Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into a simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over that dinner and drinks.
It’s a new year, and that means that there is much on the horizon to look forward to for new tech devices and gaming releases. And for tech products specifically, as is customary in January, the CES event provides a great window on what you can expect within the upcoming year. So let’s take a look at what they are teasing, along with other notable pieces of news.
NVIDIA adds to 30-series roster with RTX 3090 TI and 3050
Haven’t had the chance to upgrade to NVIDIA’s 30-series RTX graphics cards yet? You’re not the only one. But at least you’ll have more options to choose from soon. The company brought the announcement of two new GPU cards that will be joining the family — the RTX 3090 Ti and RTX 3050.
The RTX 3090 Ti will be its most powerful graphics card yet. Touting 40 teraflops of GPU performance and 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM, the card is said to present a performance improvement of just over 10%. No further details on a release period or price were revealed, but NVIDIA says more will be known the following month.
On the opposite end of the scale, the RTX 3050 will be the company’s budget option for gamers. The card will support both DLSS and ray-tracing while also improving upon the performance seen in their older GTX 1650, promising 60fps with games at 1080p and having RTX on. NVIDIA is pricing the card at an affordable US$249, and it should arrive soon on 27 January.
AMD presents new Ryzen 6000 Series processors for laptops
If you’ve been a fan of AMD’s emergence within the laptop space, you’ll be glad to know that they aren’t stopping. The company went ahead to announce their new Ryzen 6000 Series processors will be making their way to laptops this 2022.
These processors are built using their 6nm “Zen 3+” core architecture and bring the RDNA 2 graphics architecture to their integrated GPUs. Among the improvements that the processor brings are up to 1.3 times faster processing speeds and up to 2.1 times faster graphics than their previous 5000 Series.
At the top of the list for performance is the Ryzen 9 6980HX, which features 8 cores and 16 threads with a boost frequency of up to 5.0GHz. Laptop companies will be starting to equip the new Ryzen 6000 processors as soon as February, so you won’t need to wait long to experience them.
ASUS reveals their latest slate of devices for 2022
At CES 2022, ASUS was on hand to unveil what their line of laptops would look like for the upcoming year. This includes their gaming-centric ROG line and the more general consumer Zenbook series, with both featuring refreshments to popular devices and new unique innovations to check out.
On the gaming side, the much-lauded ROG Zephyrus G14 and G15 return with new specs and improvements. Along with AMD’s new Ryzen 9 Series processor and Radeon RX 6000S Series mobile GPUs, both laptops will finally include a webcam to aid with video conferencing. The G14 one-ups the G15 by sporting a more modern 16:10 aspect ratio for its display.
They are also touting that they will have the world’s most powerful gaming tablet with the ROG Flow Z13. The tablet is set to have the latest 12th-gen Intel processor (going up to a 14-core Intel Core i9-12900H) along with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti laptop GPU inside. In addition, there are options for either a 4K 60Hz or 1080p 120Hz display, featuring a 16:10 aspect ratio and 500 nits of peak brightness.
General and creative consumers can look forward to their Zenbook lineup, including a new Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition. This special edition laptop commemorates the anniversary of the first ASUS laptop launched and used in outer space, incorporating unique space-themed details into the design of its lid and palm-rest area. As well as the latest specs, the laptop also has a unique ZenVision smart display (a 3.5-inch OLED display) mounted externally on the lid that can display customisable messages, themes and animations.
But for something a little less traditional, ASUS showcased their first foldable laptop, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. This is a 17.3-inch foldable laptop with a 4:3 OLED display that can fold to form two seamless 12.5-inch 1920 x 1280 displays with a 3:2 aspect ratio. It will be powered by the 12th gen Intel Core i7 U-Series processor and Iris Xe graphics, with up to 16 GBs of RAM. The company expects to make it available to purchase in the middle of 2022.
So those were a few of the highlights that ASUS brought to the table during CES 2022. No doubt we’ll be seeing more from them later in the year.
LG unveils their first-ever gaming laptop
LG is well-known for their television sets, and at CES 2022, that was still the case as they unveiled their new line of TVs that are set to come this year. But they are also seemingly delving into the gaming space and have created their first-ever gaming-centric laptop, the LG UltraGear gaming laptop.
