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What does Computex mean for the next year in tech?

Big things and small packages, that's what.

The sun's going down on the last incredibly humid day of Computex 2017 in Taipei. As I'm preparing to fly home, back to Sydney in glorious winter, I'm thinking about the past week. The phenomenally slim laptops I saw, the visionary keynotes I listened to, the obscene gaming rigs that were tempting me to start my Season 5 placement matches for Overwatch on a convention show floor.

That's the good thing about Computex. It isn't as bogged down in early prototypes as are some other tech shows. There's immediate impact. You'll be able to spot trends, and know what the next 12 months has in store for you. Here's what those trends mean for you.

I've always been iffy on gaming laptops, but the MSI GT75VR shut me up.

Aloysius Low/CNET

It's all about the game and how you play it

If you like those chunky, angular, portable-in-name-only gaming laptops, boy is Computex the show for you. While there was a trend towards slimming down laptops without sacrificing power, the really exciting gaming laptops went the other way, ignoring any sort of size constraints to chase desktop-level performance.

And, would you look at that, the MSI GT75VR Titan reckons it got there. The Taiwanese PC maker had the most impressive machine I saw performance-wise, but their new cooling systems and display panels are set to trickle down their range and mean that even affordable gaming machines are set to get a boost.

The ROG Zephyrus squeezes in a GTX 1080 using Nvidia's new Max-Q architecture.

Claire Reilly/CNET

Discrete graphics are popping up in more places, like Dell's new all-in-one range, and dedicated gaming laptops are squeezing full-sized GPUs inside. Zephyrus, I'm looking at you. Aorus, you haven't been forgotten.

It's not just multiple GPU setups in laptops or Intel's new 18-core i9 processor. There was a focus on innovative new cooling systems and quality of life designs. All that raw power means there's a rising tide of performance. The middle is falling out of the PC market, with tablets and 2-in-1s doing everything your home desktop used to do, and prosumers and gamers chasing spec-heavy machines at the top end.

This isn't even taking into account the range of peripherals I saw. Wireless charging mousepads? Sure. Analogue keyboard switches? Yup. My favourite slim keyboard getting even slimmer? Okay, that one is just for me. But this is all stuff you'll see in the next 12 months.


Corsair unveiled a working demo of a wireless mouse on a Qi-enabled mousepad. Charge!

Claire Reilly/CNET

Slim is in

Okay, let's pretend you want something you can actually carry around. That was the other big shift that'll unfold over the coming year. It felt like every major manufacturer wanted to tout something thin. And, credit to them, they did.

We saw the Flip S, the thinnest 2-in-1 ever made, and a laptop housing a GTX 1080 graphics card that was just 18mm thick. I'm honestly not sure how that even works, having held the enormous 1080 in my hands before. I couldn't help but think about the Asus ROG laptop I had at home (forsaken when I finally caved and built a tower), and how these machines measured up and outstripped the clunky old thing.

I'd point to Nvidia Max-Q design as the thing that'll make that happen. It already turned up in a few laptops on the show floor, and the graphics company says you're looking at machines three times thinner and three times as powerful. And since you can't get away without an Apple comparison today, the sound bite is "gaming laptops as thin as a MacBook Air."

Come on down (in price)

Speaking of Nvidia, that same Max-Q architecture is going to get prices down, down, down. Nvidia itself threw out the $1,200 figure, but it wasn't the only company to go for budget machines for mainstream customers who wanted to get a little PC gaming in.

The Asus Flip S is the thinnest 2-in-1 ever made.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Dell's Inspiron range wowed with price, offering up a very upgradable gaming desktop and two VR-ready all-in-ones that ran at only a few hundred more than current flagship phones. Gigabyte, another local player, are pushing their budget-friendly Sabre range with the SabrePro 15, a laptop that still has that premium gaming feel.

Rather than going all in on performance, or price or design, Computex made me feel like 2017 was the year I could have my cake and eat it too. Because really, what else is the point of all that cake?

For more far-flung ruminations from Computex 2017, check out Claire Reilly's wrap of Computex 2017. If you'd like to take a step back, Aloysius Low has been on the show floor 10 years running and had some thoughts on Asia's biggest tech show.

For the rest of CNET's coverage of Computex, click this handy link. 

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