I can hardly believe it, the annual smorgasbord of technology, the Consumer Electronics Show, also known as CES, is upon us. Where has this year gone? So, what can you expect as a newborn and blinking under the Nevada sun this January, ready to revolutionize your gaming in 2023?
The big three will definitely have some new wares to show off. The show kicks off January 5, but AMD’s head honcho, Dr. Lisa Su will do her usual pre-show keynote sizzle shizzle on January 4.
AMD in action
Not quite sure exactly what Su will show off new hardware, but the main candidates include new laptop APUs based on a combination of Zen 4 CPU cores seen in the Ryzen 7000 series desktop chips (opens in new tab) and either RDNA 2 or RDNA 3 images.
In fact, AMD has already dished up many of the most important details. These laptop chips are codenamed Dragon Range and Phoenix. Aimed at big, powerful desktop replacement rigs, the first is basically the desktop Ryzen 7000 with its 5nm CPU chiplets and 6nm IO and graphics repackaged for mobile. We expect variants with up to 16 cores.
Undoubtedly more interesting is Phoenix. Like Ryzen 7000 and Dragon Range, it’s expected to be chipset based and use the same 5nm Zen 4 cores, but this time with up to eight instead of 16. Of course that’s still a huge amount of computing power and Phoenix gets a lot too more powerful graphics in its IO chiplet.
Where Dragon Range has the same mini graphics core with only two RDNA 2-spec compute units, Phoenix is expected to rock 12 RDNA 3-spec compute units. It still won’t be a true gaming powerhouse, but should handle the job of light 1080p gaming.
Speaking of mobile, AMD might also announce some new RDNA 3 laptop GPUs based on the new Radeon RX 7000 Series (opens in new tab). Think of RX 7900 and RX 7800 Mobility. Specs at this stage are speculative, but we expect all mobile chips to be based on the upcoming Navi 32 and Navi 33 GPUs, rather than the Navi 31 big boy of the desktop 7900 XT and 7900 XTX cards.
Currently, the best available information suggests that Navi 32 will rock 60 compute units and 3,840 stream processors, while Navi 33 will run 32 compute units and 2,048 processors. For context, Navi 31 has 96 computing units and 6,144 processors.
Back on the desktop, we don’t expect AMD to announce any new graphics cards given the recent launch of the 7900 XT and 7900 XTX. But we could see some new CPUs. A 3D V-cache version of the new Zen 4 architecture, along the lines of the Zen 3-based Ryzen 7 5800X3D, is possible. We also expect more affordable, lower-wattage non-X versions of the new Ryzen 7000 series.
Intel strikes back
As for arch-rival Intel, it’s going to be big on mobile too Raptor Lake of the 13th generation (opens in new tab) laptop CPUs. The big news here is that Intel is expected to give laptops the full Raptor Lake experience. That means a Core i9 version with eight performance cores and all 16 efficiency cores. Yuck.
Smaller variants with lower core counts, including eight and eight, six and eight, and six and four, all respective performance and efficiency are also likely.
As for Raptor Lake on the desktop, Intel previewed a 6GHz version a little earlier this year and talked about availability in early 2023. So expect that chip to launch at CES and likely branded Core i9 13900KS. As for Intel’s Arc graphics, we don’t think Intel will make any big announcements at CES.
But what about the last member of the unholy trinity, Nvidia? Again, mobile is expected to play a strong role, with the RTX 40 series for laptops leading the way and taking center stage. As we discussed last month (opens in new tab)we expect a full stack of RTX 40-series laptop chips for CES, including RTX 4090, 4080, and 4070.
As always, those GPUs probably won’t be mapped directly to the desktop variants. So the RTX 4090 won’t be based on the massive, power-hungry AD102 chip in the desktop RTX 4090. Instead, it’s the AD103 GPU as seen in the desktop RTX 4080 that qualifies for RTX 4090 branding in a laptop .
Keeping track of all that, it’s AD104 for the RTX 4080 mobile and the even smaller AD106 chip for the RTX 4070 mobile, although of all these mobile GPUs, the RTX 4070 is the least certain to launch at CES. That may follow later in the year.
Either way, the RTX 4090 mobile could be quite the beast. The AD103 GPU rocks 9,728 shades and 112 render outputs, both about 30 percent higher than the beefiest chip from the outgoing RTX 30-series mobile lineup. Factor in higher clocks too, and laptop gaming performance will be a really nice step up.
