The ball has dropped, celebrations have ended, and most people are enjoying the day before jumping back to the grind tomorrow to really get the new year rolling. Yup, its 2020 and 2019 is behind us. Every year I sit down and look back at the previous year in reviews to see how I did for the year. 2019, for example, I only published 58 articles which was by far my lowest ever. This year I did better with a total of 72 but that is still lower than in the past, so my goal for 2020 is to improve on that number. I’m also hoping to include more side projects but hardware wise it doesn’t look like the CPU and GPU launches are going to slow down and CES next week should start to give us an indication of how other launches will be this year.
Anyhow the main point for this article is to take a look back at the coverage from this year, specifically the winners of Editors Choice awards. I give those out to products that will find heavy personal use. In other words, no matter the pros or cons I might have if I think I will still use the product when I have access to almost any option it says a lot about a product. But today I look back and see if those that did get the award ended up panning out after using them for a while. In addition, I look back to products that I am still using from past years as well and I take a look through this year's coverage to see if there was anything that I missed and should have been given the Editors Choice award.
A look back at 2019’s Winners
WD Black SN750 1TB
I started the year off with Western Digitals' introduction of the WD Black SN750. This was the non-heatsink model, the heatsink version came later in the year. I was impressed with the performance and the pricing of the SN750 was in line where it should be. The introduction of PCIe 4/0 drives took away some of the excitement for this drive, but even at the end of the year its performance still holds up and would still be on my recommended list.
Raijintek Ophion Evo
The Ophion Evo ended up being an interesting case option this year. It offered a similar layout to a few of the community designed cases while being significantly cheaper than most of those options. It also added tempered glass on both sides and the Evo option allowed enough room to fit a 240mm radiator for much better cooling. I built a system in the Ophion Evo and it ended up being my wife's PC all year at LANs including last night at a New Years' Eve LAN. The glass makes it a little harder to transport, but it allows people to check out the Asus AIO with its integrated OLED screen which has gotten a lot of attention at events. The case wasn’t perfect but I have been really happy with it.
Dr Zaber Sentry 2.0
The new review after the Ophion Evo was another SFF case that I loved as well. The Sentry 2.0 was the new variation on the Dr Zaber Sentry that I had been wanting to check out for a while. The thin console-style form factor for the Sentry 2.0 is great. I built in the case with the intention of it being our VR PC and that may still be the case eventually, but I have been using it as my LAN PC all year. Its thin form factor is easy to carry and takes up almost no space on the table. Having the GPU up above the motherboard means better cooling. I just need to find a good ITX GPU option so I can eventually switch to water cooling to improve CPU cooling performance and to keep the noise down more.
WD Black SN750 w/Heatsink
Having the WD Black SN750 with the heatsink on this list again is a little repetitive. I loved the SN750 itself and adding that amazing looking EK designed heatsink only improved on things. In my testing, I was able to show that the cooler can be a benefit in some situations. I liked them so much in fact that most of our test benches have switched to them. That said the SN750 and the SN750 with the heatsink really should be one award but the coverage was split up due to the heatsink model coming out later.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Well, once again this year AMD has impressed. With the early Ryzen 9 3900X launch, I was really impressed with the performance. Late in the year, they did step things up even more with the 3950X and their Threadripper 3 launch. But the 3900X is still the best high-end option for gamers in my opinion, though the 3600 may be the better overall buy. Because of this, I have been using the 3900X in our GPU and storage test bench. Driver issues have still been a problem from time to time and could be improved, but the system is fast!
Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero WiFi
The ROG Crosshair VIII Hero WiFi is the X570 board that ended up being picked for our test system because it was the best X570 board to come in for the year. I do have the X570 Impact that might be even better, but that coverage is coming for 2020. Asus has kept up with BIOS updates well and the Crosshair VIII is packed with features like the 2.5G NIC, what more is there to ask for. (other than a cheaper price).
Cooler Master MM710
Cooler Master isn’t anywhere close to being the first company with a mouse filled with holes or one that is focused on being ultra-lightweight. But they ended up making something special in my opinion with the MM710 because they integrated the PTFE gliders and the perfect cord into a mainstream mouse. Most importantly though, at less than $50 it is a great deal. I liked this one so much that I had to get two more to pack in our LAN bags. I can’t imagine we stop using them anytime soon unless it is for the MM711 to add a little RGB lighting into the mix.
iBUYPOWER Snowblind Element
The Snowblind case in our third case this year which is very unusual. But its also the only case with an LCD screen built into the side panel window. This is a system I have been wanting to get out to a few LANs as well because everyone who comes over wants to check it out. iBUYPOWER had a few amazing deals on the case at the end of the year as well, hopefully, a few of you took advantage and picked one up. Its an older NZXT case which isn’t all that spectacular, but until any other case has a side panel screen like this (other than their other Snowblind case), it will be special.
Cooler Master MM711
The MM711 is basically the MM710 which won its own Editors Choice award only Cooler Master added RGB lighting. My love for the MM710 carried over here and I haven’t put the MM711 up as my main mouse. The 710 and 711 with their soft and flexible cord are the only wired mice that haven’t caused me trouble on my always a messy desk, which is why I normally stick with a wireless mouse (the G Pro Wireless to be specific).
Elgato Stream Deck XL
The Stream Deck XL may have only been published this December, but long before then I started using the streaming aid and after our coverage, I didn’t stop. When time allows I have been slipping in some gaming and streaming most times. The Stream Deck XL, as I put it in my review, doesn’t make you a pro streamer. But it sure makes you feel like you are. Hopefully going into 2020 I find even more use for it and given Elgato’s constant software improvements I’m sure I will.