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The second day of Computex Taipai 2012 got off to a great start with plenty of people and even a surprise visit from ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih. While there, I spent some time taking in the scenery and realised that  this is likely the biggest Computex ever for ASUS.

Computex is well-known for its lively atmosphere with professionals and trade people walking the halls to take in the latest technology and get a close look at what’s coming. Keep in mind, the first four days are a tradeshow while the final day (this coming Saturday) is open to the public .

The ASUS booth this year is packed with products from a host of segments and categories and I had ample opportunity to snap photos as I was doing my rather extensive multi-hour tour.

Since I was basically free-roaming, these pics and details may not necessarily be “in order”, so please forgive me if it all seems rather spontaneous!

As a gamer and graphics lover, the first thing I was drawn to was the ROG MARS III card. Though details were not revealed this one brings much hope since its predecessor MARS II still delivers massive power of the sort most gamers only dream about:

The next bringer of gaming bliss


MARS III hints at DirectCU cooling, but keep in mind the version shown here is very preliminary. Here’s a closer look at the card:

Triple fans? That can only be good


If you’re talking graphics, then you need monitor might. ASUS displays are known for their colour fidelity, brightness, contrast, and user interfaces. Many of them are factory-tuned for precision gaming and professional applications and all arrive clad in lovely designs that set them apart. This was evident in the people checking them out even quite early in the morning:

Now screening


Closely related to ASUS display innovation are the company’s award-winning projectors which also garnered attention, mostly from business folk who need them for meetings. The P1 range of ultra-compact projectors were especially noted as they offer a lot of performance and features in a decidedly small form factor. The P1M is on the right here.

Even the walls look nicer here!


Still on the topic of displays, ASUS has recently been emphasising customer satisfaction through better visual quality. Extensive implementation of wide-view IPS (in-plane switching) technology on as many products as possible is an integral part of this campaign, as are full HD 1080p and HD built-in cameras on laptops and other devices.

Making screens everywhere incredible


More people checking the improved screen tech - and they were happy!

Let’s move on to motherboards, shall we? ASUS and Intel are busy implementing the new Thunderbolt connectivity standard which combines data transfer and video in one port/cable, with speeds up to 10Gbps, which is twice what USB 3.0 offers. ASUS had an entire case of Thunderbolt-compatible devices (mostly external storage) to illustrate the fact that up to six Thunderbolt devices can be daisy-chained to a single port.

Fast. Very fast.


The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO/Thunderbolt motherboard includes the new technology as well as support for 3rd generation Intel Core processors. It has the latest iteration of the ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors design, with DIGI+ VRM power delivery for greater stability, precision, and overclocking potential. The board also offers ASUS Wi-Fi GO!, enabling remote desktops, DLNA compatibility, wireless connectivity, and a variety of other cool features. The P8Z77-V PRO/Thunderbolt can take up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM, and gives us Fan Xpert 2 intelligent system fan management, plus USB BIOS Flashback for easier BIOS flashing. If you want a complete Z77 board, this is it.

So gorgeous even the PCB could blush


Next I turned to the ZEUS concept mobo display which retains the Intel X79 architecture, but adds to it with several outlandish features, such as two discrete onboard GPUs and twin Thunderbolt. Like other X79 boards it has 8 DIMMs. While not in production this is still a really interesting design.

No wonder they have to keep this thing behind a sturdy glass container

Take your pick, they're all good. But leave some for me.


I felt it was time for something more svelte so I strolled over to the laptop area. The first notebook I ran into was the new S Series, which comes in somewhere between the Zenbook and the larger laptops on offer. The S models are around 21mm thick, and ship with 3rd generation Intel Core processors up to i7, as well as discrete NVIDIA GeForce 600 series GPUs. They maintain the ASUS 2-second instant on design utilising Super Hybrid Engine II technology. I have to say I really like the designwhich is just on the right side of thin with a precise-action keyboard and meticulously aligned connectors on both sides. The S Series is definitely one to watch, especially with that Batman trailer playing onscreen…

But where does he get those wonderful toys?


