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Get a peek inside your next PC with our preview of Computex 2016

Nestled between CES, which is hosted in January, and IFA, which comes around in September, Computex dominates summer tech news. And we won’t be there alone when the fun begins on June 1. As the largest computer exhibition in Asia, Computex sees attendance of around 130,000 and includes over 1,600 exhibitors, numbers that put it just behind CES, North America’s largest electronics trade show.

Computex has traditionally focused more on high-end enthusiast devices than other shows, and PC geeks will definitely want to keep track of the show. But we also expect to see announcements in home automation, healthcare, and many other fields.

Big news from AMD and Intel

Both the major players in the PC processor space are expected to talk about new computer hardware at the show, though the specifics of what’s expected differs.

AMD’s event may be its most important of 2016. The company will speak about (and possibly launch) Polaris, its new graphics card architecture. And that’s not all. AMD has officially stated it will launch the 7th generation of its A-Series APUs at Computex. The update should cover both desktop and mobile (laptops and PC tablets).

Almost every company competing in the PC, mobile, or wearable market will be present.

AMD will have something major to speak about in every arena consumers care about. That means its announcements will be crucial for its future. The company hasn’t done will in recent years, but there’s hope a new GPU architecture, and Intel’s slowing pace of processor advancement, will give AMD a chance to catch up. What’s announced at Computex will say a lot about the chance of that happening.

Intel, meanwhile, has just one expected announcement. Broadwell-E. This has not been officially confirmed, but it’s not a secret, either. Multiple leaks have shown test hardware in operation, and the timing makes sense. If the rumors are true, Broadwell-E will be a line of several processors with massive core counts – up to 10, in fact. There’s no question such a chip would set a new standard for consumer PC performance. The only question is the margin by which it’ll smash the Core i7-5960X, the current performance champ.

Defining the internet of things

Unlike AMD, Intel will have more to talk about. It will continue its multiple initiatives in wearables, drones, and “internet of things” devices. Intel spent most of its CES keynote talking about things that have nothing at all to do with PC hardware. Computex will be no different, as made clear by the keynote’s title – “Expanding the boundaries of computing.”

IoT is also referenced multiple times on Computex’s primary website. As always, the term’s inclusiveness means you can expect to see a bit of everything. Devices that track cattle. Sound measuring equipment designed to curb public disturbances.  Healthcare equipment that relays patient data to doctors. And much, much more.

Computex

At this point, IoT has essentially become formal shorthand for “we’ve not a clue what to call it.” That’s indicative of the incredible expansion of computing we’ve seen over the last decade. Computex was once a show that focused mostly on computer hardware, but computers are now so small they can fit almost anywhere, and used tasks you’d never imagine.

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There is one category of things that seems lacking, at least at first glance – Virtual reality. Oculus and HTC are still dealing with the aftermath of launch, and the next major headset, PlayStationVR, makes far more sense to tout at E3. You’ll likely see some smaller, unknown names debut VR-related products at Computex, but don’t expect it to take, or even come anywhere near, the spotlight.

New PCs, new graphics cards, and even more hardware

As one of the biggest shows in the world, and certainly in Asia, Computex is the obvious place to launch new products. We know that Asus plans two major events, one for Zen, and one for the Republic of Gamers sub-brand. That means we’ll be seeing new wearables, phones, tablets, notebooks, and more.

There’s also sure to be a long list of hardware based on Nvidia’s GTX 1080, which was announced in early May. You can expect to see all of the green team’s many hardware partners show off their unique take on the core hardware. It’s also possible we’ll hear more about the GTX 1070 or mobile versions of Pascal – but those possibilities, to be clear, are rather speculative. We’d give each a 50-50 chance at best.

If Intel does launch Broadwell-E, then we’ll also see a lot of new motherboards based on the X99 chipset. These high-end mobos will likely include every feature imaginable, and be priced accordingly. We might also see the same from AMD partners, though we probably won’t see video cards.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Almost every company competing in the PC, mobile, or wearable market will be present. As you might think, given Computex’s host country of Taiwan, companies based in Asia will hog the attention. Those based in North America, like Dell and HP, have little or no presence, and won’t announce important products at, or directly alongside, the show.

From the show floor

The internet may allow for instant, global communication, but it doesn’t entirely erase the boundaries between regions. Consumers in North America haven’t heard of companies in Asia that are as large as Dell, Nvidia, and others familiar to our ears. You’ll see a few surprises, especially in the areas of home automation, and 2-in-1 computers.

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I’ll be covering Computex from the show floor starting May 31. Keep an eye on Digital Trends for the latest, and follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be posting updates from all the major keynotes.