Back on the desktop, Nvidia is stillborn RTX 4080 12GB (opens in new tab) is widely tipped to reappear at CES, labeled as the RTX 4070 Ti. The specs are probably exactly the same as the defunct 4080 12GB, but the big question is pricing. The 12 GB would go on sale for $899. Our guess is that Nvidia will go for $799 for the 4070 Ti. Watch this space.
Laptops, laptops, laptops
Speaking of laptops, Alienware recently teased its upcoming 18-inch laptop (opens in new tab), which we expect to debut at CES. Alienware is also rumored to be working on an 18-inch model. So 18 inches could be a big theme at CES 2023.
Razer is also rumored to have a new 16-inch model in the works. We hope that the design will be revised a bit. Razer’s current laptops have pretty thick chins and it might be time they got a thin-bezel refresh. Fingers crossed.
More laptops with high-refresh OLED panels are also likely. Asus, in particular, is going hard with OLED technology, so look out for some hot new laptops with super-fast, eye-popping OLED panels.
It won’t just be laptops with OLED goodness at CES. OLED PC monitors are a nailed down security for CES. Asus recently launched a few large format OLED panels. But it’s smaller, more, well, monitor-sized OLED monitors that interest us.
High on the list is Samsung’s 34-inch ultra-wide OLED monitor that uses the same 3,440 by 1,440 QD-OLED Samsung panel used by the Alienware 34 AW3423DW (opens in new tab)Samsung is also likely to launch a number of other OLED monitors at the show.
LG’s new OLED gaming monitors should also be on hand, as should Asus’ 27-inch OLED panel, which uses the same LG panel technology. All told, there will almost certainly be a slew of OLED monitor announcements at CES. Unfortunately, what we don’t expect this year is high pixel density OLED monitor technology. 32-inch 4K high-refresh OLED doesn’t seem likely this year.
8K if you have to, plus DisplayPort 2.1
We’re not sure it’ll become a big trend at CES, but there will be at least one 8K monitor at CES. Well, we say 8K. Samsung’s updated “8K” Neo G9 was previewed by AMD RDNA 3 launch event (opens in new tab). It’s 8K in terms of horizontal pixel count, but with its 32:9 aspect it’s actually two 4K pixel grids and a total resolution of half 8K.
Very likely this new half-8K panel will debut at CES. However, the problem with full 8K is twofold. First, it’s ridiculously hard to get decent frame rates at 8K. It’s four times the GPU load of 4K.
You also need a monstrous display interface bandwidth to support high-refresh 8K gaming. However, Nvidia’s latest RTX 40 series doesn’t support DisplayPort 2.1, which is ultimately a requirement for high-refresh 8K gaming. AMD’s new Radeon RX 7000 GPUs support DisplayPort 2.1. But we’re not convinced that 8K is anywhere for PC gaming.
That said, DisplayPort 2.1 will also enable even higher refreshes with existing resolutions. 4K at over 240 Hz? If you really have to, you need DisplayPort 2.1.
PCIe Gen 5 SSDs
Could CES be ground zero for those overdue PCI Express Gen 5 SSDs? The first Gen 5 drive with the Phison E26 controller chip reportedly went on sale in Japan recently. So maybe, just maybe.
PCIe Gen 5 drives offer twice the theoretical bandwidth of Gen 4 SSDs. The peak during the entire process can therefore be as high as 15 GB/s. Early Gen 5 drives probably won’t be that fast. But something close to 12 GB/s is realistic for first-generation drives.
That said, we’re more interested in how much better this new SSD could be for IOPS and random access performance. That’s undoubtedly the area of storage performance that really needs a boost. No peak sequential transfer rates.
It’s CES, so silly concept tech is pretty much a given. Last year, Razer gave us Project Sophia, a modular PC built into a desk with a huge OLED screen with edge-lit glass tabletop and THX sound system. Alienware, meanwhile, showed off a water-cooled external GPU, Dell had its modular, expandable Concept Luna laptops, and TCL teased us with micro-LED AR glasses.
Most of these things remain in draft status, although Samsung’s QD-OLED technology from CES 2022 is now at least available, included in the Alienware 34 monitor. As for the wacky concepts to expect from CES 2023, that’s anyone’s guess.
But what about an affordable gaming graphics card? That would be an incredible technical innovation. Yes, you are right. That’s the stuff of science fiction. Oh well, it’s nice to dream.