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 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 packed with significantly more PC news than normal due to the massive IFA 2018 trade show in Berlin, so we’ve been selective with the hardware highlighted. On tap: Intel debuts Whiskey Lake CPUs, ultra-fast 4K monitors pick up steam, the long-awaited Phanteks Evolv X case appears, and you’ll definitely want to feast your eyes on Acer’s wild triple-monitor “Thronos.” All that and more, inside.
Intel Whiskey Lake
This week, Intel revealed a slew of new Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake mobile processors as additions to the 8th-gen Core series lineup. They’re new spins on the company’s long-standing 14nm process, designed to hold the line until long-delayed 10nm chips finally arrive in late 2019. At this late stage of 14nm’s evolution, Intel’s marketing focuses more on the connectivity advantages built into the CPUs, such as Gigabit Wi-Fi, though they’re expected to be 10 percent faster than the Kaby Lake-R chips also under the 8th-gen umbrella.
Find details about all the Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake speeds, feeds, and improvements here.
Acer Swift 5
It didn’t take long for Whiskey Lake laptops to arrive. The Acer Swift 5 uses the newly announced Core i7-8565U and Core i5-8265U processors, but still manages to stay so portable that it’s almost ethereal, at 0.63 inch thick and a mere 2.2 lbs. Both 14- and 15-inch versions will be available, though Acer hasn’t announced release info for the smaller model. The 15-inch Acer Swift 5 will be available in January starting at $1,099.
AMD Threadripper 2950X
The massive 32-core 2nd-gen Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX launched earlier this month, and now its little sibling has arrived. The 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 2950X ($900 on Amazon and Newegg) hit the streets Friday. It’s the successor to the original Threadripper 1950X flagship, packed with all of 2nd-gen Ryzen’s architectural improvements.
Phanteks Evolv X
PC cases aren’t hotly anticipated very often, but the $200 Phanteks Evolv X isn’t most cases. It’s the follow-up to the Enthoo Evolv Tempered Glass beloved by enthusiasts (and housing my own personal system), but stuffed with high-end features and tweaks to address critical feedback. Easier tempered glass handles? Check. Improved ventilation? Check. More RGB LEDs up front? Check. Better water-cooling and cable routing tools? Check. USB-C? Check.
And yo dawg, because you like PCs inside your PCs, you can even build a second mini-ITX system at the top of the case with an optional adapter. To accommodate that, Phanteks also announced the Revolt X, 1000W or 1200W power supplies capable of juicing up two systems simulataneously.
I have an Evolv X in for review, so expect to hear our impressions soon.
Acer's 4K, 144Hz gaming monitors
The 4K/60Hz barrier has finally been broken. We reviewed the Acer Predator X27 ($2,000 on Amazon) this week, and the 4K, 144Hz G-Sync HDR monitor is basically the Holy Grail of gaming displays. Beyond those imposing specs, it’s ultra-fast and dazzlingly bright, with gorgeous color accuracy and high contrast ratios. It makes even non-HDR games look amazing.
But what if you want a fast 4K monitor that doesn’t cost $2,000? At IFA, Acer announced additional 4K, 144Hz monitors with HDR support at a more down-to-earth brightness of 400 nits, and far lower (but still expensive) price tags. The $1,299 Acer Predator XB273K supports G-Sync, while the $899 Acer Nitro XV273K supports FreeSync. Look for both to land sometime in the last quarter of the year.
Acer Predator Thronos
And if you need a place to store a monitor or three, look no further than the Predator Thronos. Acer’s calling this a gaming chair, but this nearly 5-foot-tall steel monstrosity “in menacing dual-tone black with white or blue accents” and room for a trio of monitors is more like a cockpit for extreme gamers. Seriously, just look at it. Acer hasn’t announced pricing or release date info, but similar workstations—because really, this isn’t just a gaming chair—cost several thousand dollars.
Samsung Portable SSD X5
You think external SSDs are fast? Well, you’re right. They are. But the Samsung Portable SSD X5 ($700 on Samsung.com) is ludicrous, the vanguard of a new breed of portable hard drives powered by blazing-fast NVMe storage technology. “The X5 is now the portable drive for multimedia pros, or anyone who doesn’t like to wait for their files to copy—if you can afford it, and of course, have Thunderbolt 3.”
Our storage expert reviewed the Samsung Portable SSD X5 for our pals at Macworld, because Apple adoptees have been awaiting lightning-fast Thunderbolt 3 storage for ages. This drive will work with TB3-equipped Windows laptops, though, and the review is rife with Windows-based comparison benchmarks as well.
