What Price Innovation? ($50m, If You’re Razer)

By Alec Meer on January 16th, 2012 at 11:41 am.

I hope they didn't spend the whole $50m on that

“The PC giants have stopped innovating” claimed Razer boss Min-Liang Tan to Kotaku recently. What he meant, of course, was that Razer’s own projects such as tablet PC/wrestling machine Project Fiona offer the experimental design the Dells and HPs of this world should be pursuing. Fiona’s unveiling seemed to result in a planet-wide raised eyebrow, but I love that it’s happening even if I think it’s doomed, and I certainly don’t disagree that there’s an awful lot more that could be done with the humble PC.

I was looking into buying a new case for mine over the weekend (because I lose important parts of my fingers whenever I try and upgrade anything) and the only choice seemed to be ‘designed by a 14-year-old metalhead’ and ‘perfectly boring box’. So I guess I’m sticking with the overheating aluminium monstrosity I’ve got. Depressing. Are these companies really not interested in getting their hands on the money of people who like nice-looking things? I’d love for my PC to be something I wanted to take pride of place in my home, rather than just be shoved under the desk and letting the monitor take all the credit.

Like an ugly Cylon

Why is PC design so staid? Is it because it’s an open market where no-one wants to rock the boat, for fear of losing marketshare or shareholder confidence? Is it because returns are lower than they used to be? Is it because Apple are hoovering up all the money and parts for their overpriced Macs? A case is admittedly a case, but form factor can make a huge difference to technology’s desirability, so it’s forever surprising that PCs themselves are usually so ugly and plain even after all these years. So I’d happily see more Razers doing batshit crazy things just so the PC can pursue new directions, but given that Tan also declared that the firm has received an amazing $50 million of funding for its mad projects, I suspect they’re a relatively singular entity here. If someone wants to give me $50 million, I promise to come up with some amazing new PC concepts.

Still, while I admire the dedication I can’t really get behind a statement as bold as Tan’s “We say PC gaming is not dead because as long as we’re around, we’ll keep it alive any way we can,” both because, for the million and twelfth sodding time, it’s clearly in absolutely no danger of death and because Intel, NVIDIA and AMD surely have rather a lot more to do with that. Even if they aren’t innovating all that much, as anyone who’s checked out the most recent raft of new CPUs can attest to.

Tan’s clearly aware that his company’s products are divisive, for which I must also give him credit. “PC gamers are passionate. That’s why they either love us or hate us.” I don’t think they’re on the right track with Fiona, but I genuinely can’t wait to see what else is up their anything-goes sleeve.

Also, we must praise Razer to the highest heavens for this:

The only sensible response to SOPA, I’d say.

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106 Comments »

  1. Belsameth says:

    I can reccomend a Coolermaster Stacker. No over the top design, and very roomy.

    Besides that, <3 Razor.

    • desirecampbell says:

      I’ll throw my suggestion for the Bit Fenix Shinobi in as well. Roomy, and doesn’t look like a 14 year old designed.

    • Lord Byte says:

      Not a big fan of coolermaster as they tend to have too many holes (fans and silly windows) and weird angles. Antec have some nice looking bland ones (P183), they’re also well designed and noise-cancelling.
      Recently I bought NZXT H2, and I’m absolutely stunned by how well designed and quiet this thing is. USB on top, even USB3, a slot on the top that allows you to place a Sata HDD in there without having to open the case up. Roomy, and very well isolated, even quiter than the Antec one. The fans use a magnetic contact system so you can remove them from the outside to clean them, the bottom air-inlet can be slid out to remove any dust.
      The design is also sleek and sexy: http://www.nzxt.com/new/products/classic_series/h2
      Very satisfied.

    • roryok says:

      What about the Slymaster Zephyr Scimitar?

      Ok I made that one up.

    • Tacroy says:

      Jeff Atwood, of Coding Horror, recommends the Corsair 600T. I’m planning on getting one myself sometime soon; it’s fairly subdued, but seems roomy and looks like it has all the useful high-end features.

    • ImOnTheRadio says:

      Another vote for Bitfenix Shinobi, I actually won the windowed version from this one Finnish technology site. Great case, looks good, super easy cable management and cooled my PC alot.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      The BMW Thermaltake Level 10 Tower Case.

      I don’t know whether it’s any good, certainly overpriced, will never buy one, but I’m rather smitten by its look.

      Wish it had giant inexplicable tubes coming out of it…

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      My case for the computer I just built is the Antex 900 (http://xsreviews.co.uk/images/Antec-900-2/Antec-900-v2.jpg). Incredibly roomy, and a nice design, with 3 120mm fans and a top-mounted 200mm fan included, with room for one more. It never raises temperature significantly, and for all the fans, it is amazingly quiet, as in it’s underneath my desk right now, and I can’t even hear it.

