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The bit-tech Hardware Awards 2007

The 2007 bit-tech Hardware Awards

This year has been a great year for gaming and if you’ve been reading the site over the past few days, you will have already seen the games we’ve chosen as our top 10 games of the year. Regular bit-tech readers will know that we’re about more than just gaming though.

Not only has it been a busy year in the gaming sector, it’s also been a very busy time for PC Enthusiasts, with masses upon masses of enthusiast-orientated products released which all claim to be the best thing since sliced bread.

At bit-tech, we’re incredibly lucky to get our hands on almost every enthusiast-orientated product that matters. With the Christmas festivities starting next week, it’s about time we looked back at the many products that have come across our desks this year in order to come up with our top hardware products of the year.

Despite the industry moving at breakneck speeds sometimes, some of the products we’ve chosen for this article were released early on in the year... or maybe even last year in some cases, but they’ve still made a massive impression on the market over the course of 2007. If anything, that is a testament to how much of an impression these products made on us over the course of the year.

Over the course of this article, we’ll cover everything from cases, chipsets, cooling, CPUs, graphics, memory, motherboards and much more. So read on for our pick from the year’s slew of enthusiast kit...

Best Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600

Notable Mentions: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750, AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350

Ever since the launch of Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors almost eighteen months ago, the mindshare in the CPU has almost been a rush of one way traffic moving in the direction of the Boys in Blue. If 2006 was the year when we first witnessed the potential of a quad-core processor, 2007 will be remembered as the year when quad-core processors started to hit price points that were really affordable to many PC hardware enthusiasts – like you, our loyal bit-tech readers.

AMD spent most of the year talking about how its quad-core processors were superior to Intel’s because of their native design and then there was the rather bizarre Spider platform launch in Warsaw where AMD announced that there was a bug big enough to prevent Phenom from launching at 2.4GHz. In addition, because of the way the Warsaw event was portrayed as an AMD-controlled ‘benchmarkfest’ just days before the launch, there was very little in the way of independent benchmarks come launch day.

The bit-tech Hardware Awards 2007 Best CPU

The bit-tech Hardware Awards 2007 Best CPUIn fact, it wasn’t until several weeks after the launch that we were actually able to get a couple of Phenom processors into our labs to test on our own terms. And when we did finally publish our initial look at the new Phenom processors, we were left a little underwhelmed as Intel managed to beat AMD not only on performance, but also on price... quite convincingly in many cases.

A lot of this was down to the Core 2 Quad Q6600 – our processor of the year for 2007. The Q6600 launched back in January at an exceedingly high asking price, but it wasn’t until Intel decided that it needed to launch faster quad-core processors that this chip hit the sub-£200 mark – a price point that made it an incredible value for money.

When you combine that with the fact that, with a bit of overclocking and fairly rudimentary cooling, you could turn your Q6600 into a processor that was faster than Intel’s then flagship QX6850 processor at a fraction of the price – this made it a huge favourite among the enthusiast crowd.

This year wasn’t just all about the Core 2 Quad Q6600 though, as there were some great deals to find deeper into both Intel’s and AMD’s ranges. One such example was the Core 2 Duo E6750, which launched at the same clock speed as a Core 2 Duo E6700, but only cost as much as an E6400 – a chip with a 533MHz clock speed deficit and only half the L2 cache.

AMD took a bit of a battering this year from both Intel and, in the later part of the year, the press; but the company still came up with a few gems over the course of the year. One example was the Athlon X2 BE-2350 – a chip built on AMD’s 65nm Brisbane core with a 2.1GHz clock speed and a TDP of just 45W. When combined with an AMD 690G-based motherboard, this made for an excellent low-power Home Theatre PC.