It's been a strange kind of start to the year, neck deep in the weird and wonderful world of CES 2022 announcements. As manufacturers scramble for our attention, showing off the many innovations they've had brewing, you'll generally find us shaking our heads in lamentation, "Surely they don't actually think this is going to take off."
Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of practical innovations coming from CES 2022, even some that are quite impressive, and actually relevant to PC gaming. From time to time, a technological gem even pops up that sends us spiralling into visions of a more powerful, interconnected, leisure-filled future. Mostly, though—and maybe we're just cynical like this—it's a load of hoo-ha: 'Look at us, we made a thing that's already been invented, but we've slapped our brand name on it.'
Okay, that's a little harsh. Companies are just trying their best to get a piece of the action, and it's this kind of competitive environment that helps to fuel actual innovations. So we've made a distinct effort to round off the first week of 2022 with some positive thoughts, bookended of course by our signature positions of sarcasm, and foreboding existential doubt.
Here are some CES 2022 goodies we're excited about, some stuff that we're not confident will ever make it to market, and some things that frankly made us facepalm.
CES 2022 highlight: Samsung doesn't do bad screens as a rule. What it does do is make very expensive screens, but that aside I'd still say one of the highlights of CES 2022 this year was the fleeting glimpse we've had of gaming monitor nirvana: a Samsung OLED sporting a colour-rich Quantum Dot filter.
The Samsung Odyssey G8QNB (likely to get some sort of Odyssey Quantum G8 moniker in the future) is a 34-inch ultrawide display using the company's first Quantum Dot OLED screen, mixing the best of both panel worlds.
Back in the day, when Samsung pulled out of the OLED TV race with Korean rival, LG, it then went on to create the Quantum Dot filter to enhance the colour gamut of traditional displays. It made Samsung's QLED panels /almost/ as effective as OLED, and made them cheaper to produce.
The QD filter enhances the colours and helps contrast. Slap that over the top of an OLED panel, with its own natural blacks, and potential for colours to fade over time, and you get a heady mix which will make for awesome gaming screens.
This first Odyssey display also sports a 175Hz refresh rate and 0.1ms response time, and is also going to find its way into an Alienware monitor, the AW3223DW, by virtue of a partnership between the two companies. So there will be at least two amazing QD-OLED gaming monitors appearing this year.
For a couple of grand a pop, I expect.
CES 2022 lowlight: Now, it's not like I'm desperate to go back to Vegas ever again, or even that I particularly value CES as a PC gaming event, but my biggest low from the show this year is the depressing realisation that this is what 2022's big events are going to be like for at least the next 12 months. We're still going to be suffering through the faint hope of a touch of normalcy and in-person meetings, hands-on briefings, and presentations, only to be dashed late in the day by another variant and more locked down airports.
There will still be some intrepid reporters, risking 'rona for the chance to stroke a new laptop demonstration model. But the rush of hitting a great trade show, such as Taiwan's Computex, and dashing from meeting to briefing and writing a story in the back of a cab to a press conference across town, is going to be replaced by the constant fear of infection, an explosion of acne under your sweaty masked visage, and the pain of really, really dry hands from all that washing and antibac. And of maybe not being allowed home again afterwards.
So, yeah, CES 2022 is a reminder that we're in for another virtual year sat behind our monitors waiting this thing out.
CES 2022 highlight: When it comes to laptops I idealise sleek over powerful. I don't want to lug around a mighty twin-brick device with the latest desktop GPU gasping for air inside it. That's just not how I use a laptop. I prefer a slimmer device, with a smaller screen, and simple connectivity that won't let me down. Like any PC gamer, I want a GPU fast and large enough to play games on, but I'm not against giving up some performance for a svelte chassis, if I have to.
With AMD's Ryzen 6000 H-series I might not have to sacrifice all that much gaming performance. Powered by the RDNA 2 architecture, the same one that I've running in my PC at home, AMD's offering a huge improvement in integrated graphics performance—2x that of the previous Ryzen 5000 mobile processors. Sure it's 'only' 12 Compute Units (CUs) of the stuff, which makes a change from the 80 CUs I've got at home, but next to my Intel Ice Lake-powered Dell XPS, I'll take it.
Paired with even a low-power GPU from AMD or Nvidia, I'd be happy. Though actually a compact laptop that's flying solo, relying on Zen 3+ and RDNA 2 smarts alone, would be even better. A 13-inch laptop that can one-up the Steam Deck? If I can ask only one thing, 2022…
If AMD or its partners don't deliver, I suppose I wouldn't be too hard done by with a shiny new 12th Gen Dell XPS either.
