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GAMING

ISSUE September 19

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GAMING ISSUE #191

GET IN THE GAME September 2019

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CONTENT

Editor Laura Barnes laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk +44 (0)203 143 8783 Graphic Designer Nikki Hargreaves nikki-hargreaves@biz-media.co.uk

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Printed by Buxton Press Ltd ISSN: 1742-8440 Copyright 2019

Biz Media Ltd, Axe & Bottle Court, 70 Newcomen St, London SE1 1YT All contents © 2019 Biz Media Ltd. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Biz Media Ltd. cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/ permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Biz Media Ltd. and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Biz Media Ltd. nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.

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TheEditor Raising your game WE HAVE ARRIVED at PCR’s gaming special, where we look at the advancements in gaming gear and what opportunities this presents to the channel. Most of you who are involved in gaming – whether that’s hardware, components or services – will be recovering from another exhaustive Gamescom, which took place in August. Whether you’re a vendor who made it out to the event to showcase your latest products, or a system builder who kept a beady eye on all the latest announcements throughout the week, there was a lot to take in. As the name suggests, a show like Gamescom is focused largely on upcoming titles and news from games developers. With gameplay videos featuring Norman Reedus urinating in a field in highly-awaited game Death Stranding stealing a lot of the gaming news headlines, one could be forgiven for forgetting that, aside from the games themselves, Gamescom is a great place for gaming PC, peripheral and components brands to unveil new gear to the masses. You can read more about those products on p24. Also on the gaming front, our big interview this month is with HyperX’s Julien Millet, who discusses the brand’s latest product releases and how it has found the sweet spot in the gaming headset market. As well as all this, we have analysis and opinions throughout the mag to help you raise your game when it comes to making the most of this profitable and popular industry sector.

“Gamescom is a great place for gaming PC, peripheral and components brands to unveil new gear to the masses”

Laura Barnes, Editor

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Editorial: 0203 143 8783 Advertising: 0203 143 8778

THE TEAM

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16 Sept 2019 06 Retail Analysis: Advice on sustainability 10 Industry opinions 16 The Big Interview: HyperX's Julien Millet 22 BullGuard on gaming security 24 Gamescom 2019 28 Is there still value in selling gaming gear? 30 Tapping into the booming esports market 32 Sector Guide: Gaming PCs and Components 36 Crowdfunding Corner 38 Sector Guide: Gaming Peripherals 46 Life in the Channel: Netgear's Max Wu 49 Logging Off

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Retail Analysis

Sustainable sales With a number of leading UK retailers making a huge effort to reduce their impact on the environment, Laura Barnes looks at what retailers of all sizes can be doing to become more sustainable and educate customers on how to recycle products and their packaging...

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ith the US President claiming last year that he “doesn’t believe” in a report by his own government warning of devastating effects from climate change, and the recent social media whirlwind 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg has made while travelling from the UK to America to attend two climate conferences, the debate around our planet’s future is

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well and truly – pardon the pun – warming up. A recent survey by Pew Research Center looked at the attitudes around climate change in a number of countries around the world. It showed that in almost all countries, the majority considered climate change a major threat. Looking at the UK in particular, 66% considered it a major threat, 23% considered it a minor threat, and just 7% thought

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Retail Analysis

“Consumers look to retailers and brands to provide ethical and sustainable products so that they do not have to double check themselves” Jane Bevis, OPRL

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climate change was not a threat to the country. The media coverage around these global issues is also making an impact on the retailers in the UK. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently revealed that a number of leading retailers have been making huge progress in reducing their impact on the environment. This includes reducing carbon emissions by over a third and cutting the proportion of waste sent to landfill to just 2%. The BRC reported that almost 30 retailers have signed up to the Better Retail Better World initiative, coming together to meet some of the biggest global challenges of the coming decades highlighted by the UN, including modern slavery and decent work, sustainable economic growth, inequalities, climate change and responsible consumption and production. Using the widely recognised United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework, the heart of the initiative are clear, transparent and measurable goals developed with businesses and campaigners. In 2018, carbon emissions reduced 36% in absolute terms, far surpassing the 2020 target of 25%, explained the BRC. Relative to shop floorspace, carbon emissions from stores, and energy-related carbon emissions from store deliveries were down 67% and 47% respectively. Efforts to tackle carbon reduction include the use of biofuels and renewable energy across the supply chain. Many retailers have set their own strict targets to bring down their carbon use. “We are facing a climate emergency; it is ever more important for businesses to unite to tackle these global challenges. While we can see significant progress being made, we should not underestimate the scale of the challenge before us,” comments Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC. “The public wants to know that the food they eat, the clothes they wear and the goods they buy, are ethically made and responsibly sourced. Better Retail Better World brings together retailers to collaboratively play their part in creating a sustainable future.” While it is great that some of the biggest retailers have taken a stand to do more to combat to reduce their impact on the environment, what can smaller retailers do to become more sustainable? PCR asked Jane Bevis, executive chair of On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL), to outline some of the biggest issues retailers of all sizes are face when trying to be more sustainable. “Many leading retailers have been actively engaged in encouraging customers to recycle for over ten years – they helped found OPRL for just that purpose in 2009. However, packaging is primarily there to protect product and for foodstuffs in particular, plastic packaging is both particularly effective in prolonging shelf life and ensuring food safety, and a very lightweight material that minimises the overall carbon footprint of a product. Food waste is a huge sustainability issue as it leads to methane emissions, a very damaging

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Retail Analysis

OPRL’s recycling labels deliver a simple, UK-wide recycling message for use on both retailer private label and brand-owner

Greenhouse Gas, as well as being socially irresponsible,” explains Bevis. “Unfortunately the UK’s recycling infrastructure has not developed as hoped over the last decade and it has, until recently at least, been cheaper for waste management companies to export some types of plastic waste for processing overseas rather than recycling here in the UK. “Now that the public has become much more engaged and some South East Asian destinations have are refusing to accept unprocessed plastics we may see a kickstarting of investment infrastructure here. This will enable retailers to close the loop so that all packaging materials can provide sustainable solutions, and the choice of material can match the needs of the product.” Customer involvement While there’s plenty of things for retailers to think about when it comes to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, the reality is that those who buy their products also need to do their part to ensure all that hard work is respected – and packaging, as well as the products themselves, are recycled correctly. Retailers are in a good position to pass on advice to their customers and help with recycling queries.

“While there are many active consumers who want to understand how the products they buy are produced and whether they can be recycled at end of life, the majority of consumers look to retailers and brands to provide ethical and sustainable products so that they do not have to double check themselves on issues it is difficult for them to influence. For example, where a product is sourced, what the labour standards are and the impact on local water supply,” explains Bevis. “However, most consumers want to get involved in issues like recycling where they can make a difference. 84% of consumers check packaging for recycling information, according to our consumer insight research. They get confused and irritated by recycling claims and symbols that don’t mean anything and don’t give them actionable information. “In the UK it is only OPRL’s recycling labels that are based on the evidence of what is collected by councils, and so, tells consumers what they can recycle at home or at Bring Sites.” She continues: “As a result three in four consumers recognise and understand these labels, and nearly 400 brands, retailers and their suppliers participate in the scheme.”

OPRL’s top five tips for retailers who are looking to be more sustainable 1. Understand your product characteristics and the life cycle analysis of its environmental footprint. Where are the hotspots? How can you mitigate them? Are there synergies with social and financial needs? The sustainability story is much larger than packaging, so get on the front foot – the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals set out the bigger picture. 2. Which products in your range need the most urgent attention? Address big impacts first and sweep up small impact issues as they fit with your priority interventions.

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3. How do you engage your supply chain partners, colleagues, customers? Can you do this more effectively, for example, recruiting customers to be active recyclers? 4. Understand how all this fits with your brand values. 5. Find an engaging way to tell your story so you take everyone with you. There will be some hard choices to make so you need everyone to work with you even when it is difficult.

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industryopinion

Understanding VAT for small tech businesses David Redfern, director of DSR Tax Claims, breaks down what small tech businesses need to know about Value Added Tax...

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ax is rarely at the forefront of the mind when setting up and running a business, with most effort being made in making the business viable and profitable. As a result, VAT is often an afterthought for many small businesses within the technology arena – whether retailers or providers of digital services. However, HMRC rarely takes ignorance of the law as an excuse for not following the law, so let’s look at VAT and whether your business comes within its scope.

realising. Businesses can also register voluntarily if they wish. Once a business is registered for VAT, it is required to provide a VAT return to HMRC on a quarterly basis, detailing all the VAT it has charged on its goods and services and all the VAT it is reclaiming from its business purchases. With its MTD (Making Tax Digital) scheme now rolled out to the VAT scheme, businesses need to ensure that their accounting software is capable of communicating digitally with HMRC software. The standard rate of VAT is 20% and that is the rate charged on most VAT-taxable goods and services. However, there are a few which are rated at 5%.

What is VAT? VAT, or Value Added Tax, is a business tax on certain goods and services supplied by a business. This includes electronically supplied services or products, for Are there any rules specific to tech firms? Depending on the area of your business, certain example, digital services or apps which your digital services are subject to different VAT rules. business charges for. Only VAT-registered “Depending on the Because digital services can be provided across businesses can charge VAT but once a business national borders, your business may have to is registered with HMRC for VAT, it must area of your business, register for the VAT MOSS scheme in order to charge VAT on all the goods and services it sells certain digital services account for its sales within EU countries. This which come within the scope of VAT. This are subject to different includes businesses which supply certain revenue is then paid to HMRC. A VATVAT rules” telecoms equipment as well as those supplying registered business can also reclaim the VAT on electronically-supplied services, such as web any business purchases it makes which are subject hosting or software and software updates. These to VAT, which can be offset against its own VAT bill. rules don’t apply to businesses which may use some Not all goods and services are subject to VAT – method of electronic communication or facilitation, such certain goods and services are considered to be exempt. as using an online shop to sell a physical product, where the Few of these relate to the tech industry – although certain financial online front is just the method by which it communicates with and insurance services are exempt from VAT, as are a number of its customers. aids for disabled people as well as work provided for a charity. The threshold for the VAT MOSS scheme is different to that for domestic VAT but in order to register for the VAT MOSS scheme, When should you register for VAT? you also need to register for the domestic VAT, even if you are Businesses with a VAT-taxable turnover of £85,000 per year are below the threshold. required to register with HMRC for VAT and there are penalties for Because businesses within the technology industry can vary businesses which fail to register. However, unlike other taxes, wildly in the span of their goods and services, especially the VAT-taxable turnover is measured on a rolling basis rather than by growing market of providing digital and electronically supplied tax year or accounting year – this means that businesses which are services, expert taxation advice can often be required to ensure that close to that turnover threshold need to keep a close eye on you remain within the law. turnover to ensure that they don’t exceed the threshold without

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industryopinion

Why you should consider adding gaming products to your portfolio Jonpaul Warren, Product Sales Manager for PC Gaming and Components at distributor CMS Distribution, looks at the successful growth of the gaming industry and the opportunities that presents to the channel...

