In pictures: The wild computers and badass PC components powering Gamescom 2018

If E3 is a console show, Gamescom is where the PC rises to the top. Take a look at the most majestic computers, case mods, and PC components we discovered walking its many halls.

gamescom hardware primary
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Gamescom = computer games?

If E3 is primary a console show, like everybody says, then Gamescom 2018 is the vanguard for PC gaming. Powerful computers and wild PC hardware filled every one of Koelnmesse's 10 halls, far outnumbering the consoles once you strayed away from the PlayStation and Nintendo booths. My enthusiast heart yelped with joy.

Here's some of the most interesting hardware I happened upon, from gorgeous case mods to a slew of custom GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards to some truly wild stuff. Strap in.

nvidia geforce rtx 2080 ti
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GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Let's start easy. Nvidia wouldn't let us touch any GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards at its reveal event on Monday, but I found one sitting on a table at HP's section of the Windows booth. So here's what it looks like when it's not trapped inside a glass cage!

hp mindframe
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HP Omen Mindframe

Also spotted at the booth: HP's Omen Mindframe, one of the PC innovations I'm most excited about personally in 2018. This gaming headset uses active thermoelectric cooling to keep a metal surface inside the ear cups very cold, which in turn keeps your ears cool during extended gaming sessions. And it really works!

hp mindframe inside
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Omen Mindframe, inside

If you look closely at this picture of the the Omen Mindframe's inner cup, you'll see "sweat" left behind from where I touched the speaker with my thumb -- that's how cold it gets. Sound quality didn't seem the best, but that's hard to judge on a show floor.

corsair wall of lights
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Corsair RGB fan wall

Sticking with circles, Corsair’s famous “gigantic wall of RGB fans” reappeared at Gamescom—my first time witnessing it in person. It’s as impressive as it looks.

corsair rgb build
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All in the family

This gorgeous blue rig in Corsair's booth shows what's possible when you stay within the company's family of products. Shame that they chose a graphics card with red accents though.

samsung chg90
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Samsung CHG90

The Samsung CHG90 isn't new anymore, but seeing it again drove home just how breathtaking an ultra-ultrawide FreeSync 2 panel with HDR support can be. This beast basically replaces two desktop monitors, and looks great doing it.

razer giant keyboard
Hayden Dingman/IDG


Razer, on the other hand, lugged a gigantic-ass BlackWidow keyboard replica to Gamescom, and all I can think about is how much I want to hop on it like Tom Hanks in Big. But I don't want my press badge revoked? Maybe on the final day.

geforce rtx 2080 ti l3p
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L3p Spectre

Badass modded PCs abound at Gamescom. One of my favorites? "L3p Spectre" by Peter Brands. It was on display, dual RTX 2080 Ti cards and all, at Nvidia's reveal event.

erazer microsoft pc
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Erazer PC

One of the coolest parts of attending Gamescom is seeing custom PCs from European boutique builders that don't get any attention Stateside. Here's a nice water-cooled rig by Erazer, in Microsoft's Windows booth. 

alienware desktops
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Also spotted in Microsoft's Windows booth: ALIENS! And not just any aliens, aliens playing with dragons.

geforce rtx 2080 ti simstation
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Simtag station

I have a soft spot for glorious, immersive "simstations" built for simulation games, and this Simgtag-built rig scratched that itch. It was at Nvidia's RTX reveal, playing Assetto Corsa Competizione, one of the first games to support real-time ray tracing.

battlefield v 64
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Battlefield blitz

Battlefield V is another game that supports real-time ray tracing. EA was running massive 64-player multiplayer matches at its booth.

corsair wall computer cure
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Corsair CUE

Okay, sure, BFV looks great, but look at the rays coming off this wall-mounted PC showing off Corsair's CUE software platform.

geforce rtx 2080 ti shadow of the tomb raider mod
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Shadow of the Tomb Raider mod

Nvidia had gorgeous mods galore at its RTX event. Ron Lee Christianson's mod dedicated to Shadow of the Tomb Raider was big, lovingly detailed, and powered by a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, natch.

geforce rtx 2080 ti shadow of the tomb raider mod 2
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Shadow of the Tomb Raider mod, continued

The other side looked just as pretty!

geforce rtx 2080 ti bomber
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Bombs up

Lee Harrington created this Battlefield V mod for Nvidia's event. 

deepcool quadstellar
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Deeply cool

Every time I see Deepcool's radical, over-the-top Quadstellar case, I take a picture of it. It's that simple.

mad catz ratz
Hayden Dingman/IDG

Mad Catz Rat(z?)

