2022 is almost over. Believe it or not, overpriced GPUs didn't dominate the hardware news cycle as much as we thought they would at the start of the year. Since news tends to blur by at breakneck speeds, it's always fun to look back at the biggest hardware stories throughout the year and bug out our eyes at how much (or how little) time has passed.
This year had industry-changing events like the launch of a new generation of graphics cards, the sudden (yet predictable) collapse of the GPU mining industry, and the launch of the Steam Deck (opens in new tab).
You also can't talk about this year in hardware news without talking about crimes! Whether it was crypto malfeasance, hijinks from disgruntled employees, or folks creatively smuggling hilarious quantities of PC components on their bodies, we all love to read about people behaving badly.
A lot has happened in 2022, so below are the most popular, weird, and straight-up wild hardware stories of the year.
What happened in hardware: January – March
The key bits:
- This person fully automated their $90K IT job and the boss still hasn't noticed (opens in new tab)
- Steam Deck Review (opens in new tab)
- Nvidia announces budget RTX 3050 graphics card arriving this month from $249 (opens in new tab)
- '50% of transactions were fraudulent' when Steam accepted Bitcoin for payments, says Gabe Newell (opens in new tab)
- Gabe Newell: 'Most of the people talking about metaverse have absolutely no idea what they're talking about (opens in new tab)'
- This beefy RTX 3080 Ti 'deal' is evidence that GPU prices are coming back down to Earth (opens in new tab)
- PC builder that drew fury of small Twitch streamers shuts down indefinitely (opens in new tab)
- $3M worth of AMD graphics cards seized by Chinese authorities (opens in new tab)
- Big surprise, Apple's new M1 Ultra isn't actually faster than an RTX 3090 (opens in new tab)
⭐ The important bit: One of the biggest events to happen in early 2022 was the release of Valve's Steam Deck, and you know what that means? Some Gabe Newell quotes! Around the launch of the Steam Deck, our own Wes Fenlon chatted with the Valve head honcho, where he shared his thoughts about the metaverse and how most people talking about the metaverse have "absolutely no idea what they're talking about." In that same discussion, Gabe also gave more context as to why Steam dropped Bitcoin as a form of payment and the company's overall attitude on cryptocurrency and NFT games which had been banned at the time. As it turns out, "50% of transactions were fraudulent" when Valve accepted Bitcoin for payments.
"There's a lot of really interesting technology in blockchains and figuring out how to do a distributed ledger, [but] I think that people haven't figured out why you actually need a distributed ledger," Newell said.
🖥 The fall of Artesian Builds after sweepstakes gone wrong ended up being one of the most fascinating sagas in 2022. After a streamer was denied a sweepstakes prize, she took to Twitter to air her grievance. The event sponsor, Intel, and the rest of the internet weren't too happy with the ensuing Twitter drama. It didn't stop there, though. The company later filed for bankruptcy with an estimated $1.3 million in unfulfilled orders; while it appeared this was because it was hit with a wave of refunds it couldn't recover from, it was long-term near-cartoonish mismanagement that essentially tanked the company, according to an ex-employee in an interview with PC Gamer.
🖥 In March, Chinese authorities confiscated over $3M worth of AMD graphics cards when an importer attempted to get them past customs to elude paying an import tax by covering up the labels. This wasn't the only time someone tried to get one over on Chinese customs officials in March. The "walking CPU" tried to smuggle 160 CPUs valued over $3M by taping them all over his body. Authorities claimed that his "abnormal" posture was what tipped them off.
What happened in hardware: April – June
The key bits:
- Amazing fossils from the day of the Dinosaur-ending asteroid strike may have been found (opens in new tab)
- You're telling me we could have had reversible USB cables all along? (opens in new tab)
- You could fit the data from 25 million 1TB SSDs on this 5cm diamond wafer (opens in new tab)
- Japanese company calls its gaming bed setup the 'forbidden layout' (opens in new tab)
- IT admin gets 7 years for wiping his company's servers to prove a point (opens in new tab)
- Home worker gets verbal warning for gaming on break despite switching to their own PC (opens in new tab)
- Apple is no longer the world's most valuable company (opens in new tab)
- Steam Deck designer says SSD mod 'will significantly shorten the life of your Deck' (opens in new tab)
- This man built a $30K gaming room modeled after a Star Citizen spaceship (opens in new tab)
- Yeah, you can run Doom on a Lego brick PC now (opens in new tab)
- Our national nightmare is over: Seth Green's kidnapped Bored Ape NFT has returned home (opens in new tab)
⭐ The important bit: This spring was a season of scientific discovery. Fossils unearthed in April may have been from the day the dinosaurs died. Diggers at the Tanis fossil site in North Dakota found some well-preserved fossils of a pterosaur embryo inside its egg. Not to be outdone, our Hardware Lead, Dave James, also unearthed the fact that reversible USB cables are a thing.
🖥 Speaking of human ingenuity, some mad scientist managed to get Doom to run on a Lego brick, which was pretty much the last thing I expected Doom to run on. But honestly, what can't we get Doom to run on?