Behold Ban Nguyen’s awesome case mod, which arrived all the way from Vietnam to grace the ASUS booth! This hand-crafted colossus uses an ROG Maximus V Formula and an ASUS HD 7970 graphics card. Note even the graphics card itself was totally redone and the water cooling has been “modified” to run crimson red. Ban also included the ThunderFX external sound card, which works great with the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. It’s right there at the base of the build. Kudos to Ban for the hard work and thanks to Bitspower for their support, as well!

Overall view of this really nice case mod - Ban's a dedicated man!

And a closer peek at the inside...


I then spent some time with other ROG products, as the ASUS Republic of Gamers people were out in force with plenty of new stuff to show beyond the MARS III preview. I happened upon the Vulcan Pro gaming headset, the successor to the Vulcan ANC model. This one takes gamer-centric personal audio even further with more comfort and improved sound quality.

Get gaming power in your ears!


Next up was new monster desktop Tytan CG8890, which drew in the crowds for obvious reasons. It’s got a neat button that makes it transform on the spot, with panels moving outward to reveal the Crimson Fans. This highly-specced desktop really epitomises the ROG spirit, showing that it extends to pre-built gaming machines. I just wanted to press that transform button one more time. Plus, it has two colour modes: blue for normal, and red for overclocked. Delicious.

Everybody wants a touch of Tytan

But I managed an up close look! They still didn't let me play with it, though


There’s also the more hardcore version of the Radeon HD 7970  in the form of the MATRIX 7970.  This guy does some things you’d be happy with to the 7970 GPU, but I can’t give out exact specs because the product managers will come after me, so do stay tuned!

Busting out of a glass enclosure near you soon!


For audio, ROG was also showcasing the excellent Xonar Phoebus, which makes onboard audio feel rather bad about itself, boosts your headphone performance, clears up your in-game voice with ROG Command technology, and adds an extended-reach control box for good measure. I’ve heard the difference Phoebus makes and for serious gamers who want better soun, this is a great find.

Cue drum roll. No, really!


For motherboards, ROG clearly has a lot to offer you with new Intel Z77-based powerhouses. Since I personally lean towards mATX, I was transfixed by the Maximus V GENE. In addition to the newest Intel processors it comes with SupremeFX audio, two PCI Express 3.0 slots, GameFirst bandwidth management and traffic shaping (with Intel Ethernet hardware), and an mPCIe Combo card which instantly gives you one mSATA and one mPCIe slot all on one compact card. Plus there was some Diablo III right next to it. Who could say no to that?

Micro is the new macro


The ROG Rampage IV Extreme also came back this time accompanied by its new friend the ROG SSD RAIDR, a Thunderbolt-ed SSD RAID device that gives your RAID performance that proverbial boost. We will find out more about SSD RAIDR in coming days and weeks I’m sure.

Have some rampage for your RAID, why don't you?


The new Fusion Thermo design was also on display. It can be found on the Maximus V Formula and basically combines a heatsink, heatpipe, water channel and nickel-plated barbs all in one. That makes it a ready-made platform for regular air cooling and your typical water cooling configuration. Quite a feat!

Fusion Thermo keeps those VRMs chilled whichever way you use it


The next logical step was to head on over to the graphics card section where my beloved Radeon HD 7000 series and GTX 600 series friends all reside. You know I can’t resist a good graphics card and a WALL of them in all their DirectCU glory was almost too much. The showcase exhibits the new claws design we’ve seen on recent retail boxes from ASUS with 28nm goodness, cooled by the power of direct contact copper heatpipes and some of the best fans and heatsinks in the biz. And don’t forget GPU Tweak, it’s always there for you!

And they said staring at the wall all day was a bad thing


That's the cool new DirectCU video playing on the monitor


Another oft-mentioned feature of ASUS graphics cards are Super Alloy Power components. Capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs are all formulated to handle more heat and stress, and generally last longer even when subjected to the whims of radical overclockers and gamers who are strangers to the concept of sleep. To illustrate this, the ASUS graphics cards folks built a display which I found quite illuminating:

SAP declares a checkmate, other side blows a cap


The TUFs are like the firefighters of the ASUS motherboard roster. They treat heat like a minor distraction and laugh as temperatures rise. They have stuff like Thermal Armor and Thermal Radar to accelerate heat dissipation and improve heat management even beyond their already-rugged components and materials. All TUF boards pass military-grade and server-grade testing during development.

