The annual New Year techgasm that is the Consumer Electronics Show is kicking off this week. As soon as the New Year hangover subsides the tech industry always turns its steely, Sauron-esque eye on Las Vegas and the bright lights and excess of CES 2019. There will be a heady mix of audio, televisual, and computing goodness on show, with an added slice of washing machine and fridge/freezer tech to give it a little edge.
But it’s the computing side that we’re most interested in, and while CES 2019 will not be the most PC-centric trade show of the year, there are still set to be some important techie noises filtering out of the desert sands and the faded casino razzmatazz of Vegas.
We’re taking a look at what the big PC companies are likely to show off and what alternative gear the January event is likely to present. It’s a good chance to see what’s coming at the start of 2019, as well as a first look at some of the tech that might be filtering out a lot later in the year.
So, who’s going to have the biggest impact on the computing industry in Vegas, and who’s going to show off the most irrelevant concept design destined never to make it out into the wild? And then who’s going to have their prototypes stolen from the show floor and dropped onto ebay before January even gets into double figures?
For the past two years CES has been a big show for AMD, with both 2017 and 2018 starting with a full pre-CES Editor’s Day running through everything the company is launching early in the year.
That’s not happening this year, though CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, is going to be delivering a keynote address at the show on January 9th. The 9am keynote is unlikely to be a product announcement, however she will be painting “a picture of the next-generation of computing that will redefine the industry and our world.”
Read more: The best CPU for gaming right now
It’s the first time AMD has keynoted the show, and shows just how far the company has come in the last couple of years.
We may hear more about the 3000-series CPUs, with the new Zen 2 processor architecture, as well as the second-gen Ryzen APUs, and there is the slightest possibility it will also make some noise about the Navi graphics cards set to launch later in 2019.
We don’t expect to hear a whole lot of new stuff from Intel at CES, though it is holding its conference on January 7, at 4pm local time. The whole thing will be livestreamed so you can keep abreast with whatever Gregory Bryant and Navin Shenoy have to say out in Vegas.
It’s likely that much of the PC-related news will relate to the information which has come out of the recent Intel Architecture Day. That means we’ll be retreading ground about the future use of 3D stacked chip designs, building on the existing EMIB technologies, and the upcoming 10nm Sunny Cove processors.
There might just be another mention of the Intel Xe graphics architecture, but given that isn’t going to see the light of day until 2020, with further details unlikely to arrive until this time next year, there’s probably not going to be a whole lot of detail to it.
Oh, and expect a lot about 5G. Intel loves 5G and spent a lot of last year’s CES talking about it too…
It could well be a pretty big show for Nvidia, with it being one of the few PC component makers likely to actually launch something from Vegas. We’re almost 100% confident that there will be RTX 20-series Max Q laptop graphics chips launched at the show, with the big laptop vendors likely in attendance showing off their wares up and down the Strip.
Watch here: Nvidia’s CES 2019 press conference
There is also the tantalising prospect that Nvidia’s RTX 2060 will be at the very least officially announced during CES. The latest rumour, from a pretty reliable source, states that we will hear something RTX 2060-related in the second week of January which ties in pretty closely with CES finishing January 11.
And you know what else might be there? Those Big F***** Gaming Displays. After being announced at CES last year, and subsequently delayed until 2019, there’s a chance Nvidia might want to remind people they exist. Fingers crossed they turn up with better panels than last year’s prototypes.
And the rest…
AMD, Intel, and Nvidia are the big three when it comes to advances in the most key sections of PC gaming hardware, but there are a host of other companies that have a major impact on what happens to our favourite gaming platform.
Corsair, for all its peripheral nouse, is one such company and is promising that this will be its biggest CES ever. It’s claiming to be unveiling new technologies, but this is also the first show that its latest division, Elgato, will be part of. Corsair will have a whole range of new goodies, likely from memory, to keyboards, to streaming boxes.
Razer, not to be out done, will surely have new 2019 gear to show off, and with Nvidia announcing its new mobile RTX cards it would be a surprise not to see Razer taking to CES with a new Razer Blade laptop with a little light ray tracing chops. It wouldn’t be CES without Razer showing off some bizarre new prototype (and potentially having it stolen from the show), and we’re betting on a new gaming phone with at least three different fold-out screens. Who’s with us?
Everyone’s favourite benchmarking outfit, UL, will be out in force at CES too. Who? UL is the name of the company behind 3DMark and it is going to have its new DXR-focused Port Royale ray tracing benchmark released on January 8. But you can bet it will be all over the show, on every Nvidia Max Q laptop running a new RTX graphics card. Well, unless the RTX 2060-based notebooks really struggle with the benchmark…
Creative will use CES to show off its new $299 SoundblasterX AE-9 sound card, a super high-end audiophile PCIe board with a separate breakout box and DAC. It also features swappable Op Amps for extra audio fine tuning and a 6-pin PCIe power connector to help power the ports on that big external box.
But what about VR?! Asks no-one… Whatever the current apathy for virtual reality means in the grand scheme of things there will still be some VR announcements coming from CES, with one of the most interesting coming from the XTAL VRGineers. Unfortunate name they’ve coined for themselves there… It’s a headset with a native resolution of 2560 x 1440 per eyeball, and delivers the image through a non-Fresnel lens for added VR clarity.
It’s also got a 180° FoV, automatic adjustment for eye-positioning, and an integrated Leap Motion camera to track your paws to use as your game controllers. And will inevitably be another VR headset that gets precisely zero wider adoption…
If you’re more into actual reality gaming then you can always play ping pong against a robot at CES instead. OMRON will have the next generation of its table tennis playing bot, FORPHEUS, out and about, looming large above ping pong tables. It’s now learned how to play with topspin too, so it’s more of a challenge.
And, if you’re finding yourself increasingly fatigued by the amount of time you spend staring at a screen, then Umay Care might just have the technological breakthrough for you. The Umay Rest is thermal meditation that “redefines self-care and helps digital device users find stress relief and reset the effects of screen time by resting the mind and restoring the natural function of our eyes.” Neat, eh? It’s also creating a commercial version for Facebook that actually pins your eyelids open – it’s called the Umay Not Look Away.
That’s only a snapshot of the new technology that’s going to be coming out of next year’s CES. But we’ll be on hand once the show kicks off in earnest to tell you about everything that’s going on in the brave new world of PC gaming in 2019.