      My dream case, however, is the NZXT Phantom,(http://www.dottmouse.it/images/NZXT_PHANTOM_BLA_4d79fdc77d324.jpg) which, besides being lovely and sleek, has an insane amount of room, and gets almost top marks across the board. I couldn’t get one in Ireland though, and to get it delivered here from UK was outside of my budget.

      Edit: The system seems to think I’m a spambot trying to sell you things! Damn you Turing!

    • Fearzone says:

      Coolermaster Cosmos S fits the middle ground, looking cool and impressive to others, without looking silly. The lights from inside can be seen through the microperforations. It is very cool, temperature-wise, and visually.

      3 years ago I thought I was going to be buried with that case: sturdy design which handles everything I throw into it. Now, I need something that fits into the living room better, maybe shaped more like a large stereo receiver, or something.

    • Odeon says:

      @Belsameth: There appear to be several Cooler Master Stacker models. Which one are you talking about?

      I looked at Lord Byte’s recommendation, the NZXT H2, and it’s a VERY nice case for under $100, but it’s heavy at 24 pounds without a PSU. Then I looked at the BitFenix Shinobi and was pretty surprised when I saw that it sells for about $60 for the non-window version. It’s got quite a few nice features for the price.

      @Fearzone: The Cooler Master Cosmos S is nice-looking, but I’m not a fan of handle rails on either the top or bottom, let alone both. And at around $200, it’s too expensive.

      My current case is a no-name ~$35 thing that’s not too crazy-looking, but I no longer like the black, silver, and clear plastic front and the big window on the left side. Worst of all the air flow is pretty lacking, but I think I’ll take the advice of this forum thread and start removing some fan grills for some extra air flow to see if I can get lower temps.

    • evade says:

      Dunno if you can get them in the UK, but Fractal Design cases are really nice. Just got the Define R3 myself and love it.

      Edit: ah I see they have been mentioned already further down :p

    • disperse says:

      I just built a PC using the SilverStone GD05B and I think it looks downright classy. Micro ATX only but the case has plenty of space for a full sized power supply and lots of cooling.

      Edit: The SilverStone probably falls into the black-boring category so maybe this would do?

      http://www.pureoverclock.com/article1369.html

  2. Echo Black says:

    I think innovation in PC gaming is not necessarily tied to new I/O devices, much less this pad/PSP/PC hybrid thing of theirs. If you really want “innovation”, the real effort should be directed to exploring uncharted gameplay territories. A new I/O device could help a bit with that pursuit, but something tells me there’s still a lot that could be done with what we have.

    • Tuco says:

      To me the problem with PC gaming today is more the perceived lack of killer applications (and I’d like to stress “perceived” as we have plenty of good games).
      Every single console has a marketing giant behind, pushing it in the general market and overselling it as “the new shit”, the “must have thing”, etc.

      There are tons of people on the general audience, outside nerds circles, who actually believe that a 360 or a PS3 are super powerful machines way beyond what a a PC could do; which is hilarious, if you think that is actually the other way around.

      Now, beside the fact that PC gaming isn’t doing bad at all (despise all the efforts of its antagonists) and both its recent software lineup and Steam growing by 100% for 7 years in a row are a clear prove of that, I’ll tell you what I’d like to see:
      i’d like to see companies like Intel, Nvidia and AMD entering the software production market, especially on the gaming side, and financing “triple A” exclusive PC games like those first party developers do on consoles for Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft.
      That would even help to sell their own hardware, after all.

    • evilbobthebob says:

      I don’t agree with you about hardware manufacturers producing games, Tuco. For a start, Intel, AMD and Nvidia already provide some branding to games. Their logos don’t show up during game startup for no reason. Secondly, all we’d see from such manufacturer production is games optimised for a small part of the market, so AMD produced games would probably be almost unplayable on Intel based PCs and vice versa. Manufacturer publishing might be more viable but I am sure you’d still see very skewed performance.

    • Tuco says:

      Well, on the other hand, I don’t agree at all with your conclusion, as that would be an extremely-not-clever move from them in terms of popularity and potential sales.

      P.S. And of course i was arguing mostly about them financing and publishing. I wouldn’t really care about who could be the actual developers.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ Tuco

      Its a double edged sword though. The PC doesn’t have the unified big budget push behind it because no one controls the platform, which makes it difficult for any profit-focus company to justify investing in promoting the PC ‘ecosystem’ (and so help other – quite possibly rival – companies) rather than just their own products. That same lack of control is what makes PC gaming the wonderful world it is. Absolute power corrupts absolutely etc, and thats what the console makers have over their domains, and what allows their marketing support for those consoles. Its also what makes them so inferior to the PC.

      In truth PC companies can’t even agree on the much more modest notion of having standardised PC benchmarks so that its not necessary to be an expert in hardware to not be stiffed when buying a machine or component. Its simple self-interest though for manufacturers to make their own hardware sound as appealing as possible (from their viewpoint – to a neutral its clear that confusing hardware labelling seriously hurts the PC when competing for console users attention).

