2016 is unlikely to be enshrined in the history books of tomorrow as the greatest ever year for PC hardware, but that's perhaps more on account of Everything Else that's been happening in the wider world. But, hey, we're not here to discuss all that. As the Christmas hangovers fade and the food comas pass, we're here to look back at 2016 with a bit of fondness, for a change. Fondness, that is, for PC hardware. Here, we look back at the last 12 months and pick out the best, fastest, or even just the most interesting bits of kit that found their way to our test bench and, potentially, to your PC.
In all honesty, it wasn't an especially exciting year. There were very few launches that really shook things up, and us UK folk were hit by distasteful price hikes in the latter half of the year following the weakened pound. Nevertheless, 2017 is around the corner, with AMD's Zen CPUs and Vega GPUs looking to be the most likely candidates to make some real impact. Right, cynicism off; fondness on. Here are our top picks from 2016. Feel free to chime in with yours in the comments.
Corsair's case lineup had started to look a little dry, but the 400C combined a refined, minimalist aesthetic with nifty features and a modern, clean interior. The latched, door-style window/side panel, PSU cover, and strong water-cooling support all won our favour, as did the pricing. Corsair has more recently gone a bit more out-there with its glass-heavy Crystal Series cases; let's hope 2017 sees some more exciting case designs as well.
Asus definitely embraced RGB lighting more than most in its high-end products this year. The Maximus VIII Formula is a clear example, stepping back from the long-established red and black ROG colour scheme in favour of an all-black design that lets the board's numerous RGB LEDs do the work for it. This isn't just style over substance, though, as the Formula is also rammed with enthusiast-grade features like U.2 support, Intel-powered USB 3.1, and even an EKWB-made water block for the VRMs.
Not content with its wide and varied selection of custom water-cooling components, EKWB entered the all-in-one market evidently intent on showing the newbies how it was really done. Okay, so the Predator 240 was and still is a very expensive cooler, but its performance saw it jump to the top of our charts, where it has remained ever since. If you're looking for the best you can get from an all-in-one cooler, this is probably it unless you opt for one of the larger models in the family.