An exclusive look at the prototype of the wild gaming laptop from Intel

If I am honest, I think of the expression "Honeycomb Glacier" an icy dessert with a crunchy bee product on top, no PC with concept gaming.

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But while I'm in a semi-secret lab deep in Intel & # 39; s headquarters in Santa Clara, I can't help but think that this is the most compelling argument ever made for a cool two-screen laptop.

You may know that chip makers like Intel don't just processors produce – they spend a lot of money building new markets those chips by calculating what people want in their next computer and working with PC manufacturers to realize those new functions. Sometimes they build complete sample PCs for the industry to crib, as we saw firsthand when Intel's dual-screen Tiger Rapids prototype became the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 last year.

For 2019, Intel is building something more solid than that small notebook of a PC. Intel & # 39; s Honeycomb Glacier is an attempt to bring two screens to the gaming audience – a 15.6-inch 1080p primary panel and a 12.3-inch 1920 x 720 secondary screen – in a way that compliments rather than distract from their games.

At least twice in the last decade, Intel has realized that secondary screens offer an opportunity. It was a famous partner of Razer to build it original prototype of the Switchblade who stole the show at CES 2011, as well as the first Razer Blade laptop that fits a full screen on the touchpad of the machine.

But where almost every laptop with a secondary screen you need to use your keyboard – even the flashy new Asus ZenBook Pro Duo and HP Omen X 2S that had just been announced on Computex – the Honeycomb Glacier lifts both screens up in the air a unique double hinge.

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Intel is so proud of this hinge that we can't take photos or videos or the internal mechanism, but it works like this: when you lift the screen, it automatically stays upright in any desired position angle thanks to a mechanical one-way roller clutch, and you press a small black button on the left to release that clutch if you want to fold it down.


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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Intel also benefits from the extra real estate below the hinge to fit in a purpose built cooling mechanism that draws enough extra air over the specially shaped and laid out motherboard to cool down worth up to 195 watts of components using a single fan. That is enough room to possibly fit some of the most powerful gaming laptop parts into a relatively thin chassis. Although this prototype now only rocks a 45-watt 8-core Intel CPU and Nvidia GeForce 1060 graphics, because that's what Intel was up to, they have now overclocked to 60 watts and 95 watts respectively.

And since that second hinge is almost at eye level, Intel has also added a Tobii eye-tracking camera that can tie the entire package together. Where Tobii is often seen as a gimmick to control the strange game or used by e-sports players to follow their gaze during a competition (and possibly learning from their mistakes), the eye-tracking cameras can allow you to focus directly on the laptop's secondary screen, allowing you to theoretically engage, chat and engage your Twitch audience with your friends on Discord or even your own workers on Slack without alt-tabbing away from your game. Mind you, the software feels super early and has a few bugs, but can be simple look in a chat window and immediately start typing feels like the future.

Honestly, & # 39; is super early & # 39; a bit of a theme with the Honeycomb glacier. It's not just a prototype, it's a prototype that uses standard components, including a secondary screen from the automotive world – since Intel couldn't justify buying a custom screen for a computer that might never exist. Intel & # 39; s technicians freely indicate that they themselves are not fans of the buttonless trackpad or the large edges around that secondary screen, and they do not seem surprised when I am having trouble dragging an Adobe Premiere timeline on the secondary screen or when I come across stuttering and glitches.

Two mockups from the Honeycomb Glacier show the material progress
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge and Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

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But right next to my job, the Honeycomb Glacier prototype is a much slimmer, non-functional model that indicates what the device could be really it seems that a manufacturer has decided to make it real.

This is the rare prototype PC that feels like more than the sum of its parts, where almost all the pieces find it necessary to build dual-screen laptops that really make sense. And when I ask Intel & # 39; s PC Innovation Leaders if they are one that actually gets it from the labs, they have an optimistic answer. Although they admit that it is quite possible that manufacturers will only carve pieces of design, as Asus did with the ZenBook Pro Duo, they say they have not built a prototype that was so desirable, generated so much interest from PC manufacturers in years. .

It wouldn't be the first time: Intel & # 39; s Murali Veeramoney says that when Intel came up with the Ultrabook, one of the first such laptops was effectively designed entirely by his team – a PC manufacturer saw the value and jumped on the idea .

We will have to wait.

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