PC Gamer Hardware Awards 2022: The best gear of year

PC Gamer hardware awards 2022
(Image credit: Future)

As the wan sun fades on this bleak year of 2022 we are given to look back and think about all we have to be grateful for. And in PC gaming tech terms that means we're looking at all the gaming gear released over the past 12 months to pick our favourite tech in a bunch of different categories.

And you know what? That includes graphics cards this year, in an actual meaningful way. We paid lip service to GPUs last year, when they existed in a mostly theoretical rather than physical sense, but finally, we can actually buy new cards. I mean, they're still woefully expensive if you want to get in on the latest generation, but the last-gen GPUs are now genuinely affordable. Especially if you're looking at the AMD side of the graphics card divide.

We've also started to see the first inroads of OLED panel technology into our desktop gaming monitors, too, as both Samsung and LG have started shipping screens into displays from the likes of Alienware and Corsair. To lesser or greater effect, it has to be said...

There have been new CPU generations from both Intel and AMD, with the latter retiring its venerable AM4 socket and getting rid of those horribly pliable pins on its chips. Though now we have to worry about errant thumbs jamming into the sockets of AMD motherboards instead. Dr. Su giveth and Dr. Su taketh away.

It's also been the year of the Steam Deck, a piece of tech we love for all its flaws and faint jankiness, it's one of the most PC bits of hardware released this year. And it's a frickin' handheld. 

But without further ado, here are the winners of PC Gamers annual hardware awards. I give you the best hardware of 2022.

Best gaming laptop of 2022

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

(Image credit: Asus)
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review (opens in new tab)

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Our Jacob made a point of recommending the ROG Zephyrus G14 to a friend recently as trusty laptop for work and play. While it is afflicted by a 53-minute battery life, it's a stunning 14-incher—the first to hit said form factor—that won't bust your bank balance or your back at just 1.72kg.

Granted, packing everything into a smaller chassis makes for some warm components, but the all AMD RX 6800S/Ryzen 9 6900HS combo really does sing, even at 1440p. Top it with 32GB of RAM and a speedy 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD and you've got a fantastic all-round mobile package that consistently comes in far cheaper than the competition.

Read our Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review.

Honourable mention:

Razer Blade 14
The 2022 model of Razer's Blade 14 packs a serious punch from within that gorgeous, svelte 14-inch chassis—perhaps ruined a little by the massive green logo slapped on the back. Still, the RTX 3070 Ti and eight-core AMD Ryzen 9 CPU combo we got to play with wowed us at 1440p and even hit 89 minutes of gaming battery life at full bore.

Sure the thermals are a little spicy at 90 and 70°C for the CPU and GPU, respectively, but man, is this a smashing breed of gaming machine. It's just hella expensive.

Read our Razer Blade 14 review.

Best gaming monitor of 2022

Alienware 34 OLED

(Image credit: Dell)
Alienware AW3423DW (opens in new tab)

Alienware 34 AW3423DW
We've been waiting forever. But OLED tech has finally hit the desktop. At least in the awesome Alienware panel, it doesn't disappoint. LCD technology still has the edge for latency, but this quantum dot-enhanced OLED screen is incredible when it comes to contrast, HDR performance, and response. Net result? Simply one of, if not the, best gaming monitors ever.

Read our Alienware 34 AW3423DW review.

Honourable mention:

Gigabyte M32UC
32 inches, 4K, 144Hz refresh, yup the Gigabyte M32UC ticks an awful lot of boxes and does so at a reasonably attainable price point. That's especially true if you can find a decent deal. it got as low as $400, Black Friday just gone. It's worth every penny of that for the combination of crispy 4K pixel density, contrasty VA panel, and zippy 2ms response. It even has HDMI 2.1 connectivity, ensuring all your bases are covered. Whisper it, but it's perfect for tag teaming between a gaming PC and a console.

Read our Gigabyte M32UC review.

