It's the end of the year, and that means that it's time to look back on the last 12 very strange months and see what positives we can pull out with Tom's Hardware's Best of 2021.
While AMD has been making huge advances in processors, Intel was falling behind. This year, however, the company came back strong in its newest offering - the Intel Alder Lake lineup. These new processors created two channels of cores - high performance and high efficiency. This allowed low-intensity tasks to be routed to the high-efficiency cores, while high-demand tasks got routed to performance cores. The end result is a processor that uses less electricity, creates less heat, and performs better in all scenarios. We went into more depth in Episode 273 when they premiered.
2021 was a rough year for video cards, as manufacturing and supply chain issues made it nearly impossible to get ahold of (though we have recommendations in Episode 256 and Episode 276). But, one of the shining stars has been the Nvidia RTX 3060 12GB. This massively powerful graphics card came in at an impressive MSRP of only $329 (when you can get it at all). For that price you got a ton of GDDR6 RAM and is more powerful than the last generation's next level card (RTX 2070).
There are always a lot of new monitors, but none stood out quite like the MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD. This 32" monitor uses quantum dot technology to produce an impressive picture. In fact, in Tom's Hardware tests, the monitor produced 117 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut, while also managing to be over 600 nits of brightness. If you have followed our screen conversation in the past, you know that a bright and colorful screen can be a hard ask, but MSI does it. And, the company has made the monitor available on sales throughout the season for as low as $799.
Avram is nothing if not picky about his keyboards. He once detailed his search for the perfect laptop, comparing different units of the same laptop model that all had different keyboard hardware. So, for the Akko 3098B to win Best of 2021, you know it's going to be a killer keyboard. He showed it off briefly in a recent episode while he was in the middle of his product review, and has really taken to it. The keycaps are comfortable and the hot-swappable switches make this a favorite. It can be used wired or wireless, over RF or Bluetooth. When used with Bluetooth, you can pair multiple devices to it at once and switch between them in less than a second.
Of course, there are a lot more categories,and Avram details them in this episode. They include the Best Mouse (Razer Basilisk V3), Best Raspberry Pi Product (Raspberry Pi Pico), and Best Webcam (Dell Ultrasharp Webcam). Together they represent the very best that the year 2021 has had to offer in the PC component and peripheral space.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.