The Best Of CES 2017

Best Of CES 2017: Systems

Intel Compute Card
Intel has fully embraced small form factor systems over the last few years, as evidenced by its line-up of miniscule NUC systems and tiny Compute Sticks. But the Intel Compute Card announced at CES 2017 takes small form factor computing to the extreme.

compute card

Though technical details are scarce at the moment, the Compute Card's physical dimensions are still impressive. The system is about the size of a credit card, and only a few millimeters "thick". The Compute Card is packing a Kaby Lake based processor, RAM, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and storage, and is meant to be the foundation for an array of connected devices. There is a single connector at one end, and a plastic window at the other to accommodate the wireless transceivers. The connector can be used to add an array of IO options, like USB ports, display outputs, etc. The Compute Card is capable of running full-blown Windows (or other operating systems) and due to the ultra small form factor, can be adapted to a variety of platforms, for Compute Stick like devices to home appliances. We look forward to seeing what the Compute Card can do when they begin shipping sometime this year.

The New NVIDIA SHIELD With Google Assistant And Spot
We've been fans of NVIDIA's Shield TV device for a while now, and with the recent addition to manage your local content as a Plex Media Server, it only became more firmly cemented as our favorite media streamer, and unquestionably the most powerful and versatile one available on the market. With an on board NVIDIA graphics engine, it also has decent gaming chops for whatever is on Google Play or in NVIDIA's own Games library, along with game streaming from a GeForce enabled PC or GeForce Now from the cloud. 

NVIDIA Shield front NVIDIA Shield Back
NVIDIA's New Shield TV - a little more compact but it's the soft Nougat center that's tasty.

Though NVIDIA has enabled its GeForce Now cloud gaming service on the Mac and the PC platform as well, they also tweaked-up this little media streamer with some serious intelligence with an Android 7 Nougat update bundled with Google Assistant. This essentially turns the Shield into an AI-powered smart device for your home, handling search and playback of media for entertainment, with the added ability to control smart home IoT devices like lighting, thermostats and anything else connect to the SmartThings ecosystem of devices. You then can just simply bark the commands “OK Google,” at any Shield hands free remote or the all new NVIDIA Spot wall power plug-in, instructing Google Assistant to kick off either entire pre-programmed routines or just controlling single devices. In a live demo, NVIDIA's new Shield device turned on lights, turned-up a thermostat and started a fresh pot of coffee with the command “OK Google, start my day.” Nvidia is also the first device manufacturer, beyond Google itself with its Pixel phones, to license and enabled Google Assistant in a device. Pretty cool. Incidentally, this update will be coming to existing Shield owners as well and it brings with it 4K HDR capabilities. Zuck may have his Jarvis, but Shield and Spot can get you there too. 

Dell XPS 27 - Powerful All-In-One PC

The all new XPS 27 is a beautiful all-in-one PC that made headlines at CES 2017 for Dell, and we were fortunate to be one of the very first to review it fully here. Sure, it's bezels are thin on top and on the sides of that vibrant 4K display, and it's also one of the fastest, most powerful AiOs we've tested with a 4GHz quad-core Core i7 CPU, AMD Radeon R9 M470X graphics, and a snappy NVMe SSD. However, its sound system is the surprising star of its multimedia show. 

Dell XPS27 7760 Display Frogs
Dell's XPS 27 is punchy and powerful in a number of ways.

The new XPS 27 is now equipped with a ten speaker Jack Joseph Puig Signature Series Waves MaxxAudio Pro sound system, with stereo amplifiers capable of driving 50W per channel. JJP is a Grammy Award-winning music producer that has worked with bands like The Black Crowes, John Mayer, Weezer and Fiona Apple. JJP worked in conjunction with Dell engineers to tune the system for accuracy and it sounds absolutely fantastic. In short, this machine will belt out audio better than any all-in-one you've ever heard, so as a home or office media PC it's a real game-changer.

AMD Ryzen System Galore
As we inch closer to the official launch of AMD’s Zen-based Ryzen processors, the company is leaking more and more information about the products and platform as a whole. In its display at CES, AMD was showing off an array of Ryzen-based systems – some equipped with Vega-based graphics cards, X/A/B 300 series chipset-based AM4 motherboards for Ryzen, and all of the Radeon GPU technology to arrive in the last year or so, including the proof-of-concept Radeon Pro SSG.

ryzen systems 1

Along an entire wall in the display, however, was an assortment of systems, all built around Ryzen. Had these been custom, purpose built machines only for display at CES, that would be one thing. But all of the systems along the wall were actually from AMD’s system partners and were indicative of system configurations that will be for sale when Ryzen officially ships.

ryzen systems 2

Although initial indicators in some multi-threaded benchmarks shine a positive light on Ryzen, we have yet to run a full suite of tests on final silicon, that’s been fully tuned and is retail-ready. The fact that a number of boutique builders already seem to be behind Ryzen, however, and are readying some unique, high-powered systems, bodes well for the platform.

CyberPower PC Goes All Out
Finally, we get to a system for the true hardcore gamer and, dare we say,"baller" - yeah that sounds appropriate. What do you get when you combine a killer gaming rig with fresh copper piping and a roll cage? This burly beast... 

CyberPowerPC Luxe

CyberPowerPC Luxe 2
Cyberpower's Luxe is a killer gaming rig with a roll cage and copper tubing - gotta love it.

The CyberpowerPC Luxe is all that and a bag of stainless steal, tempered glass, and chips. Built in an all-new In-Win D Frame chassis, this machine squares off with opponents like a battle bot that might rip of your head and parade around with it. Specs = Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K, a pair of MSI GeForce GTX 1080s, a 512GB Samsung 960 Pro NVMe SSD, and 32GB of DDR4 2133MHz memory. All that is backed-up by a 1065Watt PSU. Its liquid cooling system is plumbed in all pure copper tubing as well, which does an extra good job of wicking heat away, as you might imagine. Cyberpower's entire suite was filled with this kind of bad-assery in fact. Good to see them still serving up the gaming and PC enthusiast beef.

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