    • InternetBatman says:

      Well, there is Old Republic. As much as people bash on MMOs, it’s a huge game with tons of replay value made by one of the highest regarded developers in the industry. Also, I think Starcraft II provided that for a lot of people.

    • Bhazor says:

      I agree we need *someone* to front PC Gaming. To subsidise developers producing PC exclusives and to work as a general focal point for high budget PC Gaming. But I’d say the natural choice isn’t a hardware maker but Valve and therefore Steam. Theres little doubt they’re the go to platform for PCs, they have a vested interest in getting Steamworks into as many games as possible and given their revenue to output they must have a lake of cash sitting somewhere.

      Steam isn’t ideal, offline mode is still completely borked, but they do generally allow you to do all the stuff that makes PC Gaming special like mods, custom leagues, private servers, no region restriction on which servers you use etc etc.

      @Battleatlas

      I think a more important issue for PC Gaming is that hardware makers and magazines are *underselling* their hardware. With hardware at a standstill for the past 3 years any PC made in the past 5 years could play games at High/Very High settings at 45+fps. Nonetheless brand new £400 PCs are sold as multimedia only with PC Magazines saying “It’s not capable of high end gaming” without actually trying any reasonable benchmarks.

      The biggest disapointment I still have with Vista is that the Windows Experience Index never took off as a benchmark. I still think that would have had a huge impact on PC gaming if it had worked. Or alternatively have the publishers and hardware makers work together to make something like this. Imagine if computer capabilities could be broadly expressed with a single number? How many casual gamers could be persuaded to play good games if they saw their little laptop was capable of running Arkham City or Shogun 2?

    • D3xter says:

      I’d actually agree more with the hardware manufacturers, they would see increased profits in their hardware divisions (even if people would pirate their game, which seems to be excuse #1 nowadays), there were articles saying that games like Battlefield 3 and TOR (don’t ask me why) boosted hardware sales by as much as 1 billion $ or above.

      There have been successful attempts at this in the past, the most prominent one I can remember is AGEIA, that, despite being a rather small and poor firm with a product that barely anyone really *needed* co-funded and developed certain games like CellFactor: Revolution, Warmonger etc. and even gave away some software for free and managed to get their API integrated into a large number of other games. I even thought about buying one at some point but then they managed to get bought off by NVIDIA… who did next to nothing with the technology afterwards (aside of implementation in a few select titles).
      Another example I can remember is actually Intel itself, they bought the “Project Offset” developers to make the game a launch title for their “Larrabee” graphics card. Unfortunately it ultimately failed cause they couldn’t keep up with ATI/NVIDIA and instead of pursueing it they decided it ain’t worth the effort and closed the studio down.

      I believe Valve probably makes more money by releasing on the consoles too and they have some “exclusive” Free2Play titles now (and soon likely with DOTA2) to attract millions of gamers to their platform… and maybe buy something too while they’re there.

    • Fearzone says:

      The next PC innovation is to move into living rooms.

      Consoles aren’t really made for high definition. A PC handles it fine. With the right setup, email and web browsing is a joy on the large screen TV. Gaming is great, and with both a console and PC plugged into the TV, one can see how poorly the console fares by comparison, in terms of both graphics and overall usefulness. I’ve barely turned on the PS3 since the PC got plugged in.

      The time is ripe for the PC to move away from the desktop. PC designs (mainly cases and mouse devices) that help with this would be exciting and welcome.

  3. meloncrab says:

    I like the designs LianLi has to offer

    • AmateurScience says:

      I am also a fan. They do rather fit into to ‘anonymous black box’ category though.

      I think a lot of the lack of innovation is due to the limits of the ATX form factor for mobos. Lian Li do a lot of good work with the internal layout (mine has the PSU at the front under the HDDs and the mobo inverted), but at the end of the day it’s still got to fit all the bits in and there’s only so many ways you can do that.

      What I really can’t stand are all these so-called ‘gaming’ cases which have a gazillion LEDs and a ton of cheap plastic faring to make them go faster or somesuch. LEDs I can handle but I just don’t get all the plasticy bits.

      The most innovative thing I’ve seen in case design recently (i.e. in the last 5 or so years) is a tray on the top of the box for whatever you’ve got plugged into your front panel USBs or eSATA to sit in. Hardly world changing.

    • Monkey says:

      The Corsair cases look very good too. Their wiring solution of putting it all behind for better air flow is great

    • RaveTurned says:

      What AmateurScience said. It’d probably help if there was more support from motherboard manufactures for smaller form factors that could still fit a decent graphics card. ITX and it’s brethren look nice, but last time I checked you couldn’t use them for serious gaming.

    • Persona Jet Rev says:

      I’ve recently put together a new system in a Corsair Carbide 500R, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Looks good (subjective, of course), comes with good and quiet case fans and the details (screws, cable management) is ‘just right’

    • phuzz says:

      Zalman make some nice cases, but again, I like the look of mine, but you might not.
      High marks for build quality and features from me though.

