CES 2013 starts January 8th 2013 but as you can imagine there are many pre-show activities including the CES Unveiled show and a few official press conferences. CES Unveiled is hit or miss for a hardware reviewer sometimes there is a "wow" moment while other times you might enjoy glad handling the high-rollers and playing a little side game I like to call "Spot Patrick Norton". (I was up to three before my night there was done.)
As I have mentioned before in the realm of computer hardware review there is very little to look forward to at CES. Most of the convention is focused on consumer electronics and desktop computers long disbanded from that train. As luck would have it there is a little side show "we" can attend, provided you don't mind surfin' the hotels.
My first stop was with Thermaltake who had a few new products on display including this fancy new gaming mouse featuring a wider stance and XBOX centric button designs. In terms of shape this mouse resembles the Logitech MX series and fits nicely regardless if you "claw" your mice or prefer the hand "rest" method.
The best part of this mouse is the placement of the buttons. In the heat of battle you might find it difficult to reach the blue one but that is the price you pay for a mouse you can pick up and move without hitting any buttons accidentally.
Watercooling is still a big part of the enthusiast world and with CES 2013 Thermaltake launches the Water 3.0. These are still asetek branded coolers but feature a thinner radiator and tuned pump for higher flow. I can't wait to see if the updates really do any good or just seem to blow hot water.
Thermaltake Big Water has been the back alley stable for Thermaltake since the beginning and refuses to simply go away. The Big Water is back and features a few updates to the pump and radiator assembly. Given the changes it should bridge the gap between self contained watercooling units and full blown DIY monsters quite nicely.
Personally I am glad to see that Big Water is still in the product line up but hate watching the company neglect it so.
My next stop was with a German company I met with at Computex, Be Quiet. For many years Be Quiet has been the top cooling brand in Germany and they have been pushing hard to get their products sold around the world, including in the US.
CES 2013 marks the beginning of their US campaign with the promise that you can buy the high-end Dark series at all of the major retailers in February. I recently reviewed the Dark Rock 2 and found it to be quite efficient within its TDP range with sound levels that rival most passive coolers.
One of the coolers that will be available in the US is a top down tower featuring the same 120mm fan found on the Dark Rock but with four large diameter heatpipes instead of six and no black nickel plating. The performance should be decent with the added benefit that your motherboard components will get a little airflow too.
Look for the Be Quiet products sometime in February, their entire lineup will consist of the two aircoolers seen here, two sizes of Dark fans (120mm and 140mm) and the entire range of PSUs up to 1200w.
Knowing there won't be any new chipsets or GPUs released any time soon you may be wondering what is MSI doing about it?
In a word, Nothing. Well, that might not be entirely true. There are a few product refreshes in the works and MSI does have one of the cheapest Thunderbolt motherboards you can buy but the bottom line is, there isn't much much new planned in the MSI camp.
They are happy to say that the GTX 680 Lightning won a CES Innovation award. I had to laugh a little since it would seem that while the 680 Lightning is a great card with some great technology the reason for producing it has diminished to the point where they are no longer pushing it to enthusiasts.
Of course there are ways around the nVidia limitations but still without the mfg support there is very little to get excited about.
On a happier note the mPower line of motherboards are hard to keep in stock due to the high sales and this MiniITX Trinity motherboard is too cute for words.
MSI is planning a few product refreshes in 2013 that should be available around second quarter including a couple of gamer focused motherboards with a revised color scheme and updated components. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.
On an unrelated note I really need to get a set of this Avexir memory, the lighting effects are quite memorizing.
That wraps up the mini tour around the CES sideshow. The plan is to hit the LVCC tomorrow and eventually make it over to visit with Asus at the end of the day, Wish me luck!