The PAX AUS 2023 Hardware Highlights
As has become my tradition, I once again found myself lost among the amazing new gadgets and toys in the PAX Aus Hardware booths. While it seems to be a little lower on the priority list for most people (those games and tabletop games are hard to beat) I have always enjoyed exploring the upcoming tech and discovering new things to lust after. So, in the interest of sharing, here are my hardware highlights from PAX 2023
Republic of Gamers (ASUS)
Easily the biggest hardware booth at the show, the ROG presence on the show floor was undeniable. Luckily they had a bunch of cool things to show. For obvious reasons, the ROG Ally was the focus of much of their space with a host of machines there for punters to go hands-on with. I am one of the lucky ones that already owns an Ally so I wasn’t too interested in that. What I was interested in was the brand new Ally dock, which essentially acts like a Switch dock for the Ally, connecting it to your home TV. It is coming soon to Australia and I think it will be a great way to get some of those PC indies up on your big tele. There was also a look at the fancy graphics dock which can attach to an Ally (or a host of other ROG Laptops) and give it a graphical boost. This dock supports up to a 4090 card and has all of the USB, HDMI and audio ports you need to turn your Ally into a fully-fledged gaming PC. Sure it is expensive, but in the right situation, say share accommodation where space is at a premium, I can see this being an attractive option.
The Ally wasn’t the only thing on show, of course, the full suite of ROG laptops was on display as well. From the expensive but super-powered Strix range to the entry-level Tuff models to the work-safe (but still beasty) Zephyrus, it is clear to me that ROG are doing its best to cater to every type of gamer out there. One thing remains consistent across the entire range and that is the build quality. It is my honest opinion that the ROG range of laptops is equal to or better than any other laptop out there in regards to quality of build and general all-around sturdiness. The only thing that seemed to be missing from the booth was the Flow series, the Laptop/Tablet hybrid range that brings gaming to smaller work tablets and devices. It is a shame because, to me, these are some of the most interesting products out there, but I can understand why PAX isn’t really their ideal market.
LG have been known to make some kick ass TV for ages. Always one of the best choices for your gaming console screen of choice. So with that in mind it makes sense that they are finally making a push into the gaming monitor space. Their new gaming arm, UltraGear was frankly one of the stars of the hardware show for me with a range of ridiculously impressive monitors and monitor solutions. From a twin 27″ with one stand, to a double height, normal width monitor that would be perfect for a second screen, there was something for everyone. But the most impressive monitors on show where their amazing curved gaming models.
The 45” UltraGear™ Curved OLED Gaming Monitor is simply put, one of the best monitors I have ever had the chance to lay my eyes on. At first, the curve seemed super severe but once I was sitting in front of it, oh man it was impressive. Talk about adding immersion. I can’t imagine it being great for those who like to use two monitors, simply because this bad boy is going to take up a lot of desk space, but if you want the best of the best in a single monitor experience, this might just be it. What’s more, it is almost $1000 cheaper than rival Samsung’s similar model. It still isn’t cheap though coming in at just under $3k, but honestly, I can see some people selling some not-so-important body parts to get their hands on one of these. I strongly suggest you try and track one of these down in a showroom or in a shop somewhere to see for yourself just how special this monitor is.
I want to start this out by coming clean. I have an Aftershock built PC as my main gaming rig. It is 18 months old now and has been purring along nicely and I have been super impressed with both the build quality and the style that the computer conveys. It even has a custom-etched Player 2 logo on the glass panels. But when I say my, admittedly pretty flashy, PC is nothing compared to some of the builds that were on the show floor at PAX, well I mean it. For a few years, it felt like every PC maker at PAX was in a race to build the biggest case with the most LED lights, but little in the way of finesse. Aftershock threw that trend out the window and went a different and frankly more welcome route instead.
There were a staggering amount of stunning PC builds in the Aftershock booth. Plenty with those LEDs that gamers crave, but all placed with care and precision. There were PCs built around a cherry blossom theme, a Fallout-inspired PC that featured power armour, a beasty case with a panel of square multi-colour lights that can be programmed to suit and even a Cult of the Lamb themed setup that brought all the worshipers in for a look. But for me, the setup I loved the most was the one with the amazing wood panelling. It was glorious and if it is still around when I am due for a new rig, that is absolutely what I am going for. All of these PCs were built with the best gear available and it is important to note that the buying and service experience from Aftershock is second to none. You jump in, pick your case, pick what parts you like, pick the various types of bling and buy. The Aftershock team puts it all together and sends it out with a nice 2-year warranty to top it off. Honestly, I won’t go back to building my own PC or even buying something from a major supplier like Alienware, Aftershock beats both options hands-down.