We wanted to see what some of our favorite computer hardware manufactures were up to at their booths for PAX East 2018, There was way more hardware being showcased at PAX East than I could have realized. AMD, showing off their Ryzen Thredripper and freesync monitors with some of the least screen tearing ever seen. Cooler Master with insane battle stations, or even Corsair with their lax living room setup showcasing the casual intent of the Corsair One PC and related peripherals. At PAX East this year, we decided to see what innovations manufacturers are putting forth for 2018 inside of some of these machines, so we visited MSI, the leading name in gaming branding horsepower computers, and also the Lenovo booth, which has recently launched a gaming brand “Legion” to push some more innovative desktop models.
At the moment, we’re just coming up on the release of Intel’s launch of the 8th gen series of processors in high performance and mainstream mobile processor versions, as well as the launch of Intel Optane, which, from what I gather, may soon become a much more efficient, more consumer affordable variation of the m.2 SSD storage drives that we’re seeing put into mainstream laptop from the likes of Samsung and Kingston at this present point in time. Based on information I was told from Intel representatives at the Lenovo booth, and prices listed on NewEgg and Amazon, you can get 32GB of flash m.2 storage in the Optane brand for barely $60 dollars, although, confusingly this is not a lot of space, even for an SSD which generally average the 128gb capacity. If you’re looking to invest in 2.5 in” laptop size SATA versions of this SSD class, you’ll find 280 GB versions of the Optane priced at $369.99, which even still is more than the Samsung EVO 850 or 860 in 1 Terabyte capacities. Based on benchmark tests that I’ll leave to Linus’ Tech Tips because that’s out of my league, it seems as those these storage units are faster, but marginally, and barely excusable for the asking price.
You can get the same capacity of the Samsung EVO in SSD m.2 variation even for less than half of what this is going for. So, if some folks are looking for small size m.2 for creating their own internal recovery disks, a dedicated boot drive for Windows 10 or a work station scratch disk, I guess the Optane makes some sense, though the way the product was being described it seemed as though its build was much more efficient than competitors, or something different than the SSD as we know it, when it barely is not. It is possible they’re experimenting here and they plan to make this Optane branding the place for m.2 optimized storage in the coming couple of years if the prices on larger capacities went down, which would start making Optane much more appealing to average consumer.
A little more straightfoward, however, on the prebuild end, it appears we’ve got some fun innovation happening with the new power and optimization of the Intel 8th generation 6 core processors.
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin Notebook
Here’s the details on the newest entry in the MSI line of notebooks for 2018 from Lenny Tang, The Associate Marketing Manager for MSI (Micro-Star International): As you know, Intel’s 8th Gen came out recently on April 3rd. This is one of our newest, 8th gen, 6 core CPU laptops, the GS65 Stealth Thin. It’s even thinner and lighter than previous models. We fit a 15.6” 144HZ thin bezel screen into a nearly 14:” chassis. So, this guy is really thin, powerfully, light, and it has a new premium design. So we got rid of the red logo, as you can see over there, updated it with the gold, and the border.
Evan: Nice finish, cool.
Lenny: And with all the same great features as before, you know like the SteelSeries keyboard Per-Key RGB, so you can customize each and every one of these keys. What’s really neat is that this (model) has 8 hours of battery life. So, we got rid of the 2.5” Hard Drive space, increased the battery to 8 hours, and we still had m.2 (storage) spots, so you can still upgrade as you need.
Evan: So, this seems like one of the thinnest laptops you guys have ever made.
Lenny: yeah, absolutely. This is 17.7mm, so it’s really, really thin. It’s a little bit over 4.1 lbs, so it’s really easy for productivity [Or if you want to game] on the go. I was able to play League of Legends for almost 3 hours, about four games worth on battery power alone.
Evan: So, going into the Intel 8th gen laptop models, what was the priority? What did you guys want to optimize, work around, redesign?
Lenny: So, with the 8th Gen, 6 Core CPUs, you’ll notice a huge difference when you game, stream and record at the same time. You know, previously, a lot of streamers of ours…
Evan: Would capture or stream externally?
Lenny: Right, exactly. So, all of that can be done now…
Evan: Just in the laptop?! Even running X-Split?
Lenny: Oh, yeah.
Lenny: Those two cores make a huge difference, and a lot of video editing power too.
Evan: Okay, and that’s my jam.
Lenny: Absolutely, the 6 Core CPU was about 60% improvement in video rendering, and those kinds of tasks.
Evan: What’s the most positive reception you’ve been getting on this, or any in the new line of laptops?
Lenny: For this one, definitely the looks. The new chassis is absolutely beautiful, and the thin bezel display.
Evan: It’s industrial…
Lenny: Yeah, it looks really good, it’s portable, it’s easy to use. That’s what everyone’s been telling us.
