Computex 2019 is a sanctuary for PC gaming enthusiasts. Littered with tacky custom cases, experimental keyboards and RGB everything, I've never experienced anything like it. It takes place in Taipei City, and it's one of the biggest computing trade shows in the world, where people gather from all over to celebrate a beloved technological pastime.
However, with so much of Computex taking place offsite this year, I wasn't able to make it to the show floor until my last two days. While there are three multi-level exhibition halls, only one is worth a damn for PC enthusiasts: that's because it was home to all the offbeat, bespoke PC builds, internal components that for some reason had OLED displays and—best of all—opulent gaming chairs that will most likely never make their way to market. After getting past the initial culture shock, I strapped in, buckled up and made an active effort to never log off again.
Well, at least not until my flight back to New York departs later on tonight. Until then, it's time to reflect, on the good, the bad and the truly strange products I saw at the Nangang Exhibition Center during Computex 2019. Whether designed for commercial adoption or to draw your attention over to less interesting products from the same brand, this week I saw an exhaustive range of PC gaming wares.
1. Cooler Master's $5,000 massage chair
At this year's show, Cooler Master showcased a vast array of coolers and cases. Hell, it even had a lightweight, FinalMouse Air58-esque perforated gaming mouse available in RGB and non-RGB flavors. But I was more interested in this $5,000 massage pod for gamers, presumably the same one Notch keeps in one of the guest rooms of his billion-dollar mansion. It has cupholders, armrests and true leather seating developed in conjunction with an unspecified luxury car seat manufacturer.
2. Team Group and its liquid-cooled M.2 SSDs
Back when I was young and naive, I joked about seeing liquid-cooled M.2 SSDs at Computex 2019. Now I'm starting to realize I was a fool, because Team Group, a company based in Taipei brought exactly that to the Taiwanese trade show. Enclosed in acrylic casing, Team Group claims its Cardea Liquid M.2 PCIe SSD can stay cooler than air. This ought to help drive its PCIe 3.0 NVMe speeds to their fullest potential.
3. A Heineken beer-blazoned PC case
Before Computex 2019, I'd never drank beer out of a gaming PC case. A sweet summer child before, I have since evolved into a child of a much higher caliber, no thanks to this Heineken-themed custom gaming rig that doubles as a tap. Paying homage to one of the worst imported beers, I have to respect the sheer amount of effort that went into this intoxicating display, seeing as the end result was an unpleasant taste in my mouth.
4. The SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard
Given its lucrative success churning out the best gaming headsets year after year, it comes as no surprise that SteelSeries has decided to double down on gaming keyboards, too. Among them is the Apex Pro, a mechanical keyboard with a twist. That is, you can adjust the actuation point using its intuitive SteelSeries Engine 3 software. And because it has the same OLED display as its Rival 710 gaming mouse, you can take solace in the fact that, yes, GIFs are supported.
5. Asus' aptly named Prime Utopia motherboard
More of an idea than an actual product, the Asus Prime Utopia is an ambitious look at a possible future for desktop motherboards. Moving away from the ATX standard we've lusted after for the past two decades, it moves the PCIe slots to the back and employs a proprietary "Hydra Cortex" fan header for regulating performance of individual fans. But more importantly, it has a 7-inch OLED touchscreen on the front, just in case you want to check your temps without a monitor attached.
6. This coral pink Punisher gaming chair
Frank Castle would be so proud. Though undoubtedly a licensing nightmare, this one is bound to end up in our best gaming chairs roundup. Dubbed the OT-R81, it was manufactured and designed by the Anji Ouchuang Furniture company in Anji, Zhejiang China. I doubt we'll ever see it stateside, but damn it would look great next to my chibi Venom wall scrolls.
7. The 240Hz Asus ROG XG17 portable display
As one of my colleagues said, "I might have to overclock my eyes for this one." Running at 240Hz, chances are you won't be able to tell the difference between the Asus ROG XG17 and a 144Hz display of the same size, resolution and panel type. Nevertheless, the 17.3-inch, full HD (1920x1080) matte screen does look sharp and vibrant in person, and its 3-hour battery life makes it the perfect companion for short flights. If only I could hear its 1-watt speakers amid all the Computex noise.
8. Noctua's NF-A12x25-powered desk fan
Maker of some of the best PC fans on the market, Noctua has a reputation for its near-silent air fans. Having come close to the whisper-quiet noise volumes of the top liquid coolers that we've tested, the Noctua NH-D15 is a choice candidate for keeping your desk space nice and chilled. As such, the Austrian-based enthusiast fave is testing the waters to do exactly that. The incorporated 120mm air cooler in question remains under 40 decibels, for a cooldown experience that doesn't distract.
9. That dual-screen Intel gaming laptop
Not to be outdone by Asus, Intel also revealed a dual-screen laptop at Computex 2019. That said, this one is a proof of concept, for a later lineup of third-party gaming notebooks. Along with a 15.6-inch, full HD screen is a secondary, 12.3-inch, 1920x720 resolution panel meant for simulating the experience of a multi-monitor setup on a laptop. Once it inevitably takes the form of something a little more tasteful, it may comprise the bulk of our best gaming laptop recommendations.
10. Lian-Li's standing desk turned PC case
This may look like an air hockey table, but I assure you it's a desk. And it's a gaming computer. The DK-05, as Lian-Li calls it, is positioned as a PC case that doubles as a standing desk. Or a motorized standing desk that doubles as a chassis. Whichever you prefer. Priced at $2,000, it's big enough to share between two people, and it offers a convenient selection of ports on the side. What's more, it has onboard lighting for exposing its guts to your friends.