The Antec P182 case could be the only PC chassis you’ll ever need. It’s that good. The exterior of the chassis is smooth, sleek and simple – plain matt bezels devoid of marks, brands or blemishes – so the design will look good no matter where you have to put your PC.
It could go in your living room, office space or kitchen and still look utterly gorgeous – just be careful not to mistake it for a fridge if you do put it in your kitchen.
It’s this polished simplicity which makes the Antec P182 such an awesome case to use as well as look at.
The whole design is geared towards being as quiet as possible without compromising cooling performance and it did this job exceedingly well during our testing. Pretty much every one of the triple-layered surfaces can be ratcheted down or screwed in, so that nothing interferes with the thermal design.
When we tested the P182 it was no big surprise to see how it excelled – beating off the competition with a stick and holding its own as the king of cases. To many people the P182 may look like just a poor man's P190, but the number of people who actually need multiple PSUs and GPUs is quite low, so don’t let that dissuade you.
The P182 did face some stiff competition this year – the Hiper Anubis and Cooler Master CM 690 getting notable mentions. The CM 690 especially is worth a look if you find yourself a bit strapped for cash this Christmas. In the end though the Antec P182 pips them both to the post and stands alone as our best chassis of the year – and it’s a steal at its current price!
Man, we had some arguments about this award because really, how do you decide what constitutes a peripheral and is it fair to give an award to a mouse or mousemat over a pair of really high-quality speakers? In the end we decided the best thing to do was give out three awards to three separate devices – dividing them into outputs, inputs and components, the three sub-categories which best cover the vague nature of the peripherals uber-category.
The Razer DeathAdder was our final input of choice and is a mouse which is still fiercely fought over in the office. Whenever a mouse is needed, all eyes fall to the DeathAdder first – though it’s naturally fiercely defended and someone ends up suffering with the Revoltec Fightmouse instead while the rest of us chuckle at their misfortune.
The DeathAdder is a radical departure to the Razer norm, using a full and high-peaking shape rather than the flat design of the Copperhead or the Boomslang. The thumb buttons are now much larger too and splayed shape of the left and right mouse buttons mean that this is a gaming mouse which everyone can appreciate.
In a year which saw the return of the Microsoft Sidewinder, a mouse which used as many gimmicks as it could, it seems weird to give the award to what is essentially just a well-made wired mouse. That’s something we can easily live with though – the DeathAdder is just that good.
For outputs we managed to settle on a winner fairly quickly too – the Creative Gigaworks T20 Speakers. With a small factor design and an impressively high-end sound for the price, the T20s are a set of speakers which lend themselves to pretty much any normal use.
Our component peripheral of the year, which is an admittedly vague description, goes to another Creative product – the X-Fi XtremeGamer which is currently sat in Joe's system and powering the music he's listening to and those awesome explosions in games like Call of Duty 4. It’s doing a beautiful job, for what it's worth.
The Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer isn’t strictly the best sound card on the market, but it is a good deal and comes in at about £60, which is an utterly fantastic price when you consider that you’re getting a top-end sound card which has hardware support for both EAX 5.0 and CMSS-3D.