    • Mitchk says:

      I built a new PC a few months back in a Sharkoon T9, which I’ve found fantastic. 3 fans, all with rubber fastenings so they’re quiet, usb 3.0 slots on the front and rear panels and good cable management. all for around £45.

      I can vouch for it being tough too, as my brother knocked the whole rig off its stand a few days ago and nothing seems to be wrong with it…..yet.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I think a lot of the lack of innovation is due to the limits of the ATX form factor for mobos. Lian Li do a lot of good work with the internal layout (mine has the PSU at the front under the HDDs and the mobo inverted), but at the end of the day it’s still got to fit all the bits in and there’s only so many ways you can do that.

      That’s the biggest part of the equation. As long as the PC manufacturers are using standard mobo sizes and PSUs, there’s little they can change in the form factor. This is why the common PC case design has changed very little since the 1980s. When they do custom designs, it’s usually for the home market where they expect to sell millions, rather than the enthusiast market where they’d likely not sell enough to recoup the costs.

      As long as the enthusiasts insist on being able to replace any parts in their PC piecemeal, they will be stuck with variations on the beige box for these reasons. Meanwhile the home market machines may be quite capable for gaming—not top of the line, obviously—but will continue to be rejected by enthusiasts because you can’t upgrade the graphics card.

    • N says:

      I also have a LianLi and I like it precisely because it looks like a Kubrickian monolith.

  4. CMaster says:

    Fiona is a ridiculous device, and I think companies like ASUS and OCZ do more for genuinely interesting innovation in the field of PCs and gaming.

    However, I won’t disagree that they should invest in trying to do something new. One day they might get it right and have a breakout hit.

    • PodX140 says:

      I feel the same way. Their “innovation” is 99% of the time purely asthetic and not functional, overpriced, and looks horrible (thier laptop, anyone?), but I won’t say the industry should stop innovating. I just wish someone other then them were doing it, I”ve had it with my clueless friends buying all of their products because they’re “top quality.” Because overpriced and overmarketed means quality nowadays.

    • sneetch says:

      Yeah, I don’t really see sticking two bars on the sides of a tablet as being terribly innovative, others have already married touch and traditional controls those are the real innovators here (Nintendo with their DS for example, also the Vita, PSP Phone and WiiU controller) it’s not hugely innovative again just because it’s welded to a PC this time.

  5. MerseyMal says:

    Build your own case!

  6. Monkey says:

    More experimentation is needed with Project Fiona

    Apart from mobile devices, where would the innovation come from? Still have a mouse, keyboard and monitor

  7. Drayk says:

    Strange. It looks like Spam. It taste like spam. It’s written like spam.

    But it’s not spam !

  8. Tunips says:

    My polished black metal Antec p182 case matches my razor edged black Lacie external drive matches my Think Geek 2001 Monolith action figure.
    If there is a line between ultra-minimalism and nerdgasm, I hope I’m somewhere near it. (I can’t see it because it’s a black line on a smooth black landscape)

    • Tony M says:

      I agree you need to check out the P182/3 and P280 cases. Sleek and minimalist cubes.

    • Odeon says:

      Those are awfully nice cases, but they’re just too pricey for most people to be able to justify. Yes they’ll last a long time and can be used for years and years with many different builds, but that’s true of most cases these days.

  9. Jacques says:

    It seems like a lot of case and peripheral builders need to get over the trend of sticking fucking LED’s on everything and showing a bit of class in their designs.

    Take a leaf out of Apple’s book without copying them (I’m looking at you HP).

    • AmateurScience says:

      The problem with Apple design (at least in terms of desktops) is that an all-in-one is hard/impossible to upgrade beyond sticking some more RAM in. It suits their design needs because it’s a closed platform with only very few hardware combinations. But for the comparatively open PC space it is (for me) a major drawback.

      For laptops it works very well whatever the cut of your OS cloth. The 13″ macbook is (again, for me) at a sweet spot in terms of power, size/shape and usability (frickin love the trackpad too). The latest models are extremely pricey however – I got mine before the 13″ model was subsumed into the ‘Pro’ line which seemed to arbitrarily hike the price £200. Also no discreet graphics any more on the 13″ model: sad times.

    • Jacques says:

      Look at the Mac Pro though, it’s a beautiful looking case, without needing to resort to LED’s and go-faster stripes.

      Why aren’t more people doing things like that?

    • Unaco says:

      @Jacques,

      No it’s not. That White-going-to-grey colour is abominable, and they’ve basically just copied the Antec 300 box, but put the power buttons in a place that makes them incredibly awkward to reach, unless the box is at eye height, on your desk. Horrible design.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    How about a set of glasses that project a 3D image onto your eyes so it’s like you’re actually in the game? You could also have some gloves with touchpads on them to give the sensation of handling objects.