In addition to using an 11th Gen Intel® Core Processor, the UltraGear laptop is also equipped with a powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q GPU. The 17.3-inch 1080p display will also have a 300Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time to ensure that consumers get the most fluid and immersive gaming experience.
Like their featherlight gram series of laptops, LG aims to make the UltraGear laptop portable for people, weighing just 2.64 kg. The laptop can also be customised, coming with an RGB keyboard that users can design with a different colour for every key.
As of now, LG hasn’t yet announced when it is set to release and at what price, but it will be interesting to see what the company can do in the gaming space.
Sony officially confirms next VR headset name and alongside a new game
PlayStation previously teased its next-generation VR headset last year, and ahead of its expected 2022 release, the company has finally revealed what it will be officially named; simply called PlayStation VR2.
The headset is set to feature an improved visual performance for players, offering 4K HDR (2000×2040 per eye) with smooth frame rates of 90/120Hz and a wide 110-degree field of view. It also uses integrated cameras to help track the user without using an external camera system (as was the case with its predecessor).
Its controllers were also duly given a name, officially called the Sense Controllers. The controllers will be bringing along features from the PS5’s DualSense controller, like adaptive triggers and haptic feedback for a more immersive VR experience.
The biggest surprise from the announcement was the reveal of a new game that you will be able to play on the system, Horizon Call of the Mountain. That’s right, along with the upcoming sequel, this is another entry into the world of Horizon. The game will be co-developed by Guerrilla Games and the recently acquired Firesprite Games, with a teaser video showcasing the player on a boat while a Tallneck towers over them as they travel along.
As of this time, there have been no further details on the VR system and the new Horizon game, but more information will surely be revealed as the device inches closer to its official launch.
E3 cancels its physical event
As the world starts to recover from the effects of COVID-19, it seems one event is not yet ready to resume normalcy just yet. E3, the massive mid-year event for gaming, will not be having its usual in-person event as announced by its organiser Electronic Software Association (ESA), citing concerns with the Omnicron variant.
However, reports suggest that this was a convenient excuse used by the ESA, with sources alluding that the decision to cancel the physical event was made before the Omnicron variant even rose to prominence. Furthermore, a virtual event like last year has also not been confirmed yet by the ESA, with the latest information from journalists speculating that the event has been cancelled altogether.
Should this turn out to be true, it represents a further decline for the once seminal gaming event. With big players like Sony declining to make an appearance and virtual events becoming more prevalent, E3’s relevance is at risk — we could soon be seeing the end of it.
In the meantime, events like Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest for 2022 (which was announced conveniently after the cancellation) exist to fill the void. Still, it feels like a sombre period for an event that many look forward to every year.
Microsoft purchases Activision Blizzard
This is hot off the presses, but Microsoft has made big headlines in the gaming industry by agreeing to formally acquire Activision Blizzard.
The deal is said to be valued at nearly US$70 billion. Meaning franchises like Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, among others, will now be owned by Microsoft, and studios such as Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Raven Software, Beenox, and many others joining their family of first-party studios.
It is an acquisition said to aid with Microsoft’s foray into the mobile gaming market and bolsters their Game Pass service (which was simultaneously announced to have reached 25 million subscribers) as well. For now, Activision Blizzard’s games will still come to Sony’s PlayStation platform, but it remains to be seen as to how long this stance will continue and to what extent.
Microsoft is no stranger to big acquisitions, with the company moving to acquire ZeniMax Media (parent company of Bethesda Softworks) in September 2020. But Activision Blizzard is a different beast altogether, occupying a spot as one of the world’s biggest gaming publishers — the fee most certainly reflects the value of stature. But the acquisition is made even more surprising in light of bad press surrounding Activision Blizzard, as people clamour for the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick after reports highlighted his involvement within the company’s culture of misogyny and sexual misconduct.
Microsoft’s latest acquisition is most certainly the biggest news to come out of the gaming industry in the modern era, the implications of which won’t be known until years after the deal closes in 2023. But, if anything, this begs the question, what else will Microsoft buy?
This marks 2022 January’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this roundup gives you a little insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in February 2022, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!
Visuals courtesy of NVIDIA, AMD, ASUS, LG, Sony PlayStation, ESA, and Xbox.