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he gaming industry is a fast-paced business with an improving market cost. At the end of 2018, the market held a 3.2% YoY growth, according to gamesindustry. biz. By distributing leading gaming brands such as ZOTAC, CMS Distribution are making positive moves towards offering customers the gaming hardware needed to positively impact sales and improve end-users’ gaming experiences. Boasting an impressive portfolio of graphics cards, motherboards, peripherals, RAM and monitors, CMS holds the opportunities needed for businesses to introduce the gaming industry into their own portfolio. The successful growth of the gaming industry opens the question: Are businesses missing out on sales by not stocking gaming products, which cover all expertise levels? Businesses need to reflect the impressive year-on-year growth of the gaming industry if they want to expand their business into new avenues. Power the demand The PC gamer’s need for improved performance is the driving force behind the consumer PC revenue according to GfK. Despite a decline in purchases of desktop PCs by 14% and mobile PCs by 9%, the demand for components to upgrade performance has driven the market into a positive place. “The consumers desire for performance has been a major factor for stabilising and growing the consumer PC turnover,” Pavlin Lazarov, GfK expert in the IT industry commented. The need for peripherals is also increasing, with a prediction that this sector of the industry will continue to grow at a steady pace in the coming years, working in tandem with the increase of PC Gamers Worldwide. According to Statistica, there will be 1.4 billion PC gamers worldwide by 2021, a stark increase from 1.2 billion at the end of 2017.

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The mini-PC innovation There are many brands popping up on the gaming industry scene, its popularity drives the competitive nature in the market, any businesses decision to branch into gaming can feel like a risk, but finding the right brand minimises any possible loss. ZOTAC understands the changing nature of the gaming industry and adopts innovative and pioneering gaming products to take advantage of these changes. The brand has come a long way from producing just graphics cards in 2006, now standing at the forefront with their mini-PC range. The mini-PC is a portable way to game, design and work, offering desktop features on a much smaller platform. The miniPC was first launched in 1960 by Digital Equipment Corp, but faced many problems and didn’t seem to hit off. Fast forward to 2019 and the mini-PC is a sort after piece of technology for the business professional, the enthusiast gamer, the designer and many more. ZOTAC’s diverse Series of Mini-PC brings innovation, superior graphics and sleek design to a market requiring such a product. The multiple chassis offer multiple solutions in partnership with AMD, Intel and NVIDIA, offering a mini-PC meeting a broad range of different needs. ZOTAC are also proud of their manufacturing quality and offer customers 5-year warranty support on their products (subject to registration within 28 days of purchase). It’s important for businesses to consider adding gaming to their portfolio. The impressive market growth and innovative ideas, driven by customer demand makes the industry a coveted sector. CMS Distribution can offer guidance, top industry knowledge and advice on products, helping you to improve your gaming portfolio.

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industryopinion

Are digital gaming platforms and developers missing the real enemy? James Maude, Head of Threat Detection at Netacea, reveals how fraudsters are becoming drawn to gaming platforms...

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from the dark web and use bots to check thousands of credentials he global gaming market will generate revenues of from combo lists every minute. $152.1bn in 2019 according to gaming researcher The bot operators can then quickly buy and resell in-game Newzoo’s latest report. That’s a tasty prize for cyberitems or currency for a significant profit, while the nature of the criminals looking to cash-in, but how exactly are attack is often mis-diagnosed as a DDoS attack due to the sheer hackers making money from gaming? volume of traffic targeting the infrastructure, and the real user is The gaming environment has experienced a gradual shift over unaware that a breach has even taken place. the last decade, namely the rise of in-game purchases made by Account takeover is particularly common with free-to-play gamers across apps, PCs and consoles. In-app purchases games. The nature of these games is that, while some will are exposing users to new levels of fraud as continue to play daily, others will lose interest and developers strive to make payments seamless uninstall when it no longer appeals to them. and allow one-click payments, the fraudsters However, they’ve still made earnings within the are drawn to gaming platforms, resulting in “It’s instructive to game that can only be acquired through invested as many as one in five gamers falling foul to time and effort. For hackers, this makes them the payments fraud. look at how other perfect opportunity for account takeover attacks. And yet the issue goes beyond payment industries have And if credit card details are still linked to the fraud as the trend towards automation account, well that’s even better, these can be used enable much bigger heists, leading overcome the bot to buy more in-game currency or sold on. cyber-criminals to exploit users of the likes problem” of Fortnite and League of Legends. All a hack-happy fraudster needs to do is crack Stopping bots It’s instructive to look at how other industries have open a user’s account, and the pots of digital overcome the bot problem. The fashion industry – in gold, card details and the account itself are ripe particular sneakers – frequently faces bots attacking their for plundering. business logic in order to make profit through reselling. An understandable response could be to block all bots, but this The source of the problem is not the right approach, because not all of them are bad. In fact, The games industry has invested a great deal of time and effort bots are often vital to operating in today’s digital world, as they into detecting bots that help cheats prosper online – but now the index sites for search engines or scrape data for price comparison focus needs to be on the bots that manipulate the business logic sites. Instead, the focus needs to be on what the bot intends to of the platforms. do. Many fashion retailers now focus on identifying patterns in Traditional methods of online theft have a low success rate and bot behaviour, which can reveal if the intent is good or bad. require a lot of time and resource. By automating the effort Once a suspect pattern of behaviour is identified, then the bot required, it’s possible to achieve greater success. Cyber-criminals will be blocked. can now buy stolen credentials – usernames and passwords –

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industryopinion

5 ways to innovate tech packaging in 2019 With a huge number of start-ups emerging with innovative plastic products, Damon Culbert from The Juice Guru looks at how the tech industry as a whole can create more effective packaging...

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he global packaging industry is worth almost $1 trillion and forms a vital part of the sales experience in a number of ways. Not only is packaging a means of advertising a brand and building an identity, it is also usually the only interaction a consumer has with the brand, essentially making it the face of the company. For brands considering how to innovate their packaging in order to capture consumer attention, features such as environmental impact, intelligent marketing and building trust are all key elements of effective packing in 2019. Marketing opportunities As one of the biggest trends in the world of YouTube influencers, unboxing videos offer a unique marketing opportunity which can be highly beneficial to the tech industry. These videos draw wide audiences from every age range and so offer a large market to be drawn in. The best way to make the most of unboxing opportunities is to create distinctive, shareable packaging either through innovative and unusual designs or through well-considered logo placement which is instantly recognisable to consumers. Tech innovations in manufacturing Innovations are happening all the time in manufacturing. As technology develops, packaging producers are adopting Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) practices more and more often. These advancements include AI and machine learning which help to increase productivity and allow warehouse managers a better understanding of the stock at any given time. Machine learning can also be employed to monitor the production process and identify new ways of working, which may help increase productivity and reduce manufacturing times even further. The rise of smart labels In addition to industrial IoT uses, ‘smart’ labelling has created unique innovations not just in packaging but in marketing and sales

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as a whole. Smart labels can be used to track packages even more closely, allowing individual and commercial consumers to know exactly where their delivery is and when it can be expected. This is a great way to build trust with consumers and show dedication to customer service at every step of the process, which can encourage repeat purchases and brand loyalty. Design innovation One of the biggest trends in packaging right now is ergonomics. The environmental impact of packaging is one that is constantly discussed so brands who create packaging where everything had a purpose can show that, even if they are unable to create truly sustainable packaging in the short-term, their design teams are taking steps to consider the need for every part of the product. In this way, brands are able to make an initial reduction to waste contributions even before any innovation in materials is available or economically viable. Sustainability is essential With governments around the world declaring climate emergency and targets such as the EU’s dedication to eradicating single-use plastics, the packaging industry is in vital need of innovation to avoid being behind the times on sustainability. A huge number of start-ups are emerging with innovative plastic products; some created from recycled products, some are compostable and some are created using natural products. These new products are going to be essential in reducing plastic waste, which will not only have a positive environmental impact but will also help win over ethicallyminded consumers. The tech industry is constantly innovating at a dramatic rate which continues to capture the imagination of the general public. Focusing on creating the greatest product possible shouldn’t draw attention from the ways packaging and branding are essential to building a brand and ensuring that customers pay attention long enough to get invested.

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Number

Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…

CRUNCHING 86%

A whopping 86% of daily public Wi-Fi users put convenience ahead of safety when choosing hotspots, reveals new research from BullGuard.

1p

For every £1 of venture capital investment, less than 1p goes to all-female led teams, according to British Business Bank.

99%

A new global survey of 700 retail IT decision makers revealed that 99% are implementing mobile technology in store.

300m Almost 300 million extortion scam emails were blocked by Symantec in the first five months of 2019.

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78% According to new research from Lenovo, 78% of the UK’s working parents believe tech is helping to balance their careers and parenting lives.

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“We are a very ambitious brand. The competition is fierce, but we are confident in our strategy and our products�

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thebiginterview

HyperX marks the spot Over the past five years, HyperX has evolved from a pure memory product provider into a globally renowned gaming peripheral brand. Laura Barnes catches up with Business Manager Julien Millet to find out how the company found the sweet spot in the gaming headset market... Created in 2002 as a high-performance product division of memory manufacturer Kingston Technology, HyperX started life with one line of high-performance memory. The DDR1 high-performance memory line boasted data speeds of up to 370MHz, and since its release, Kingston’s gaming brand has continued to push the envelope with its products. Since 2002, HyperX has continued to innovative in the memory sector, finding success with DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 offerings, as well as launching its first SSD in 2011 and the world’s first 1TB USB flash drive in 2013. But it was in 2014 that HyperX dipped a toe into the world of gaming peripherals, releasing its first mouse pad product line, Skyn, as well as the HyperX Cloud pro-gaming headset, co-developed with QPad. Five years later and HyperX has sold more than seven million headsets globally. PCR catches up with Julien Millet to find out more about how HyperX found the sweet spot within the gaming peripherals market. Can you tell us a bit about your career at HyperX? I worked in the consumer technology market for ten years, including five years working for a French retailer specialising in components and PC gaming. I joined Kingston Technology and then moved up to my business manager position for the company’s gaming brand, HyperX, around two years ago. I’m a gamer myself and I’ve always been interested in the market and the products. When I worked at the specialist in France I was immersed in this environment, so now my expertise in this field is growing even more as I am now taking care of all the PC audio and console products for HyperX.

