Hardware Innovation Galore
Finally, some hardware innovations we can sink our teeth into! This year’s CES was dominated by chips as Nvidia and AMD both unveiled new GPUs and team red also gave a sneak peek of its upcoming third-generation Ryzen platform. The show floor and demo suites were teeming with new notebooks and desktops that were powered by some of the latest graphics cards.
RGB was everywhere, from video cards to SSDs. And who can forget UBTech, which showed off Walker, a 4.7-foot, bipedal robot that can climb stairs, grasp objects and respond to voice commands? What about an RGB laptop bag that can charge your other devices?
These were just a few of the innovations we saw at CES 2019. Here are our favorite products of the show.
Best In Show: AMD
AMD’s Ryzen series of processors have revitalized the market, but the company’s transition to the 7nm process could leave its competitors reeling. The 7nm process is denser than other GPU and x86 CPU technology, allowing the company to pack more transistors into the same footprint, thus lowering cost and improving performance and power efficiency.
AMD is using the new manufacturing technology for both its third-gen Ryzen ‘Matisse’ lineup and the Radeon VII graphics card, which promises to shake up the market as Intel struggles to transition to the 10nm process and Nvidia remains on a 12nm refinement of TSMC's 16nm process. AMD’s third-gen Ryzen processors also come with the new Zen 2 microarchitecture, which should magnify the performance improvements.
We haven’t seen the end products in our labs yet, so the final verdict is still out on overall performance. But AMD’s fast transition to a smaller node brings the promise of cheaper, faster, and lower-power processors and graphics cards in the very near future.
Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware Area-51m
Alienware's Area-51m is the desktop replacement that many have been dreaming of. It's a stunning mix of the RGB gamer aesthetic with a more adult look thanks to clean lines and curved edges.
On top of that, its desktop class internals, including up to an Intel Core i9-9900K CPU, 2 TB of storage in RAID0, Nvidia RTX 2080 and 64 GB of RAM is all user replaceable, allowing for way more upgrading than most laptops. This is the type of design that sets industry trends.
Best Productivity Laptop: Dell XPS 13
Dell's XPS 13 is closer to perfection than ever. Many productivity laptops at CES were spec refreshes, but the XPS 13 also solved a fundamental problem: its ill-placed webcam. Dell did this by engineering a new 2.3-millimeter camera to replace the old 7 mm module. Add in Intel's Whiskey Lake chips, and it sure seems like an already-great laptop just got even better.
Read more: Dell XPS 13 Finally Fixes the Nosecam
Best Gaming Desktop: Zotac Mek Mini
Sure, big desktops can impress, but Zotac's tiniest gaming machine, the Mek Mini, won our hearts not only with its adorable looks and small footprint, but also with its specs. The 10.3 x 10.2 x 5.4-inch machine packs an Nvidia RTX 2070 and an Intel Core i7-8700, making this portable desktop plenty powerful.
Some stores may also offer it with a mouse and a mechanical keyboard. Whether you want a small desktop just for the space savings or to carry around to LAN parties, this one is worth keeping an eye out for later this year.
Best Productivity Desktop: Corsair One Pro i180
Corsair's compact One desktop was already impressive, but the redesigned model moves the power supply to the bottom and triples airflow, letting the company pack in a 12-core Intel Core i9-9920X CPU and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, along with 32GB of RAM. Considering the 12-liter chassis size and small footprint, this is an exceptional feat of engineering.
And according to Corsair, there's plenty of thermal capacity for even higher-end parts, like a 18-core Xtreme Edition CPU and an Nvidia RTX Titan card. High-end content creators looking for a compact powerhouse PC should put the One Pro i180 on their short list.
Best Monitor: Razer Raptor 27
Razer is dipping into the monitor arena for the first time and is poised to make quite a splash with the Raptor 27. Not only does the monitor come with respectable specs for gaming, but it has some nifty features that should make gamers’ lives easier.
The Raptor's display can be lifted upwards 90 degrees for quick access to rear ports. Plus, the monitor will come with flat cables, which you can route through the channels in the back of the display to keep your battlestation looking tidy. There’s also Chroma RGB lighting in the base and a stylish cloth covering on the display’s backside.
Best GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 comes with a $350 price tag, which is higher than we’re accustomed to for this class of video card. We can overlook the price, though, because the graphics card offers great performance for its price point. The GPU delivers great performance in current titles, trading blows with the GTX 1070 Ti and Vega 64, which means that you’ll get your money’s worth even if the promise of widespread ray tracing doesn’t come to fruition.
More games are coming to market that will support ray tracing, though, and the RTX 2060 offers enough performance in Battlefield V to bring bleeding-edge ray tracing down to the mainstream.
Best Peripheral: Thermaltake Level 20 RGB Keyboard
This sleek and stylish keyboard features an all-aluminum top surface, full RGB controls, additional RGB lights around its corners and an RGB line on the right side of the keyboard.
The Level 20 RGB keyboard comes with a choice of Razer Green, Cherry MX Blue or Cherry MX Silver switches. It also has two different sets of flip-out feet to help you adjust the slope. RGB and audio pass-throughs make this peripheral even more compelling.
Best Innovation: Razer HyperSense
Razer HyperSense has the power to bring more of your body into your PC gaming experience. The technology syncs your mouse, keyboard, headset and gaming chair in order to provide 360-degree haptic feedback. That means when playing Overwatch, you could feel the vibration of Pharah’s jetpacks through your seat or feel your mouse rumble when you fire a gun, and those types of sensations could come to more peripherals and more titles in the future. We're looking forward to these immersive experiences.
Best Case: Razer Tomahawk Elite
Razer's Tomahawk Elite case looks incredibly slick for one of the company's first cases, with clean lines, smart cable routing and a rear plate that covers cables while letting LED light escape through a window over the backplate. But the real stand-out feature of the case is the hydraulically-assisted tempered glass doors that open up over the case, like something you might see on a high-end sports car.
Read more: Razer's Tomahawk Elite Is a Slick PC Case With Side Panels Like a Supercar