focused Hades Canyon NUC ($850 on Newegg), though it can apparently handle esports just fine. Look for the new NUCs to hit stores in September.
EVGA X299 MICRO ATX 2
If you’re into small rigs but can’t quite stomach a NUC, EVGA released its X299 MICRO ATX 2 this week ($300 on EVGA.com). This board may be tiny but it’s loaded with enthusiast-friendly features, like a 14-phase power design, a VRM heatsink with a dedicated fan, extra power connections, an external BCLK generator, the ability to flash the BIOS with no chip installed, and EVGA’s new GUI BIOS with integrated overclock testing functionality.
Phew. Overclockers, get at this.
Small laptops, big power
When it comes to laptops, this week was all about big-time firepower in tiny packages. Lenovo crammed Intel’s monstrous Core i9 CPU into a slim, 3.76-pound workstation laptop—fingers crossed it doesn’t suffer from the same severe throttling woes as Apple’s MacBook Pro. The ThinkPad P1 will be available later this month with prices starting at $1,949 for the Core i9 model (the higher-end SKUs rock Xeon chips).
The gamer-centric Asus ROG Zephyrus S sticks to a 6-core Core i7-8750H, paired with GeForce GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 Max-Q and a blisteringly fast 144Hz 1080p display. And get this: It’s all in an ultra-thin chassis measuring a mere 0.65-inch thin. Check out our Asus ROG Zephyrus S hands-on for all the info you need to know.
Lian Li Lancool One
A couple of new cases appeared this week, too. First: The Lian Li Lancool One, a mid-tower that blends Lian Li’s signature brushed-metal design with a tempered glass panel and striking RGB LEDs up front. It’s got plenty of room inside, too, with support for 360mm radiators at the top and front, CPU tower coolers up to 6.9 inches tall, and graphics cards 16.5 inches long.
The Lancool One comes in two forms. The $90 version packs traditional RGB lighting, while the $100 model makes those lights fully addressable and adds a Type-C USB 3.1 Gen. 2 connection to its top panel ports.
Thermaltake Level 20 GT Edition
The Level 20 GT RGB Plus Edition and Level 20 GT Edition cases are the latest entries in Thermaltake’s premium Level 20 full-tower lineup, offering four tempered-glass panels with hinged doors, a removable power cover, support for bulky E-ATX motherboards, an all-too-rare USB Type-C port, and plenty of room for beefy cooling solutions.
The RGB Plus Edition comes with two of Thermaltake’s Riing Plus 20 RGB fans in the front and one Riing Plus 14 RGB fan in the rear, complete with Amazon Alexa support if you want your case lighting to change when you yell at it. The cases are scheduled to show up in stores later this month, for an undisclosed price.
Turtle Beach Atlas headsets
Finally, Turtle Beach announced three sub-$100 headsets for PC gamers. The $99.95 Elite Atlas Pro sports a metal headband with suspended padding, “magnetic memory foam ear cushions featuring athletic fabric and synthetic leather working together to block out external noise,” and a glasses-friendly design. The $79.95 Atlas Three uses lesser-quality materials to hit its lower price, while the $49.95 Atlas One looks pretty basic, but still comes equipped with 40mm speakers and a flip-to-mute mic.
Several companies are locked in a fierce battle for the best budget gaming headset crown, so we’ll have to see how Turtle Beach’s trio stacks up when the launch at the end of September.