The Full Nerd awards: Our favorite PC hardware of 2023

In this yearly penultimate episode of The Full Nerd, Gordon Ung, Brad Chacos, Alaina Yee, and Adam Patrick Murray slipped on their boxing gloves to verbally brawl over what gear moved the needle for the PC in 2023. Performance? Value? Raw availability? Everyone might solely agree on one level: The lack of worth in graphics playing cards continues to be an enormous bummer.

Everyone has their very own definition of what “greatest” means, however every participant introduced his or her personal picks for one of the best PC hardware and software program of 2023 earlier than all of us hashed out a single winner in every class. It’s not at all times straightforward; the controversy over one of the best CPU of 2023 took almost an hour all by itself. I can’t even think about what Oscars voters undergo!

We trimmed down the checklist a bit this yr so Gordon might be part of us. Note that this checklist is separate from PCWorld’s wider greatest PC hardware and software program of 2023 and greatest earn a living from home tech of 2023; this checklist is the opinion of our Full Nerd crew solely. Peep the classes beneath, the complete episode beneath that, and a short description of winners afterwards if you’d like the outcomes with out all of The Full Nerd gang’s screaming and hand-wringing.

Best CPU

Best GPU

Best PC accent

Best innovation

Worst development

…avert your eyes should you don’t need the spoilers (and winners!) lurking beneath!

Best CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D

This was a hotly contested battle between a trio of main contenders: AMD’s ferocious 16-core, V-Cache-infused Ryzen 9 7950X3D, its smaller (but nonetheless fantastic) Ryzen 7 7800X3D sibling, and the AMD Z1 Extreme chip powering a wave of handhelds just like the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go.

It took almost an hour of passionate debate earlier than we settled on a victor, and even then, there was nonetheless lots of grumbling. But in the long run, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D’s mixture of a dual-chip, 16-core design and 3D V-Cache on one of these dies permits a real no-compromises work-and-play expertise not like some other. The Ryzen 7 7800X3D is a greater worth for most individuals, positive, however no different chip pulls off what the Ryzen 9 7950X3D accomplishes.

Best GPU: AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT

For chips, it’s a clear sweep for AMD! In a bizarre yr and a bizarre technology for graphics playing cards — one so unorthodox that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 was thought-about for this honor for an unprecedented second yr — solely the Radeon RX 7800 XT emerged as a standout. It’s the one true worthwhile 1440p graphics card of this technology after Nvidia fumbled the RTX 4060-series design and RTX 4070’s worth. The Radeon RX 7800 XT is far quicker than its equally priced RTX 4060 Ti rivals and even manages to typically outpunch the RTX 4070, which prices $100 extra. Its ray tracing is fairly darn good too, rivaling the RTX 3080. It’s the clear winner.

Best accent: Corsair Xeneon Flex

Valve’s modest, but game-changing Steam Deck swept our Full Nerd awards final yr, so in 2023, we wished to crown an OLED monitor for the reason that ultra-luscious panel know-how has exploded in availability over the previous two years. The Xeneon Flex isn’t the most cost effective OLED round at $1,500-plus, however Corsair’ large, bendable, mind-blowing monitor was simply one of the best we’ve examined in 2023, incomes itself a victory right here. An excerpt from my Xeneon Flex evaluate:

The Corsair Xeneon Flex 45WQHD240 immerses you in ways in which tangibly elevate the PC gaming expertise. I’ve by no means performed on a monitor that made me really feel really inside recreation worlds the best way this one does. Its delectable mixture of blisteringly-fast speeds, elite movement readability, sterling picture high quality, excellent blacks, and plush HDR will make your jaw drop, particularly enveloped throughout the custom-tuned curvature of its uniquely bendable show. The connectivity is top-notch, too.

When it involves multimedia, this monitor oozes excellence. The Corsair Xeneon Flex is one of the perfect gaming screens we’ve ever seen, full cease.

Best innovation: Frore AirJet

We noticed one of the best innovation of 2023 proper because the yr started, witnessing Frore Systems’ radical solid-state AirJet PC cooling at CES in January. Adam noticed it probably the most all year long, and right here’s how he summed AirJet up in our PCWorld Best Of 2023 Awards:

When we first noticed Frore Systems’ stable state lively cooling module at CES, referred to as AirJet Mini and AirJet Pro, we knew that this had an opportunity to actually revolutionize cooling in electronics. Without getting too deep into the specifics of the way it works, know that the AirJet makes use of MEMS know-how, is way thinner than a conventional fan present in one thing like a laptop computer, however far outperforms it due to immense again strain that simply can’t be achieved with at this time’s skinny followers.

In the months since that present we’ve seen a quantity of demos with numerous product classes. The launch of the primary product that includes this technique comes from Zotac within the firm’s ZBOX pico PI430AJ with AirJet. It’s going to take rather a lot to vary an business, however I’d love this know-how to be commonplace sooner or later and proceed to drive efficiency and cooling for our digital units for years to return.

Fingers crossed we see extra programs (and laptops!) emerge with Frore’s AirJet inside in 2024.

Worst development: New GPU worth

It’s been one of the best of instances and the worst of instances for PC avid gamers in 2023. The excellent news: You can lastly decide up offers on last-gen graphics playing cards and get gaming with out promoting an arm and a leg. The downright terrible information: The new technology of graphics playing cards is a snoozer. Not solely are the Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series and AMD Radeon RX 7000-series each painfully excessive priced, particularly on Nvidia’s facet, however a number of of these new GPUs really run no quicker (and generally slower) than their predecessors. Nvidia doesn’t even discipline a real 1440p contender for below $700. It’s a disappointing mess.

Even should you handle to save lots of up sufficient nickels to seize a brand new GPU, the gaming expertise hasn’t been all that nice both, as 2023 was affected by technical mishaps in a slew of high-profile video games, like Last of Us and Hogwarts: Legacy, amongst many others.

Sigh. Why will we at all times finish this on a bummer? At least these OLED screens positive are good.

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