MSI gets busy at Computex 2017 with new desktops and laptops

MSI is pulling out all their VR guns at Computex 2017 this year, with an impressive lineup of stuff all concentrated on VR and portable VR capabilities. Although there isn’t a lot of emphasis placed on Tobii eye tracking this time around, perhaps MSI’s partnership with Tobii will give VR headset users some on-the-go infrared tracking with cheaper headsets. For now, let’s see what they’re announcing.

The most expensive machine they’re trotting out is the MSI GT83VR pictured above, a mammoth 18.4-inch notebook with an individually lit mechanical keyboard and an overclockable Intel Kaby Lake quad-core mobile processor, Cherry MX Silver switches, a tall trackpad that doubles as a numpad, up to dual GeForce GTX 1080 cards in SLI (not a mobile variant, but an actual GTX 1080 core that has been downclocked), dual NVMe SSDs serving as a boot drive, enough steel and aluminium that it can be used for weight training, and a 1080p G-Sync certified IPS display with 100% Adobe sRGB coverage. Buying one locally would probably set you back around R80,000 fully configured. Computex 2017 awarded MSI with the Gold Best Choice award for their GT83VR at the show.

The Computex 2017 Best Design award goes to the MSI VR One backpack computer. Yes, backpack computers are a bit weird, and they’re definitely not for everyone. Still, having all that power with you means you can do a lot of interesting things with it, like 4K video capture with conversion and streaming without needing a ridiculously heavy setup on a tripod. MSI sees the VR One being incorporated in environments where you don’t want a PC and a VR headset tethered with cables, as well as other VR or AR use cases which require you to be walking around with a GeForce GTX 1070 strapped to your back. The batteries are hot-swappable as well, but you need to take the backpack off first to swap them. Just, uh… don’t roll on it.

Also on display will be the new GT25VR compact desktop. Compact desktops are quite neat to look at, and they can fit in almost anywhere while still looking the part. The GT25VR, as the name implies, is intended for VR use, but can also double as a stylish console replacement running Windows 10 with Steam Big Picture, or Valve’s SteamOS if you’re looking to try something a little different (the GT25VR doesn’t come with SteamOS though, you need to nuke the Windows install for that). MSI sees the GT25VR used in VR arcade machines, as the center of your HTPC needs, or as a thin-and-light replacement for the mammoth ATX-sized desktop you keep carrying to LANs. The GT25VR won the Best Choice award for its category.

MSI is also debuting their PCMasterRace-approved RGB-clad “Infinite” gaming desktop, a mid-tower ATX desktop with RGB front panel lighting, a tempered glass side panel with a smokey screen, 120mm fans on the rear and top vents, and an ATX-conforming design that means users can upgrade what they want, when they want just like a regular desktop build. MSI will be featuring Intel’s Kaby Lake processors inside as well as their Gaming family of graphics cards (which means a selection of NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards might be offered). There’s no talk of Ryzen just yet, but OEM solutions with Ryzen 7 should be popping up soon, and it is likely that MSI’s new Infinite family will get them as well.

Also debuting is the Pro 20EX all-in-one desktop family. MSI has had all-in-one designs before, but this one is aimed at businesses who desire an alternative to the ones offered by Dell, Lenovo, and HP. No specs are available at the time of writing, but the Pro 20EX is likely to come with a range of IPS panels in different sizes, as well as different spec options up to a mobile quad-core Core i7 processor. AMD’s Ryzen mobile is launching at Computex 2017 as well, so I’ll be sure to ask MSI closer to the time what their plans for AMD’s new mobile contender are.

Component-wise, MSI has their new Z270 Godlike motherboard on show, supporting up to three NVMe drives in RAID, a sizeable amount of LED lighting, downright silly amounts of VRMs and chokes for power delivery, and what looks to be a switch that opens vents in the motherboard I/O to aid in cooling. There will also be the much-awaited MSI X370 Gaming M7 motherboard for the Ryzen platform, the first board in MSI’s stable to support an external clock generator for the Ryzen processors. The design and details are under wraps for now, but there will be a 13-phase power design as well as a USB Type-C header for a front-panel out on supporting chassis.

MSI also has a GTX 1080 Ti Lightning coming our way (the first Lightning in over a year) as well as the GTX 1080 Ti Gaming 11G with USB-C. Not only does it sport 11GB of VRAM, the memory bandwidth is also 11 gigabits per second, which is pretty impressive coming from GDDR5X memory. The oddity here is a USB-C port. Is it just for powering a VR headset, or is it also responsible for the signaling? If that’s the case, how is it communicating over the PCI Express bus? Dare I attach a monitor to it and try power it that way? This could be interesting.

The last product that I thought was interesting is the X1000 IoT Gateway. A gateway for Internet-of-Things devices in your home isn’t strictly required because you can get away with using most consumer models, but MSI’s product aims to improve network response with all these potential botnets sitting in your house, sucking up bandwidth. Powered by an Intel Apollo Lake processor and certified IP68 water and dust resistant, the X1000 has eight ports for external antennae as well as two mounted on its sides for close-range connections and is wall-mounted. There must be some sort of network segmentation going on here to require this design, and I hope there’s all sorts of protections like a firewall and bandwidth limiters to allow you to throttle your connected gadgets as much or as little as you need to. MSI isn’t the first brand I think of when trying to recommend a router, so this would be a first for me if it turns out to be good.

Computex 2017 takes place from the 30 May to 3 June 2017.

The Last of Us Part II
Go on a rampage of revenge in The Last of Us Part II