The last twelve months have been monumental for PC gaming hardware. A handful of new tech dominated the headlines in 2019: AMD Ryzen 3000, the Valve Index, Intel Xe, Google Stadia, AMD Navi, that chair with the wings glued onto it, and that chair with the nerd glued to it. The year was packed with fresh tech to satiate our endless want for shiny things.
Some were rousing successes, some were not. Some are still sat on the launchpad waiting for the green light. But 2019 was once again privy to its fair share of both and that’s what keeps the dream alive. So which of the year’s announcements materialised into product worth our money? To answer that, we’re going to dive into the highlights of the year across swathes of gaming gear we’ve reviewed and revelled in, from CPUs and GPUs to headphones.
The PC gaming landscape has changed dramatically over the year, moulded by the likes of AMD and Nvidia. The red team will undoubtedly take its fair share of the year’s successes, following its momentous push into 7nm with Zen 2 and Navi on the same day.
But we’ll try and steer clear of a totally chip-based list. After all, the year’s also welcomed some incredible new peripherals in to the market. Let’s get to it.
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
The AMD Ryzen 3950X redefined the rules of what is possible in mainstream desktop computing. Effectively a HEDT chip in AM4 garb, this processor utilises the very best that Zen 2’s chiplet architecture approach has to offer. That’s a three-chiplet processor packed with 16 cores, 32 threads, and running at the tallest clock speeds attainable on 7nm silicon.
With performance per dollar soaring past Intel’s fare (to such an extent that Intel had to cut its own HEDT prices), I think it’s fair to say we’ve been waiting for a CPU like the Ryzen 9 3950X to truly mark a certain end to the era of iterative processor updates.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
While the Ryzen 9 3950X may inspire awe, it’s the Ryzen 5 3600 that will benefit the average consumer most of all. Earning a 10/10 review from yours truly, this six-thread, 12-core processor has the pace required to deliver across gaming, creativity, and productivity tasks.
Effectively crushing the competent competition, the Ryzen 5 3600 leaves no other choice on the table for a mid-range gaming PC build in 2019. Ryzen is dead, long live Ryzen!
Read the full Ryzen 5 3600 review.
Nvidia GTX 1660 Super
AMD might not rule the mainstream graphics card market, but it can take solace in at least being the driving force behind Nvidia’s table-topping mid-range Turing, the GTX 1660 Super.
With pressure from AMD Navi ramping up mid-year, Nvidia saw fit to equip its 1,408 CUDA core TU116 GPU with the latest and greatest GDDR6 memory. Proving memory does matter, the change instilled the GTX 1660 with performance worthy of the ‘Super’ nomenclature and crucially saw it breeze past AMD’s RX 5500 XT 8GB in gaming benchmarks.
Read the full GTX 1660 Super review.
AMD RX 5700
The RX 5700 is the GPU that had Nvidia so paranoid in the first place. This card delivers exceptional performance for a competitive price, and it’s AMD’s first proper foray back into the mid- to high-end GPU market for a long while.
With a little help from the More Power Tool, the RX 5700 can be boosted to XT performance. There are a few CUs less overall versus the XT version, but that doesn’t seem to matter, and it easily strips the Nvidia RTX 2060 of any hope of the title claim if ray tracing is of no consideration.
Read the full AMD RX 5700 review.
Has VR reached the tipping point? That’s the big question for the entire VR and AR industry, and we’ve come no closer to a definite answer than when Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx would be its flagship VR game, instantaneously whipping all Half-Life 3 fans into a frenzy and into virtual reality.
The Valve Index is the perfect harbinger for that experience. The headset crafted by Valve is a rousing success, offering the best VR headset experience available today. While still an acutely expensive product, you’ll find no better anywhere else.
Read the full Valve Index review.
DXRacer Angel Wing gaming chair
Do I need to explain this one to you? It’s a chair, it has mechanical angel wings, I want one so bad it hurts. It also doesn’t technically exist as a standalone product, but I won’t let that stop me.
Constructed by the DXRacer HQ team, this purrfect gaming chair flew off the shelves when a limited release was announced (what’s worse: the jokes or the fact I’m recycling every single one from my own article). According to the company’s official Twitter, the kitty chair underneath received such acclaim from the gaming community that it might consider ramping up production. Sadly, the angel wings remain a one-time deal – time for some DIY.
RX 580 Yeston Cute Pet
So this happy little fellow might not have launched in 2019, but we did get clued in to its existence in 2019 – so we’re going to say it counts. Fitted with an adorable OwO face shroud and cloud backplate, if you’re going to spend your hard-earned cash on an RX 580 in the final days of 2019, this is the card to buy.
Seeing as only one person challenged me to a dual beneath the clock tower following my article titled “this RX 580 is the cutest graphics card in the world, and if you disagree I’ll fight you,” I can only assume that the rest of you side with me. Hear that, they agree with me.
The Wooting Two was announced way back in 2018, and delivered to some lucky kickstartees by the end of that same year. For the rest of us non-committal types, it wasn’t available to order until the beginning of 2019.
Once it was in our hands, however, it didn’t disappoint. Following on from the fantastic Wooting One, the tenkeyless variant, the Wooting Two delivers exceptional switches, reliability, and custom software for a reasonable price. Oh, and I dare not forget the true allure of this keyboard: analogue key switches capable of pressure-sensitive action to rival a controller.
Read the full Wooting 2 review.
It wasn’t easy to watch a courier carry the Samsung C49RG90 out the door – not the least bit because this gaming monitor is 49-inches wide and the PCGN office’s staircase is remarkable slim.
The CRG90, as it’s otherwise known, is a superb panel fit for all walks of life. Increasing the resolution of its forebears to 5120 x 1440, it’s officially rendered running out of real estate for a grotesque quantity of Chrome tabs a thing of the past. Plus it’s rated to 120Hz and fitted with FreeSync 2 HDR for gorgeous and silky gaming action.
Read the full Samsung C49RG90 review.
The Audeze LCD-1 is a headset too precious for this world. Well, at least our review unit was. Dave was so smitten with the LCD-1 cans that he swapped out his wireless set in favour of their wired, planar magnetic chops. Unfortunately, instinct kicked in and in one fell swoop the cable was torn asunder as he head off to answer the door. It still hurts him so.
During their short life, the LCD-1 delivered an exceptional, expansive soundscape. While notably loud and airy due to their open-back design, it’s this very feature that makes the latest from Audeze the most impressive gaming cans we’ve experience all year.