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PC Perspective's Best Hardware of 2012

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Various

CPU, Motherboard, GPU

If you want to take yourself seriously in the business, you HAVE to have an award show.  PC Perspective is no different and this week we held the first annual "Best Hardware of the Year" edition of the PC Perspective Podcast in which we discussed, debated and selected the best hardware components and trends of the past 12 months.  Sometimes we even went into 2011 and sometimes we were talking about the future...don't worry it will all make sense.

If you want to get the full experience of HOW we selected these products you should definitely check out episode #232 of the PC Perspective Podcast or just watch the video embedded right below. Watch as our editors throw each other under the bus as we collectively declare winners and runners up. We did not have nearly enough Christmas cheer to come to solid conclusions in every category, but we did our best. Next year, next year...

The categories we will award "Best Of" accolades on include CPU, Motherboard, GPU, Storage, Case, Price Drop and Upcoming Technology.  We left some things out like power supplies, coolers, etc simply due to time but perhaps if there is demand we can address it for 2013.  Each of the winners will be given our "Editor's Choice" award regardless of what award it may or may not have received from us before hand, or even if it was reviewed officially at all. 

It is also important to note that these are awards are not simply for the best performing or the best price/performance products in the category.  As ambiguous as it sounds, we wanted to try to find the "best" in whatever way that means.  Cost, performance, marketability, effect on the ecosystem, etc.  For a full break down of what our thought process was the best place to start is that video link above.

Continue reading our selection for the Best Hardware of 2012!!

 

Best CPU of 2012

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Winner: Intel Core i7-3770K

Runners up: Intel Core i5-3570K, AMD A10-5800K

When it came to picking the "best" processor for 2012 we had a lot of thoughts to discuss including the APUs from AMD with the better integrated graphics, the obviously better x86 performance of the Ivy Bridge design and even the overall continued performance lead of the Sandy Bridge-E CPUs.  In the end though our thought was that $329 Intel Core i7-3770K was just too overpowering for the performance of the A10 part in the CPU side and that it was surprisingly close to the performance of the SNB-E line while running less than half the total price. 

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Best Motherboard of 2012

Winner: Too hard to choose!

Runners up: MSI Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt, ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe, Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4

Okay, we kind of copped out on this one; picking a single best motherboard of the year was harder to do than we thought.  The truth of the matter is that despite the advances that companies like ASUS have done on the software and design side, AND despite things like the lower cost Thunderbolt implementations of the G45 Thunderbolt from MSI (quick video overview posted here) AND despite my love for mini-ITX solutions, nothing stood out from the crowd to us. 

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In fact, the drop off in performance and feature changes from Intel's chipset team has really been a let down for the enthusiast community in general and only the A85 chipset from AMD has shown advancement.  But even in that case, no one motherboard has impressed to take home the 2012 award. 

 

Best GPU of 2012

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Winner: AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB

Runner up: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB

If you want talk about the closest match up in the awards, this would be the one.  While I had originally included cards like the GTX 660 Ti and the HD 7870 since they were big sellers, our staff quickly settled on these two options for our possible winner.  Both had great points in there favor.  NVIDIA had the best performing part of the majority of the year, they had new features like GPU Boost, they have the most power efficient design.  But AMD has equal performance (after driver updates), better game bundles and more importantly, a continuous effort through the year to improve performance, pricing and game support.

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Even though the Radeon HD 7970 started out selling for $599 in January, you can get one today for $379, a full $80 less than the GTX 680.  (Note: a single GTX 680 did go on sale today for $399!)  And while you could argue that the HD 7970 was overpriced when it was released, and that it took NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs to push AMD to move at all, the fact is that today the AMD card is likely the better value. 

December 28, 2012 | 06:54 AM - Posted by Kill Switch

As always, a blast to watch. Hopefully it's the first of many "Editor's Choice" award shows.

December 28, 2012 | 12:14 PM - Posted by Nilbog

I was really looking forward to that discussion about makeup... damn : /

Future suggestion for next year.