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What new projects and products are the company working on at the moment? We have a lot of products coming Q3 and Q4 in all our product ranges, on PC audio, console, keyboard and mice. On console we’re going to have the CloudX Flight headset, which is the Xbox version of the Cloud Flight that we have for PC right now. We actually have an extensive amount of products for Xbox coming up, so along with the new Flight we have the CloudX Stinger for Xbox. There’s also a new product called CloudX Chat, which is a mono headset with one earcup – it’s part of our entry-level range of products. For PS4, we’ll also be releasing the Stinger and Chat. They will both be licensed by PlayStation so we will have the PS logo on the side of the product. To finish with the range on console, we’re going to have the ChargePlay Duo, a charging station for Xbox controllers. That’s the full range for console, but we’ve got some new products for PC audio as well, including the Orbit and Orbit S, which we announced at the beginning of the year at CES. It will be available on September 3rd. There’s also a new product called Alpha S, which will be the new top of the range headset, retailing a £120 in the UK. It’s based on the Cloud Alpha headset, but has new features like 7.1 surround sound and bass boost technology. This means users can tweak the bass level themselves on the headset. We also have a new keyboard, the HyperX Alloy Origins, featuring our own HyperX switches and a wireless mouse, Pulsefire Dart, which was seen for the first time at Gamescom 2019. Can you tell us about the All Gamers campaign? This is a branding campaign. We did very small branding

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thebiginterview

The HyperX peripherals family

campaigns at HyperX previously, but this one is the biggest one by far. The goal is to show that regardless of the age of the gamer or the platform they use – whether that’s PC, console or mobile – everybody is a gamer nowadays. We wanted this campaign to be able to establish HyperX as the go-to brand for gaming peripherals and gaming in general. We’re also using our brand ambassadors. We have premier league footballer Dele Alli in the UK, who does things like using Fortnite moves on the pitch. He’s a well-known person so it’s a really easy way for us to make ourselves visible. He also uses our Cloud Flight and Cloud for PS4 headsets when streaming his gameplay on Twitch. We’re going to continue to sign off more brand ambassadors in the near future too. There has been a lot of transformation from a memory brand to a wider peripherals brand. Why did HyperX decide to go in this direction?

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It was a combination of opportunity and demand. We launched our very first headsets in 2013. At the time, the retail gaming market was full of potential and we were looking to diversifying ourselves. That was our first tryout, then we launched the very first version of the Cloud in 2014. This one gave us a lot of space to learn and prepare for what was following after. Also, we had the financial support of Kingston behind us, which was much needed to launch these products. At that time, we saw there was some space for our idea, which is still alive now: we wanted to give more quality to the users for those price points. That’s why we launched the first version of the Cloud headset at that time. We had a feeling that it was a fast paced market that we wanted to be a part of. You’ve sold seven million headsets globally since the first headset launched. Why do you think they have been so successful? We really introduced a base of quality and comfort that

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thebiginterview

“Last year was completely crazy because of the popularity of Fortnite. Everybody had a very good year thanks to that game”

wasn’t there before on entry and mid-range gaming headset. Now for £80 you can have a really good headset, which wasn’t really the case at the time we first launched. You would have got a really basic headset for less than £100. The market conditions were quite good and it allowed us to be successful. We launched the Cloud 2 headset in 2015 and now it’s the best-selling PC gaming headset in many European countries, including the UK. We also launched several other headsets with are all within the top ten, also in the UK. For us, the UK is within the top five global regions. We had huge growth in the last few years. The gaming market in general has been growing between ten to 20% each year, but for us it has been more like 20 to 25% each year. So we’re growing faster than the market in general, which is a good thing. Last year was completely crazy because of the popularity of Fortnite. Everybody had a very good year thanks to that game! For us it was particularly crazy in the UK.

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HyperX has doubled its presence in UK retail over the past three years. How did you manage this and what are HyperX’s plans for working with retailers going forward? A few years back we were just here and there in retail. We were taking the space where we could, but now the retail space is really a major focus for us. We’ve invested a lot in retail over the past few years and we’ve partnered with major retailers in the UK, including Argos, Dixons, Tesco, GAME and so on. We also massive invested in a retail base, to enable customers to play, touch and feel the products, which is where retailers and fight back against online retailers – by offering a great customer experience. We’ve also partnered with the likes of Belong in the UK, so we have our peripherals in 20 of their arenas in the UK, which is a major investment for us. We have them almost 1,000 units of each product. It’s also a good way for the end users to play with the products and see what a proper gaming product is. What goals does HyperX have over the next few years? We are a very ambitious brand. We plan to continue to grow. The competition is quite fierce at the moment and there are a lot of new brands coming to market. There’s more competition for sure, but we’re confident in our strategy and our products. We listen to the market and we listen to customer feedback. We want to become a major player on console peripherals as well as keyboard and mice, because the PC side of our business is still a major bullet point for us and we really want to become a major brand for gaming in general within the next few years, across PC, console and mobile.

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EVENTS IFA 2019

6th-11th September, Berlin ExpoCenter, Berlin

IFA in Berlin presents the latest products and innovations in the heart of Europe’s most important regional market. Only IFA offers such a comprehensive overview of the international market and attracts the attention of international trade visitors each year from more than 100 countries. IFA is the main meeting place for key retailers, buyers, and experts from the industry and the media.

CHANNEL LIVE 2019

11th-12th September, NEC, Birmingham

Channel Live one of the UK’s leading ICT trade specific conference, exhibition, thought leadership and networking events rolled into one. At Channel Live, resellers, VARS and other channel partners will openly discuss margin opportunities with vendors and solution providers. Described as the “David Attenborough of the business jungle”, business writer, humourist and director Guy Browning will be the after-dinner speaker at the Channel Live gala dinner.

TECH DATA LIVE 2019

26th September, Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire

This year, Tech Data Live will focus on “customer obsession” and the distributor will be offering immersive experiences through a number of solution zones to demonstrate how all aspects of its business are designed with its customers in mind. Visitors will be able to engage in key networking opportunities, meet multi-vendor partners, learn more about Tech Data’s full portfolio of products and services, and network with Tech Data’s senior teams and technical experts.

TARGET OPEN DAY 2019

27th September, The Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford

2018 marked Target’s 20th anniversary year, with the annual Open Day taking a celebratory turn, particularly in the evening. The day’s exhibition – Target’s biggest yet with over 40 exhibitors – included new brands like Thermaltake, ECS and Patriot. There were also business workshops, which included product roadmaps and training for the first time, with highlights including those from Tenda, ECS EliteGroup, West Yorkshire and Humber Cybercrime Unit. For 2019, Target promises more exhibitors and brands than ever before, with

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Find out what tech and retail events you should be attending in the coming months…

everything from the latest products and technologies, to market research information, demonstrations and more.

COMPTIA EMEA MEMBER AND PARTNER CONFERENCE 2019

7th-8th October, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London

Technology is transforming our lives – making everything newer, faster, better – and to thrive in the IT industry, both staying current and seeing what’s ahead are essential. That’s why attending the EMEA conference is a must for anyone in the business of technology; whether it’s selling solutions anywhere they’re needed or training and teaching tech skills. Don’t miss this fantastic, annual learning and networking opportunity. This two-day event welcomes all organisations building, selling or influencing the adoption of technology to collaborate, partner and share best practices to prosper in this expanding ecosystem.

IP EXPO EUROPE 2019

9th-10th October, ExCeL, London

IP Expo is back for its 14th year and promises to be “better, bigger and cooler”. If you’re in IT or cyber security, this is the show for you. IP Expo Europe has built a reputation as the best event for cloud, infrastructure and cyber security pros in Europe. It has now extended to include data analytics, AI and software development as well as IoT and Blockchain.

PCR AWARDS 2020

4th March, The Brewery, London

Save the date for the 2020 PCR Awards! We’ll be back at The Brewery in Central London on 4th March to once again celebrate the very best of the UK tech and IT industry. On the night, we will recognise those that have made the biggest impact in the channel. Vendors, distributors, channel services, resellers and retailers will all be celebrated in front of a room of 500+ industry members. Guests will enjoy an unmissable night of networking and hospitality as we reflect on the achievements of the channel over the past year. If you would like to find out more information about being a PCR Awards 2020 Partner, get in touch with Beccy Barr on 07703 503 101 or at Beccy.Barr@biz-media.co.uk.

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APPOINTMENTS Brigantia Ripon-based cyber security distribution business Brigantia Partners has reported a strong first half year growth driven by technology channel demand for its email, end point and security awareness services. This demand is the result of the growing number of businesses suffering phishing and other forms of cyber related attacks. Adding £1.02 million annual recurring revenue in H1, Brigantia is well on course to deliver its full year target. The company recently signed new distribution agreements with Cheltenham-based cloud SIEM solution and SOC provider Invinsec and Dutch firm Compliance Technology Solutions BV for their GDPR356 service. As the business grows, so does its headcount. The latest appointment comes in the form of Rob Hall, who joins as product marketing manager.

Avast Avast has appointed Vita Santrucek as general manager of Avast Business. In his new role, Santrucek will join the Avast executive leadership team and deepen his focus on building out excellence in Avast Business products through engineering, product management, and operations as the company continues to expand its network security product and services portfolio, first launched earlier in 2019. “This has been a watershed year for Avast Business as we defined our small and mid-size business strategy to focus tightly on security, which is our core expertise as a company. We have begun the journey to cloud security with the launch of Avast Secure Web Gateway in March and bolstered our endpoint protection portfolio with Avast Patch Management. We have a packed agenda for the rest of this year expanding these services and building out our partner base,” commented Santrucek.

Vodafone Vodafone has appointed Kathy Quashie as head of partnerships and alliances. She will provide support to Vodafone’s partners, helping them market and sell its leading range of mobile, fixed, converged and Internet of Things (IoT)

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This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...

solutions to businesses of all sizes across the UK. She will also be looking to recruit new partners. Quashie joins from BT where she led the major business team for nearly four years. “This is an exciting time to join Vodafone. The recent launch of 5G and Business Unlimited – and our breadth of solutions spanning mobile, fixed, converged and IoT – bring huge opportunities for partners. I’m really looking forward to helping them maximise opportunities from working with Vodafone. It’s our ambition to be the go-to digital partner for UK businesses; our partners are critical in helping us achieve this goal,” said Quashie.

Diffblue Diffblue has announced Mathew Lodge as the company’s new CEO. Most recently the SVP of products and marketing at Anaconda, Lodge has over twentyfive years of experience in the software industry at organisations of all sizes. “I’m joining Diffblue at an exciting time for both artificial intelligence and enterprise software development,” said Lodge. “Rapid delivery of high quality software is critical to more and more organisations as they accelerate digital transformation. Diffblue is applying AI technologies to automated code generation to solve critical pain points for development teams looking to deliver high quality code with less time, effort and drudgery. I’m really looking forward to leading Diffblue in its next stage of growth.”

Nutanix Nutanix has appointed Sammy Zoghlami as senior vice president of sales for Europe, Middle East & Africa. Having previously held the role of sales lead for the company’s operations in Southern Europe, Zoghlami will take responsibility for all aspects of Nutanix sales in a region stretching from Scandinavia to South Africa, and from Ireland to Russia. In this capacity, he will be responsible for leading sales and customer support, strategic business development and strategy, management of Nutanix’s offices and operational teams in each EMEA country, as well as the company’s partnerships, alliances and channel activities in the region.

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Partner Content from BullGuard The Fierce Esports team runs BullGuard Internet Security “as a matter of course”

It’s blisteringly hot… for gamers and partners Over the last 17 months cyber-criminals have carried out 12 billion credentialstuffing attacks against gaming websites. Here, BullGuard outlines why products like its Internet Security offering are a must-have for today’s gamers…

W

hat’s a poor gamer to do? They kick back in their chair, run their fingers over the keyboard at lightning speed and are just about to bag another kill and… bam, the game lags. Mmpppfff. The screen judders between full-on action and freeze frames. When it returns to normal they’ve been shot dead by an opponent. Whether a gamer is trying to get a 20-kill Fortnite victory, set a record for moving through a Call of Duty Modern Warfare level, or simply exploring and testing out new scenarios in GTA, there’s little more teeth-gnashingly frustrating than game lag. It can effectively destroy the pleasure of the game and if the gamer is taking part in a multi-player event it can be a cyber death knell. Is it any wonder then that gamers make sure they’re equipped with good gaming rigs? They’ve got to have top processing power and a graphics card that can effortlessly handle intense and demanding graphics, alongside deep storage capacity, faultless memory and more.

