Computex 2019: everything you need to know

Computex 2019
Computex 2019

Computex 2019 is here. Well, almost. Taking place next week, from May 28 through June 1, the international computing trade show will no doubt be full of gaming announcements—pertaining to hardware and software alike—some of whom have never shown their faces to the public. Assuming you weren't paying attention already, this is the year to start. No matter what the haters say, gaming isn't going anywhere. A multi-billion dollar industry at this point, everyone wants a piece of the Fortnite pie. Especially tech firms. Thus, it's only a matter of time before we see mainstream interest turn to systems and services.

To many companies, Computex acts as a catalyst to seduce that emerging market. AMD, for example, is hosting a keynote one day prior to the expo's official commencement. It is there that we expect to see its long-awaited 7nm Ryzen 3000 processors. Chances are, at some point during the week, Intel will fire back with its own solution, presumably the 10th gen Core processors, based on the 14nm Comet Lake microarchitecture. No matter what, these reveals will have a huge bearing on every aspect of the show this year. Gigabyte has already teased 3rd gen Ryzen integration for its upcoming Aorus gaming laptop refresh. Meanwhile, MSI says it has "next-gen" motherboards on the way. 

For now, all the companies we've spoken to are keeping their plans vague, lest they hazard spoiling the excitement of their imminent surprise unveilings. As a result, there's a lot we don't know. We can say who is and who isn't attending Computex 2019, and we can even take a stab at predictions. But almost nothing is certain. Not Ryzen. Not Project Athena. Not nothin'. With that in mind, we've cornered the most qualified experts we could find on staff at this very website to find out what they think is going to happen at Computex 2019. Organized by product category and by no means set in stone, here's what they had to say. 

Jarred Walton: Components

Computex could be big for AMD. While Intel will be launching new 9th and 10th Gen CPUs this year, possibly at Computex, we expect the 10th Gen CPUs will only be for laptops. Desktops will have to get by with a collection of new 9th Gen Coffee Lake Refresh parts, and when 10th Gen desktop parts arrive, they'll initially be 14nm Comet Lake rather than 10nm.

AMD meanwhile has been making noise about its third generation Ryzen 3000 CPUs. Where Intel continues to struggle getting 10nm out the door, AMD will use TSMC's 7nm process technology for the Zen 2 architecture and Ryzen 3000 CPUs. That means smaller chips, and we expect to see up to 16-core/32-thread processors for AMD's mainstream AM4 platform.

Along with new CPUs, we also expect new 500-series chipsets, with the X570 as the enthusiast solution. Most existing 300-series and 400-series motherboards will support the new processors but the X570 will include PCIe 4.0 support. 

AMD is also expected to reveal details and launch plans for its Navi graphics architecture and new AMD Radeon RX 3000 GPUs. The latest rumors indicate AMD will unify its CPU and GPU branding, so you'll start to see Ryzen and Radeon 3000 parts. Both will use TSMC's 7nm process, giving AMD a clear advantage over Nvidia's 12nm Turing GPUs.

The Red Team could also potentially offer better performance in a smaller chip for the same price. The Navi architecture is also supposed to be a major update for AMD, improving efficiency and features. Therefore, even if it falls short of RTX 2080 Ti performance, price will be a major draw. There are rumors of RTX 2070 performance for under $350—though without hardware ray tracing features.

Joanna Nelius: Desktop PCs and cases

There’s still a lot of activity around desktops, with Nvidia’s RTX and GTX 16-series graphics cards now a staple of new prebuilts. But with the AMD Ryzen 3000 series due to release soon, it’s expected that prebuilt manufacturers will add that processor to their list of possible specifications. 

It’s anyone’s guess who will debut something new at Computex, but if CES 2019 was any indication, we could see something from at least one major manufacturer—assuming these companies have already been testing prebuilts with the new Ryzen processor; we don’t know the release date for the AMD Ryzen 3000 series yet, but AMD has said that third-gen Ryzen will ship in mid-2019, which is right around the corner.

