Lenovo and HP chase serious gamers with new high-end desktops

Lenovo and HP are stepping up their game with new desktop offerings that break the mold of what you might expect from a pair of bulk OEMs. Both have some unique designs aimed at hardcore gamers.

Starting with Lenovo, it's joining everyone and their uncle in trying to cash in on virtual reality in some way, shape, or form. That's what motivated the OEM to rethink traditional desktop design for its latest offerings, the funky looking IdeaCentre Y710 Cube and IdeaCentre AIO Y910.

The Y710 Cube looks like something plucked right out of an episode of BattleBots, only without a saw blade attachment. In place of real-life weaponry is a built-in carry handle for easy transportation to LAN parties or to a buddy's house to get him to board the VR hype train. That's the focal point of Lenovo's pitch—being able to experience VR gaming in practically any physical setting.

"While many gamers dedicate rooms for their battle stations, as many as 47 percent are playing in settings beyond the confines of a desk. That’s why we created the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube and IdeaCentre AIO Y910 in minimalist form factors – to give serious players top-of-the-line performance around the home and elsewhere," Lenovo explains. "From the chair to the couch and beyond, these new gaming cube and AIO designs let gamers take their highest settings nearly anywhere."

The compact Y710 weighs 7.4 kg and features up to a 6th Generation Intel Core i7 processor paired with up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. It also supports up to 32GB of DDR4 memory and can be configured with Killer DoubleShot Pro Wi-Fi connectivity, up to 2TB of HDD space or up to 256GB of SSD storage, and of course Windows 10 Home.

Lenovo also gives gamers the option of adding an integrated Xbox One Wireless receiver with a single Xbox One controller included. The receiver supports up to eight Xbox One controllers.

For more stationary gamers who are short on space, Lenovo's IdeaCentre AIO Y910 is built to fit "in places where bulkier PCs can't." That's really a fancy way of saying it's an all-in-one desktop.

The Y910 consists of a 27-inch QHD (2560x144) borderless display with a 144Hz refresh rate. It's powered by up to a Core i7 Skylake processor and up to either the aforementioned GTX 1080 or an AMD Radeon RX 460 graphics, and supports the same RAM and storage options as the Y710.

"With fewer pieces to manage, the IdeaCentre AIO Y910 is simple to set up and ready to play right out of the box. It’s adaptable, too—an easily detachable back panel allows for one-step access to the AIO’s core components, allowing for quick and easy upgrades for the increasing number of gamers—nearly 50 percent1—who like to continually tweak their systems," Lenovo says.

Rounding things out are dual 5W Harman Kardon stereo speakers and Killer DoubleShot Pro Wi-Fi. Lenovo says the IdeaCentre Y170 Cube and IdeaCentre AIO Y910 will both be available with a GeForce GTX 1070 in October starting at $1,300 and $1,800, respectively.

Not to be outdone, HP collaborated with Maingear in designing its new Omen X, another cube-shaped desktop except this one's been rotated to form a diamond and plopped in a stand. The idea here is to let all six sides have access to airflow, as opposed to a traditional case in which five sides are exposed and one sits flat on a surface. This also was conducive to the chambered configuration HP and Maingear came up with.

"That diamond design allowed the engineers to create an internal 'tri-chamber' approach that separates components into three areas: the motherboard, CPU, and GPU (general processing unit) in one area; the hard drives in another; and the power supply in the third. By keeping these components separated from each other by walls—and including a set of independent fans and vents in each chamber—the air flows in a more efficient way, allowing for an improved method of self-cooling," HP explains.

There will be various configurations available from HP culminating in a setup that includes an Intel Core i7-6700K processor, 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD (7,200 RPM), eight USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.0 Type C ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, DVD burner, 1300W PSU, and Windows 10 Home-64-bit.

HP didn't talk price but said the Omen X will be available in early 2017. If you don't want to wait, Maingear offers it's own configurations of the Omen X starting at $2,999. They're available to configure and purchase now.