Best graphics card of 2022

AMD RX 6650 XT

(Image credit: AMD)
AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT review. (opens in new tab)

AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT
When the RX 6650 XT dropped in the middle of this year with a ~$400 price point I'll admit we were pretty nonplussed. It delivers a little more performance over the RX 6600 XT, for a little more cash, but it was still a lot more than we were wanting to pay for a mainstream GPU. Fast-forward to the end of this year and the RX 6650 XT has become a bit of a budget hero, to the extent that around the big sales events this year it's been discounted as low as $230. At that price you're getting a card that smashes Nvidia's RTX 3060 for practically half the price.

Read our AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT review.

Honourable mention:

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
The absolute biggest graphics card we've ever had in our test rigs, the RTX 4090 is an absolute monster. And it's the fastest GPU we've ever tested, too, delivering gaming performance that at points is twice what the $1,500 GeForce cards of the last generation could manage. That's maybe what you'd expect, given that this thing retails for $1,600 at best, but it is worth remembering that, given inflation, that almost a drop in price on a GPU from two years back...

Read our Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 review.

Best CPU of 2022

Intel Core i5 13600K

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Intel Core i5 13600K review (opens in new tab)

Intel Core i5 13600K
This is the processor that I personally called a shoo-in for the best CPU of 2022, so you could say it's a favourite going into this contest. A healthy stack of cores in this chip, along with high clock speeds, make for a mean gaming processor with tons of multithreaded performance. 

We're talking a chip able to match Intel's Core i9 12900K from last year in both multi- and single-threaded performance. That's the best of both worlds, and for less cash than you might expect to pay for that performance. The fact you can also install this chip into the cheaper 600-series motherboards and still extract top performance is icing on the Core i5 cake.

Read our Intel Core i5 13600K review.

Honourable mention:

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
I know, I know. No Zen 4 in this year's nominations. Look, it's not that we don't love Zen 4 for what it delivers, but in our eyes it's Intel's 13th Gen that's won that end-of-year battle. The one CPU that's been super impressive this year, however, is the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Not only does it compete with Zen 4 in gaming, it brings a potentially awesome new technology to the fore in AMD's 3D V-Cache.

The reason we're ready to pick the Ryzen 7 5800X3D over the Zen 4 Ryzen 7 7700X is that one comes on the cheap and cheerful AM4 platform, and will make a wonderful upgrade for the people still using it, while the other comes on the still too pricey AM5 platform. When prices come down next year for AMD's latest, or the Zen 4 3D V-Cache chip arrives, I'm sure we'll have changed our minds. For now, the 5800X3D is simply the cheaper and more technologically exciting option.

Read our AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D review.

Best microphone of 2022

HyperX ProCast

(Image credit: HyperX)
HyperX Procast review (opens in new tab)

HyperX Procast
The Procast was the last missing piece from HyperX's stellar microphone lineup. This large condenser XLR microphone lacks the usual HyperX flair but makes up for it plenty in the sound department. Yeah, the $250 price point will likely give you pause, but you get what you pay for. Your voice will sound clean, clear, and crisp in ways you simply can not emulate with a typical USB mic. Another thing I love about the Procast is that it's built like a sturdy piece of studio equipment, so it'll last you a long while, no matter how much you beat it up. 

Read our HyperX Procast review.

Honourable mention:

Elgato Wave DX
A $99 XLR microphone that sounds good is practically unheard of. The sleek-looking Elgato Wave DX brings all the versatility of the lovely Wave 3, which debuted two years ago. The dynamic microphone does a great job of giving your voice a nice full-bodied sound. What's most attractive about the DX Wave is the cost. If you already own an external audio interface, you can pick up the XLR for only $99. If you need a full kit, you can buy one bundled with the Elgato XLR interface for less than $300. On the software side, it comes with some really impressive easy-to-use mixing software that makes managing your audio sources during a stream less of a headache.

Read our Elgato Wave DX review.

Best motherboard of 2022

MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk motherboard

(Image credit: MSI)
MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk Wi-Fi review (opens in new tab)

MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4
The quality of Intel motherboards within its B series chipsets have taken a genuine step forward since the introduction of the last-gen B560. Many of them now, like the MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4, carry feature sets that would have been restricted to high-end boards just a couple of years ago. The B660 Tomahawk is a smart motherboard choice that offers a quality core feature set and excellent value for money.

