Single page Print

I try and avoid describing hardware as "built like a tank," so I won't—but Zalman's X7 chassis might stand up to being run over by an Abrams. This enormous case's outer frame looks like it's made of 1/8" steel all around, and it's got enough room for all the radiators and liquid-cooling hardware one could possibly need.

As you might have already guessed from the picture above, the X7 has more than enough room for even the largest ATX motherboards with space to spare. This chassis also has a built-in controller for its RGB LEDs and a couple of fans, too. 

Zalman also had a waterproof gaming keyboard on display, and it wasn't afraid to show that the thing can, in fact, be dunked in a tub of water and come out unscathed. If you regularly knock over drinks during the course of gameplay (or work in nasty industrial environments), this could be the keyboard for you.

If there's one thing to take away from Computex 2016, it's that the RGB LED has well and truly spread like a rainbow epidemic through the industry. It's quaint to think that we once considered these things exotic. Soon, it's probably going to be far easier to find hardware that's bedecked with these things than stuff that's not. The wonders of economies of scale, I suppose. Even so, I gotta say "enough" to this trend.

While I'm as strong an advocate for individual expression and letting one's freak flag fly as you'll find, I have to wonder if all of this Technicolor exuberance isn't taking up valuable attention from many still-unsolved problems in the life of the system builder. We covered Cooler Master's booth in a separate post, and that company's strategy of simplifying its product lineup and making life easier for DIYers stood out to me far more than the next rebadged RGB LED keyboard did. I'd like to say I didn't even see the pesky blinkenlights in Cooler Master's booth, but that's not the case. At least CM has so far restrained itself to putting that kind of illumination where it might actually be useful, like keyboards and (maybe) mice. So the product designers there get a pass.

See, my beef with RGB LEDs is that their 16.7 million shades of possibility require infrastructure to manage, both in hardware and software, and that means complexity and cruft. That cruft could be in the form of auxiliary control boxes hidden away in cases, or it could manifest as a bunch of arcane Windows management utilities stashed in a folder on one's desktop. Asus is trying heroically to bring some order to the chaos with its "Aura Certified" program, which lets compatible hardware and LED strips sync up with its motherboards and software, but that means you need to be OK with buying Asus hardware to begin with—not that that's a bad thing, mind.

All this stuff doesn't just appear out of thin air, right? I can't imagine how many engineers are on the problem of adding RGB LED illumination to optical drives or USB ports or printers as we speak, because those are honestly about the only places I didn't see an RGB LED during our travels. I just hope companies are leaving a few lucky folks free to figure out what the next major innovation for the PC will be.

On a less grumpy note, we got to see a ton of powerful hardware hit the wires at once during this year's show. Intel's Broadwell-E CPUs are an exciting advance for high-end desktops. Nvidia's board partners had a cornucopia of neat custom GeForce GTX 1080s to show off. AMD teased Zen CPU silicon and its upcoming Polaris graphics cards. Many companies are putting the PC to work in new form factors like the VR backpack system. All that stuff is exciting news. Just, please, don't show me another thing with RGB LEDs in it for a little while.

Echogear's single-screen and dual-screen monitor arms reviewedLet's get flexible, flexible 15
The Glassy AF gaming chair reviewBuy my shiny tempered glass 30
GlobalFoundries gears up for the next generations of chip manufacturingExtreme ultraviolet lithography comes to upstate New York 28
The Tech Report's 2017 Christmas gift guideMaking the impossible possible 53
Building a PC remote starter from scratchCan we make a good idea better? 25
The Tech Report System Guide: February 2017 editionChilling out in Kaby Lake 52
The Tech Report System Guide: December 2016 editionMan, it feels good to be a gamer 93
The Tech Report's winter 2016 mobile staff picksThe best tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and phones 42