CES 2023: The PC gaming highlights

CES 2023 came and went while I was burning through a statutory holiday in the Welsh countryside, so these highlights from the Vegas tech show’s PC gaming gear may be as much news to me as they are to you. Unless you caught Katharine’s recipe for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti, which I did when I found a tiny sliver of 4G signal. Cheers, boss.

CES (that’s the Consumer Electronics Show) has always been a festival for the bold, the weird, the questionably useful—it’s the kind of place where a man will stand up with an unflinchingly straight face and announce that he’s disrupted the Mouli grater. Among the items at CES 2023: roller skates for walking, smartwatches that aren’t watches, and a cutting board that puts a screen that can be attached dangerously close to the tip of your knives. If anything, gaming hardware represented the relatively sensible side of the show, with no-nonsense AMD and Intel CPUs launching alongside the least expensive RTX 40 series graphics cards yet.

These are the 14 biggest games coming to PC in 2023.

Then again, there were also some mahoosive displays and a 3D printing initiative from HyperX that, if you’re so inclined, could replace all the keys on your gaming keyboard with miniature ducks. Classical CES is moving. Here are my picks from the show:

Many graphics cards laid out in black and white, showing off several Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti GPUs

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti (and RTX 40 notebook GPUs)

To the smallest surprise a human body can produce, Nvidia used CES to launch the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti desktop GPU. This is the third card in the RTX 40 series to go on sale, following last year’s RTX 4090 and RTX 4080, and is (as expected) a rebrand of the weaker 12GB RTX 4080 variant that Nvidia canceled shortly after revealing it. It comes with a lower price of £799 / $799, down from the original £949 / $899 proposal, with specs like 12GB GDDR6X memory and 2.61GHz boost clock speed remaining unchanged.

I’ve been grumpy about the RTX 4070 Ti’s bigger brothers, mainly because even though they’re major upgrades to the RTX 30 series, they’re priced as if Nvidia suddenly decided to become some kind of aspirational tech brand where exclusivity is the point. . The RTX 4070 Ti is far from cheap, but at least it’s more in line with the higher prices of previous generations, and if Nvidia isn’t exaggerating when they say it can outperform the RTX 3090 Ti, it has the best current range chance to be a GPU that is actually worth buying. It’s out now and I should have a review ready next week.

RTX 40-series laptops are also on the way, with a range of GPUs actually extending the trio of desktop offerings. Nvidia announced mobile graphics chips with RTX 4090, RTX 4080, RTX 4070, RTX 4060 and RTX 4050 titles, a notable increase in scope given how desktop versions of the RTX 4060 and RTX 4050 have yet to be announced. Laptops with these chips, which use the same Ada Lovelace architecture as desktop models, will go on sale from February 8.

AMD's stage show at CES 2023, showing specifications for the Ryzen 9 7950X3D CPU.

New AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs and Radeon RX 7000 notebook GPUs

AMD announced, gee, just loads of stuff at CES 2023. Desktop-wise, the highlight was a new three-tier Ryzen 7000 processor with a similar 3D V-cache design to the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Launching from February, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, Ryzen 9 7900X3D and Ryzen 7 7800X3D aim to give gaming performance a boost with significantly fatter L3 cache reserves. In addition to increasing clock speeds between 5 GHz and 5.7 GHz, with up to 16 cores and 32 threads on the Ryzen 9 7950X3D. This process of cache accumulation – which allows more data to be stored inside the CPU itself, increasing overall processing time – worked well for the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, so I have high hopes for these new chips as well. Maybe this time AMD will actually lend us one.

Also revealed were three new, “standard” Ryzen 7000 desktop CPUs: the Ryzen 9 7900, Ryzen 7 7700 and Ryzen 5 7600. These have lower clock speeds than the X-suffix equivalents launched last year, but all three come with lower prices and lower 65W TDP ratings across the board.

Laptops also got some love, with AMD announcing 18 new mobile Ryzen 7000 CPUs. When it comes to gaming laptops, the Ryzen 7000 HX line promises the highest performance, ranging from the six-core/5GHz Ryzen 5 7645HX to the 16-core/5.4GHz Ryzen 9 7945HX. Expect to see these find their way to laptops from February as well, likely alongside the Radeon RX 7000 mobile GPU series. Something, yes, AMD also confirmed at CES.

These consist of the RX 7600M XT, RX 7600M, RX 7700S and RX 7600MS, all packing 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM and sounding like they’ll be most comfortable at 1080p resolutions. The more exciting aspect of this announcement, however, was the tease of Smart Shift RSR: a new version of Radeon Super Resolution upscaling that “intelligently distributes rendering, upscaling and presentation requirements” between the CPU and GPU to further improve performance. This will only be available on AMD Advantage-branded laptops, i.e. where both the CPU and GPU are AMD-made.

CG key art for Intel's 13th generation CPUs announced at CES 2023.