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Flick the kill switch However, the desire for blisteringly fast and ultra-reliable performance can also make them vulnerable. Everyone needs anti-malware protection. If you don’t have it, it’s like trying to run across the M1 motorway at peak traffic times, hoping you don’t get hit. Gamers get this but they also understand that antivirus software can slow games down because of the demands it can make on processing power. Inevitably, when it comes to priorities, gamers flick the kill switch on their antivirus settings. Or they simply don’t bother with it. Of course this leaves them vulnerable to malware infections, dodgy downloads and even phishing attacks. Cyber villains of all shades ‘love’ gamers. Gamers are a niche demographic known for spending money, so their financial status is a juicy target. Criminals can also easily exchange in-game items for profit. To give you a sense of scale, just consider this. Over the last 17 months cyber-criminals have targeted the gaming industry

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Partner Content from BullGuard

by carrying out 12 billion credential-stuffing attacks against gaming websites, according to the Akamai 2019 State of the Internet/ Security Web Attacks and Gaming Abuse Report. Across all industries there were 55 billion credential-stuffing attacks. It’s clear from these figures that gamers are a prime target. Of all the credential-stuffing attacks in the world, a near 25% targeted gamers. Malware loves gamers This also extends to malware. Further research, from early June 2018 to early June 2019, revealed that 930,000 gamers were hit by fake games that actually spread malware. Malware disguised as Minecraft accounted for around 30 percent of attacks, with over 310,000 users hit. In second place was ‘GTA 5’, targeting more than 112,000 users. ‘Sims 4’ took fourth place with almost 105,000 users hit. Criminals were also found trying to lure users into downloading malicious files disguised as unreleased games. Spoofs of at least 10 pre-release games were seen, with 80 percent of detections focused on FIFA 20, Borderlands 3, and the Elder Scrolls 6. Ben Miles, director at Chillblast, a dedicated PC gaming rig builder, says: “There are a whole load of legitimate gaming applications that are mimicked by malware websites… [for instance] when a gamer goes to download the software they need to talk to their team mates, unfortunately they get something they weren’t bargaining for.” It’s clear the threats to gamers are considerable. Of course, many of these threats can be addressed with a little education and awareness; how to spot and avoid dodgy downloads and what to look for in phishing emails. But there’s a dichotomy. Gaming is meant to be fun and relaxed so gamers tend not to be on the look-out for scams when they’re doing gaming things and tend to avoid antivirus protection which clearly makes them even more vulnerable. But there is an answer. BullGuard provides the protection gamers need… and it doesn’t slow down games. Chillblast tested the gaming performance of computers running BullGuard Internet Security, Norton Internet Security, McAfee Internet Security, Kaspersky Internet Security, AVG Internet Security and Windows Defender.

6544

Microsoft Windows Defender

6469 6544 6380

McAfee Internet Security Kaspersky Internet Security

6377

AVG Internet Security

6255

BullGuard Internet Security

6000

If you’re in the gaming space, then why not bundle BullGuard into your hardware? It’s a win for gamers who need top protection, and top performance, and it’s a win for partners who add an extra revenue stream to existing business. Simply put, BullGuard’s Game Booster functionality will boost your business… and secure more gaming customers. Become a BullGuard partner and you’ll experience our industry-leading partner Advantage programme which provides an industry-leading revenue share, when customers renew their license online. That’s a seriously large piece of pie… without having to lift a finger!

6574

Benchmark / No AV

6650 6100

6200

6300

6400

6500

6600

Kick back and partner wins It’s certainly held in high esteem by Fierce PC, a bespoke builder of high-spec gaming rigs. Fierce PC has its own UK-based esports organisation, Fierce Esports which is competitively involved in some of the biggest esport titles including Counter Strike: Global Offensive, PUBG, Battalion 1944, League of Legends, Fortnite, Rocket League and more. Team members ensure they are running BullGuard Internet Security as a matter of course. Jon Carter, MD at Fierce PC, says; “Professional esports players don’t want anything to interfere with game play. They want the absolute maximum out of their PC and this is where BullGuard Internet Security really comes into its own.” So what’s a gamer to do? They can rest easy in their chair and enjoy lightning fast, uninterrupted, pop-up free gaming thanks to BullGuard’s unique Game Booster technology featured within its award-winning malware protection products.

Calling all partners

Best gaming performance means… Not only did BullGuard Internet Security come out on top (see the graph below), its Game Booster acceleration feature made it faster than a system with no antivirus installed. As Chillblast said: “Those

Norton Internet Security

who want the best possible [gaming] performance from their PC would be best served by choosing BullGuard…” So what is the BullGuard Game Booster? It essentially recognises when a game is active and other apps are also running. As a result it automatically isolates all other apps (which are not games) on one or two CPU cores. This means other CPU cores are dedicated to the gaming app which removes random spikes during the gaming session. It also optimises CPU performance for noticeably smoother gaming with a faster frame rate and no game lag. Game booster works on all games that run on full screen and are graphics intensive. Resource hungry games, which are the majority of games, automatically trigger the activation of the Game Booster feature. It increased gaming performance by around 5% on average. “When game booster is turned on you get bonus ‘magic’ performance,” said Tech For Techs, a reviews, news and advice community. It’s so good, Tech For Techs awarded BullGuard the ‘Gamers Choice Award.’ When measured against other security programmes, BullGuard’s gaming performance was approximately 8% better. Ben Miles says: “It actually improves gaming performance.”

6700

Test Results – 2018

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Show review

GAMESCOM

2019

Many people visit Gamescom to get hands-on with the latest game releases and hear from the talented developers creating them. But the show is also a great place for gaming components and peripheral brands to showcase new products designed to help competitors at all levels have the best experience possible. Laura Barnes takes a look at some of the most interesting products unveiled at the biggest video games show in Europe…

ASUS ROG There was a lot on show from ASUS at Gamescom, from motherboards, monitors, mice and headsets. One of the stand out products that caught PCR’s eye was the ROG Rampage VI Extreme Encore gaming motherboard, which ASUS boasts as been designed to “raise the bar for dream builds”. This latest board includes 16 power stages and a comprehensive thermal design that comprises an active heatsink with two integrated VRM fans, a PCIe-zone M.2 aluminium heatsink and a one-piece aluminium backplate. It also benefits from all the latest connectivity, including USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (Type-C), Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, onboard Aquantia 10Gbps LAN and Intel Ethernet. Elsewhere, ASUS impressed with the ROG Strix XG17 portable gaming monitor – which claims to be the fastest portable display in the world with a blistering 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. Another ‘world’s first’ for the brand was the ROG Strix Go 2.4 – the first wireless gaming headset that can be used with Nintendo Switch in handheld mode. The ASUS ROG Rampage VI Extreme Encore gaming motherboard

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Show review

AOC At this year’s Gamescom, AOC presented its extensive portfolio including the three new G2 Series gaming monitors: the 24-inch 24G2U, the 27-inch 27G2U and the 27-inch curved CQ27G2. All come with a 144 Hz refresh rate, 1ms MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time), FHD (1920×1080 pixels) or, in the case of the CQ27G2, QHD (2560×1440 pixels) resolution and AMD FreeSync. In addition to these monitors, those who wanted to dive into virtual worlds got their hands-on with the ultrawide 35-inch curved beast, the AGON AG352UCG6, boasting G-Sync and WQHD. The fans of the G2 Esports team also had a chance to try out the G2 Esports branded 24.5-inch 144 Hz G2590PX/G2 monitor. The AOC and Philips booth also played host to a dedicated area for the G2 Esports team, where fans had the chance to meet and greet Lothar and Orb, as well as the Rainbow Six Siege team.

AOC’s 27-inch 27G2U gaming monitor

HyperX Kingston Technology’s gaming division announced the release of FURY DDR4 RGB and a new look to the FURY DDR4 line-up. The new memory kits offer automatic plug and play overclocking functionality. For DDR4 users that need fast, high-density memory, HyperX has added models up to 64GB at 3466MHz. The new FURY models also feature Intel XMP-ready profiles optimized for Intel’s latest platform. The HyperX FURY DDR4 RGB comes equipped with an LED light bar with fluid RGB lighting effects and utilises HyperX Infrared Sync, which allows the modules to remain synchronised without the use of cables. The memory is compatible with lighting control software from a range of motherboard vendors, including ASUS Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion and MSI Mystic Light Sync. HyperX also showcased the new Cloud Alpha S gaming headset at Gamescom. The new addition to HyperX’s gaming headset lineup presents bass adjustment sliders allowing for three levels of bass tuning and HyperX custom-tuned virtual 7.1 surround sound that “envelops the listener in full audio for intense gaming immersion”. The gaming brand also unveiled an expansion to its console accessory lineup, with official Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation4 licensed products. Xbox gamers can now get their hands on the HyperX CloudX Flight Wireless, HyperX CloudX Stinger and the HyperX CloudX Chat headsets. The HyperX ChargePlay Duo Controller Charging Station is now also available for Xbox One. HyperX also revealed the Cloud Stinger and HyperX Cloud Chat headsets for PS4. The HyperX FURY DDR4 line-up

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Show review

Western Digital Western Digital displayed its portfolio of external storage solutions for PC and console gamers at the show. Building on the WD_Black SN750 NVMe SSD currently on the market, the five new solutions have been purpose-built to address storage challenges. Taking a closer look at The WD_Black P10 Game Drive for Xbox One from the new range, the product offers up to 5TB of storage capacity, meaning gamers can save up to 125 games. The drive’s portable and durable form factor gives gamers the ability to bring their Xbox game library with them wherever they go. Simply plug in, log on, and play any game in your coveted collection. By teaming up with Microsoft, some of the new solutions offer up to three months of membership of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to give gamers access to a curated library of over 100 great games to discover on console and PC, as well as all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold.

The WD_Black P10 Game Drive for Xbox One

Alienware In the gaming PC department, Alienware caused a stir at Gamescom with its Aurora desktop in the new Legend industrial design. Combining enhanced thermal benefits purposed for longevity and pro-level performance, the machines offer continued upgradability for years to come and up to 9th Gen Intel Core processors, HyperX FURY XMP DDR4 memory, optional CPU liquid cooling overclocking and dual graphics. A new chassis design ensures airflow moves more fluidly and efficiently to reduce CPU temperatures while fans operate slower. The PC has been engineered with an innovative PSU swing-arm, which enables tool-less graphics and expansion bays and a compact chassis size. It also allows graphics cards to be perfectly positioned for purposeful airflow. The Alienware Aurora is the official PC of choice for Team Liquid and can now be found serving in the newly opened Alienware Training Facility in Europe. Alongside the Aurora desktop, Alienware unveiled new gaming mice and keyboards, as well as a series of monitors, including the world’s first 55-inch OLED gaming monitor – the Alienware 55. It has a 120Hz variable refresh rate, a response time of 0.5ms (gray-to-gray) and low-input latency, so images get to the screen much faster. Gamers experience the colors as they were designed with colour accuracy and depth at 98+% DCI-P3 color coverage.

