What to expect at Computex 2017

Stay tuned for some updates on PCs, components and, hopefully, robots.

We're pretty much halfway through the year, which means it's Computex time. As usual, you'll find a handful of us running around the Taipei show floors next week, where we'll be getting our hands dirty with the latest PC products and components. Last year was relatively fruitful, thanks to what was then a recent VR explosion. Several PC brands introduced high-end GPUs or affordable ones capable of running VR. Even Intel surprised its hardcore users with its first 10-core desktop CPU. ASUS topped it all off with Zenbo -- an adorable $600 home robot that went on sale in Taiwan earlier this year.

This year, however, is bound to be quieter. For one, Microsoft already stole some of Computex's thunder with its own events earlier this month, so we're not expecting anything major from it next week. Intriguingly, HTC Vive has no official presence at Computex this year, which means less VR. Still, based on recent leaks and launches, we have at least a rough idea of what to expect.

There's no doubt that we'll still be seeing new PCs from the likes of ASUS, MSI, Dell, Acer and others at Computex. In fact, Acer simply went ahead and announced its new laptops and tablet earlier this week, which is certainly one way to beat the competition.

Since Intel's high-performance seventh-gen Core chips only became available in this half of the year, chances are most of the new mainstream and high-end machines being unveiled next week will still be based on those. The same is true with GPUs, especially with the GTX 1050 Ti featured on the Acer Nitro 5 being pitched as a "premium" entry-level choice for discrete laptop graphics. We'll probably also see some entry-level devices running Windows 10 S. Some were already announced at Build, but this should be our first chance to get serious hands-on time with a few.

As for mobile, it's really up to ASUS. It's unclear whether we can expect new ZenFones or a new ZenWatch. Though, if you recall, the depth-sensing ZenFone AR announced back at CES has yet to hit the market, so maybe we'll finally get an update about it during the company's keynote on Monday. On a related note, Qualcomm will be doing its own thing outside Computex this time. And, sadly, it doesn't seem like we'll be hearing any announcements. After all, Qualcomm probably needs to save some surprises for MWC Shanghai next month.

On the CPU side, there were rumors of an Intel "Core i9" a couple of weeks ago, followed by some new specs popping up in the SiSoft Sandra database. This is likely another 10-core CPU following last year's Core i7 Extreme Edition. But Intel is not alone. AMD will also host a press conference, which will likely shed more light on its 16-core Threadripper CPU, due this summer. And who knows, maybe we'll get some new GPUs too?

If you're looking for something that's more suitable for the masses, don't worry. Intel will probably tease, if not announce, its eighth-generation Core chip (Coffee Lake) due in the second half of the year. We're hoping the same goes for NVIDIA's event on the same day: less on supercomputers and more on consumer GPUs.

Now, let's talk robots for bit. It's been a year since the ASUS Zenbo debuted, and so far it's been available only in Taiwan, in very limited quantities. There's hope the company will announce new markets or at least a larger local rollout for the home robot. Failing that, ASUS is still expected to share some updates and interesting use cases for its home products. And, hey, some new accessories for Zenbo would be fun, too. It also wouldn't be a surprise if ASUS wants in on the home-assistant market. Just imagine a Zenbo, but much smaller and with no wheels or face.

None of these nuggets will distract us from HTC's glaring absence at this year's show. Then again, there's no stopping other exhibitors from bringing their own VR wares. And ZOTAC is hosting the world's first VR esports tournament at Computex on June 3rd, featuring ZOTAC's VR GO backpack PC and HTC Vive. That will no doubt get a lot of attention since it'll be open to the public (this editor has already rescheduled his return flight just check it out). We'll also be keeping an eye out for the funkiest PC mods on the show floor, and we may even swing by G.SKILL's overclocking tournament to see what it's all about. Be sure to keep up with our Computex coverage throughout the week.

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