It is true that PCs and laptops have been selling for years and that even the gaming segment cannot stop the unstoppable growth of smartphone sales.
That does not mean that we are facing the best era of desktop computers and laptops, something that is demonstrated especially with components that make playing in these teams is now more than ever a delight. These are the realities and trends of a 2017 in which 4K support and play at increasingly higher frequencies are imposed to the expectations that were generated with the field of virtual reality.
We never had better CPUs or better GPUs
The gaming market has been booming in recent months with the arrival of the Intel 7th generation (Kaby Lake) processors that without offering brutal improvements in performance if they contribute to greater efficiency in energy consumption. This may not be as important on PCs dedicated to this area, but certainly, it is in gaming notebooks.
One of the great news of the year has been the arrival of AMD Ryzen, the processors that have finally made the competition between AMD and Intel again possible. It is true that in the field of gaming the highest IPC (Instructions Per Clock) of the equivalent Intel micros usually win the game, but these micros are certainly an interesting alternative.
However, where best news we have had has been on dedicated graphics cards. NVIDIA has made an exceptional qualitative jump with its NVIDIA GTX 10×0 series, which is not only designed for desserts but has also made a notable appearance on laptops. We had never had so many gaming laptops with this graphics power.
AMD has also moved tab with the recent presentation of the Radeon RX 580 and RX 570, officially “overturned” versions of the RX 480 and RX 470. These graphs are interesting and improve the previous price / performance, but is that in the coming months will see the arrival of new graphics with Vega architecture, which promise to compete from you to you with the NVIDIA high-end.
Laptops armed to the teeth
All this new batch of components has made them appear powerful PCs, but above all there have been many new developments in the field of video game laptops. The integration of graphics cards such as the GTX 1050, GTX 1060 and even higher models is no longer uncommon even in Ultrabooks: models like the Dell XPS 15 prove it.
Pure gaming laptops have of course gone further: we have proposals like those of ASUS and MSI that are benchmarks in this market and have taken advantage of these components in their new models, while some manufacturers have copied those strategies and created specific brands for Their gaming computers : Lenovo has done so with Legion and Samsung with Odyssey.
There are many others who are not letting the opportunity pass. We recently analyzed the beastly HP Omen 17, for example, while already traditional brands in this sector continue to stand out for proposals as attractive as the Razer Blade Pro, which integrate 4K screen and GTX 1080.
Another company that has clear that there is much to do in this segment is Acer, who for months presented the monster curved screen called Acer Predator 21X and last week renewed its catalog with models such as Acer Predator Triton 700 and Acer Predator Helios 300.
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Towards the 4K game at 144 Hz
All of these proposals pursue the same goal that their predecessors pursued: playing with better resolutions and frame rates than ever before. The new components have enabled native 4K gaming in a few titles – not all – but the holy grail of gaming is still combining those towering resolutions with even higher frame rates.
Although in some games that combination does not have as much impact, playing 4K on monitors with a refresh rate of 144 Hz seems to be the real challenge of these configurations. It is very difficult – and very expensive – to achieve these benefits, but gradually appear components that make it feasible.
We have a good example in the new Acer Predator X27, a monitor that will offer a 27-inch screen with UHD resolution, HDR support and a refresh rate of 144 Hz, plus the support of G-Sync technology. At the moment no price or availability of such monitors is known, but its price will probably be high when being the first – the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ was introduced in January – to offer these benefits.
For the vast majority, however, playing at 1440p at 144 Hz is more feasible and above all more economical. Of course, it will not be cheap at all, since to have full guarantees we will probably need an SLI configuration of GTX 1080 or equivalent: here as we said depend on the game we want to enjoy and the level of detail of that game. These refresh frequencies test any hardware configuration today, although it should also be noted that it is not the case in all games that it makes sense to look for that performance.
Maybe in other areas the curve is not so interesting, but it is in the world of gaming, where monitors like this BenQ XR3501 ultra-modern 35-inch diagonal “gets you” on the screen.
The proliferation of monitors with support 1440p and 144Hz and the new graphics of AMD and especially NVIDIA make this possible. Websites like 144HzMonitors give us complete information about the most suitable monitors for each budget and needs, while in PC Part Picker we see how every day PCs that are built by users from loose components allow access to very powerful configurations for prices really competitive.
This trend towards graphs that can move more information faster contributes to much more fluid experiences, but interestingly has moderated much the discourse on the relevance of the virtual reality, that at the moment has not found its ‘killer app’ in any of the variants Which we have tried.
It is possible that the 4K to 144Hz native game barrier is somewhat more secure in the medium term, but what is certain is that neither Intel nor AMD nor NVIDIA will stop offering more and better performance in the short term. Good time to play, no doubt!