PC Perspective's Best Hardware of 2012
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.
Best CPU of 2012
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.
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.
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
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.
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.