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Our Heroes & Villains of 2004

Yes, it\'s that time of year again, when we present our favourite companies and products of the year. This year we\'ve gone with a superhero theme and picked the heroes and villains of the year in computer enthusiasm. Each category has one of each! We\'ve also linked back to bit-tech articles through the year that influenced our choices.


This year, Nvidia have used their superhero strength (and bank balance) to recover well from the debacle of the GeForce FX. They launched the GeForce 6 way back in April, and since they have also released a kick-ass mainstream part with the 6600GT on AGP.

Intel have really thrown off the glasses, torn open their shirt and revealed the superhero beneath, this year. Whilst processors had a fairly dull year all round - a new socket and core stepping plus some speed bumps - Intel have proven that they\'re more than just a chip firm. WiMax and the digital home have been Intel triumphs this year. Who can forget, of course, the transition to PCI-Express? Whilst AMD played wait and see, Intel have been out there pushing everyone on to the new standard which will, eventually, kick the ass of our old interconnects.

We awarded Corsair our Enthusiast Company of the Year mantle last year, and whilst that has gone elsewhere in 2004\'s awards, they are still right up there, posing with comic-book machismo. They have continued to produce kick-ass memory, not to mention having us round for a tour of their factory. Whilst their latest product release just missed 2004, look for it very soon - it\'s incredibly cool.

We couldn\'t be bit-tech and not think about the modding companies, and this is where Ultra have really picked up the ball in 2004. Their X-Connect PSU has to be one of our favourite products of the year, and they are continuing to research some cool new stuff that we are really looking forward to next year. The X-Connect might resemble Doctor Octopus, but it\'s creators are surely superheroes of the modding world. Last year we awarded Asetek an award for the best cooling product of the year. A year later, the Waterchill is still the best thing out there for the vast majority of overclockers, and we are still recommending it to everyone we see.

Valve Software have to get a mention here. Not only did they put out what is undoubtedly the game of the year, they\'ve nuked piracy of Half-Life 2 and gave a wonderfully frank interview to the top bods at Gamespot to clear up the whole release debacle of last year. Hoorah!

Our Enthusiast Company of the Year award goes, this year, to the fine folks at Abit. They have had an incredible year and have done so much to support the enthusiast community that they put other players to shame. Where to start? How about starting the year with one of the best 865 motherboards to be released? What about pitching up at i19 for the UK leg of their Acon4 champtionship and then holding a grand final in China? How about holding a gaming event in the middle of frickin\' Leicester Square? With the recent release of their Fatal1ty motherboards, they have capped a fantastic year, and we look forward to seeing them back and kicking butt in 2005.


The first villain award of the year is a no-brainer, and has to go to iD Software. Whilst Doom 3 is full of dark hallways and scarey monsters, it pails in comparison to the black magic that must be going on at iD. To employ a bunch of people that can create an incredible game engine, then fail to even hire one person to write a story, is criminal. Once they\'ve finished making Doom 3 the dullest thing since 2004\'s dishwater, we know they\'re off to kill our granny too.

Microsoft produce a fantastic array of peripherals, and make the best mice known to man. When it comes to operating systems, however, those guys need their twisted genius minds reprogramming. Whilst suspense may be the bed-fellow of drama and action, the constant wait for 64-bit Windows is driving us crazy. Get a move on!

We\'re going to brand the entire worldwide games industry as a big conglomerate of evil superfiends for back-loading our release schedule. Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Vampire: Bloodlines, Need For Speed Underground 2, Pro Evo Soccer 4, all within a couple of weeks of each other. Are we meant to take 2 months off? Stop making Christmas your cash cow and release decent games throughout the year!

Whilst we\'ve seen a couple of good cases this year, we\'ve yet to see Lian-Li create anything which can be called a worthy successor to the PC60. Case design, which took such a big leap with aluminium, really hasn\'t gone anywhere in 2004. Shame on you all - evil types are always supposed to have plans!

That\'s about your lot for this year. We\'re going to enjoy our New Year\'s celebrations, and we\'ll be back next week with comprehensive coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In the meantime, thanks for all your support in 2004, and we look forward to a bigger and better bit-tech in 2005!

Disagree with any of these? Vent your spleen in our forums - don\'t worry, I have -Ed :)

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