Intel Core i9-13980HX and other 13th generation laptop chips

Not to be outdone, Intel unveiled more than 30 mobile CPUs based on its 13th generation/Raptor Lake architecture, spanning high-speed gaming models as well as low-wattage chips for fanless ultraportables and mini PCs. The star of these is the Core i9-13980HK, which can boost up to 5.6 GHz and has no less than 24 cores; there are eight powerful Performance cores and 16 smaller Efficiency cores, according to Raptor Lake’s hybrid design. Intel says this is the world’s fastest laptop CPU, and… yes? Probably? Look at the damn thing.

Fortunately, there will be more affordable options, even within the gaming-focused HX series. The Core i5 contingent alone ranges from the 10-core/4.5GHz Core i5-13450HX to the 14-core/4.9GHz Core i5-13650HX. There’s also the 13th Gen H series, which includes ten chips that still aim for gaming specs, while balancing themselves with a less battery-demanding 45W base power. The entire HX series is rated at 55W.

Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM OLED gaming monitor on a desktop.

Smaller, faster OLED screens

I was pretty impressed by Asus’ large-screen OLED gaming monitors when I tried them last year, and CES saw several monitor manufacturers show off OLED monitors with more desktop-friendly proportions. The Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM, Acer Predator X45 and LG UltraGear 27GR95QE-B will all launch this year with 27in/1440p panels, and while this display technology isn’t yet affordable enough to make IPS obsolete – the cheapest of these, the 27GR95QE-B , is priced at $1000 – the move towards affordable screen sizes hopefully points towards OLED becoming a more realistic option for gaming monitors in general.

The main advantages of OLED tend to be its natural high contrast and deep, inky blacks, the latter in particular being something you can’t get with edge-lit IPS panels. But these displays are also seriously fast, with the Predator X45 supposedly getting the gray-to-gray response time down to 0.01ms – and Asus and LG’s rivals not far behind, at 0.03ms. All three can also achieve a 240Hz refresh rate, which is about the fastest worth aiming for (since there’s basically no visible difference between this and, say, 360Hz).

57-inch Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 gaming monitor.

57in Samsung Odyssey Neo G9

Or! You can wave away all the “reasonable size” talk and get a curved 57-inch mini LED screen. This new version of the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 (or G95NC, for short) is a hysterically stretched screen that, with a resolution of 7,680×2,160, is the equivalent of two 4K gaming monitors glued together.

Samsung has, rather desirably, specified the G95NC with a 240Hz refresh rate, and while the 32:9 aspect ratio is natively supported in hundreds of games, there isn’t a graphics card that will run most of them at anywhere near 240fps on this the resolution. Still, it’s… in keeping with the spirit of the show?

The Vive XR Elite VR headset and its controllers.

Vive XR Elite

Regular RPS VR guy Rick Lane reckons 2023 will be a far more exciting year for virtual reality than 2022. The recently revealed Vive XR Elite may have a role to play in that: while it’s partly concerned with metaverse nonsense, it seems to retain more of a gaming focus than the recent Meta Quest Pro. It’s both more compact and higher-resolution than the Vive Cosmos Elite, with two 1920×1920 displays inside a headset that looks more like a pair of thick welding goggles than the blocky faceplates of yesteryear. I leave it up to your taste whether it looks more or less silly.

The catch is that a price of £1299 / $1099 makes it even more expensive than the Valve Index. That said, the XR Elite has built-in hand tracking, and at least isn’t quite as expensive as the Quest Pro. It’s a bold move to move back towards high-end VR at a time when interest in the technology is waning, but as Rick has pointed out, there are some interesting VR-only games coming out this year; XR Elite can be a suitable way to play them, if the performance is top notch.

A promotional image for HyperX's HX3D service, featuring several 3D-printed duck keys on top of a keyboard.

HyperX HX3D promises 3D printed peripheral mods

Besides wired and wireless versions of the Pulsefire Haste 2, a successor to one of the best lightweight gaming mice, HyperX made one of the more unexpected CES 2023 announcements. HX3D is a service/storefront, launching later in January, that will sell 3D-printed accessories for compatible PC peripherals.

Keycaps will be a big focus, with lil’ rubber ducks and a scarf-cuddled cat among the first trinkets revealed. They look pretty well made, having been spun out of high-end printers by HyperX parent company HP, and should stick on most mechanical boards even if it’s not a HyperX model. Other accessories, such as what appears to be a microphone mount made of writhing Kraken tentacles, may only fit the brand’s own.

Here’s what the press release said: “HyperX will work with game developers, esports teams, content creators, influencers and in-house creative teams to create and design fan-friendly products that can be worn while playing or collected as memorabilia or cherished collectibles.” I’ll admit this isn’t my thing – I like my keycaps to feel like keycaps, not the plastic hat of a figure – but again, it’s decent craftsmanship. Print art?

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