Wings of a falcon! Heatsinks of an armoured personnel carrier!


The TUF Series reached out to case modders around the world, who came up with some really incredible work. The biggest of the bunch was Dewayne “Americanfreak” Carel’s Hummer mod, which even added a rocket launcher on top. The motherboard inside is a TUF Series SABERTOOTH Z77, which features the latest generation Thermal Armor and Thermal Radar, plus Dust Defender slots that repel particles to maintain better interface performance over longer system lifespans. The paint was painstakingly applied by Dewayne, echoing the desert camouflage used by actual Hummer fighting vehicles.

Now that's taking out heat


The inner workings of showing heat the door


There were more TUF case mods on show, and I really liked the one from PAULTAN. His design resembles a tank or one of those bomb squad robots, showing that TUF boards can pretty much take on all comers:

Suit up


Mounted on the display nearby were three smaller-scale motherboard mods, two from William Lee and Funk Lee and one from TODD’s Factory. I was really intrigued by the patience and care that must have gone into dressing up the TUF SABERTOOTH Z77 boards with these unique themes. Once again, many many thanks to the talented modders who took the time to create these works of art!

Props to the artists


As I was walking by, I happened upon one of my favorite products – the O!Play Media Pro. This versatile device may look unassuming, but it’s a media player and set-top box in one and turns any TV into a smart digital one with a digital tuner, programme guide, support for over 50 multimedia formats, and easy content sharing from mobile devices.

The future is digital...and well-lit!


ASUS has been working hard on building better cloud services for people around the world and backing this up with strong networking device offerings. The shining example of that is the RT-AC66U dual-band router, one of the first in the world to support new 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the fastest wireless standard thus far. The RT-AC66U’s three antennas certainly look like they mean business:

1.75Gbps? 1.75Gbps?! (OK, obscure Back to the Future reference...)


The RT-AC66U serves as the launch device for the new ASUS AiCloud service which is available for iOS and Android devices and gives you your own private cloud, with easy syncing and sharing of content from any storage device linked to your home router.

Your home is now your cloud...and vice versa


But let’s not forget ASUS also makes the servers and server boards that drive today’s cloud operations. Most people never stop to think of servers, so let’s give them some love:

The cloud is everywhere

Second generation ESC4000 server


After all that bolted-on hardware power and velocity it was time I travelled to the Padfone display.

At least I managed to take a photo of the sign!


That entire group was headed to the Zenbook Prime area, so I made tracks and beat them to it. The three Zenbook Primes on show make it clear why this is the most premium ultrabook you can get your hands on at the moment. Super thin (9mm or so at its thickest), Intel 3rd generation processors, SonicMaster audio, SSD, superb screen fidelity (up to full HD 1080p), and the convenience of 2-second instant on resume. Oh, and did I forget to mention that ZENBOOK Prime now has an optional touchscreen?

Triple the ZEN

The UX21 gets all touchy


I love a great value just like the next guy, and once he moved on to the next display area, I had the new X Series all to myself. As you can see here it now comes in several cool colours as well as boasting myriad new features that totally challenge the notion of an entry-level laptop.

The many shades of value


Of course, if you want a more traditional laptop experience you could always go with the X75 with its 17.3″ HD+ screen. Like all X Series models, this one also uses 2-second instant on, SuperBatt technology to extend the recharge life of batteries, SonicMaster Lite audio, and IceCool palm rest chilling technology.

Big K brother is being watched


Accessories are actually an ASUS speciality with bags, input devices and external storage that are both fashionable and useful. I took a quick pic of some of the items on show to illustrate:

Style in the bag


…and then I promptly proceeded to the Xtion PRO LIVE demo, where Guru Training Systems were showcasing their golf training using ASUS full-body motion detection sensor technology. Not sure I improved my swing, but it was a lot of fun!

Today Computex, next year the PGA!


While on the topic of fun, I have to give special credit to the auspicious Computex mascots, who stopped by the booth to greet people and wish everyone a joyous show. They’re really cute, and made everyone feel great. Even the TUF squad.

SABERTOOTH FLUFFY anyone? OK, maybe not, but I love these guys!


OK, that’s about it from me for today, will try to post more next time I head out to the booth, as there’s bound to be something new!

And a great Computex to all!

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