What happened in hardware this week, April 17-23 edition

Intel Sign

The folks at Maximum PC have had another week to settle into our new home at PC Gamer, where we're powering the hardware channel, but the tech world kept spinning. It's been another eventful week, with the release of new gaming peripherals and hardware, changes happening at Intel, and predictions on the future of VR. If you missed any or all of it, now's your chance to get caught up!.


Intel plans to lay off 12,000 employees

Confirming earlier rumors of impending layoffs, Intel on Tuesday announced plans to eliminate up to 12,000 positions globally, which works out to around 11 percent of its total workforce. Intel's official reason for the layoffs is that it's part of a restructuring effort, and Intel is looking to accelerate its evolution from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices.

"Our results demonstrate a strategy that's working and a solid foundation for growth. Our opportunity now is to accelerate our momentum and build on our strengths. But this requires some difficult decisions. With that context, today we are announcing a restructuring initiative that will allow Intel to intensify our investments in the products and technologies that fuel our growth, and drive more profitable mobile and PC businesses," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated in an open letter to employees (PDF).

Intel is coming off a quarter in which it raked in $13.8 billion in revenue (PDF) en route to a profit of $2.6 billion on a non-GAAP basis. There's probably not many companies that would look at those kinds of numbers and conclude that a major reduction in its workforce is in order. But if you look at the burgeoning world of smartphones and tablets, Intel doesn't have nearly as much presence as they would like, and that may be troubling the company.

Razer's Turret lapboard lets you game in comfort on your couch

Razer Turret

If you've bought into the idea of playing PC games on your big screen TV in your living room, you might be interested in Razer's new Turret peripheral, which just graduated from prototype to a shipping product. Razer's Turret is a three-piece system consisting of a wireless laptop keyboard, an integrated magnetic mouse surface, and a gaming mouse with a 3,500 DPI sensor. What Razer is trying to do is bring keyboard and mouse controls to the couch without the awkwardness of wires or a separate surface to lay them on, such as a TV tray.

Lian Li builds a motorized standing desk that doubles as a PC case

Lian Li DK-04

Lian Li has been known to release some funky case designs, and they're the first to market with a standing desk chassis, the DK-04. That's right, the DK-04 is both a standing desk with motorized action and a computer case. The idea behind the thing is that you'll stand up during work hours and then sit for a spell to play games. The DK-04 might appeal most to anyone who works remotely, as the standing option will keep them off their rump during the day. You can adjust the desk anywhere from 67.5 cm to 116 cm by pressing the up and down arrows on the front panel.

Acer pounces on VR gaming with new Predator desktop and laptop PCs

Acer Predator 17 X

Acer announced a bevy of PC products today, among them three interesting additions to its Predator line. They include the Predator 17 X notebook, Predator G1 desktop, and a new Predator Z1 series of monitors. The new hardware is built to handle VR gaming, whether at home or away. For notebook gamers, the Predator 17 X answers the call with a 17.3-inch G-Sync IPS panel available in Full HD (1920x1080) or 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160). The G1 meanwhile is a compact desktop with support for high-end hardware, and the Z1 line consists of three curved G-Sync ultrawide displays.

Cherry launches MX Speed mechanical key switch for faster click action

Cherry MX Speed

Cherry has plenty of street cred in the mechanical keyboard market, as many of the most popular options feature Cherry MX switches. At the same time, Cherry's business has come under attack by peripheral makers like Logitech and Razer that offer their own custom mechanical key switches. The pitch from Logitech and Razer is that Cherry MX switches were never built specifically for gamers. That changes today with the introduction of the Cherry MX Speed, a new "Silver" switch that Cherry says is its fastest mechanical MX switch to date.

Corsair's K65 and K70 RapidFire keyboards answer the need for speed

Corsair K65 RGB RapidFire

Corsair didn't waste any time as the exclusive launch partner of Cherry's new MX Speed switches with ultra-fast click action. Hot on the heels of Cherry's announcement, Corsair unveiled three new RapidFire mechanical keyboard models, each of which use the new key switches. The K65 RGB RapidFire is a tenkeyless keyboard, with RGB backlighting, while the larger K70 RGB RapidFire includes the missing 10-key. There's also a K70 RapidFire, which uses straight red backlighting instead of RGB.

AMD's Wraith cooler now ships with FX-8350 and FX-6350 CPUs

Amd Fx-8350 Fx-6350

AMD is keenly aware that anyone serious about overclocking immediately chucks the stock cooler that ships with their processor and installs a third-party solution in its place. That's why AMD designed the Wraith, a high performance heatsink that, up until now, only came bundled with two processors. In addition to the FX-8370 and A10-7890K, AMD is now including its Wraith cooler with its FX-8350 and FX-6350 CPUs.

VR hardware sales predicted to soar past $2 billion by end of year

Oculus Rift

There's been an inordinate amount of attention placed on VR this year, and that's due in large part to the much anticipated releases of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. While neither outfit has revealed specific sales figures, market research firm IDC reckons that, as a whole, VR hardware "will skyrocket in 2016." Led by Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus, IDC expects total volumes of VR hardware to reach 9.6 million units by the end of the year while generating a whopping $2.6 billion. Those are staggering figures considering that VR is still very much in its infancy at this point.

HP updates all-in-one Z1 G3 workstation with 4K display and Intel Skylake


The all-in-one category is still dominated by systems designed for general purpose computing chores, though little by little, the landscape is changing. HP announced its third generation Z1 G3 workstation, a powerful AIO with some interesting amenities, including a 23.6-inch 4K Ultra HD display. The new Z1 G3 is 47 percent smaller and 51 percent lighter than the previous generation, and it's also lighter on the wallet with a starting price ($1,498) that's 21 percent less expensive than before.

Game at 144Hz with Asus's new VG278HV 27-inch monitor

Asus VG278HV

Asus announced a new 27-inch monitor for gamers that lacks modern amenities like G-Sync or FreeSync, but what the new VG278HV does offer is a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time for smooth action. That combination is a point of focus for Asus, though the 1080p resolution seems rather tame. $349 for a 144Hz TN display makes the new model slightly less expensive than the previous VG278HE, with a better response time as a bonus.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).