Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Every year I look forward to the rAge Expo for one particular reason – getting to root around the rAge Expo LAN and seeing what interesting trends and things pop out from it. Its still a small subset of the users across the country, but there’s definitely some trends that show up here that I’ve predicted before and this year there were some things I account for, but others that took me by surprise. Hit the jump to see what I found!

An old favourite returns

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

I have a secret love affair with the Acer Predator chassis because not only do I see it every year, but it’s always in MINT condition, as if the owner has angels spongebathing it to keep it looking so good. Apart from the ASUS ROG Tytan and possibly Thermaltake’s Level 10, this is easily the most visually exciting thing I’ve seen in a while.

Interesting portability options

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

There’s quite a few options for portability when it comes to lugging your stuff to the LAN. A few people drilled in holes for steel handles for their chassis. Others invested in velcro or strapped carry-bags. Some people brought in actual trolleys to lug their stuff along, including a few that folded up very neatly. Getting your crap into and our of the LAN is usually the most trouble anyone will have, so some people either pack very lightly or they figure out a way to make it work.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Some cleverer people decided that trying to be subtle wasn’t worth the energy and went to town with a giant crate or chest or bin. This one was mounted to a trolley and had locks for any valuables. I think this person has the right idea, but more space in the LAN area is needed if this is going to take off.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

One person decided that mounting wheels directly onto the chassis was an even better idea. Its a good thing those tables are mostly level.

The rise of Mac Gamers

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Although only two are pictured here, several LANners decided to break out their iMacs and Macbooks and battled it out with their friends. All in all, I counted seven people using some form of Apple computer product and that was a weird thing for me. There are still many hurdles to jump over before Apple computers become a bonafide alternative for gamers, but for now things are progressing really well on that front.

Some people still like Perspex!

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

These things were so damn popular back in 2007 that you just couldn’t avoid seeing them at LANs and at nerd gatherings. Perspex chassis dominated the market for a few months as enthusiasts and gamers toyed with the idea of practically dressing your PC in a white t-shirt with a red bra and soaking it through. Perspex is highly impractical and very prone to scratches and gouges from everyday handling, but they still do the job and bring the flash to the table, so to speak. I saw three, which brings us up from the two that we had in the LAN last year, if I’m remembering correctly.

ART!

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

This PC clearly wanted to be found.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

And so did this one, with some really good detailing for a stunning Wolfenstein: The New Order theme.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

While I was chatting to the owner about this rig, I had no intention of actually listening to what he was saying because not only is this extremely eye-catching, I was still figuring out where the hell I should look first. Its clearly not meant to be permanent, but it is certainly going to turn a few heads.

Super-Ultra Rare finds

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

One Lian Li desktop chassis. This was the only Lian Li in the LAN and that made it rather special.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

One Thermaltake Taichi. Man, aluminium finned chassis really didn’t take off, did they? It’s still a unique piece among the slew of others I waded through.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan.

One Antec Skeleton, one of the only open-air chassis that actually saw decent sales. Antec had the right idea in mind when setting out to design the skeleton, but they didn’t test out their design with tall tower coolers and didn’t really accommodate for all-in-one water coolers, along with not leaving much leeway for custom GPU coolers that might be higher than what the ATX specification allows.

The rest and the many, many Aerocools…

You can check out the full gallery below but I’m really wondering how on earth so many Aerocool chassis popped up this year. Last year there were barely ten of them, this year I counted thirty. I also counted a boatload of NZXT 510 chassis and Corsair Carbides 300. This year a lot of the flash was missing. It felt like more people were choossing function over form and foregoing flashy lights for closed side panels and cooler operation. Perhaps I’m only seeing what I wanted to see going by the fact that this is also a personal preference of mine, but that can’t completely explain why I never saw many fancy get-ups. Monitors also saw a de-emphasis, as less people were bringing in expensive displays and more were opting for something a little cheaper. A few people still brought in kit that would require three months of my pay to afford, but that’s par for the course – there’s always someone that will buck the trend.

On to rAge 2015! See you next year, guys!

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