  11. Bluestar says:

    Fractal Design make a nice case, the complete opposite of ‘designed by a 14-year-old metalhead’.

    • perfectheat says:

      Totally agree. No bling. Really enjoy my Fractal R3. LianLi are also great.

    • Svant says:

      so true, love my fractal, comes with sound isolation as well. No leds, no windows, no bullshit just a case with room for everything. Comes in 3 colors as well!

    • Odeon says:

      After looking at their site, I have to agree that Fractal Designs makes some very nice, reasonable/professional-looking cases and the prices aren’t bad either!

    • fugo says:

      i also have an R3. definitely the best case i’ve ever had. looks pretty damn nice if you like a bit of sleek minimalism, easy to build your machine in, solidly built and comes pre-sound proofed. highly recommended!

  12. Yargh says:

    Maybe the case manufacturers don’t feel a massive need for out of this world case designs when there is a large enthusiast market that will turn pretty much anything into a PC case.

    Example: http://imgur.com/a/KhxA6

  13. Dana says:

    I can give you 50$ only. Can I get a tiny weenie bit of innovation for it ?

  14. Untruth says:

    You miss one of the crucial flaws in the economy of staff for PC design – Apple hoover up all the talent. The best industrial/product designers want to work at Apple, not HP.

    Like them or loathe the things themselves, Apple’s industrial design and processes are years ahead of anything any other consumer brand does. In the case of their laptops, robust, solid aluminium cases are possible because of the skill of their designers, combined with the scale at which they manufacture them bringing down costs.

    Other manufacturers are still making 20 different designs a year, never benefitting from the economics of sticking to a couple of key product lines, and refining them.

    Apple can be seen as ‘overpriced’, but it’s pretty clear from the current product ranges that no-one can compete with them on the quality of build, or design of their products at ANY price bracket.

    I think nearly every brand lacks a design philosophy as strong as Apple, but even with that, I doubt they could complete because Apple have the resources to manufacture the quality they aspire towards.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Absolutely. Can you look at anything else in PC world and see any consistent design philosophy? Far more likely the only common trait you’ll find is a sheet of random numbers and phrases intended to bewilder and capture the less knowledgeable consumer: ‘CUTTING EDGE DUAL CORE’, or in keeping with the vogue: ‘CLOUD BACK UP’.

    • goosnargh says:

      Yeah it was disappointing to see Alec call them overpriced then complain about PC designs. Good design in nearly every field costs you extra. That said, the nicest PC case I found was the SilverStone FT02 (sans window of course).

    • Apples says:

      Although this is going to sound really ironic given my name, isn’t that part of the appeal of a PC? Apple have one monolithic design philosophy and all their products MUST adhere to it; same with consoles. PCs can be anything – any jumble of misfit parts that barely work together. It gives the manufacturers more freedom and range even if each individual piece isn’t as polished and excellent as it could be. I’d rather have lots of choice in products ranging from crap to excellent than one choice in something that is probably pretty good but what does it matter because I have to pick it anyway.

      Plus I just sort of like having slightly shoddy products with quirks that only I know how to work around. “Oh, you have to jam this stick into the headphone socket along with the jack to hold it up,” I say to friends. “The C key is missing but you can still just put your finger in the hole and press it.” But I like my games and tv shows the same way, just crap enough to be endearing.

    • Tams80 says:

      I hope there isn’t a trend towards too few product lines a la Apple. With a few companies doing that, it is fine, but if everyone and their dog starts doing it we all loose choice and I can’t see that as a good thing.

      I think you’ve also misunderstood the economies of scale. Pretty much every large company has economies of scale and for most their components, most PC manufacturers probably only use a small variety for a given year. Just things like the casing differs.

      As for nobody being able to match Apple in design… I have to say that is rather closed minded. Almost like saying Apple are the one and only and to be looked up to.

  15. HexagonalBolts says:

    I’ve spent a hell of a long time looking at cases recently to find something to replace the horrific mess I made when I was young and newer to PC making. I’d really recommend people take a look at the relatively unknown Fractal Define R3 (ebuyer stock a versions with USB 3.0), it’s fantastically well reviewed because despite being a case aimed at being quiet (with big noise reduction pads) but which actually has cooling to match all the big names and a sleek minimalist exterior… and it’s less than £80.

    If only I were not a poor indebted student :’(

    • MondSemmel says:

      I own it, and love it. That being said, think thrice about buying the black version if you aren’t too used to building a new PC: Without excellent lighting conditions (which I don’t have), the black interior made building the new computer yet more challenging than it needed to be.

    • Svant says:

      I have the R2 and love it. Easy to put the cables behind the back plate, my only gripe is that the center bottom fan doesn’t have a removable dustfilter so i can’t really clean it.

  16. Donkeyfumbler says:

    I can vouch for Xcase having bought from them before (and knowing several other people who have also done so recently).