Samsung CJ79, with Thunderbolt 3
Speaking of Thunderbolt 3, Samsung revealed a monitor at IFA with a forgettable name but an unforgettable design. The Samsung CJ79 is a Quantum Dot-infused 34-inch, 3440x1440 ultrawide monitor with a pronounced 1,500R curvature and a VA panel capable of delivering 3,000:1 contrast ratios and 125 percent of the sRGB color spectrum. Translation: It’s real purdy. But the CJ79 also packs in some handy extras, such as support for AMD’s stutter-killing FreeSync technology and not one, but two Thunderbolt 3 ports built-in that let it double as a dock, too.
Samsung hasn’t revealed pricing information but says that the monitor is “currently available in Europe and will be also available worldwide soon.” Weird that it’s available without a stated price, but whatever.
The Dell XPS gets more affordable
Iterations of the sublime Dell XPS 13 have claimed the throne as our favorite thin-and-light laptops seemingly forever now, but their substantial prices limit the audience for these portable stunners. Good news! At IFA 2018, Dell announced a new Core i3 version of the XPS 13 that costs only $900. That’s still not cheap, but it’s attainable for a lot more people now.
Dell actually revealed a flood of stuff at IFA, including a surprisingly classy Chromebook, affordable new Inspiron laptops, and a sleekly designed Dell 27 USB-C Ultrathin Monitor that packs what’s mentioned in its name as well as DisplayHDR 600 certification.
Lenovo's MacBook Pro Killer
Lenovo also showed up in force at IFA, spearheaded by the new ThinkPad X1 Extreme. “This is our MacBook Pro killer,” a representative flat-out told us. Good luck there. The specs and all-around package sure look impressive, complete with the iconic Trackpoint nub, and it costs significantly less than the MacBook Pro 15, too.
Lenovo also showed off a new version of its radical Yoga Book, a laptop that eschews a traditional keyboard in favor of dual displays—one being e-ink. Yes, the $999 convertible will include a stylus when it launches in October. Finally, there’s the Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS, one of the first ARM-powered Windows laptops to feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 chip. Hopefully it alleviates the middling performance we witnessed with the first round of so-called “Always Connected” PCs.
Asus seemingly revamped its entire Zenbook lineup at IFA, revealing the latest Zenbook, Zenbook Pro, Zenbook Flip, and even a Zen (no “Book”) all-in-one desktop.
The mainstream Zenbooks have always been slim and sleek, augmented by a barely-there NanoEdge bezel, but Asus still managed to trim this generation down even more. Despite being so thin, you can still opt for Nvidia’s discrete GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q. The new laptops contain Intel’s 8th-gen CPUs, which helped push the battery life of the Zenbook S all the way up to 20 hours, Asus claims. You can find some high-level details about all the new Zen devices on the Asus press page.
Netgear Nighthawk gets gamers
Netgear outed a new top-of-the-line router this week. The XR700 Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router comes equipped with “a 10-gigabit-per-second ethernet port that, when connected to Netgear’s SX10 Nighthawk Pro switch ($250 on Amazon), provides a whopping 15 wired gigabit ports for the ultimate LAN party.” Sweet holy moly.
The XR700 Nighthawk also includes Netgear’s DumaOS quality-of-service engine, which lets enthusiasts dig deep into how the router performs, and a Plex Media Server onboard for those lazy nights when you don’t feel like picking up a gamepad.
Logitech's HERO returns
Logitech’s G502 has reigned as our favorite gaming mouse ever since we laid our clawgrip upon it all the way back in 2014. Now, it’s getting a deserved tweak, though blessedly not an overhaul. The Logitech G502 HERO packs Logitech's new flagship High Efficiency Rated Optical sensor—hence, HERO—which meets or exceeds the G502’s previous top-tier sensor in every way. It’s also getting an upgraded cable and a dedicated DPI button on the bottom of the mouse “to eliminate unintentional in-game DPI shifts.”
We’re excited to get our hands on it. In the meantime, you can preorder the Logitech G502 HERO for $80 on Logitech.com.
Razer gaming peripherals
It’s not just IFA this week. PAX West is this weekend, and Razer’s upgrading three of its popular gaming peripherals.
The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition headset ($100 on Razer.com) upgrades the Razer Kraken’s solid design with “cooling gel-infused ear cushions” and an improved headband, along with THX spatial audio and a USB Audio controller. The new Razer BlackWidow Elite keyboard ($170 on Razer.com) sports upgraded Razer mechanical switches, a “multi-function digital dial” similar the Razer Huntsman Elite’s, and Razer Hypershift, “which allows every key to become a macro key via Razer’s Synapse 3 software.” Finally, the Razer Mamba Wireless mouse ($100 on Razer.com) is, well a wireless version of the impressive Razer Mamba, with tweaked side grips.
Thermalright AXP-100 Full Copper
Finally, we can’t find official information about the Thermalright AXP-100 Full Copper that TechPowerUp detailed this week even though the report includes full specifications. There’s an AXP-100 Full Copper page on the Thermalright website, but it currently tosses up an error message. But I’m going to include it here anyway because hot damn is it attractive. I’ve always fallen head-over-heels for pure copper heatsinks.