My favourite things at Computex 2014
Posted on 12th Jun 2014 at 08:53 by Matthew Lambert with 28 comments
Admittedly, I was excited about these products before my plane even departed for Taipei, but the new Corsair RGB keyboards didn't disappoint. The Cherry MX RGB switches are unique to Corsair, giving them a real edge over the competition. The backlighting on the K70 RGB and the K95 RGB is more even with the new switch design, but the real win here is the full per-key colour and brightness customisation – the number of lighting patterns you can program is essentially limitless, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the community comes up with, as lighting profiles can be saved, uploaded and shared.
All keys can now be reprogrammed with different functions and macros, so practically the keyboards have improved massively over the previous generation ones – the original K70, which I currently use, has zero macro functionality. From what I saw, Corsair has done a good job in improving its software too, so there's plenty to be excited about. These keyboards aren’t going to be cheap, but even so I expect them to fly off the shelves when they're released, probably in early August.
Both the new Raijintek all-in-one liquid cooler (currently without name) and the Fractal Design Kelvin series of AIO coolers also stood out to me, in both cases because they're not actually entirely sealed units. Raijintek approaches this from a mostly aesthetic standpoint, offering transparent tubing and a transparent waterblock/tank unit and four different coolant colours. The price tag of £75 is also very strong for a 240mm radiator cooler, and I'm interested to see how well the slimline fans can keep up with the competition.
Fractal, on the other hand, has an approach based on future proofing and expansion. For starters, it offers a refill point and standard diameter brass fittings on the waterblock and radiator, allowing you to swap out and replace components as you see fit. Furthermore, it has also built a more powerful pump (courtesy of a conjoined effort with Alphacool) into each of the Kelvin units, such that they can cope with users adding another waterblock or radiator into the loop, for example. It's a cool approach that could well encourage novice water-coolers to start experimenting with custom loops.
I was reluctant to include a company twice here, but after looking through everything I saw, I had to admit that of all the cases on show it was the Corsair Carbide Air 240 that had me most excited. That said, the new Be Quiet! chassis and the Antec P380 with its 5mm thick aluminium shell both had me wanting samples ASAP.
Nevertheless, the Air 240 looks really sleek, and Corsair has done well in shrinking the dual chamber design of the Air 540 to micro-ATX dimensions. The fact that you can also rotate it to have the window positioned left, right or on top also gets my seal of approval, as this means you can always show off your build regardless of where you need to put the case on your desk.
After writing a NUC feature for Custom PC last year that included reviews of passive NUC cases, I was convinced that passive is the only way forward for mini-PCs – I'm a big fan of low-noise and silent computing as it is. As such, the Zotac C-Series of Zbox mini-PCs also makes this list.
Pleasingly, Zotac hasn't just made the chassis into a giant heatsink in order to achieve passive cooling – it's still dinky, and as it's made of metal I think it looks better than the traditional glossy black casing too. With a Core i5 model available, it's not short on processing power, though the single channel memory is a shame. Nevertheless, with support for 6Gbps 2.5-inch SSDs and heaps of connectivity, the C-series Zbox range could be a real hit in the mini-PC market, provided noise from power components isn't an issue.
The final thing from Computex 2014 that stood out most to me was a motherboard range. However, it wasn't a gaming or overclock series of boards that caught my eye, nor was it an X99 motherboard; it was MSI's Eco motherboard range, designed with a core focus on reducing power consumption. I particularly like the user friendly software that allows users to quickly enable and disable various system components (within reason). I also have to admit that I'm really into the white PCB MSI used to demo the H97M ECO. The design still needs some work (the beige connectors aren't great, for example), but it's not a final product yet, and it has the potential to be something rather special.
What do you think of my choices? Have I missed anything that you thought was the star of the show?