What’s next for the UK system build sector?

We look at the trends and developments set to change the system build market.

Over the past few months we’ve witnessed some of the most important developments in PC gaming.

The biggest change this year has arguably been the launch of Windows 10 in late July, and with it DirectX 12, a graphics API that drastically improves performance in games. Microsoft now sees a bright future for PC gaming, having announced more major new games for the platform (Halo Wars 2, and Fable Legends to name a few) as well as integration with Xbox.

We’ve also seen the launch of Intel’s new ‘Skylake’ 14nm Core processors accompanied by a range of compatible motherboards.

Nvidia and AMD have of course been fiercely battling it out this year too. Nvidia has released the GeForce GTX 980Ti, G-Sync laptops and 4K, VR and DX12-ready BattleBox PC systems, while AMD has launched its 300-Series graphics cards including the powerful Fury, Fury X and smaller Fury Nano.

John Medley, sales and marketing manager at PC Specialist, says these new technologies can help grow system sales – and PC gaming overall.

“There are a number of great features included in Windows 10, but we feel the addition of the Xbox App could be a game changer and help encourage ‘console gamers’ to make the leap of faith to PC gaming as they have a familiar platform to use,” he tells PCR.

Chillblast’s sales director Ben Miles echoes Medley’s view. “Gaming is a massive part of our business and remains a focus area – it’s a growing market with a growing ASP,” he adds. “Windows 10 can only be a positive influence on PC gaming, with Microsoft hugely increasing its focus on this sector.” 

There are several big changes around the corner. Intel has delayed its 10nm ‘Cannonlake’ processors from 2016 to 2017. This means Intel will release a refined version of ‘Skylake’, another 14nm CPU codenamed ‘Kaby Lake’ – something for system builders to bear in mind.

Intel is also working on new 3D XPoint memory with Micron, which promises to be a new class of non-volatile memory, up to 1,000 times faster than NAND. The pair hope it will power 8K gaming in the future. The ideal graphics system of the future could even support 16K. While this is exciting, AMD’s gaming scientist Richard Huddy says it’s still some time away.

“We have a good future, and will 8K be in there? Yeah, absolutely it will,” he explains. “And I think when we get to 16K we’ll finally say: ‘Okay, that’s a done deal. We’ve done everything that the human visual system needs for folks with 20/20 vision.’ But we’ve got a way to go before we’re ready to genuinely supply that. For the last 20 years I’ve been giving talks about photo rendering and saying it’s about ten years away. 

“But now I can actually nail it down and say we should be able to hit that in 12 years’ time on a VR system at 16K. Comprise some small amount and take it down to 4K or 8K, and it’s clear that photo-real rendering is actually something that’s around five years away.”

There are other innovative developments emerging right now. The ASUS ROG In-Win H-Tower – a PC case that opens up by itself at the touch of a button – delighted visitors at Computex this year. 

More gaming-focused system builders like Overclockers UK and Utopia Computers are turning to B2B workstations as an alternative source of revenue, and big vendors are turning their heads to gaming (Alienware has its own Steam Machine, and Acer will launch its Predator G6-710 PC later this month).

Chillblast’s Ben Miles concludes: “We expect PC gaming to continue to grow, with new advances in GPUs and exciting new GPU streaming tech being at the forefront of this. We also expect availability of new hardware to improve, which will open up further opportunities.”

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Gaming is also running throughout September – click here for more articles

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