The Alienware Aurora desktop with new Legend design

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ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS HERE AND REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS IN THE IT AND TECH INDUSTRY.

PCR is read throughout the channel, from store managers to leading executives. Put simply, PCR is the trade publication that everybody in the industry reads. Print is still the most effective way to target an audience engaged with the content they’re consuming. Find out more about advertising in PCR by contacting Beccy Barr at Beccy.Barr@Biz-Media.co.uk

@PCRMag PCR house ad ADVERTISE HERE_V1.indd 1

@PCR_Online 29/05/2019 14:14


IS THERE STILL VALUE IN SELLING GAMING GEAR? This month, Tech For Techs asks its members if they still find value in selling gaming gear, what items are they’re looking forward to stocking, and whether low-end or high-end products are proving most popular… DANIEL CLIFFORD, VOLTS UK

DAN HALL, ATLAS IT

www.voltsuk.com “I often find we get undercut by the larger online gamer-focused companies. Selling gaming units has not been a big thing for us. We concentrate on, and are known for, our repairs and trouble shooting services. So we service some gaming PCs and check over some new builds if the customer has got stuck. Repairs are our bread and butter. We keep parts and accessories for sale. After 23 years we are doing OK.”

https://www.atlas-it.co.uk “We do a bit of everything, enthusiast gaming is ever on the rise, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? As a “gamer” and an owner of an IT hardware company, nothing excites me more than when new hardware comes out. I mean you can’t not love a water cooled system all lit up! It’s like an early Christmas.”

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IAN ADSYS, ADVANCED SYSTEMS https://www.facebook.com/pg/ AdvancedSystemsComputers/ “I specialise in new and refurb gaming systems and easily wipe the floor with bigger companies when it comes to pricing. I’m working on a website at the moment, never needed one in the past. I’m the local go-to place for gaming systems and do a lot over Facebook now.”

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IAN HARDEN, IPC SOLUTIONS https://ipcsolutions.org.uk/ “I have never specialised in gaming PCs but can and have built them for stock and for customers specifications. I do not find that my customers want to buy a specific gaming computer unless it’s for their sons or daughter generally and want it more for the office – homework predominantly, and then it only needs to play Fortnite of PUGB. I find that buying 2nd hand components or refurbished parts is useful for building

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Retail Talk bargain gaming PCs that sell well on eBay. However, we’re always happy to build one with our customers via our PC builder site http://ipcsolutions.org.uk/ build-pc-pc-builder-page/ ◆◆◆

ROBERT KOLODZIEJ, PC HELP AND CARE https://pchelpandcare.co.uk/ “I get a gaming PC client once in a while. 50% are new builds, 50% fixing a gaming rig they bought from someone. I’m trying to be the go-to person for gaming PCs in Swindon as no one else really advertises that side of their business. But as most of those people are tech-savvy enough, it’s a small market. Still, I don’t enjoy anything more than building a £2k gaming machine for a client.” ◆◆◆

STE HAMES, SJH COMPUTING https://www.sjhcomputing.co.uk “I don’t really get much demand for gaming machines (I don’t really advertise it to be honest). However, when I get a request for a gaming machine, I normally ask my suppliers to spec it for me so I know my customers are getting the best possible hardware for their money. 90% of gaming machines I build and see are pretty high spec machines.” ◆◆◆

RICH FORTH, PHASE 4 COMPUTERS http://p4com.com “We see a good number of gaming systems every month, whether we’ve bought and built them, or had the customer provide us the parts and we’ve charged an assembly and an OS install fee (as long as they’ve bought a genuine key). Our main focus on gaming builds is not to beat prices, but quality and service. All our gaming builds come with a 2-year warranty (except where the customer has supplied the parts), which puts most customers at ease that they’re getting quality. My staff and I are game focused, so we build each system as though it’s going to be ours and be on show. This has lead to us getting more business in for gaming systems as customers (well, their kids) have shown off the build to friends, who in turn have come to us based on what they’ve seen us do!” ◆◆◆

PHILIP GRIFFITHS, TECH FOR TECHS & CHIPS COMPUTERS www.TechForTechs.co.uk “Gaming computers and accessories for independent

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stores can be a hard market to get into, as the costs of stocking such equipment can be expensive and in a lot of cases the profit margins can be very low. For example, one of the products we reviewed a few months ago was able to be bought at a distributor for £109, but the recommended retail price was just £114.95, so if you wanted to stock this item and sell it at a good price you are making only £6 profit (before tax and costs), where you could buy a low end or non gaming version of a product for £13 and sell it easily for £29.95. A lot of gamers know exactly what they want and the chance that you have that item in stock is low. While you can always order it in on a next day and sell it to them, they generally know that they can get that item delivered to their door the next day from a large store or online marketplace. We have found in our own computer shop that gaming peripheral sales have declined a lot, where customers get the exact item they want online. But, we have had a huge increase in orders for custom built gaming computers, and the average price that customers are willing to spend now is nearly twice as much as two to three years ago. While there are online stores that will make computers for you, they may not be able to offer the components that you want. Independent stores are more flexible and able to get stock from a number of places on a next day delivery. The most effective tool we have for selling gaming computers (as well as standard PCs) is the In-Store PC Builder by Target Components. It allows customers to come into the store and design the computer they want with over 306 billion combinations. The parts are then shipped to us directly from Target Components so we can build the computer for the customer, and if they wish, customers can even get Target to build the computer themselves to save on time.”

TECH FOR TECHS Launched in January 2018, Tech for Techs (TFT) is a new community for technicians of all kinds, including on-site call out services, retailers, resellers, managed service providers, vendors and distributors. Free to join, TFT is run by the team behind retailer Chips Computers and offers up insight and information on the industry, as well as product reviews, price comparisons, free directory listings and more. Visit www. techfortechs.co.uk for more information.

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Gaming retail

E-volution in gaming Rupert Cook, Sales and Marketing Director at Gekko, looks at the potential opportunities – and pitfalls – gaming retailers may face over the next 12-18 months...

I

n July 2019, spanning three days, the largest gathering of gamers from around the world – 40 million – took part in the Fortnite World Cup tournament. Hailed as a monumental moment for esports, the winner, a 16-year-old, took home £2.42 million. The prize sum overshadowed the £1.6 million Shane Lowry won at this year’s Golf Open Championship in Portrush. The esports industry is becoming increasingly popular, rivalling many traditional sporting events with the Fortnite tournament watched by 23,000 people in a sold out New York stadium and millions more through live streams. This highlights how the gaming industry and its place in culture has evolved, with gamers stepping away from their own consoles to

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watch others play their favourite games. And not surprisingly, this is reflected in the size of the gaming market which continues to grow rapidly. According to Newzoo, there are reportedly 2.3 billion active gamers globally and 46% of those (1.1 billion) spending, the financial impact to the establishment is significant. More so with the forecasted growth of gaming from $137.9 billion in 2018 to more than $180.1 billion by 2021. Looking just at the UK, the gaming market is now worth a record £5.7 billion thanks in part to the strong foundations in place for innovative games and entrepreneurial developers. The next 12-18 months looks set to be a very interesting for the sector with some of the big names in gaming hardware expected to

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Gaming retail

“Giving this generation a chance to either buy or play the consoles and games of their youth could open up a new opportunity for retailers”

reveal their next generation platforms. Expectation is that Sony, who have sold 525 million consoles since launching PlayStation in 1994, will start to ship their latest console in the second half of 2020. And of course both Nintendo and Microsoft will be in the mix too. Microsoft officially announced its next generation hardware, codenamed Project Scarlett, during its E3 2019 conference and it’s due for release in time for “Holiday 2020”. Before that is the exciting debut of Stadia in Q4 this year which may be a potential fly in the ointment for the established gaming brands. Google’s launch of Stadia is a game-changer, and a move that will have Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony quite concerned. No downloads, no patches and no console makes this the cloud gamers dream, and Google is delivering this incredible service without compromising on graphics quality. As Phil Harrison VP and general manager at Google stated when launching Stadia: “It’s a new generation platform, rather than a next generation platform”. In evolving the concept of platforms, rather than recreating them, Stadia will be a tough act to follow, with sharing options via YouTube, which has 63 million daily viewers worldwide, Google Assistant built in, 4K resolution games at 60 frames per second with HDR (High Dynamic Range), and a plan to support 8K resolution in the future.

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The excellent features are great news to those who have grown up used to on-demand web-based entertainment, app-based games and instant updates to technology, but for generations who are familiar with buying physical consoles and games, this could be a transition they may not make because nostalgia can come into play. Owning a console and saving up to buy the latest must have game and completing it before trading it in to buy the next release, has been a pleasure to many. The generational changes in consumers has seen Millennials identify with nostalgia and they recapture their youth through console gaming just as they have been doing for over 20 years. There is a shared enjoyment amongst social groups in getting together and playing a multiplayer game on Mario Kart on the original Wii. It’s also interesting to see how the retro gaming sector tapping into this and making headlines. Available to buy this Christmas will be a reimagined full-sized reissue of the Commodore 64. Giving this generation a chance to either buy or play the consoles and games of their youth could open up a new opportunity for gaming retailers, because a streaming service is not great news for those retailing the hardware to eager gamers needing to upgrade to access the dream being sold by the platforms. Indeed, GAME has been battling tough high street conditions and has seen in the past three months a successful take over by Sports Direct. The British sports gear retailer said it did not believe that, as a standalone business, GAME was “able to weather the pressures that it is facing”. Furthermore, the introduction of streaming could see the resale market suffer too, again a blow to high street stores such as GAME and CEX. This is an evolving and exciting market with opportunities and pitfalls for the whole supply chain. I started this piece discussing the phenomenon that was the Fortnite World Cup and for retailers, this presents a huge opportunity to tap into this ‘experience’ economy and revive their fortunes by using empty high street spaces to create purpose-built gaming arenas for live gaming where the community can come together. But there’s no doubt that we’re going to see a ferocious battle between Stadia and the console manufacturers – so let the games begin. Gekko is a full service field marketing agency, specialising in connecting brands with consumers in retail throughout the UK and Ireland. Find our more at www.gekko-uk.com

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Sector Guide

Gaming PCs and Components Check out some of the most powerful machines, PC builds, cases and components for every kind of gamer… Razer Blade Pro 17 Specs: Windows 10 Home - 64-Bit, 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H 6-core processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q Design, 512GB PCIe NVMe upgradeable to 2TB SSD, HD webcam 720p with Windows Hello IR HD webcam, Dolby Atmos support. “The New Razer Blade Pro 17 pushes the limits of what a gaming laptop can do. Built with a powerful processor to run performance-demanding AAA games on the go, the Razer Blade Pro 17 is nearly 25% smaller than its predecessor, with a faster 17.3” display that’s fitted into a body as sleek and compact as a 15” laptop. The 9th gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor inside features 6 cores with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz and Turbo Boost of 4.5GHz. The incredibly fast Razer Blade Pro 17 is built to serve as the perfect blend of a gaming desktop and mobile workstation.” Contact: VIP UK