Mad Catz is coming back with its signature Rat mice, and intrepid games reporter Hayden Dingman scrounged up more details. There will be seven different mice total, with sensors ranging from the PWM3325 on the low end to the PWM3389 on the high end, which previously appeared in the Razer Hyperflux. Mad Catz expects to ship these in September or October but isn't commited to any release dates.

aorus statue
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This huge guardian welcomed gamers to the Aorus booth, hands seemingly captured mid-"bring it, sucka." 

arous simracing
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VR sim racing

Multi-monitor simstations are sweet, but VR simstations are even more immersive. These folks were trying their luck on virtual asphalt at the Aorus booth, which also featured live, shoutcasted League of Legends matches. 

casking skull ali teh cre8or abbas
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Skull Canyon

Caseking, a European PC system and component seller, had a huge number of badass PCs on hand. Perhaps most interesting was the rear corner of the booth, which was dedicated to awe-striking case mods. First up: This beautiful beast by Ali 'The Crea8or' Abbas.

gears of war mod caseking
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Ripping and tearing

Gears of War fans will appreciate this mod dedicated to the series' iconic half-assault rifle, half-chain saw Lancer. 

the dark knight caseking
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The Dark Knight

"I AM BATMAN" screams Caseking's The Dark Knight mod. 

spartacus caseking
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The final Caseking mod showcase, Spartacus by Ali Abbas, goes with a violent Roman Thracian theme instead. You can find many, many more pictures of it in Abbas’s Spartacus photo gallery.

pny cougar caseking booth
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Catch a cougar

Elsewhere in Caseking's booth, PNY was holding a giveaway contest for this aggressive-looking $1,500 custom PC built inside Cougar's distinctive Conquer case.

evga rtx 2080 ti
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EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XC Ultra

Finally, PNY's booth also served as the showcase for EVGA's new GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XC Ultra graphics card. We don't know the final clock speeds yet, but at three slots thick, this monster should have plenty of cooling capacity.

msi rtx 2080 ti gaming trio microsoft
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Gaming X Trio

We actually found several custom GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards around Gamescom, just one day after the GPU's reveal. Microsoft's booth held MSI's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio...

msi rtx 2080 ti duke microsoft
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The Duke

...and MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Duke.

palit geforce rtx 2080 ti gaming pro captiva
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Palit Gaming Pro

The Captiva booth debuted Palit's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Pro...

gainward phoenix geforce rtx 2080 captiva
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Gainward Phoenix

...and our first in-the-flesh sighting of a custom GeForce RTX 2080 design, the Gainward Phoenix.

rog robo
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ROG strong

The Asus ROG booth had the ROG Strix RTX 2080 Ti on display, I've been told, but I didn't see it anywhere. Here's a picture of a huge statue of the ROG logo made out of robot parts instead. Apologies. 

samsung emperor rig
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Samsung Emperor

Samsung had a majestic Emperor workspace set up to accentuate the immersiveness of the ultra-ultrawide CHG90 display. It was powered by the custom PC you see here.

world of tanks
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Yep, that's a tank. Tanks are hardware, right?

hp obelisk
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HP Omen Obelisk

HP was showing off its new Omen Obelisk tower at the Microsoft booth. Tempered glass panels might be the norm at events like Gamescom, but it's fairly unique to see in desktops from the big OEM builders.

maingear geforce rtx 2080 ti pc
Brad Chacos/IDG


Here's a Maingear PC powering Metro Exodus real-time ray tracing demos at Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti launch event. The Fractal Design Meshify C won our Full Nerd podcast's pick as the best new case last year, and it's getting put to solid use here.

microsoft wall pc
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What are you doing up there?

At Gamescom there are PCs everywhere you look, even at the top of a wall.

heroes of the storm
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Some people forget about Heroes of the Storm between League of Legends and Dota 2, but Blizzard's booth was packed.

erazer booth
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Erazer's booth had over half a dozen custom rigs sitting high and mighty over their associated stations, each totally different from the others, and all gorgeous in their own way. Too bad it's a European system builder.

star destroyer captiva
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Captiva, another European PC supplier, also had numerous jaw-dropping mods on display, like this gorgeous Star Destroyer PC...

stargate sg1 goa uld bomber cap ten captiva
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Sci-fi theme

...which was right next to a build crafted to look like a Stargate SG1 Goa'uld bomber, by modder Cap-ten.

hellblade eddy customizing
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Captiva's booth also housed this unique Hellblade PC mod by Eddy's Customizing.

amiga computers from amiga future
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Blast from the past

Let's wrap things up with some Amigas brought in by Amiga Future!

Gamescom dedicated half of the second story of hall 10 to retro gaming, and it's utterly wonderful. Despite all the flashy new gear on display elsewhere I enjoyed my time here the most, amongst the arcade cabinets and Atari Jaguars of the world. You think I can make a tempered glass case mod for one of these?

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