What to expect from CES 2018

CES officially kicks off next Thursday, but the deluge of press releases and product demonstrations will get started well in advance of that time. The show has become so massive that it's impossible to cover everything. From phones and tablets to PC hardware, and on to displays, home entertainment, home appliances, and concept cars, CES has it all. Our cohorts over at Tech Radar will be looking at all the latest smartphones and gadgets, while we'll mostly focus on the PC ecosystem. What do we expect to see over the coming week?

Virtual Reality is still a thing, though it's been far slower to go mainstream than initially expected. There will be new headsets this year, but perhaps more interesting will be the growing field of AR—augmented reality—devices. There's room for both, and AR is arguably the more difficult task to get right, but we're looking forward to seeing some alternatives to Microsoft's HoloLens.

>8K displays – Last year we saw the initial 4K HDR 144Hz display prototypes, which still haven't actually shipped. But the relentless march of progress means we'll see even bigger and higher resolution displays this year. 8K already exists, so someone will inevitably make a 10K or higher resolution display, just to show off.

Huge displays – We're not sure what the largest non-projection display was last year, but someone will beat that as well—because we all want a 120-inch 8K display for a wall, right? We remember when 65-inch 1080p LCD displays were bleeding edge stuff, and now you can find those everywhere. CES is a great place to see where display tech will be in another decade.

Thinner and lighter gaming notebooks – Nvidia's Max-Q notebooks have been impressively powerful while remaining reasonably thin and light. This year, we'll see even more offerings along this line, though most of the technology is already available—we don't expect any new CPUs or GPUs in notebooks for at least another few months.

Intel 8th Gen, again – Intel will also enter the gaming notebook fray with 8th Gen CPUs that integrate AMD RX Vega graphics solutions on package, meaning we should see capable gaming notebooks that could be only 17mm thick and still get nine hours of battery life. Just don't get confused by the 8th Gen naming, as these are really the same Kaby Lake CPU cores from last year. Intel will also announce an 8-core/16-thread variant of Coffee Lake for the Z370 platform, maybe.

AMD Ryzen 2 – It might be called something different, but AMD will show off an updated iteration of its Ryzen processors, which will all work in existing 300-series chipset motherboards. There will be new 400-series chipsets as well, however, with a few new features to entice you to upgrade. Ryzen 2 will boost clockspeeds into the 4.5GHz range, with slightly better per-clock performance as well, finally closing the gap with Intel. At least, that's what we hope will happen. We'll also see plenty of Ryzen-based laptops using APUs.

Meltdown and Spectre2018 started off with a bang of the worst form, with research showing working attacks on modern processors that leverage the capabilities that help make our CPUs fast. Everyone will be talking about the exploits in some fashion, and security companies will be crowing, "we told you so!" while peddling their latest software. Intel will continue to downplay the exploits, while AMD will continue pointing out that it's CPUs are immune (for now).

RGB lighting – Is there anything inside our PCs that hasn't received the RGB treatment? Keyboards, mice, motherboards, GPUs, RAM, cases, and cooling have all long since jumped on the RGB bandwagon, and there are even RGB power supplies. The trend will continue, and this year someone will demonstrate a PC concept where the entire system is built inside a large RGB diode. (Not really.)

Motherboards galore – Every major manufacturer of motherboards will be showing off new designs, with larger heatsinks and more RGB lights. Coffee Lake boards with B360, H310, and H370 chipsets will also be available, along with X470 and B450 boards for Ryzen 2. X299 and X399 meanwhile will sit quietly on the side, trying to convince us that we need to have more than eight cores.

Nvidia will talk cars and AI – While the company was built on graphics technology, CES has become the place where Nvidia focuses on non-gaming endeavors like AI and self-driving cars. With the Tesla V100 and Titan V boasting unprecedented performance for deep learning applications, don't expect anything new in the realm of Volta graphics cards at CES.

What do you expect to see from this year's show? Stay glued to our hardware channel for all the PC hardware news out of CES 2018.

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