The best new hardware of Computex 2018

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Another Computex is wrapping up, and it's been a busier year for news than I expected. Even without a hardware launch, we had some big news: Intel announced a 28-core, 5GHz CPU, and then stirred up some controversy when it turned out that 5GHz was a hefty, impractical overclock. AMD one-upped Intel with a surprise announcement: second-gen Threadripper, coming later this year, is a 32-core CPU. Nvidia's CEO said next-gen graphics cards aren't coming for "a long time." 

Those were the big headlines, but my favorite part of Computex is getting to see new hardware that's actually coming out: cases and laptops and accessories we'll be able to buy by the end of the year. Well, that's my second favorite part; the ridiculous case mods are what I really live for.

But let's focus on the practical: here's the best hardware I saw at Computex Taipei. Each was a standout piece of technology that showed up the competition.

Phanteks Evolv X case

When I think about what impressed me at Computex this year, I keep coming back to the Evolv X. It's a gorgeous case, and exceeds my wildest expectations for a case refresh. It keeps the same size as the previous Evolv but somehow seems to add infinitely more space, including a mounting area for a second board alongside a normal build, a mini-ITX system, in this mid tower. But the cable management innovations are the real stunners here: Phanteks built some fold-out panels that hide all your cables, and double as mount points for up to nine SSDs.

Looks and utility: it's the whole enchilada.

MSI PS42 ultraportable laptop

I'm partially going on potential, here, but it's exciting to see MSI take a serious stab at a super light non-gaming laptop. As it stands this system will run with a weak Nvidia GPU, but MSI is keen to get a GTX 1050 in there. It's still not going to be a powerful gaming system, but it's 2.6 pounds of stylish aluminum, so even having the power of a GTX 1060 in that package would be fantastic. This feels like Apple-caliber hardware, and MSI did such a good job with the cooling in its thin GS42 gaming laptop, I'm really excited to see what it does in the professional field. 

Noctua NH-U12 CPU cooler

After making a kick-ass new 120mm fan, Noctua has redesigned a classic CPU cooler to perform better than its predecessor. Not only that, this new cooler performs on the level with Noctua's much beefier 140mm, dual-tower CPU cooler in a much more compact package. Where that 140mm monster could jut into your RAM space, the new one should happily fit above a standard socket with no RAM clearance issues whatsoever. And it was handling a 220 watt load at under 50C. Pretty good, Noctua. 

Ducky One 2 keyboards

I think custom keyboard building has been growing in popularity lately, and most of the gorgeous keyboards I've seen have been assembled from keycap sets ordered through sites like Massdrop. Ducky has clearly taken note of the trend and expanded the colors (and sizes!) of its affordable One keyboard, with the confusingly named One 2. All of the new One 2 keyboards have a classy dual tone look going on, in full-size and TKL configurations, with a new compact 60% option as well. As usual for Ducky, these are PBT double-shot keys and there are a bunch of Cherry switch options. Also, it uses a USB-C cable instead of micro USB. Neat! But I'll be honest: I'm really here for the looks. They are just nice.

Roccat Vulcan keyboard

Another keyboard!? Yes, okay? Where Ducky's doing the standard keyboard design (and standard Cherry switches) with great colors, Roccat's come up with something really distinct here. The Vulcan uses a new custom switch that feels really nice, from my limited hands-on: like a Cherry Brown, but not quite. And look at those keycaps! What an absolutely striking design. And I expect it'll be pretty easy to clean, too. 

In-Win 307 case

While just about the whole industry is going all-in on RGB, this is one of the only implementations I saw aiming for a different look. No thin stripes of smooth rainbow patterns here: in the 307 case, In-Win is embracing the pixel look, with a huge RGB display for the entire front panel. You'll be able to cycle through a number of patterns on it, and, crucially, program your own. Get your sprite animations ready, nerds.  

Der8auer's Phase Shift cooler

Overclocker Der8auer, who I interviewed last year about delidding and overclocking, showed up to Computex this year with a new type of pump-less liquid cooler, inspired by his custom-built submerged systems. I have an interview with Der8auer coming down the pipe, but this cooler has the potential to shake up how we do liquid cooling: because it doesn't use a pump, it has the potential to be really quiet, and it also looks pretty damn cool. Don't freak out about the size of the pipe or the radiator in this prototype: this is an early unit, and development has already progressed well past it. The final version should basically have the same footprint of your standard AIO liquid cooler.

And that's a wrap on my favorites from Computex this year. Look for a couple more stories to come out of my trip, post-E3, including that chat with Der8auer and a return visit to Taiwan's PC shopping mecca.