Of all the stands at this year’s PAX Australia, Intel’s was the one that stood out most and had me returning more than once throughout the weekend. Intel’s stand was on another level this year, jointly held with the likes of MSI, MSY, Seagate and even AORUS, with a number of great gaming activities on display.
The key takeaway from Intel this year is its commitment to delivering amazing VR experiences to PC gamers, powering some of the most exciting developments in virtual reality. This was especially evident on the MSI stage where the game Sprint Vector, a VR foot-racing game, was being showcased. Intel graciously offered giveaways to those who took up the challenge to give the game a go. It was quite an experience watching PAX attendees ‘run’ through a virtual course simply by moving their arms. You could see the physical exhaustion some of them felt once they completed the course. Could this be the new form of home exercise?
I managed to experience VR gaming with the incredible power of Intel’s new Core i9 processor by sitting in the most badass looking rally car, fully equipped with the HTC Vive and hydraulic seat, and having a go at virtual reality rally driving in DiRT 4. The entire session was a breeze and I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of zooming through a dirt track and being jolted around. It felt extremely realistic, and having to actually drive using a steering wheel made me feel as if I were really driving a rally car. As soon as my session ended, I could feel the slight hint of exhaustion in my arms from trying to control the ‘car’ in game. If that’s the power of the i9, gamers are certainly going to be in for a real treat upon upgrading their processor.
My Intel stand experience was enhanced by getting a one-on-one tour and chat with Glen Boatwright, Business Development Manager ANZ Channel for Intel. Glen took me around the entire stand and briefed me on the various aspects of PC Gaming as I explained that I was predominantly a console gamer but wanted to delve into PC Gaming. Firstly, I was given a bird’s eye view of the entire PAX floor from the second level of Intel’s stand, which turned out to be an awesome little streaming spot and relaxing space for Intel staff and guests. It was here that I began my education on the various subcultures involved in PC Gaming, most predominantly are those who look at PC Gaming as an art form, modding their rigs to look completely amazing and befitting of a centrepiece display, and customising the hardware with RGB colours, making for brilliant aesthetics.
Next I was informed about ‘overclocking’, a practice carried out by another subculture of PC Gaming, which essentially involves using liquid nitrogen and setting the CPU and memory to run at speeds higher than their official speed grade. This, in itself, is an art form with a growing community of practitioners.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Intel tour without a tour of Intel’s own devices and technologies. Being new to PC Gaming, I found this to be the most enlightening of all as I was introduced to the Intel NUC, the Intel NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK (aka Skull Canyon) and the Intel Compute Card. All three are portable mini-PCs, with the two NUCs being made specifically with entertainment, gaming, and productivity features. It was quite cool to see the NUC be hooked up to an exterior case filled with graphics cards and other components to allow the NUC to run the popular video game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlgrounds (“PUBG”), smoothly. The Skull Canyon was much smaller and thinner and wasn’t attached to a separate unit, though I was informed that it will still play games very well. I guess I’ll see for myself, first-hand, when I receive the unit to review.
Finally, the device that really blew my mind, the Compute Card. Imagine being able to hold your entire PC in the palm of your hand. The Compute Card comes similar in size to a credit card but slightly thicker. It includes a docking mechanism which enables users to literally dock it to use it and remove upon completion, allowing the user to take it with them wherever they went. Whilst it may not be for gaming, it’s still a nifty innovation that would be especially useful for work or for kids to use while at school.
Lastly, just as the tour ended, Intel managed to captivate me with their massive PUBG challenge. Across the entire Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, over 100 players were pooled together, across various stands, including MSI, MSY, SteelSeries and more, to battle it out for the title of last one standing. Intel graciously offered up their Core i9 processor as the top prize, which made for some highly enthusiastic attendees.
Intel really stole the show at PAX Australia 2017. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to check out their stand and what they had to offer and am extremely excited to give the Intel Skull Canyon a go soon. If I wasn’t convinced before that PC Gaming was making a huge comeback, I most certainly am now.