Performance is king for gamers seeking a lockdown upgrade

With so many people stuck at home over the past year, gaming has never been more important. Whether as a way to pass the time in lockdown or connect with friends while socially distancing, record numbers are finding solace in virtual worlds — and discovering that their aging gear cannot keep up with the latest titles.

Robust laptop offerings and beautiful PC components promise to satisfy scores of new buyers looking for the most powerful home machines

With so many people stuck at home over the past year, gaming has never been more important. Whether as a way to pass the time in lockdown or connect with friends while socially distancing, record numbers are finding solace in virtual worlds — and discovering that their aging gear cannot keep up with the latest titles.

This burgeoning demand is reflected by the offerings on display at #COMPUTEXVirtual 2021, organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Without flashy booths to draw crowds, traditional ways of standing out are giving way to raw specs, promising top performance for both laptop gamers and the most hardcore DIY enthusiast.

Over the past few years, advances in gaming have been driven by unprecedented improvements in graphics, from blazing-fast GPUs to software marvels such as ray tracing and ML-powered resolution boosts.

Nvidia has long led this charge, as it proved late last year with the release of its latest GeForce RTX 30 series. All of the big players — including ASUSTek’s Republic of Gamers, MSI, Acer’s Predator and Gigabyte’s Aorus — have designed laptops that make full use of these powerful GPUs for lag-free, high-resolution gameplay.

Yet Nvidia now has a serious contender, as AMD has thrown down the gaming gauntlet with its new Radeon RX 6000M series announced at COMPUTEX. Further underscoring its determination, it simultaneously announced the new AMD Advantage program, which guarantees that laptops by partners meet the highest performance standards. The ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is the first laptop to make use of both the high-end Radeon RX 6800M GPU and Advantage, enabling a whopping 120fps at 1440p max settings.

Custom builds have also seen a boost this year among PC enthusiasts looking for the perfect balance between aesthetics and performance. From award-winning chassis to motherboards and lightning-fast SSDs, there are more exciting options than ever for building unique and powerful rigs.

As the most visible part of a build, chassis design is paramount. Minimalism is now taking over from the angular sci-fi trend of a few years ago, with an eye to highlighting the magic inside. No one does this better than Thermaltake, whose Core series of tempered glass cases, including the d&i Award-winning Core P8, puts the build center-stage, perfect especially for RGB fans.

For those who want it all with a rig that is both high-powered and silent, liquid cooling is the way to go. The Zadak MOAB II ELITE water-cooled case by Apacer is the best on the market, with a patented aluminum distribution plate to eliminate the need for most tubes and real-time temperature display.

The newest motherboards are also finding ways to keep up with processor advances, even without the need for cooling. ASRock has found a way to do just that with its latest X570S PG Riptide motherboard, whose fanless design allows for even quieter operation. Paired with the new B550 PG Riptide, which features a similar array of high-end specs, ASRock has a lot to brag about this year.

Lastly, some truly impressive SSD advancements are guaranteed to bring gaming to the next level. Gamers were thrilled last year when Sony announced that the PlayStation 5 would bid farewell to load times with its ultra-fast SSD capable of 5.5GB/s read speeds, yet Addlink promises to blow even this out of the water with its S95 SSD, which boasts shocking read speeds of up to 7.1 GB/s with 2TB of storage.

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