Phone reviews aren’t always a part of our typical reviews, but we do try to keep up with things as much as we can. When I had the chance to check out the Razr Maxx I was very excited. Battery life has always been an issue for me, especially when I am away from home and I basically work from my phone. The DROID Razr Maxx was worlds apart from anything I had tested prior. Even to this day the only phones that compete are the new Razr Maxx HD. It’s amazing that this hasn’t taken off with other manufactures really, I would be happy to give up a little extra space in my pocket to not have to worry about my battery life. During events like CES I have been known to pack a spare battery, spare phone, and a battery backup as well just to prevent my battery from dyeing while on the go.
The GTX 670 was introduced last May and still to this day is one of the top cards on the market. This is what I have been running in my LAN rig due to its performance and power requirements. At its launch I was impressed with its performance in comparison to the GTX 580 that was priced close to the GTX 670. Today you can get one for almost $50 less than before and it also comes with Assassin’s Creed 3 and Borderlands 2, both hit games from this year. I would say that this puts the GTX 670 still in the value category, especially if you need a few games to play on your new hardware.
With the launch of Ivy Bridge we took a look at the i7-3770K, Intel’s fastest offering. I was impressed with the improvements that were made on the GPU side as well as overall CPU performance. This was the best performance per core we had tested to date. While we might be inching closer to another refresh, right now the 3770 is still the go to CPU if you want high performance at a price that won’t make your wife kill you. Of course if you are looking at multiple GPU’s 2011 socket CPU’s are still the best choice.
The GTX 680 was the introduction of Kepler. Not only was I impressed with its performance but they introduced driver improvements and support for 3 + 1 monitors on one video card. Along with that the GTX 680 had a price that at launch triggered AMD to change their pricing and relaunch GHz versions of their lineup to compete. Do we still use it? Yeah. The GTX 680 replaced the GTX 580 in my main rig for the better part of the year until I built our project rig (that we will be publishing soon). It’s now a second rig for friends to play on when visiting.
When the R7950 launched I was impressed with its performance compared to what Nvidia had to offer at that time (GTX 580). After Kepler was launched, this card became a little less interesting, although I did still love the cooler design that XFX went with. We did see price drops over the year on this as well to help it compete. With a price drop of almost $100, they are still great cards to get. But considering the price at launch and Kepler’s performance, I wouldn’t have given this an editor’s choice had I been able to see the future.
The Quickfire Rapid was the first of many keyboards coming from Cooler Master in 2012. I loved the ten keyless Rapid for its space savings as well its high quality. After the past year, Cooler Master has made a few small changes to the design to have even less branding on it after customer feedback. We still use one of our Rapids on our test benches. LAN keyboard use was moved to the K90 from Corsair simply because it was easier to clean and had backlighting. Hopefully we see a version of the Rapid in 2013 with full backlighting!
The HD 7970 launched twice really, once just before the new year a few select websites got their hands on samples. Then while we were at CES last year we were able to publish up what we thought about it. We were lucky enough to get our hands on two cards. While both were amazing, the XFX card blew us away with its amazing heatsink design, still to this day I think it’s more of a work of art than almost anything else on the market. Because of this I’m sporting four of these in my build currently. I would be lying if I said I was a fan of the drivers, but the cards themselves are great.
Our first review for the New Year, just before we left for CES was the Cosmos II. I was blown away by all of its adjustability and cooling power. The only reason this didn’t become the case for my rig was because it couldn’t fit under my desk. It’s a shame really; it’s an amazing case still to this day. Of course the price is still a little much. I think Cooler Master’s other offerings throughout the year still have a lot of features while coming in at a price that people can afford, like the Stryker for example. If the Cosmos II came back through today, I doubt It would end up with an editor’s choice award, but it would still get its Top Honors badge!