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming OC 8GB Specs: Core clock MHz 1845, mem clock 15500, 256bit memory interface, WINDFORCE 3X cooling system, RGB lighting, 4-year warranty. “Reinvent graphics with the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming OC 8GB. Powered by GeForce RTX and next-generation GDDR6 memory, the user can enjoy games like never before. Experience smooth gameplay, a cinematic experience, and revolutionary 360-degree image capture, even in VR.” Contact: CMS Distribution

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Sector Guide Kolink Nimbus Specs: Stylish midi-tower for motherboards up to ATX, tempered glass side panel, 1x 120 mm fan pre-installed, addressable RGB strip with motherboard control, 2x radiators up to 240 mm, 3x 3,5/2,5” slots. “Cutting a striking figure amongst the highly competitive ATX-format segment, the Nimbus Midi-Tower from Kolink offers an ARGB-LED strip rounding the large cut-out in the front – enabling a significant improvement in airflow. The robust chassis consists of one millimetre thick SECC steel and includes a four millimetre thick tempered glass side panel. A large cut-out in the front has a digitally addressable RGB-LED strip included which can be both synced to compatible 3-pin motherboards and controlled on the front panel. The magnetic dust filter located behind it helps keep the interior clean and dust free, and allows for sufficient airflow.” Contact: Caseking UK

Intel Hades Canyon Mini PC Specs: Intel Core i7-8809G with Radeon RX Vega M GH, 4GB HBM2 dedicated graphics memory, 16GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, dual Thunderbolt 3, dual Gigabit LAN, Windows 10. “Dream with your eyes open. Experience the first premium VR-capable Intel NUC8i7HVKVA Mini PC with extreme performance for totally immersive virtual reality and smooth gameplay that’s ready to go out-of-the-box. We took our Skull Canyon machine and innovated the Hades out of it – from an unlocked 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor with Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics, to a redesigned motherboard and chassis to optimise power use and size, Intel-built means the best technology available measured in gasps, shouts and high fives” Contact: GNR Tech

Target White Knight Intel i5 Gaming PC Specs: GeForce GTX 1050Ti EXOC graphics card, 8GB Team Delta DDR4, 240GB Kingston SSD, ASRock B250M Pro4 motherboard. “One of Target’s most popular stock PCs, the White Knight features all-white memory, white Cyclone RGB mid-tower case, white GeForce GTX 1050Ti EXOC graphics card, with complimentary RGB white 8GB Team Delta DDR4, 240GB Kingston SSD, ASRock B250M Pro4 motherboard and RGB fan, making it a great entryto-mid level gaming machine that won’t break the bank – designed in Target’s Custom PC Builder.” Contact: Target Components

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Sector Guide

Stormforce Onyx Gaming PC Specs: Cooler Master 3.1 Lite chassis, AMD Ryzen 5 3600 running up to 4.2GHz, AMD B450 chipset, GTX NVIDIA 1660 Ti graphics, 16GB Crucial 2666MHz RAM, 500GB SSD, 2TB HDD, Windows 10 Home. “The Stormforce Onyx gaming PC is designed with Tier 1 gaming grade hardware and excellent craftsmanship, offering a no barrier solution to entry level gaming. Experience standard load out equipment such as rapid dual channel DDR4 memory, cinematic DX 12 graphics and next gen processing power, all encompassed in an elegant performance chassis.” Contact: VIP UK

Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 32GB Specs: Speeds from 3000MHz up to 4400MHz, XMP 2.0 support, aggressive heat shield design. “Patriot Memory’s Viper Steel memory modules are designed with true performance in mind. Built for the latest Intel and AMD platforms, the Viper Steel series provides the best performance and stability for the most demanding computer environments. With custom-designed high-performance aluminum heat shields for a sleek steel-look inside any motherboard, the Viper Steel is made to ensure rock solid performance even when using the most taxing applications, hand-tested and validated for system compatibility.” Contact: Target Components

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Sector Guide Phanteks Eclipse P400 Air Specs: Stylish midi-tower from Phanteks with optimised airflow, tempered glass side window, three pre-installed 120 mm DRGB fans, PSU shroud, integrated dust filter, 2x USB 3.0 & 2x RGB-LED controls. “The cases of the Eclipse P400 Air series are designed with beginners in mind while still catering for the experienced PC enthusiast crowd with an array of interesting features including, despite its sleek profile, optimised airflow. The front of the Eclipse P400 Air consists of a metal plate with a fine mesh grid which allows excellent airflow on one hand, while also allowing users to keep the interior of the case free of dust. An additional visual highlight of the case includes the three pre-installed RGB-LED fans, the lighting of which is controlled via an integrated controller and two switches located on the I/O panel. Alternatively, the lighting can be adjusted using a compatible motherboard, either from ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte, MSI or using Razer’s Chroma software.” Contact: Caseking UK

Ballistix Elite DDR4 UDIMM Specs: Speeds up to 4000 MT/s, AMD Ryzen ready, XMP 2.0 profiles for easy setup and configuration, optimised for latest Intel platforms. “Your customers will outplay their opponents with the overclocking record holder, Ballistix Elite DDR4 UDIMM, with speeds of up to 4,000 MT/s. Its increased bandwidth and minimal latencies makes outmatching opponents easy work. Outplay. Outmatch. Outlast.” Contact: CMS Distribution

Predator Helios 300 Specs: 144Hz refresh rate, 1920x1080 FHD, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, 9th Gen Intel Core i7 Processor, overclockable GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q Design, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory. “Ready for battle and eager for a fight, the Helios 300 drops you into the game with everything you need. Only now we’ve armed it with NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics, 9th Gen Intel Core i7 Processors and our custom-engineered 4th Gen AeroBlade 3D technology. Speed is at the core of this laptop with the display leading the charge. How? We’ve chosen a 144Hz IPS panel with a 3ms Overdrive response time. Farewell blur and hello clear, crisp, high-octane gameplay.” Contact: Acer

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MagicDock for iPad Pro With MagicDock you can use your iPad Pro like a traditional computer. Rotate it 90 degrees from landscape to portrait, either for spreadsheets, selfies, apps that only support portrait mode, or even taking notes when you put it down in design mode. Plus, plug in all of your peripherals to the ports on the back so that every time you connect to MagicDock, you’re connected to your whole setup instantly. Whether you need a large 4K monitor for video output or checking out your latest Photoshop edits, a 3.5mm audio jack for plugging in headphones and doing some audio work, plugging in an external USB device like a hard drive or MIDI station, and of course charging via USB-C, MagicDock has you covered with its rear facing I/O ports. MagicDock also enables you to bring your iPad down to desk level for design mode. For more information visit http://kck.st/30L8H50

Wearbuds wireless earbuds and charger Wearbuds are designed to offer true wireless stereo that frees you from “inconvenient charging, easy-to-lose buds, monstrous charging cases, and other headaches”. With Bluetooth 5, a Qualcomm audio chipset and grapheneaugmented drivers, the tiny Wearbuds deliver the kind of sound you would expect from much larger wired headphones. Most true wireless earbuds have very limited battery life and can’t be taken too far from their charging case. With Wearbuds, everything you need is right on your wrist, and you can charge your earbuds even while jogging, cycling, or hiking. When you want to listen to music there’s no need to dig around in your pocket or backpack, the buds are already at your fingertips. For more information visit http://kck.st/2IUBUmR

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mClassic plug n’ play graphics processor PC gamers are able to upgrade their graphics card, while console gamers have been limited by locked hardware. Well, not anymore, according to mClassic – “the world’s first and only plug and play graphics processor for video game consoles”. The mClassic is like having a new graphics card without the hassle of modifying your game console. It also enhances your movies to a 4K quality experience. Designed by a team of scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley, plus a founding member of the N.W.A rap group, the mClassic works with almost any platform, including Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and retro consoles. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/mClassic/x#/

With so much talent in the channel, it can be difficult to sift out the freshest gear and potential tech giants of tomorrow. Stay ahead of the curve with PCR’s Crowdfunding Corner…

HD Mask Noir discreet security camera and charger Say goodbye to expensive, bulky and painfully obvious security cameras. HD Mask Noir is a military-grade security camera that records 1080p HD video and crystal clear audio 24/7 with no battery necessary. All you have to do is plug it in and connect to Wi-Fi. Features include real-time HD streaming to a phone or computer, multi-cam access, motion detection with adjustable sensitivity settings, iOS and Android app notifications, and night vision with infrared technology. The Noir has a 75-degree viewing angle, is 100% wireless, offers unlimited continuous loop recording and has no subscription fees for web and app access. Aside from its camera capabilities, the Noir is also a fully-functional USB charger small enough to be taken with you anywhere. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/hd-mask-noir/x#/

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Sector Guide

Gaming Peripherals From headsets, mice and keyboards to gaming-specific routers and monitors, here’s everything you need to get the most out of your gaming machine... AD27QD Aorus Gaming Monitor Specs: Digital LED, HDR, black equaliser and aim stabilizer, active notes cancelling, eye-care and ergonomic design, 27” screen. “The most advanced LED systems in the market today enables the ability for the user to create their gaming atmosphere with the RGB Fusion App. The 16:9 aspect ratio gives the gamer twice the detail and means they can enjoy games and movies in their original size.” Contact: CMS Distribution

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XRM570 Specs: DumaOS with advanced device management, geo-filter, QoS, hybrid VPN and networking monitoring, dual-core 1.7 GHz processor, 4 removable external antennas, simultaneous dual Wi-Fi bands. “Upgrade your gaming experience with the XRM570 Nighthawk Pro Gaming Wi-Fi router and mesh Wi-Fi system. With the state-of-the-art DumaOS software and powerful mesh Wi-Fi system, minimise ping, reduce lag spikes, and game at top speeds from anywhere in your home. Never experiencing lagging mid-jump or mid-fight with Geo-Filter to minimise ping and limit distance to your host servers. With our Tri-Band Wi-Fi technology with dedicated backhaul, the mesh system extends reliable Wi-Fi throughout the home and delivers up to 100% faster Wi-Fi than traditional extenders.” Contact: NETGEAR

HANNspree HG244PJB 24” Gaming Monitor Specs: 24”, FHD, 1msec, 144Hz, AMD Radeon Free-Sync, 15M Active Contrast, 2x HDMI + DisplayPort, flicker free, ergonomic stand. “Our 24” gaming monitor delivers seamless graphic performance for casual, regular and up-and-coming professional gamers. Thanks to AMD Radeon Free-Sync technology working alongside a super-fast 144Hz refresh rate and a turbo 1ms response time, fast moving action is smooth and objects in motion are perfectly sharp so that gamers can react like a pro even under intense pressure.” Martin Kent, Territory Manager, HANNspree UK. Contact: Exertis, GNR Tech, Ingram Micro, Midwich, Westcoast