CES 2022 lowlight: After a long wait and a disappointing delay to 2022, I was hoping that we might hear some juicy details on Intel's Arc Alchemist graphics cards at this year's show. We did hear something, that Intel is shipping Arc GPUs to partners right now, though not the glimpse of the eventual first generation lineup I'd hoped for. Maybe a spec or two, you know? A crumb of architecture. Even just a nibble of promotional material.
The confirmation of shipping product is great news for an eventual release this side of the summer solstice, but I've been thinking about Intel Arc for such a long time now, I just want to know its secrets. Like, right now.
CES 2022 highlight: Argh, Jacob has beat me to it. Although, I want more power than he's after. So, we're all good. I want a laptop that could replace my desktop PC. The kind of machine that you regularly plug into a screen and use a proper gaming keyboard and gaming mouse with—you can keep your pokey touchpads, give me proper input devices every time.
The fact that CES 2022 has busted out not only new laptop processors but some more powerful GPUs is music to my ears. There are plenty of gaming laptops to be found on the virtual show floors.
I'm pretty excited to see what Alder Lake is going to do in its laptop guise, and with every laptop manufacturer seemingly updating their lines to squeeze in Intel's 12th Gen mobile CPUs, I should be spoiled for choice very shortly. Pair this with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, which is a bit more of a reasonable GPU than it's new big brother, the RTX 3080 Ti, and you'll end up with a machine that can game without utterly destroying my bank balance.
There are plenty of gaming laptops out there that tick these boxes, and as ever, it's going to be down to the final ticket price as to which one actually wins through. I'm a bit of a sucker for value for money, so the likes of the Acer Nitro 5 (2022), fitted out with a mid-range Alder Lake chip and an RTX 3070 Ti sounds pretty perfect. If Acer manages to offer all of this while hitting Nvidia's dream of a 3070 Ti gaming laptop for $1,499, then even better.
CES 2022 lowlight: Nvidia and AMD finally announcing their budget GPUs at CES 2022 is surely good news, no? No. Not when they both look quite so miserable on paper. The AMD Radeon 6500 XT looks like an insult, especially when compared to the RX 480 from six years ago. AMD can spin it however it wants, but there's no way 4GB of VRAM is enough right now for the games that many of us want to play.
I have the fear when it comes to the RTX 3050 too, as I just don't think it'll have enough raw grunt to justify its $250 price tag. Yes, it has a more reasonable amount of VRAM at 8GB, which will help, and support for DLSS will certainly help it hit reasonable frame rates, but with the RTX 3060 rolling in at $330 (in theory at least, I know, I know), surely that's the card you want over this. Not that you can get 'em. Which is probably the real lowlight, now I come to think of it—there's still no sign of the silicon shortage coming to an end. Sigh.
CES 2022 highlight: It's been a while since I've gotten really excited about technology, particularly monitors. But this year Samsung brought us the world's first QD-OLED gaming monitor and I've finally been able to imagine the ultrawide setup I've always wanted.
34 inches of curved, Alienware branded, QD-OLED technology, with a 0.1ms G-t-G response, is actually starting to make upgrading my screen sound like a blast. And not just because I'm a massive nerd who went deep into the science behind it, just for fun.
With the likes of these sci-fi sounding panels, we're looking at a future of thinner, faster, and more vibrant gaming monitors and I can't wait to get my hands on a review model. There's no way that thing is going to stay boxed up in the office's kit cupboard. That'll be joining me in my WFH office, and the rest of the hardware team will have to fight me for it.
CES 2022 lowlight: On more of a general note, I'm getting pretty fed up with the overuse of the term 'Metaverse,' which seemed to have been plastered on every poster, wall and stall around at CES 2022. In attending the physical segment of the event, twitter userNima Zeighami managed to snap quite a few mentions, with one even proclaiming its product a part of "The Real Metaverse."
“The Real Metaverse”Pack it up everyone, we found it! The REAL metaverse! pic.twitter.com/v1kQOLbuOMJanuary 6, 2022See more
I mean, sure, jump on the bandwagon and make your millions. Just don't slap on some fanciful marketing term designed to make the punters go "Ooh, that sounds so space-age. Are we in the future, now?" That thing you're all calling the metaverse basically constitutes anything in 3D, VR, or vaguely online. Kindly accept the fact that 'Metaverse' has no actual meaning and move on, people.