  17. Llewyn says:

    I’ve been found out – I’m not a passionate PC gamer after all. Alas. I had thought it would be my console ownership that would catch me out, or perhaps the fact that I’ve never played Minecraft. Instead it seems to be greeting any Razer product with a shrug of mild disinterest that got me in the end. Curses.

  18. AbyssUK says:

    The future of PC’s is to become more like consoles, but with networking allowing you to have your office still.

    I’d like razor to work on a replacement for the mouse/keyboard which would work in the living room while on the couch. Perhaps some sort of typing glove that projects the WASD keys on your knee or something and an air mouse that works like a mouse no need to throw in 3d movement or anything just 2d tracking.

    • n3burgener says:

      My solution to “PC couch-gaming” has always been this: lap desk. It’s a flat surface that you can rest the keyboard+mouse on, with cushioning underneath for sitting on your lap. They’re relatively cheap and can be used for all kinds of things besides just gaming.

  19. AndrewC says:

    Are you recommending the one with the burning ice skull, or the one with the Autobot on?

  20. roryok says:

    Vizio (who only made TVs up until now) announced some very well designed stuff at the CES this year. This for example:

    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2012/01/27inchdesktopimg0230-aio-with-accy.jpg

    90%+ of the innovation budgets of PC manufacturers seem to be spent on laptops, because whatever about PC Gaming being dead, desktop PCs are certainly dwindling. Any innovation in the area of ‘desktops’ is going into All-In-One PCs like the one above.

    • Tams80 says:

      I can see all-in-ones replacing the ‘box and monitor’ you buy from PC World e.g. a Dell, HP, etc.. Box PCs will probably still exist for gaming PCs e.g. Alienware, Falcon etc. The home built ones will be fine as well as most of the components are sold by different companies, so if one company folds, there will probably be several others to choose from.

  21. Radiant says:

    I started a thread about this a while ago.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?2287-I-need-to-buy-a-really-pretty-desktop-case-help!

    The end result? Unless you want a tiny micro atx pc or a ridiculously expensive [for essentially bits of cut aluminium and clear perspex] custom build the only options we have are giant black monoliths.

    Seems that people who build pcs are big fans of neo brutalism.

    • roryok says:

      well, I guess its hard enough to find anything not box shaped that will fit an mATX motherboard, a behemoth of a GPU card and a giant CPU fan.

    • Radiant says:

      Essentially I just wanted a bit of very functional art to sit in my lounge and not scare the cat/misses when I turn it on.

    • Radiant says:

      I don’t want to scare the cat / misses when I turn the pc on too.

    • roryok says:

      *badum tish*

  22. MeestaNob says:

    RPS probably needs a dedicated hardware guru to pen a few articles now and then, because there’s actually hundreds of really nice/fancy/futuristic cases out there.

  23. n3burgener says:

    The problem I have with Razer claiming that their “Project Fiona” is innovation for the PC, is that I just don’t perceive that device as a PC. It’s a closed device much like any console or tablet that only has one specific function, unlike the inherently open and generative nature of a “conventional” PC. To me, “Fiona” is more like buying a Nokia N-Gage or something—a novelty gaming device—instead of buying a “gaming PC.”

    In the long run, there’s way more potential for innovation on a conventional PC because third parties can engineer whatever kind of cool stuff they want for it. I mean, take this guy for example, who built a first-person gaming gun out of a small LCD monitor and a gyration mouse.

  24. Azhrarn says:

    I rather like my Coolermaster Cosmos C1000 case, smooth brushed aluminium curves and no excessive LED lights to ruin it. Although CM stopped making it a while ago I think, the C1000S is similar, but with a more “sporty” look/finish (and a stonking great 230mm fan in the side, no LEDs though).

    The NXZT Phantom case is also lovely, very strong design lines, and if you replace the LED fans with ultra-silent non-LED ones you’ll have a great looking, silent case without the over the top feel.

    Both have toolless component slots and should leave your fingers in tact. ^^
    They’re also very roomy, with lots of space for GPUs and HDDs.
    The disk location for the CM Cosmos is a bit odd though, with 6 server style disk-trays in vertical mounts. Awesome airflow over the disks though, as one of the main intakes is right below it.

  25. roryok says:

    The REAL innovation would be if the component giants (Intel / nvidia / amd) were to start selling reduced form factor components for desktops.

    Look at that Razer Blade laptop: It’s 0.9 inches thick, but its got a Core i7, motherboard, cooling, 8GB of RAM and a 2GB Geforce GT 555M. but its Less than an inch thick.

    In fact, if you look at the thing in profile, the screen takes up a good 0.3″ at least, so the computing part is actually under 0.6″ . Compare that to my (considerably lower spec) gaming PC, which must be 9″ wide, and 2ft high / deep.