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Sector Guide Adesso Xtream G4 Gaming Headset Specs: Vibrational speakers, virtual 7.1 surround sound, audio equalizer driver, built-in noise cancelling microphone, LED lighting, adjustable headband and earcups. “The Adesso Xtream G4 Gaming Headset with Vibration takes your gaming experience to a whole new level. The built-in vibration system combined with the virtual 7.1 surround sound provide a different hearing sensation whether you are in-game or simply just enjoying your daily playlist. The audio driver further allows you to have different settings specifically to your own preferences. Along with the ergonomic design where the headband and earcup cushions are made with breathable materials, the microphone itself is also rotatable and delivers your ingame messages with clarity to your teammates. Last but not least, the LED lightings on both sides of the earcups offers a cool and stylish look for your ultimate gaming experience.” Contact: Adesso

Gigabyte Aorus K9 Gaming Keyboard Specs: Splashproof, modular switches, 100 million keystrokes, ultra-durable. “Forget about conventional mechanical switches. The optical Flaretech switch is faster and has a longer lifespan than traditional mechanical switches. Aorus has utilised this technology to craft a stylish, ultra-durable performance keyboard that works flawlessly regardless of scenario, with up to 100 million keystrokes using the optical switches.” Contact: Target Components

MIONIX Avior 7000 Gaming Mouse Specs: Ambidextrous design, optical sensor, 7000DPI resolution, 128kb built-in memory, store up to 5 profiles, customisable LED lighting system with up to 16.8 million colour options. “Whether you are a left-handed or right-handed gamer, the ambidextrous shaped Aviro 7000 gaming mouse from Mionix has been developed to give gamers astounding accuracy, smooth tracking and lightning fast power in their gaming battles. The Avior 7000 is packed with an array of features with in-built memory, spectacular LED lighting, nine fully programmable buttons and much more.” Contact: Meroncourt Europe

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Sector Guide Nitro Concepts S300-EX Chair Specs: High-quality gaming chair in Inferno Red, comfortable and breathable cold foam upholstery, individually adjustable ergonomics, two comfortable cushions included. “In the age of RGB-lit motherboards, graphics cards, mice, keyboards and monitors, a matching gaming chair was needed in order to complete the scene. The Nitro Concepts S300 EX is breaking new ground, combining optimum ergonomics with extravagant racing looks in bright colours. This symbiosis makes it the ideal gaming chair for lifestyleconscious gamers. The Inferno Red variant is coated in a durable PU leather coating, which is soft, high-end and extremely breathable. In combination with the porous cold foam upholstery, the S300 EX gaming chair offers a pleasant seated experience on warmer days. For every other day the deformation resistant cold foam provides a high degree of comfort even over long periods of time.” Contact: Caseking UK

Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E.2 Gaming Keyboard Specs: Built to withstand competitive gaming, 26-key special matrix including anti-ghosting, resistant to liquid spills and moisture, 9 variants of RGB lighting effects with modifiable speed/brightness built-in, 4 LED brightness levels, 12 built-in Windows functions. “Elegantly simple, yet built to withstand the rigors of professional gaming, the S.T.R.I.K.E.2 is precision-engineered to provide impressive durability. With a toughened aluminium faceplate designed to withstand the most heated of gaming sessions, the S.T.R.I.K.E.2 is created with a double-shot injection process, fusing the chassis together and creating a seamless and extremely durable keyboard, battle-ready and always maintaining a clean and minimalist appearance.” Contact: VIP UK

Blue Microphones Yeti Nano USB Mic Specs:48kHz sample rate, 24-bit rate, 2 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules, 20Hz - 20kHz frequency response, comes in red onyx, cubano gold, shadow grey and vivid blue. “Yeti Nano is a premium USB condenser microphone designed for PC gamers. Game streaming – whether that be through the communicative features in games themselves or live streaming games through Twitch, YouTube, or Mixer – is taking off in popularity. Inspired by the #1-selling Blue Yeti USB microphone, Yeti Nano features 24-bit sound quality, a compact design, and plug ’n play operation for instant streaming with your PC or Mac. With a no-latency headphone output and controls for headphone volume, mic mute and pickup pattern, Yeti Nano is the essential mic for today’s streamers.” Contact: Blue Microphones

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Sector Guide Marvo Scorpion G990 Programmable Gaming Mouse Specs: RGB lighting, high profile design, 8 DPI levels, 20 million clicks, heavy-duty buttons. “The Marvo Scorpion G990 mouse was developed to execute almost all game-relevant commands with the mouse. Spell or weapon selection can be done in seconds and accurately. Its 18 programmable buttons are great for MMO/MOBA arenas. With the high-performance Avago 9800 laser sensor including software and 6 weights, this powerhouse provides almost unlimited customisation options.” Contact: Target Components

QPAD QH-92 Gaming Headset Specs: Hi-Fi capable 53mm drivers, solid aluminium construction, closed cup for enhanced bass reproduction and minimal sound leakage, super-soft padded leather headband, detachable microphone, extra long cable, compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One or mobile devices. “For gaming you need unbeatable audio quality to guarantee that you hear every footstep approaching or door opening, and you will find that with the QH-92 which is the perfect headset of choice; with its hi-fi quality speaker driver’s delivering extreme audio performance. The QH-92 has been built for its durability and strength with a solid aluminium headband. Plus it includes a flexible microphone to ensure exceptional communication during intense gaming battles with your friends.” Contact: Meroncourt Europe

HANNspree HG324QJB 32” Curved 2K Gaming Monitor Specs: 31.5”, 1800R Curve, 2K QHD, HS-IPS, 2msec, 144Hz, AMD Radeon Free-Sync, 3,000:1, 2xHDMI + DisplayPort + Mini DP, flicker free, low blue light, ergonomic stand, multi-video modes. “Gamers can now enjoy the heady combination of stunning 2K, 3,000:1 high contrast, ultra-fast 144Hz refresh rate, 2ms response time, AMD Radeon Free-Sync and 178° wide viewing angles. Furthermore, this 27” gaming monitor looks fantastic and is practical too. The 1800R curved panel makes everything more engaging while a super narrow bezel design makes for seamless multi-display gaming arenas.” Martin Kent, Territory Manager, HANNspree UK Contact: Exertis, GNR Tech, Ingram Micro, Midwich, Westcoast

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Sector Guide

Razer Viper Gaming Mouse Specs: Up to 450 IPS, 1000Hz ultrapolling, Razer Optical Mouse Switches with 70 million clicks life cycle, Speedflex cable, gaming-grade tactile scroll wheel, 69g lightweight ambidextrous design, Razer Chroma lighting with 16.8 million customisable colour options. “Control the outcome of any battle with a gaming mouse that combines high precision, a cutting-edge lightweight body, and the fastest actuation in gaming. Meet the Razer Viper – featuring industry-leading mouse technology that’s designed with and tested by Team Razer athletes to deliver a mouse that’s bred to tear up the pro scene. Every click actuates at the speed of light. The Razer Optical Mouse Switch utilises an infrared light beam to register a click, resulting in an industry-leading response time of 0.2 milliseconds. Its instant actuation eliminates debounce and unintended clicks, giving complete control in execution. Engineered with 99.4% tracking accuracy and up to 16,000 DPI, the Razer 5G Optical Sensor offers deadly precision.” Contact: VIP UK

uRage Airborne Vibration Joystick Specs: Ergonomic design, optional dual vibration function, 12 programmable control keys, 8-way hat switch, USB-A plug, Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista, Mac OS X. “Sports, shooter, racing or simulation game – no matter what the genre, the uRage Airbourne Joystick will take you to where the action is at. Providing smoother, more realistic motions in comparison to a standard mouse or d-pad controller, the ergonomic easy-grip design, 12 programmable control keys, 8-way hat switch, thruster control and optional dual vibration feedback promote a hands-on gaming experience. A solid, hard-wearing control base for any heavy-duty gamer, the Airbourne’s robust rubber feet keep it firmly planted on any flat surface during play.” Contact: Hama UK

AOC C27G1 Monitor Specs: 27”, 144Hz refresh rate, 1 ms MPRT, VA Panel, Full HD, flicker free, AMD FreeSync, 3-sides frameless, adjustable stand. “The AOC C27G1 of the popular G1 series was designed for competitive and casual gamers. This display provides an immersive gaming experience thanks to its 1800R curvature, Full HD resolution with 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms MPRT. The 3-sides frameless design makes the AOC C27G1 the perfect fit for a multi-monitor battle station.” Contact: Tech Data, Exertis, VIP Computers

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Sector Guide Razer Kraken X 7.1 Headset Specs: 7.1 surround sound, ultra-light at 250g, bendable cardioid microphone, custom-tuned 40 mm drivers, on-headset controls, crossplatform compatibility. “Ultra-light comfort with crystal clear communication and accurate positional audio. The new Kraken X makes it possible to experience complete gaming immersion without feeling like you’re wearing a headset. Ultra-light at just 250g and ultra-immersive with 7.1 surround sound. Sit tight and play for hours – your gaming marathons are about to be a breeze. Equipped with 7.1 surround sound software so you can experience accurate positional audio when gaming – you’ll be able to pick up the direction of where the action is coming from so you’re ready to pounce into a gunfight. Featuring custom-tuned 40mm drivers, the Razer Kraken X produces clear and balanced sound from thundering explosions in all-out wars to subtle footsteps in stealthy covert operations.” Contact: VIP UK

Adesso iMouse X3 Specs: Programmable driver, adjustable weight, multi-color LED backlight, adjustable DPI, gaming grade optical sensor, forward and back buttons, micro-switch. “The Adesso iMouse X3 Multi-Color 9-Button Programmable Gaming Mouse fulfills your ergonomic needs and provides top gaming grade specifications for your ultimate gaming experience. The mouse itself is equipped with 9 buttons, each fully programmable with the user friendly programmable driver. It also has an adjustable weight system where users can remove different weight blocks tailored to their most comfortable level. Together with the programmable driver, the LED lights provide lighting in dark environments and different lighting effects.” Contact: Adesso

Acer Predator XN3 Gaming Monitor Specs: NVIDIA G-SYNC, 24.5” FHD (1920x1080) gaming monitor, 144Hz refresh rate, quick 1ms response time, zero frame design. “Make frame tears and blur a thing of the past with a refresh rate revving up to 240Hz and a response time of 1ms. With an NVIDIA G-SYNC display, you’ll play at the peak of tear-free gaming – which syncs up in a way that few other technologies can rival. Full HD 1080p – the same resolution the pros use. Now this speed-infused display is yours, strapped atop its two-armed, fully ergonomic stand.” Contact: Acer

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Sector Guide

Philips Momentum Monitor Specs: 31.5”, 60Hz refresh rate, 4ms GtG, MVA panel, 4K UHD, flicker free, supports 1.07 billion colours. “Momentum 4K UHD display with Ambiglow enables console gamers to experience a new level of immersion. Adaptive-sync and low input lag make fast action games look flawless. VESA-certified DisplayHDR 600 and Ultra Wide-Colour range provide a dramatically different visual experience, delivering an image quality that will truly get you in the moment.” Contact: Tech Data, Midwich, Exertis, VIP Computers

