2010's been a great year for PC hardware, with plenty of new products hitting the market vying for your hard earned cash. As we head towards 2011 and the imminent arrival of Intel's new Sandy Bridge CPUs, we decided it'd be good to look back at some of 2010s greatest hits, as well as some of more face-palm inducing misses.
While the quad-core i5-760 CPU is, at its heart, only a small clock bump up from the i5-750 CPU released in the winter of 2009, its been the mid-range CPU of choice for much of the year. Still boasting the excellent overclocking abilities of its forebear, our samples have all reached 4.1GHz, there's tons of extra performance to be squeezed from this CPU so long as you pair it with a decent motherboard. However, with the imminent release of the much anticipated Sandy Bridge platform, the i5-760 may not be the CPU of choice for long; all the more to celebrate how good it's been.
Click to enlarge - It may be about to be superseded, but the i5-760 is still a great CPU
Being a hardware enthusiast isn't about having bottomless pockets to buys the biggest and fastest hardware: it's about getting the most from what you've got. In that respect, the G6950 has to go down as one of the best CPUs ever, as while it's stock 2.8GHz performance is fairly ordinary, it's overclocking prowess is the stuff of legend. When we reviews it back in June, Clive was able to push our review sample to a towering 4.62GHz, an increase of 65 per cent! Combined with a sub £75 price tag, this made the G6950 the stand out budget CPU of 2010.
Click to enlarge - overclocking allowed us to get tons of extra performance from the Intel Pentium G6950
Intel's range topping Extreme Edition CPUs have, in the past, been ludicrously over-priced and hardly worth their extra clock speed. While the 980X continued the prior tradition, landing at an eye watering £820, it was a huge step forward in performance. Intel's resident genius' squeezed six separate Hyper-Threaded cores into the CPU, and then clocked it at tasty 3.33GHz but it was the overclocking headroom available that really impressed us. The 980X ran stable at an awesome 4.4GHz on air (25 x 133MHz) and close to 5GHz under more exotic cooling, making it the fastest consumer CPU on the market in heavily multi-threaded tasks.