Coulda, Shoulda, and Almost Did
In the past, it has seemed like I was giving out too many Editors Choice awards but this year I only gave out 7. I think there may have been a few more if not for taking a good portion of the last two months off but even with just the reviews published there were a few products that were really close to getting the award and looking back there were a few that should have gotten one but didn’t. So let's take a look and see what came in close. This first group is the “Maybe they should have” group.
Sound BlasterX Katana
So the Sound BlasterX Katana wasn’t the best performing speaker setup that I’ve ever tested. My own X7 configuration is much better, but for a small footprint, all in one don’t call it a soundbar setup it did extremely well. My wife loved it and we tested it on her desk from the start. After our move, I ended up liking how simple her setup was that I got a second Katana for our living room. We enjoy playing Rock Band from time to time and even though we upgraded our TV I needed a little more kick. A dedicated living room soundbar would have been a better pick if I needed pure volume, but the Katana was small and fit what we needed. With all of that, looking back this would have been a great candidate for the award.
TP-Link LB120 WiFi LED Bulb
So this is the product that started my weird obsession with home automation. With just one bulb I could only do so much but I have been added a few new bulbs, trying products from different companies and I’ve learned to appreciate the LB120 even more. The main reason that TP-Link bulbs have become my go-to when suggesting controllable bulbs is their WiFi integration. On one hand it does clog up your WiFi a little with a lot of devices, but on the other hand, you can avoid having to get and use a hub. If you are buying a lot of bulbs right out of the hole a hub isn’t a big cost, but if you are just testing the waters or just need a few bulbs this ends up saving you a lot of money, not to mention in some cases WiFi has a bigger reach. So the LB120 itself didn’t win an Editors Choice award, but I would have given one to some of TP-Links other lower cost bulbs. RGB is awesome, but only useful in some situations.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti
At the end of the year, it was really the GTX 1080 Ti that came out on top of the 2017 GPU wars. Unlike on the CPU side of things, Nvidia continued to improve even without competition in the high-end market so when AMD introduced Vega it just wasn’t enough to compete with the Ti in most situations.
So this is the big one right? Looking back AMD pulled off something amazing with Ryzen. They took back a big chunk of market share an even caused the big bag Intel to scramble and introduce 6 core on their mainstream lineup. But in the case with all four of our Ryzen articles, at the time of launch Ryzen was a little unfinished and had issues in games and especially with memory. It is still sensitive to memory, but things are MUCH better now. If those changes would have been in effect at the time of launch I would have given out a few Editors Choice awards. I don’t think AMD is too upset at the lack of that award though, or maybe they were, we didn’t end up with Threadripper lol. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2018 though, can they really shake things up even more?
Almost Made it
So if those maybe should have gotten awards, what came in close? Well there were a few
Asus ROG Rampage VI Apex
Honestly, this might be my favorite board that I took a look at all year. Asus did a great job stepping out of the box with the Apex. Literally, it's not a standard rectangle motherboard, they changed the shape. It is packed full of features and just about anything you could ever ask for connection options. Given that I’m planning on upgrading our Crush build to X299 this would have been my go-to board if it would have fit in our BH-7, but the wide form factor was a little too big sadly.
WD My Passport SSD
With the WD My Passport SSD, this is another one that got our Top Honors award initially. I really didn’t have anything bad to say about the drive. The only thing keeping it from an Editors Choice award is me not really needing to use a portable drive around the office. The performance of the drive was amazing and I dig its styling as well. But with a hardwired network and everything stored on the network, it is very rare that I need to put anything on USB to transfer between PCs. I keep a drive with my laptop when I’m on the go but the Sandisk I just covered actually fits that better with its more durable “extreme” construction.
Primochill Praxis Wetbench
The Primochill Wetbench is one of the coolest looking open benches on the market. Its angled design showcases your build and of course, it is set up perfectly for an open-air water cooling setup. I was most interested in this as a good platform for one of our test benches and I have been using it for that. Beyond little acrylic being a little sharp when you pick it up by the handles. My other issue was with its overall size. For a tradeshow showcase of hardware this is a perfect setup, but for my specific use case, the larger size just gets in the way. I still use it, but when compared to my other testbench, I do wish it didn’t take up so much room.