Holidays are often an opportunity to reflect and take stock. 2021 does not allow it, because there is none. Honestly, have you been to the store lately? Empty shelves everywhere. I had to settle for my second favorite unsweetened oat milk. And try to get some decent fresh pesto over here!
It’s the same situation with PC hardware, but to a much less facetious degree. Stories of graphics card shortages have been circulating for as long as Bitcoin has been so valuable. But in 2021, crypto miners partnered with global supply line outages due to the pandemic. As a result, the prices of GPUs have skyrocketed due to scarcity. This is especially true for RTX 3x cards from Nvidia (codenamed “Hens’ Teeth”). Chances are, if you were getting ready to upgrade this veteran GTX 970 in 2019, you either had to pay too much, wait a minute. long time for shipping, or do without a new card.
Still, there is substantial good news out there. Lots of PC hardware has been plentiful this year, everything except graphics cards. And there were even ways around it. So, before our brain forgets how to fully process positive information, let’s remember the components whose quality and volume were worth celebrating in 2021.
Alan gave the WD Black SN850 1TB a strong 95% rating in January, and it remains our overall best SSD pick. “If we were to recommend a next-gen SSD right now,” says Alan, “there’s only one clear option, and that’s the WD SN850. It’s simply the best drive you can buy. today. “
We already know that SSDs provide massive performance gains over mechanical drives or even older generation flash storage that is nearing its read / write lifespan. But it’s a quiet type of performance boost, which we tend to sleep on looking for marginal increases in FPS. With GPUs nearly off the table, this year has been the year to invest in an upgrade that cuts through boot times, game loads, and video / audio editing workstation tasks.
Your old buddy Phil likes to jump on a bike every now and then, and in the cycling world they have a similar component shortage. You just can’t get any groupsets right now, let alone the specific rear cassette with a nice climbing ring. But there is a solution: buy a new bike.
Bike makers are getting the first steps on components from Shimano, and so are PC and laptop makers. So if you really want to get a new graphics card, buy the one that comes with a laptop connected to it. It’s not the most cost-effective approach on paper, but neither is it outright nonsense. Nvidia’s Ampere mobile GPUs have bridged the gap with desktop performance, and they’re relatively easy to find and order.
Headsets and microphones
This year, EPOS further marked its own design philosophy on the Sennheiser range of headphones of which it recently took over. The highlight is its H6Pro, a rare opportunity to shout just how good open-back headphones can be.
Razer’s recently revamped headset line-up remained available in decent numbers throughout the year, including our best wired headset pick, the Blackshark V2. You can’t quite equate plugging a new set of cans into a higher gen GPUs and watching previously unplayable games come to life in ray-traced splendor, even if you’re the boring audiophile type who claims still be able to hear the difference between 320kbps and FLAC. What it does offer, however, is easier communication, more comfort, and a better overall experience every time you sit down at the RGB Palace of Wonders.
In the world of dedicated mics, we’ve seen Roccat’s curious but feature-rich Kone attempt to merge a mic capsule and mixer into one compact unit, a complete refresh of the Razer lineup, and a new high-end dual solution. release of Shure, the MV7. We liked it very much.
Keyboards and mice
Mountain continues to offer a promising line of keyboards with a new modular approach throughout 2021. Switching to tenkey or not is suddenly no longer a crippling decision that takes so long that your online cart expires.
Logitech’s G915 Lightspeed offers the best of both tactile worlds: the click-clack of a mechanical card with low-profile action similar to Mac and Microsoft Surface input devices. And it’s also wireless.
Mice got really good at being wireless in 2021. Unless you’re playing games for a living, you don’t have to worry about latency or dropping anymore. Another thing you didn’t need to worry about? Find any keyboard and / or mouse you wanted in stock.
This is the upgrade we like to overlook. For most of the last decade, we’ve had good reason to do this as well: IPS panels have a little better, G-Sync and FreeSync seemed a little smoother and sharper than native 4K in 2014, good luck running a game at this resolution.
Flash-forward a bit until 2021, and monitors carrying the holy trinity of specifications – 4K, 144Hz, and IPS – are available at a reasonable price, like Gigabyte’s M32U-EK. We’ve even seen OLED panels quietly creep into the market, and if you think that an extra 7FPS from a 3x RTX card is a game-changer, see how your eyes react to a new environment you’re actually looking at those frames on.