A personal highlight of the rAge expo and one that I’ve looked forward to since last year’s one was trudging through the LAN area, looking for any awesome mods, old-school tech or just things that are completely insane -and for the most part, I found that again this year. But more importantly, I also unearthed some information that correlates with my personal view of thc computer industry and, oddly enough, to the findings of the most recent NAG Magazine survey. Although I didn’t draw the same conclusions last year as the trends were only beginning to form, this year I was paying more attention to what I was actually seeing.
So to the stats and for some of these I’ll also list why I think they’re important. Some of them may not surprise you, but they certainly did for me. By no means is this completely scientific – one man trying to keep a database of all the computer hardware in the LAN is an incredibly difficult and arduous task. I’ll be more prepared next year to work around that. In no particular order:
Most popular screen size – 22 to 24 inches
Most popular screen resolution – 1920 x 1080
Most popular mouse brand – Razer (followed by Steelseries)
Most popular keyboard brand -Logitech
Most popular operating system- Windows 7 (followed by Windows 8)
Most popular chassis brand -Thermaltake
SLI or Crossfire – SLI
Most popular CPU – Intel Core i5
Most popular motherboard size – ATX
Most popular high-end chassis – Tie for Cooler Master Cosmos II, Cooler Master Stryker and the Aerocool PredatorX
The thing that caught my eye the most this year was the amount of high-end chassis on show. I saw Stackers and Cosmos chassis, there were NZXT Phantoms everywhere you looked and there was even one brave soul who lugged up a re-purposed beige server chassis complete with a front key lock. Make no mistake, gamers like to be cheap when it won’t hurt them or dumb down their experience, but I am gob-smacked at the price ranges which these chassis were in. These weren’t lightweights either – you can fit someone inside a Cosmos II, that’s how large these cases are.
Lugging all these computers up was not easy. Some people bought foldable trolleys to help move their computers, others had actual trolleys like you see at the airport. For anyone with a regular mid-tower chassis, luggage cases were a popular idea because they’re just about the right thickness and length for the majority of designs. Velcro straps were also a popular idea and I also must note that these towers actually get bigger every year.
Laptops were also better represented at rAge 2013. The most popular brand here was Alienware and within those the most popular graphics chip was based on Nvidia’s Fermi architecture. The majority here were in the 17-inch range and were not customised. In spite of the trouble Dell goes into making the keyboards, most gamers opt for their own attached through USB.
In addition to that, not a lot of people were concerned about space usage. I counted a single ITX-based desktop among the entire fleet of rigs at the LAN. I was also surprised that all-in-one water cooling units weren’t completely in vogue and I counted one Lian Li chassis this year. Five consoles did show up, but its unclear how many multi-player games these people were able to play, or even if the kids playing GTA V were old enough for it.
As for multi-GPU graphics, SLI won the war here. Most rigs with multiple graphics cards had dual GTX500 and GTX600-series cards and one guy even had two GTX780 Lightnings. Many of the people that I spoke to said that they considered Crossfire but couldn’t wait for better drivers to come along. But a large majority of desktops that had dual GPUs were still powering a single 1080p monitor, which makes the benefit a bit moot.
UltraHD 4K monitors were nonexistent. I also saw two Radeon HD7990 cards, four Nvidia Titans and four GTX780 cards. Even though we’re not out of the recession just yet, spending oodles of money on these high-powered rigs is apparently a welcome trend among gamers in this country. Never mind the fact that a large portion of games on the PC are console ports… moving along!
The biggest surprise was the adoption rate of Windows 8. Last year there were about a hundred machines running Microsoft’s latest operating system, this year more than four hundred appeared and I could possibly have counted more if more people had left their screens on. The fact that people still have to deal with the Modern UI start screen doesn’t seem to have put gamers off upgrading.
Some modders did show up this year and their designs were really interesting. This one guy modded his computer into the back of a Microwave and thankfully removed all the other circuitry before booting it up for the first time.
Wooden chassis have been timeless since the first station wagons implemented them back in the fifties and computers stuck in a wooden housing have this retro feel to them. That’s what this guy had and boy, was it impressive in person.
Another similar design was also seen in the LAN area and the owner admitted that the Corsair Carbide Air 540D was an inspiration. It took him about a month to complete.
One of the computers that featured water-cooling. This was done very well and it was such an eye-catchingly clean design. Kudos to the owner of this rig.
Below is the entire gallery and the other rigs that caught my eye. If you’re attending rAge 2014, make sure you’ve cleaned yours and you’ll earn your place in galleries like these.