Over the course of a year, we test a lot of tech products, from laptops through tablets to mobiles, along with a range of other hardware from routers to external hard disks, and of course an abundance of software from office suites to security utilities.
And every year, products make improvements on the previous year’s offerings, both in terms of quality and value. Indeed, many product categories have a number of excellent offerings among their ranks – but sometimes you want things really narrowed down. Sometimes, you want to know the winner among the winners – and that’s what this series of articles is all about.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running articles on each major product category, highlighting the top product for 2013 across all the main sub-categories within.
Today, we’re looking at the best peripherals and components, and we’ll pick out the top performers in terms of the best keyboard, mouse, monitor, graphics card and CPU.
Each product mentioned is the top of its class for 2013, and as such comes with an unreserved recommendation.
So, which is the best video card, and can Microsoft dominate the mouse and keyboard arena? Read on and find out… and stay tuned for many more top products of 2013 in the coming days as we run up to Christmas.
Best keyboard: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop (£57)
The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop combines an excellent ergonomic layout with Windows 8 features to power-up your regular PC use in addition to making it more comfortable. Throw in the simplicity of wireless and a distinctive stylish design, and this is one of the best ergonomic keyboards we've ever seen—Brian Westover.
Best mouse: Corsair Vengeance M65 (£49)
The Corsair Vengeance M65 might be made for gaming, but with its contoured aluminium construction, adjustable 8200 DPI tracking, and rock solid design, it's also one of the best mice full-stop. Buy it whether you're gearing up for hours of first-person shooter gaming, or you just want a well-built mouse for work and play—BW.
Best monitor: Acer B296CL (£405)
If you're tired of dealing with the clutter of multiple monitors and their associated cables and power bricks, the time is right to upgrade to an ultra-wide monitor such as the Acer B296CL. It's a reasonably priced 29in ultra-wide display offering a generous selection of ports, solid IPS colour performance, and an ergonomic stand. The panel loses some luminance when viewed from an extreme vertical angle, and the B296CL does not have an auto-rotate feature, but these are relatively trivial issues in the context of what you’re getting for your money here—Laarni Almendrala Ragaza.
Best processor: Intel Core i7-4770K (£245)
The quad-core Intel Core i7-4770K is the company's new top-end chip based on its Haswell microarchitecture, and its second processor built on the 22nm process node. It's a 3.5GHz chip with a 3.9GHz Turbo speed and formal support for up to DDR3-1600. The CPU includes a number of new capabilities and enhancements, and it’s a notable step forward in CPU efficiency—LAR.
Best video card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti (£550)
Back at the beginning of the year, Nvidia launched its mighty GTX Titan graphics card, a video board with breath-taking performance – but an equally breath-taking price tag at £830. AMD has struck back hard at Nvidia recently, though, and the GTX 780 Ti is the latest response from Team Green. This video card is faster than the standard 780, and indeed it even beats the Titan – and it’s priced around the £550 mark. That makes the GTX 780 Ti the performance card of choice for 2013.