Most powerful processor (raw performance)

Most power efficient x86 CPU (self explanatory)

Best performance per watt

Best processor of the year (taking all this into account)

Same categories for GPUs

Mobile parts should be a separate category, because mobile cant compete with raw performance, and desktops cant compete with low power consumption.
Just a thought

EDIT: More suggestions.

Most over engineered GPU OEM and Reference(eg: 690[reference] MARS, Lightning, DirectCU, etc, etc, etc [OEM]) Not sure if i got the terms correct but i think you get what i mean.

December 28, 2012 | 04:22 PM - Posted by Hood

I have to disagree with your picking the 7970 as card of the year. As far as I can tell by extensive reading of reviews, the Radeon card uses more power, runs hotter (and louder), and
you're forced to use their buggy drivers and CatalystControlCenter, the crashingest program I ever had the misfortune to install on any system ever (several different versions - all were worthless).
Maybe by now their software has improved, but they still run too hot and noisy.

December 29, 2012 | 09:47 PM - Posted by ToiT (not verified)

Having used both cards, I wouldn't exactly put Nvidia on the pedestal. They've had a lot of buggy driver issues, especially with the 680 line. I'd agree with the noise/heat, but that's only when pushing the cards imo. Also there's the whole service attack vulnerability issue w/Nividia... when's the last time you've ever heard of something that bad for the Red team?
That being said, my main box still runs a 680 :)

December 31, 2012 | 06:51 AM - Posted by Computer Ed (not verified)

I have to agree with Hood. Using a short term game bundle as a point for the best GPU of the year makes no sense. The award is supposed to be about the GPU and what it brought not about the game bundle. As for better game support, have you looked at AMDs page for game support, I am curious how often they offer advice for making games work better on their cards, now compare nVidia's site. Also Geforce Experience has finally started in beta and looks like a great way to help all levels of gamers enjoy their video cards more.

However this was supposed to be about the best hardware and reading you own post it sounds like the GTX 600 series was the best "hardware".

January 1, 2013 | 02:20 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

It was a tough call, but it wasn't "best silicon" it was best graphics card, which is more than just horsepower.  

January 7, 2013 | 01:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If your implying that nvidia drivers are that much better then AMD drivers.... I dunno.. My GTX 670 has a habit of white screening my computer while playing battlefield 3, forcing me to turn it off. I've updated my drivers and it still shows up. I find it incredibly annoying

December 28, 2012 | 04:31 PM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

This would have been my motherboard pick: http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4279#ov

December 28, 2012 | 07:54 PM - Posted by krillin (not verified)

I think there should have been a cooling category. Just one choice for any product line from frozors to case to cpu cooler. It would be nice to see how keeping it cool versus noise would weigh in.

January 1, 2013 | 01:02 PM - Posted by Hood

Good point, krillin - cooling and temp monitoring are more important than ever these days now that overclocking is "obligatory". I spend a lot of time doing research to figure out how to keep hardware cool while wringing maximum performance from it -it's a constant battle that you can't afford to ignore.

January 1, 2013 | 02:21 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I tried to keep the categories sane and in fields where I felt we had a good grasp of all the major competitors.  There were a TON of coolers that I haven't used yet...

January 1, 2013 | 06:58 PM - Posted by Mark Harry (not verified)

That i7-920 reference was hilarious, that's what I'm running and like my Windows 7, I see no reason to upgrade any time soon. Besides neither of my kids deserve my computer as a hand me down.

January 3, 2013 | 09:45 PM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

Ooooooohhhh burn

January 3, 2013 | 11:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The 7970 is easily the winner in almost every aspect, nvidia totally dropped the ball with the 6 series this round, nvidia seem to be having massive driver problems

https://forums.geforce.com/default/board/34/geforce-600-series/

VS

http://forums.amd.com/game/categorie...454&entercat=y

Last year nvidia cards were burning with drivers and The shear problems nvidia are having this year kept me and many of my friends away from going anywhere near nvidia.

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