    Even if you look at the big bloated gamer laptops from the likes of ASUS, they’d still fit into a standard desktop case 5 or 6 times. These laptops sell for around $1600 / €1250 / £ 1000. Would you pay that to have a gaming desktop the size of a small hardback book? I might. Certainly if I retained the ability to update the internals myself. Granted there would be some increase in size if we wanted interchangable parts, and it would likely break compatibility with the existing expansion card standards, but its GOT to be possible to make a Core i7 / 8GB / Geforce 500-odd Desktop PC that’s smaller than a couch cushion and lighter than a couch

    • Odeon says:

      I think you’re onto something there. The big three (Intel, AMD/ATI, and NVIDIA) can make powerful hardware that fits into laptops, but much of the desktop versions seem to use as much space as possible. If they would compromise by at least making half-height PCIe cards with significant power and capabilities instead of full-height cards, case sizes could potentially be halved as well.

      There are plenty of MicroATX motherboards that support (nearly?) everything required to build a high-performance gaming machine. But the fact that the best graphics cards are only made in full-height cards means you can’t use one of the micro cases that are designed for HTPC and terminal-like systems. That, in turn, reduces the number of possibilities in terms of designing more variety into towers than we see now. Of course, this would also require better airflow or liquid cooling for the CPU and GPU, but if the pricing of liquid cooling parts wasn’t so high, we could have top-end gaming machines in cases not much bigger than a typical cereal box.

      If that was the case, they could be hidden behind a typical monitor but still be upgradeable in the way that gamers demand.

    • roryok says:

      But if they can cool laptops that are less than an inch thick without resorting to liquid cooling, then surely they can do that with all that extra space inside even a reduced size desktop

  26. KaMy says:

    You want good cases ? Go over the Corsair ( 650D ! ), Silverstone ( Fortress FT02B ! ) or Lian Li and you will find a lot of good looking, huge and very practical cases. But you will have to pay quite a high price for those kind of stuff.

    As for innovation i don’t see in what project Fiona is revolutionizing anything. It’s an iPad with 2 Wiimotes. So awesome. :/

    Touchscreen, gyroscopes, Wiimote-like and all that stuff is not something that make gaming better. It can be more or less good for casual and party games but that aside it is far from being practical (and not that accurate). Even 3D is overrated as of today, it doesn’t add that much and as long as people will need impractical glasses it will probably not be a crazy market.

    Give me some of those eXistenz or The Thirteenth Floor crazyness thingy and THAT would be awesome improved gaming !

  27. bill says:

    I think that PC manufacturers have been reasonable innovative (or at least quick to copy apple ;-) .
    We’ve generally gone from big beige boxes to super portable netbooks, or super light slim notebooks, or desktops that have everything built into the monitor.

    The problem of course, is that these haven’t really played into gaming at all. the only innovations on the gaming hardware side seem to involve running more and more cores and graphics cards in parallel.

    (though the lower cost of PCs must help increase the market, and the improvements in integrated graphics must be the biggest boost).

    I’d say that the things that PC gaming really needs to prosper dramatically are probably not very exciting or sexy. It needs good integrated graphics cards. It needs low priced hardware. It needs pc games “app stores” built into windows. It needs a simple clear way to know if your PC will run a game. (eg: suggestions in-store based on your PC’s performance score).

    And not really related to gaming, but as a home platform Windows is really starting to show it’s age. I was perfectly happy with it until i got my android phone, and now i’m left frustrated by the number of things that android does out of the box that are almost impossible to manage on my pc. (at least without a lot of faffing and additional software).

    Razer, unfortunately, aren’t the ones to “save” pc gaming, as they are too niche.

    • Ovno says:

      “It needs pc games “app stores” built into windows.”

      Oh god no not games for windows live….

      Quite happy with steam, origin (which is a shock), impulse, chrome and whatever other stores there are, screw having one built in that chokes off all the others (unless its steam ;p )

    • InternetBatman says:

      All of those things are coming. Some, like integrated graphics might do a bit of good. But most will just get in the way for aesthetics. It’s kind of like the new Office. Everyone thought MS needed to redesign it, but in the end I’ve found that it takes me longer to do the exact same stuff. Personally, I hope for a day when a user-friendly version of Linux takes over or a day when they reach a stable plateau in OS development where it really becomes a non-issue.

    • Ovno says:

      “It’s kind of like the new Office. Everyone thought MS needed to redesign it, but in the end I’ve found that it takes me longer to do the exact same stuff.”

      Working in various places the one thing I never heard anyone who worked with office say was that Microsoft needed to redesign it, maybe that they needed to fix the bugs, but never redesign…

      And now you are right the new version is much much much worse, slower, buggier and more horrible to use, so please if you hear anyone saying something that everyone is already quite happy using needs to be redesigned, slap them, from me and the rest of the world.

  28. battles_atlas says:

    Wait, which of those cases on the front page doesn’t fit Alec’s discription?

