I want to be able to play in my laptop

I don’t play videogames as much as I used to, but that doesn’t mean that from time to time I don’t want to play them.

Unfortunately that’s the usual situation in my case: I’ve got a Dell XPS 13 (9343). A great machine for almost everything, but not for gaming. No laptop is suitable for this, in fact. Convertibles, Ultrabooks and even more resourceful notebooks can’t cope with really demanding games, and in this cases if you don’t have a good discrete GPU you’ll suffer a mediocre experience.

razercorfe

So if you want to really enjoy the gaming experience in a PC, you’re out of luck: you must have a desktop computer with a great discrete GPU, because even gaming laptops are not meant to enjoy the same visual detail and frame rates that a full desktop PC can.

We had a pretty inspiring view at the future of this market last CES in Las Vegas. Razer launched there its Razer Core external GPU enclosure, and the smart use of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connector allowed its new Ultrabook -the Racer Stealth- to become a chamaleonic machine: one that could work as a conventional ultrathin laptop but also as a full-fledged gaming PC when needed.

The idea seems to have inspired AMD as well: one of their marketing directors, Robert Hallock, mentioned a few days ago how this kind of solution could be the future for many users:

Gaming notebooks are great for gaming, but nobody in their right mind wants to carry one all the time. Ultrathin notebooks are awesome to carry, but nobody in their right mind would confuse one for a gaming notebook.
But there’s still a HUGE appetite for thin notebooks that can game.

External GPUs are the answer. External GPUs with standardized connectors, cables, drivers, plug’n’play, OS support, etc.

AMD is bound to try to democratize these kind of solutions, but once again hurdles will have to be avoided. Will AMD adopt Thunderbolt 3, a standard created by its arch rival? Will it work with NVIDIA in order to set a really universal standard? Will prices make us think this is a better solution than a full gaming PC?

I hope their answer is the right one. We’ll probably have more information in the next few days: GDC 2016 starts March 14th, and I’m pretty sure AMD will talk about this on that event. The PostPC era could open a new chapter after all.

Oh, and don’t forget: this systems will allow us to enjoy virtual reality experiences in laptops, something not possible (in almost all cases) nowadays according to requirements published by Oculus and HTC.

That’s what I would call an interesting turn of events for the demise of the desktop PC.

Update (10/03/2016): AMD XConnect has just been announced with the collaboration of Razer and the Intel Thunderbolt group. Promising. Very.

Oculus Rift as the PC savior

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Yesterday Oculus revealed the details of the first PCs that will be able to show the “Oculus Ready” tag. These computers will come from makers such as ASUS and Alienware and will allow end users to enjoy a guaranteed VR experience that (theoretically) won’t suffer for glitches and problems.

Do-it-yourselfers who scrounge around part-picking websites may be able to get a slightly better deal on an extremely bare-bones PC that can power the Oculus Rift, but the bundled savings mean these Oculus Ready towers actually provide some decent value for the money. The Oculus Ready line should also provide an easy, “all-in” solution for eager virtual reality early adopters that have more curiosity than hardware-building prowess.

Those PCs won’t be exactly cheap, and even if you upgrade your system or decide to build one of your own, you’ll have to admit one thing:

Oculus Rifts are great news for the PC market.

I suspect there won’t be an enormous growth of those PC offered with the “Oculus Ready” certification, and the reason is that I guess early Rift adopters were already gamers and had systems that complied with the minimum requirements.

The $599 price for the Oculus Rift hardware won’t appeal most users if they have to spend another $1K in parts or a whole system. Not at least virtual reality really delivers what is expected from it -and we expect a lot-. If it does, if it indeed delivers, the Post-PC era could in fact be a great lie again.

 

Steam Machine is a tough sell. Steam Link isn’t. Steam Controller? I really don’t know

Valve’s developers and Polygon’s editors share thoughts on the potentially revolutionary new hardware

As a veteran Linux user, I was really a big supporter of Steam Machines when the idea started to take off. The freedom and power that Valve was giving to the traditional PC was inspiring. Your PC could finally be your console and viceversa. Clever.

The execution has to prove many things, and Polygon editors share their first impressions about the first machine from Alienware (good design), the user interface (clunky), the openness (fantastic, but here developers must tell if it is useful or useless), the controller (amazing in some ways, confusing in others), and the games (good catalog, not perfect, big franchises out).

I admire the concept, but I guess it will be a tough sell for end users. Consoles give a pretty good environment, good user interface, fantastic multiplayer online options and the newest games… at really compelling prices. I wonder how Valve will market this.

The Steam Link is different: streaming Windows games to your TV seems a nice option to have –PCGamer agrees on this– for $50 bucks. The Xbox One supposedly will have this option in the future (you can stream games from the console to a Windows 10 PC), but for people who prefer to play on PC and has no console, the idea is pretty much perfect.

Source: Steam Machine hands-on: Does Valve’s hardware live up to its potential? | Polygon

Follow up: The Alienware Steam Machine: finally, a gaming PC for the living room | Engadget