🖥 Switching gears from ingenuity to dark magic, a Japanese company called its motorized gamer bed "a forbidden layout for such self-degrading gamers," and I don't disagree.
🖥 Also in Japan, researchers found a way to fit data from 25 million 1TB SSDs onto a 5cm diamond wafer thanks to advances in quantum storage, taking advantage of a defect in a diamond called a nitrogen-vacancy center to store the data. The folks at Saga University and Adamant Namiki Precisions Jewelry Co. said they found a way to mass-produce these 2–inch diameter wafers with microscopic diamonds on the rim. These new wafers are expected to be commercialized in 2023.
🖥 In the "listen to your IT guys" section of the news, a disgruntled IT admin is facing up to seven years in prison in China for wiping out his company's servers. The database manager claims his reasons for destroying the servers were that his concerns about the security of the company's financial system being compromised were ignored.
What happened in hardware: July – September
The key bits:
- I just found out what Wi-Fi means and it's sending me (opens in new tab)
- EVGA is reportedly so sick of working with Nvidia that it's going to stop making graphics cards altogether (opens in new tab)
- Discord bot AI image generator predicts the 'last selfie ever taken' (opens in new tab)
- Microsoft's 'normcore' clothing line had me feeling highly inappropriate (opens in new tab)
- Reasons to be cheerful: 'GPU mining is dead less than 24 hours after the merge' (opens in new tab)
- Someone crafted a redstone PC in Minecraft to play Minecraft inside Minecraft (opens in new tab)
- Nvidia CEO proclaims 'Moore's law is dead' over RTX 40-series GPU pricing (opens in new tab)
⭐ The important bit: The rise of AI-generated art has sparked much debate over the ethics and legality of AI art tools such as Midjourney, DALL-E , and Stable Diffusion. The way a lot of this software works is that AI is 'trained' to pan through thousands of images online and generate images to ape a specific style based on user-specified parameters. Currently Adobe sells AI-generated stock images, promising refunds for any of its AI stock imagery hit with any legal challenge.
🖥 September marked the beginning of the end of massive GPU crypto-mining operations. Ethereum shifted away from a proof-of-work model, which required warehouses full of power-hungry GPUs verifying transactions on the blockchain, to a proof-of-stake consensus from those with a substantial amount of ETH with a "stake" in the network.
In the months leading up to the Merge, miners stopped bulk buying GPUs (to many PC gamers' delight) while others flooded the secondhand market with used graphics cards. This helped drive the price of graphics cards back to near pre-pandemic/inflation pricing, just in time for the launch of Nvidia's RTX 40-series GPUs.
What happened in hardware: October – December
The key bits:
- A single chip has managed to transfer the entire internet's traffic in a single second (opens in new tab)
- Steam Deck add-on Killswitch to be redesigned after 'million dollar' mistake (opens in new tab)
- Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming a PC gamer, asks for build help on Twitter (opens in new tab)
- Founder of collapsed crypto exchange FTX arrested in the Bahamas (opens in new tab)
- McDonald's brings us the McCrispy gaming chair to mark the downfall of man (opens in new tab)
- Gabe Newell says all his PC bits come from different manufacturers, and that's why PC is best (opens in new tab)
- Nvidia RTX GeForce 4080 FE review (opens in new tab)
- These incredible LAN party photos remind us how much work it used to be to play games together (opens in new tab)
⭐ The important bit: The end of the year saw the launch of Nvidia's new RTX 40-series GPUs, with the RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 leading the charge. These super-sized video cards bring pretty solid performance but are even bigger on power consumption and price. There have also been a handful of cases of the cards' 12VHPWR adapter overheating and melting, making Nvidia the subject of a class-action lawsuit.
🖥 More bad news for the cryptocurrency industry as the largest exchange, FTX, went bankrupt following rumors of a "complete failure of corporate controls," according to the overseer of the bankruptcy. The founder of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, was recently arrested for alleged financial crimes in the Bahamas and the US. FTX was valued at $32 billion at the beginning of the year.
Bankman-Friend wasn't the only high-level crypto exec going through legal issues. An arrest warrant was issued for the co-founder of the blockchain network Terra, Do Kwon, following his role in its $40 billion collapse. So it's safe to say that 2022 has not been a good year to have invested in crypto.
🖥 In happier news, actor Chloë Grace Moretz needed advice on a gaming PC build. In a rare moment of unity, the internet banded together to give the Kick-Ass and The Peripheral star some pointers. Of course, nothing gets PC gamers more excited than a celebrity turning into one of us. I mean, we've got Geralt of Rivia and Superman; we've got plenty of room for Hit-Girl to join our weird little club.
🖥 And finally, in the theme of "when Gabe Newell speaks, the world listens," he reminded us that PC gaming rules during his acceptance speech after the Steam Deck won best hardware at the Golden Joysticks awards. He said his own is comprised of parts from all different manufacturers and that the "interoperability," "compatibility," and "openness" of PC hardware is what "really enables products like Steam Deck."