Endgame Gear XM1 Esports Gaming Mouse Specs: Omron switches, Pixart PMW3389 high end optical sensor, low-friction glides, lightweight, all grip types, right-handed. “The new kid on the block for gaming peripherals, Endgame Gear has set the cat among the pigeons with their first XM1 Gaming Mouse. Designed in Germany, it has both a sleek and minimalist look while being packed with fantastic technology such as the cutting edge PMW3389 sensor from Pixart, and preselected (for 1ms response), durable mechanical Omron switches. In order to keep the Endgame Gear XM1 as light as possible, it limits itself to just the most important buttons and avoids any unnecessary RGB-LED lighting. The XM1, developed for use in tournaments, makes for the perfect gaming mouse for pro gamers needing maximum focus and precision and performance over extended periods of time.” Contact: Caseking UK

AVerMedia Live Streamer Starter Kit Specs: Live Gamer Mini 1080p capture box, Live Streamer Cam 313 1080p webcam, USB condenser microphone. “One box with all you need to start streaming gameplay and creating your own YouTube or Twitch channel. The Live Streamer Starter Kit features AverMedia’s Live Gamer Mini 1080p capture box with hardware encoding and Rec4 streaming software, AverMedia’s Live Streamer Cam 313 1080p USB webcam with 2 built-in microphones, and AVerMedia’s USB Condenser Microphone AM310 for a greatvalue, professional all-in-one setup to create your home studio.” Contact: Target Components

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Sector Guide TP-Link Archer C5400X Gaming Router Specs: 1.8GHz quad-core CPU and three coprocessors, 1x GE WAN, 8x GE LAN, 2x USB3.0, LED panel. “The Archer C5400X is TP-Link’s first Gaming router and is designed to power the performance demanded from high-end gaming rigs. It operates over three Wi-Fi bands with fast speeds of 5334 Mbps to enable seamless gaming, making it easier to streamline networks and help users to stay competitive during in-play experiences.” Contact: Exertis, CMS Distribution, Tech Data, Spire Technology

uRage Illumination 2-in-1 Starter Kit Specs: Includes gaming keyboard and mouse, LED illumination, ergonomic design, USB-A connection. Mouse: 3000dpi optical sensor, adjustable dpi, Teflon feet, 7 fast-response buttons, 6 custom-assignable buttons, 2m cable. Keyboard: Fast-response keys, anti-ghosting, integrated wrist rest. “The visually captivating LED display of the uRage Illumination 2-in-1 Starter Kit is sure to cast a light on any late-night gaming sessions, featuring an ergonomic mouse and keyboard duo complete with night vision gaming mode. Manufactured to the specifications of the modern gamer, the illumination mouse features one-touch adjustable dpi up to 3000 for high optical precision and ultra-fast in game reaction speeds. Teflon feet promote smooth, fluid movements, whilst 7 fast-response keys and 6 custom-assignable keys permit complete control uniquely tailored to the user. Equally exceptional in performance, each high-durability key of the illumination keyboard can be simultaneously lit-up on command in one of four illumination modes.” Contact: Hama UK

Acer Nitro Mouse NMW810 Specs: USB, 1.50m cable, 4000 dpi, 8 buttons, 6 colour backlight LED. “Maximise your gameplay by making use of eight buttons – one of which is Burst Fire – allowing you to shoot in quick succession three times with a single click. Adapt the mouse further with up to 20g of additional weight (4 x 5g each). Match the mouse’s speed to your preference via six adjustable DPI levels. Each DPI level also adds a little “flare” by alternating the LED colours as you move up each stage.” Contact: Acer

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Interview

“We’re spending a lot of time understanding our users better so we can enhance the gamer experience”

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Interview

LIFE IN THE CHANNEL

Netgear’s Max Wu The Nighthawk Pro Gaming Product Line Manager discusses why it’s important that gamers are aware of the many benefits of gaming routers, and NETGEAR’s plans for taking advantage of the next-gen Wi-Fi 6 standard... Tell us about your career in the industry and your current role at NETGEAR I have been in the retail networking industry for over ten years. I previously worked for multiple name brand networking companies in the past, and my current role is as the product line manager of Nighthawk Pro Gaming (NPG) at NETGEAR. What is your team focused on at the moment? We are spending a lot of time trying to understand our users better, through surveys, reviews and direct feedback, and we are focusing on using this data to deliver brand-new software features to enhance the gamers experience.  Our team has discovered that many gamers are not aware of the benefits of gaming routers, so we are focusing on the ecosystem partnership with different gaming brands to create more educational content and brand awareness together for the NPG product line. 

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For example, there is a misconception that plugging directly into your modem or gateway will always give you the best connection. While wired connections are generally recommended due to the reduction of environmental EM interference, we recommend you plug into the back of your XR router, and keep the router connected to your modem.  The router has an advanced software package you can’t get anywhere else on the market, called DumaOS. Tied into the powerful hardware of the router, this combination of hardware and software gives you the ability to prioritise your gaming traffic with more precision than previously available to gamers, thanks to its comprehensive and easy-to-use software interface. You can get up to an 84% reduction of ping, which is incredible news for gamers, especially for online play.   NETGEAR recently released the Nighthawk Pro Gaming Mesh Wi-Fi system. Can you tell us about the system’s benefits for gamers?

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Interview

Gateways and wireless routers are often placed out of the way in a corner of the living room or the hallway, which usually isn’t in close proximity to a games console or PC. Very few homes in the UK have ethernet cabling installed so the vast majority of gaming is done over a wireless connection. Longer distances will lead to increased latency and slower download speeds, made worse when additional devices are being used at the same time and competing for bandwidth. With XRM570 comprising a package that contains both the powerful Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 router, which has a dual-core 1.7GHz processor, and EX7700 mesh extender, the user will get the best possible wireless performance even over

built-in VPN too for added privacy, and we’ve expanded the number of available channels in the 5GHz spectrum. How important in the gaming sector to NETGEAR? Gaming is definitely a big category at NETGEAR, we have formed a separate team to focus solely on the gaming product line, and we will be continuing to invest and focus on delivering the best-in-class gaming hardware and software in the future.  When we launched in January of 2018, we had just two great products, the XR500 router and SX-10 switch. Now, we have a router for wherever you are in your gaming journey, from just starting out to outfitting an esports pro team house. We

“We are here to provide the hardware and software that eliminates the headaches of lag and latency issues and not just keeps you in the game, but gives you an advantage” long distances. It’s also very easy to set up a wireless mesh with XRM570, as the two devices come pre paired out of the box. Unlike many competing routers, the DumaOS software installed on the XR500 router offers a comprehensive set of network management tools that gives gamers full control over their network, which as mentioned above, are easy to use thanks to a clear and concise interface.  One example is the advanced quality-of-service (QoS) system that makes it simple to set up prioritisation rules on your network so no single device can consume all the available bandwidth over a shared internet connection, which would otherwise add latency in online games.  We’ve also added a geo-filtering feature to reduce latency, which ensures connections to games servers that are located geographically closer. There’s a

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have expanded to create a mesh system for gamers that gives you the best experience anywhere in your home. As gaming is more dependent on online connections and cloud computing, we are here to provide the hardware and software that eliminates the headaches of lag and latency issues and not just keeps you in the game, but gives you an advantage. What’s next for NETGEAR’s gaming-focused portfolio? We have plans to take further advantage of the nextgeneration Wi-Fi 6 standard, and are working hard to continue delivering improved gaming features and new software. We will of course also continue to listen to our customers carefully and deliver our next NPG product with the right features spec that will improve and enhance real-world gaming experiences.

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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry

<Synaxon helps Harry’s Rainbow reach its pot of gold > Channel services group Synaxon UK recently raised more than £2,000 for the Harry’s Rainbow charity at its recent annual member conference. When donations from members and supplier partners attending the event were added to the €1,000 given to the charity by Synaxon itself, the total came to £2,005. The money was raised through donations made and pledged at the Gala Dinner and awards ceremony, which was sponsored by Ingram Micro. The distributor is one of Synaxon UK’s key partners and adopted Harry’s Rainbow as its Charity of the Year for 2019 and 2020. The Milton Keynes-based charity supports children who have been bereaved of a parent or sibling. It provides information and guidance, activities and trips, as well as access to support groups and individual tailored support. Mike Barron, channel director of Synaxon UK, said: “We were delighted to be approached by Ingram Micro to see if we could raise some money for Harry’s Rainbow. It’s such a great cause and one that is often overlooked. Our members dug deep and we raised a fantastic amount on the night.” Odette Mould, CEO and family liaison officer at Harry’s Rainbow, added: “We’re tremendously grateful to everyone at Synaxon UK and Ingram Micro for giving us the opportunity to raise awareness about Harry’s Rainbow, and we’re thrilled that they managed to raise so much on the night. Every donation counts and makes a real difference for the children we support.” More information about Harry’s Rainbow is available at www.harrysrainbow.co.uk

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Harry’s Rainbow CEO Odette Mould receiving a cheque for €1,000 from Synaxon UK channel director Mike Barron

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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry

<Biggest tech news from… September 2011> Now you’re up-to-date with the latest issues in tech retail, let’s take a trip down memory lane to some interesting stories from yesteryear… Amazon Kindle Fire revealed

British researchers invent lithium jelly battery

In September 2011, more information about Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet came to light in a news conference held in New York. The tablet was reported to have a seven-inch display and, as expected, would run a customised version of Google’s Android software. However, the most intriguing news was that the price tag would be a very competitive $199 – less than half the price of Apple’s entry level iPad – priced at $499 at the time.

University of Leeds researchers invented a new type of polymer gel back in 2011 that could be used to produce cheaper lithium batteries that were safer than the current lithium batteries at the time. The technology was developed by Ian Ward and had already been licensed to an American battery company for commercialisation in portable electronics. The gel material was aimed at replacing liquid electrolytes in rechargeable lithium cells, offering the added benefit that no internal separator was necessary.

2011 tablet sales surge, says analyst Speaking of tablets, in 2011 sales of the devices were predicted to surge to 51.9 million units, according to a report from JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz. Apple fan site AppleInsider gleefully reported Moskowitz as saying that Apple “continues to dominate and enjoy the lion’s share of the tablet market” and that a true iPad rival may not emerge until Windows 8. JP Morgan revised their tablet sales forecast from 46.1 million to 51.9 million in 2011 but lowered the forecast for 2012 from 76.3 million to 72.4 million due to the slow start to iPad tablet competition. At the time, Moskowitz described the expected Amazon Android-based tablet as no more than “interesting”.

Facebook redesigns site with Timeline Remember when Facebook didn’t have an endless scrolling timeline? No, we don’t either. But apparently, around eight years ago the social media platform introduced a major overhaul, incorporating a new way of viewing shared information. CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the new Timeline system as “the heart of your Facebook experience completely rethought from the ground up.” The Timeline replaced the standard profile and was likened to an online scrapbook filled with the most important shared content from each user, focusing on recent activities and shifting those to a summary as they became older.

Send stories to Laura Barnes at laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk

NEXT MONTH Smart Home In the next issue of PCR we will be covering all things “smart”, from IoT and smart home products to the latest smartphone developments. As well as speaking to experts in these fields to find out how the smart tech landscape is evolving, we will also be rounding up the latest smart home and smartphone accessories on the market in our sector guides. If you would like to get involved in the October issue, get in touch via the email above.

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