Evan: How about price points for these models?
Lenny: This one’s available for pre-order on Amazon and NewEgg right now, we’re shipping April 17th, as is everybody else. This one starts at 1799.99 USD with a 1060 Nvidia graphics card, 512 MDME SSD, and the 144HZ screen, 8 hours of battery life.
Evan: I still can’t get over that it’s a 144HZ screen.
Lenny: Yeah, and it can get it up to a 1070 MAX-Q [GPU, in the model]. So you can still get a lot of power and performance out of it.
Lenovo Legion Y720 Cube
Lenovo, alternatively had some really cool desktop prebuilds to show as they display their massive launch of the “Legion” gaming branding, where they take the Y (or YOGA) series of laptops and desktops and push to the gaming crowd as they optimize hardware and space containing said hardware.
We discuss the new Y720 Cube compact desktop, already on the market in intel i7 variants, but with new 8 series intel models due out soon. We discussed this series of portable desktops with an enthusiastic representative at the Legion booth, where he showed is what’s going on inside this impressively designed chassis.
Evan: So, what do we got going on with this model?
Darren: As you can see right away, taking a look at the Legion Cube you’ve got–
Darren: Extremely! It’s all Micro ATX (a 9.7×9.7” motherboard, also known as uATX or mATX). That, right away, is going to be non proprietary. That’s a big deal when you can add stuff like this… because most people going into a market for something like this are going to be looking at: you get it, 5 years go by, you gotta change it out, it loses its luster, have speed issues and whatnot.
But this one is starting right around our 1199.99 USD price range, it’s got a 1060 GTX 6GB graphics in it, a micro ATX board that’s completely upgradable. It’s also got an Intel i5 in there, also i7 models available.
Evan: For the Intel 8 series, I assume? (the next rollout, i7’s are available now)
Darren: Yeah. The only proprietary thing in this whole case here is our CPU cooler.
Evan: And I was going to ask, because this is so compact, how is the airflow working on this?
Darren: It’s wonderful. So if you take a look over in our free to play section, we actually have 350 of these running the entire PUBG tournament.
Evan: No shit!
Darren: Yeah, if you go up to the top aisle (of the BCEC), you’ll see all Legion Cubes.
Evan: it’s definitely the most portable gaming desktop I’ve ever seen.
Darren: Easily, it’s maybe about 20 pounds. It’s awesome for tournament gamers.
Evan: Especially that PAX Bring Your Own PC crowd. Which, they’re not usually going to do a prebuild, but y’know lately–
Darren: Well these days they’re much cheaper.
Evan: We’ll I mean that’s… y’know.
Darren: The market.
Evan: “The Market” *cough*bitcoin*cough*
Darren: But, actually this here is gonna have a pull system, so when drawing air from the power supply, that’s going through on its own ventilation side, and then the ventilation pulls the air off of the CPU cooler, which is huge for a system this size.
Do you remember the Corsair Bumblebee? Kind of like this. Same type of compact design, but it was known to have some heat issues, because it had an intake system on the front, and then an export system on the font as well, so it pulled air through the heatsink and then out the back. In this design, instead we’re pushing the air. So it’s going outward past the RAM, cooling that, cooling the board, and over the heatsink.
Evan: Look at that, it’s just like a straight line of air.
Darren: Right, and then we have a larger fan on the front that does all the front ventilation.
Evan: still can’t get over how compact it is.
Darren: Yep, and the whole micro ATX motherboard fits right underneath the GPU. That’s it, it’s tiny. It’s also got an m.2 wireless card in there.
Evan: On the note of expand-ability, it opens from both sides of the chassis, that’s really cool.
Darren: And with a full size power supply, so if you wanted something more diesel you can upgrade it. There’s a 450W in here already, but if you wanted to put a Corsair 850W in that guy, go right ahead. It’s not like it’s that HP L shape PSU.
Evan: And how many drive slots?
Darren: You’re gonna have two for SATA that normally fit 1TB, any 2.5”, and then we’ve got one solid state insert there. This model actually already comes with a 250 SSD and a 1TB HDD.
Evan: And, so, I’m just curious, has anyone tried yet to modify this CPU cooler with a hydro cool system like a Corsair H60?
Darren: I have thought about it like I been trying to think–
Evan: how the hell would you do it?
Darren: Yeah, and I do a lot of custom components myself, and the only way I can possibly think of doing it would be to add a custom side vent to mount the radiator, that’s the only way I could think.
But this thing has been pretty awesome with just air cooling. It runs super quiet. If you walk through that free to play area you won’t even hear them. I’ve never heard a single thing yet about noise issues on this unit. It’s a quiet fan in the case, as they’re designed.
Evan: and this is on the market now?
Darren: Yeah, and we plan to support it, releasing more Legion Cube going forward, and let you swap out parts however you want.