Computex 2019: Desktop PCs and cases

Computex 2019: Desktop PCs and cases

As far as PC cases go, there’s been a slow-growing trend toward smaller form factors that still pack the same amount of power as a high-end PC in a standard-sized case. Companies like Cooler Master recently released some of the cases it showed off at CES 2019, like the customizable MasterBox Q500L, an mATX case that can support a standard ATX motherboard. Corsair has its One i160, which is a high-end system, as well as MSI’s Trident X. It’s possible we could see more small form factor PC cases from a variety of companies, possibly from NZXT and be quiet!, and maybe others. At the very least, there will still be RGB lighting. That’s not going away anytime soon. 

Gabe Carey: Gaming laptops

As I mentioned earlier, Gigabyte is doubling down on AMD cross-pollination with this year's batch of Aorus laptops. At an hour and a half long keynote scheduled for May 28, the company says it'll showcase "exclusive never before seen products." Originally, this event was supposed to follow the AMD keynote, but it was later postponed. Based on the contents of the invite, we can infer some relationship between the the the chipmaker's "next gen" Ryzen 3000 CPUs and Gigabyte's existing Aorus 5 and Aorus 15 laptops. Surely, other laptop makers will do the same, though I've yet to hear from any myself. 

It makes sense that Gigabyte would have a strong presence at Computex 2019, given that it's based in Taiwan. However, it would also be the perfect opportunity for Intel to finally give us the lowdown on the minimum specs for Project Athena, the Santa Clara chipmaker's initiative to make thin and light laptops more powerful while also gracing them with better battery life. As of right now, it's promising at least 9 hours of real-world performance off the charger on a given laptop. In the debut sizzle reel, you could see a person playing Anthem on an Ultrabook-like notebook, with no charging cable in sight. 

If the teaser video was right and this is an accurate depiction of what we can hope to see from Project Athena, it is inherently gaming related. In my own conversations with Intel spokesperson Frederick Hamberger late last month, he alluded to this idea of solid state batteries, the "holy grail" for gaming laptops. Maybe that's the next step for the future of on-the-go PC gaming. Perhaps we'll even see examples start to crop up at Computex. In the meantime, we can all look forward to incremental improvements to gaming laptops as we know them, complete with RTX (and Navi?) graphics as well as Intel 9th gen and AMD Ryzen 3rd gen processors. 

Alan Bradley: Peripherals

PC peripherals and accessories traditionally make up a niche but important corner of the announcements that come out of Computex, and we expect this year to be no different. On the display side, monitor announcements from BenQ on panels targeting the eSports segment are likely, given their focus on that market subset, but I wouldn't be surprised to see monitor reveals from them more broadly aimed at gaming and productivity. HP has also been making waves in the gaming monitor space recently, so more information about their forthcoming panels is sure to be a major part of their show presence. 

Judging from the language in some manufacturer invites, we also expect to see a number of companies expanding into full scale mouse charging pads and compatible pointers, as well as pads that include Qi charging support both for mice and other devices. Headsets will likely continue to monopolize their share of the spotlight as well—we expect to see new cans from SteelSeries and Sennheiser specifically, as well as a larger focus on gaming headsets packing USB-C connectivity. 

Computex 2019: Peripherals

Computex 2019: Peripherals

We also know some other major players in the peripheral space will be at the show, including CoolerMaster, so expect something around keyboards, mice, or their PC cooling solutions. On the mechanical keyboard front, we've seen new switches introduced in Taipei before, so there's a definite possibility we'll get news on new configs from Cherry, Kailh or some of their new competitors. 

Bo Moore: Software

As a hardware-focused show, we typically don't see game announcements at Computex. As for other forms of software, it's possible that companies like NZXT, Razer, and Corsair might roll out new versions of their peripheral/lighting-control software, but that's pure speculation on my part. 

Other things to look out for are case mods and overclocking records, both of which have a strong showing at Computex every year. We've seen some awesome case mods in years past, and the show is also a time where professional and amateur extreme overclockers show off their skills and even compete. G.Skill holds an annual overclocking world cup for RAM overclocks, and pros like de8auer are usually in attendance to show off the latest in overclocking, delidding, and other bleeding-edge techniques.