    Four years ago when I built my system I was struck by how awful the aesthics on offer were, and I ended up buying the pleasingly minimalist but rather dull Antec P182 – the best of a poor bunch. I’m staggered though that in 2012 things haven’t improved one bit. Its particularly depressing when you see what can be achieved with a bit of imagination by modders e.g. http://www.bit-tech.net/modding/2011/12/23/mod-of-the-year-2011/1

  29. Ovno says:

    Personally I like my boring aluminium box, if I wanted style (over user power) I’d get a mac, but I don’t in fact when I buy a pc the last thing I care about is the case, as long as it keeps the bits in, doesn’t come with a poor psu, is relatively quite and not too hard to put the important stuff in I really don’t care what it looks like, I’d imagine many other pc gamers agree too…

  30. Teronfel says:

    How can Razer have so much money?

    • roryok says:

      I was going to be all sarky and respond about how much razer stuff costs, but after a quick look on amazon its actually not that expensive.

  31. InternetBatman says:

    For my next computer I’d like to try building it into a desk, maybe taking out one of the drawers or somesuch and have the monitor recessed into a wooden panel. I think that’s a great area for computer form factor improvement. Instead of having a less clunky case, I would like a more elegant desk to hide it in than the average computer furniture.

    Also, there has been innovation in the PC design market, just not in the enthusiast market. Thin client PCs are fairly common in businesses now, and most of them are tiny to the point where you bracket them under desks. I think modularity and airflow requirements keep PCs the same shape for everyone but casemodders.

    • CMaster says:

      Heh, I’ve been contemplating the “built in” PC idea as well. Not sure my woodworking skills are up to it, although it should be fairly straight forward.

  32. D3xter says:

    I was tempted for a moment to take a tablet, a keyboard, a Wii sensor bar, an Xbox controller and a WiiMote and tape them together just to take a picture and ask if I “innovated” right, but I decided it wasn’t worth the effort :/

    • vecordae says:

      This is why we can’t have nice things. Because YOU won’t tape them all together for us.

  33. Eukatheude says:

    I still regret getting a Coolermaster ammo.
    http://static.trustedreviews.com/8877fd%7C13af_2435-1274.jpg
    Why yes, i was 14. And a metalhead.

  34. Svant says:

    Razer is a bloody joke and the Fiona is even more so. What makes it a PC-gaminganything? The fact that it runs win8? So what, its basically just an overgrown PSP Vita with horrible ergonomics.

  35. Lev Astov says:

    As Goonsnargh pointed out previously, the Silverstone FT02 case seems to be a very nice minimalist design with real innovation built in. The “back” of the motherboard is at the top of the case!! I got one for me not long ago and I absolutely love it: http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=242&area=en

  36. Fearzone says:

    Razer, please tell me the control sticks can be replaced if they break.

  37. thedavehooker says:

    This is the case I use, I recommend it highly http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119160

  38. Tams80 says:

    There are quite a few cases between “boring” and “OMG flashing lights”. Some tend to be rather expensive, but your putting expensive components in there. They need a good home.

    Lian Li cases are quite nice. Some are just plain coloured (black mainly) yet I wouldn’t say they look boring. I wouldn’t put a case next to a monitor anyway. I need the desk space.

    As for Razer? They make some nice products, but their recent ‘high end’ offerings are quite weird. And innovation isn’t constantly necessary.

  39. Odeon says:

    @battles_atlas: You’re right that none of the featured cases at XCases comes anywhere near what Alec is talking about – just the opposite, in fact. The closest thing they had to a nice-looking-with-being-over-the-top case is at the bottom for £13.19.

    On the other hand, none of the modded cases fit Alec’s requirements either. They’re almost all completely over the top, by design, with some of them giving a whole new meaning to the word “tower”! The closest to Alec’s requirements is the side table that hides a traditional mid-tower case. It shows that there’s a lot that can be done, but most of those modded cases are giant variations on the traditional tower form factor, which probably comes down to the ATX form factor itself.

  40. Tally says:

    I only just upgraded to a Corsair 650D and I’m quite happy with it. Solid, quiet and a nice window. the rolled steel edges will stop you slicing your hands too. Here on Newegg.

  41. TwwIX says:

    lol First they hype that glorified laptop of theirs, now this? It’s a tablet with handle bars and buttons.
    Yeah, some fucking innovation. What a waste of money.

  42. Solidstate89 says:

    I use a Silverstone Fortress FT02B for my personal case. It might fit into the “bland box” mentality, but I absolutely love its minimalism. It’s hands down the sexist looking (yes, a case can be sexy, SHUT UP) computer case I’ve ever seen. Unibody aluminum strip, and the front fascia has absolutely no fan grill on it thanks to its rotated design that has all of the intake vents at the bottom.

    Plus it looks like The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I just like that.

  43. absolofdoom says:

    I can’t help but think this post was mainly for good case suggestions. :P