It's been another funny old year. 2021 gave us some amazing highlights, but a few lows that we kind of expected. We reached out to our good friends who have kept us entertained and informed throughout the year - Marcus Cole from PC Centric, Zach from Zach's Tech Turf and Matt & Jackson from Toasty Bros.
Without further ado, here's your round-up of the year, courtesy of Matt, Zach and Marcus!
CCL - We were treated to some awesome launches from Intel and AMD, and even had a Microsoft Windows update this year. There's lots to choose from as far as technology goes, but what has been the most exciting piece of technology you got your hands on in 2021?
Matt & Jackson - "Does graphics cards in stock count? Just kidding, the most exciting piece of tech this year for us Ryzen 5000 series, in our eyes it was the first time in a long time that AMD had a processor line-up that really dominated the market."
Zach - "The most exciting piece of tech that I got my hands on this year was easily the Intel 12th Generation lineup of CPUs. The CPU market has been extremely boring over the last 4-5 years because Ryzen has dominated in the PC gaming space, but now that Intel has finally innovated on their product, we have some true competition on our hands! The 12th Gen lineup features a new concept that includes both performance cores and efficiency cores and it'll be exciting to see how AMD responds in early 2022. The "Early Adopter Tax" is pretty high with this new platform, along with Z690 motherboards and DDR5 RAM, so I'm super excited that my position has allowed me to try out this new technology early."
Marcus - "A PC case called the SSUPD Meshlicious - it's an absolutely fantastic ITX case that's a joy to build in, has great airflow for such a small enclosure, and looks the business! I'm using it for my living room PC at the moment, and even with some pretty beefy components, it handles it beautifully. My case of the year for sure!"
CCL - With the highs came the lows. Component shortages and crazy pricing, with CPU price hikes in the first half of the year until Alder Lake surfaced. Gamers and PC enthusiasts were both let down on a few fronts this year. What has been the biggest disappointment in IT in 2021 for you?
Matt & Jackson - "In our eyes, the graphics card shortage has been the biggest disappointment. Being a YouTube channel focused around gaming pc builds, along with owning our own PC selling business, we have struggled to keep up with the shortages. Hoping for better stock in 2022"
Zach - "The biggest disappointment in IT for 2021 has been the GPU shortage that is affecting every single person that's remotely involved in PC building. Because of the global pandemic, supply chain issues, and chip manufacturing shortages, it was an extremely difficult year to purchase graphics cards and that has severely gimped our industry as a whole. Not only is it challenging to complete a PC build list, but after months and months with no end in sight, viewers have become less interested in the PC building content on platforms like YouTube and I think we are all ready for this to get turned around, hopefully in 2022."
Marcus -"The component shortage - it's a real bummer for sure; even after all this time we're still affected, even if it is supposedly improving. Here's to 2022!"
CCL - it's been fun watching the AMD and Intel battle rage in the latter half of 2021, and ultimately the winner has been the consumer, thanks to AMD's price drops. Intel have leapt back into the limelight with their incredible 12th Gen CPUs, so who do you think will be ahead in 2022 – AMD or Intel?
Matt & Jackson - "AMD, just based purely on timing and how they will be releasing a new lineup right after Intel's 12th Gen. Love competition in the CPU space, better for the consumer."
Zach - "I'm not big on bold predictions, especially comparing the top 2 companies in the entire PC hardware industry, but what I will predict is that I believe it's going to be an extremely competitive year in the CPU space. With the Intel 12th Generation launch at the end of 2021, AMD absolutely has to respond with a monster lineup of Ryzen 6000 series CPUs and I do indeed think they'll deliver. With both of these companies fighting back and forth, that's only good news for us consumers because it means we'll see more innovation and hopefully cheaper prices and they compete for market share."
Marcus - "Impossible to say, but boy am I excited to see what AMD unveils. Intel has some serious outright desktop gaming performance with 12th Gen Alder Lake, but I'd be very surprised if AMD didn't mix up the game - quite literally - in just a few months."
CCL - We've seen some awesome deals on storage and motherboards over the last few months, and the market seems to be going gamers' way ready for 2022. Which 2021 component(s) get your “Best Value Overall” in a gaming PC?
Matt & Jackson - "We love Intel's I3 10100 CPU for budget gaming PCs. It gives you enough performance now to play all the latest games, and paired with a decent used graphics card you can game at decent settings now with an easy upgrade path to a newer graphics card in the future."
Zach - The absolute best money that you can spend on your gaming PC is a set of cable extensions. There are certainly more important components that deliver obvious value such as your CPU, GPU, RAM, etc, but if you don't have a set of colour coordinated cable extensions in there your PC isn't living up to the fullest of its aesthetic potential. To me, it's mind boggling when I see people spending hundreds, if not thousands on their gaming PC builds, and then don't include extensions. They are mandatory in my book."
Marcus - "The i5 11400F was easily THE gaming part to have this year, turbocharged with the memory unlocked B560 motherboard chipset. If only GPUs were cheaper, budget gaming PCs would be in an awesome place right now!"
CCL - So, it's not all doom and gloom! Thanks so much for being part of our round-up... let's leave on something a little more fun: -
You are stranded on a desert island in 2022, but you have a solar powered PC to keep you company. What ONE game do you need on your PC to keep you from going insane?
Matt & Jackson - "As a two-person team, we both have different game preferences. Matt would take Madden (insert any year) and Jackson would play Apex Legends, with some hesitation and potential regret."
Zach - "Assuming that I also have internet access, hopefully a Star Link Beta kit for some satellite internet action, the one game I would bring with me is New World. I absolutely love MMORPGs and New World is everything that I wanted in this genre for a very long time. MMORPGs are designed to give you at least hundreds of hours of gameplay so they are a perfect choice if you can only play one game for the rest of your life. In my current schedule I have almost zero time for video games, so being stranded on an island with a PC, Star Link internet, and New World actually sounds pretty refreshing and would be a ton of fun."
Marcus - "Well, my most played game is probably the original Tomb Raider, but the best game to pass time HAS TO BE Civilisation VI - just one more turn, ok?"
About Our Guests
Matt and Jackson aka Toasty Bros have given them a huge challenge in their latest video, where they are advising on the best budget laptop to purchase, with an unboxing that involves a giant hunting knife. Obviously.
Zach's Tech Turf takes on the ITX realm in his latest video, where Zach live streams a cool budget ITX Gaming PC build!
PC Centric recently released a quick guide to a budget setup you can actually buy, which involves an Xbox Series X, 120Hz 1080p gaming, and (of course) RGB!