Read our MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk Wi-Fi review.

Honourable mention:

Gigabyte X670 Aorus Elite AX
AMD chose to create both X670 and X670E chipsets for its high-end AM5 boards for the Ryzen 7000-series, and that created some issues. Namely super-expensive X670E boards with feature sets that aren't especially useful. But this straight X670 eschews PCIe 5.0 support for its GPU slot in favour of a host of PCIe 5.0 SSD sockets. That and high-end DDR5 support, and performance that sees the Aorus topping the benchmark boards as often as not, makes this one of the best new mobos around.

Read our Gigabyte Aorus Elite AX review.

Best SSD of 2022

WD Black SN850X

(Image credit: WD)
WD Black SN850X SSD 2TB (opens in new tab)

WD Black SN850X
WD’s Black SN850 was already one of our favourite M.2 SSDs. This new WD Black SN850X isn’t a revolutionary step forward by most measures. It’s even a little disappointing when it comes to 4K random access performance. But it is all the PCIe Gen 4 SSD you’re ever likely to need and it does solve the old SN850’s one slight flaw, namely toasty operating temperatures.

Read our WD Black SN850X review.

Honourable mention:

WD Black SN850X
WD’s Black SN850 was already one of our favourite M.2 SSDs. This new WD Black SN850X isn’t a revolutionary step forward by most measures. It’s even a little disappointing when it comes to 4K random access performance. But it is all the PCIe Gen 4 SSD you’re ever likely to need and it does solve the old SN850’s one slight flaw, namely toasty operating temperatures. And does it all for a great price, especially given WD's penchant for heavy discounts.

Read our WD Black SN850X review.

Best gaming mouse of 2022

Razer DeathAdder V3 Pro

(Image credit: Razer)
Razer Deathadder V3 Pro review (opens in new tab)

Razer Deathadder V3 Pro
The Deathadder V3 Pro is the latest entry in the Razer Deathadder family, and as you'd expect, it's one of the best gaming mice you can get your hands on. Its modest design hides a feature-rich mouse with a ridiculously high 30K DPI optical sensor. It has 70G acceleration, motion sync, and smart tracking, which basically means you can't blame the mouse when you get outmatched in Valorant.

On top of that, you get 90 hours of battery life, making it one of the longest-lasting rodents. A lethal tool in the hands of a competitive gamer. At $150, it might be overkill for the casual PC gamer. 

Read our Razer Deathadder V3 Pro review.

Honourable mention:

 Logitech G502 X
The G502 X is a great wired gaming mouse for less than $100. This Logitech rodent looks the most like an actual gaming mouse compared to the other nominees. Thanks to its fantastic thumb rest and an interchangeable thumb button, it's an ergonomic dream.

Performance-wise, it hangs with the best with a 25K DPI sensor, making it perfect for shooters and MOBAs. The only downside of this other incredible $80 gaming mouse is those with larger hands might find it a wee bit uncomfortable. 

Read our Logitech G502 X review.

Best gaming keyboard of 2022

Mountain Everest 60 gaming keyboard

(Image credit: Mountain)
Mountain Everest 60 review (opens in new tab)

Mountain Everest 60
Unlike most 60% keyboards, the Everest 60 manages to squeeze in the utility that most lack in the form of cursor keys. It doesn't bother with wireless capability, but what it does bring is the fancy option of modularity. For a little extra cost on top of the (nicely affordable) $140, you can nab yourself a modular numpad that will fit on either side of the board.

On top of that, the board comes with a silicone sound dampener inside, and 3-pin hot swappable capability. It's only the Base Camp software that really lets this board down. Still, it's stable, responsive, oh so cute!

Read our Mountain Everest 60 review.

Honourable mention:

Wooting 60HE
As the only analogue offering in the lineup, this one has some seriously great features for the price. While it's tiny, Wooting hasn't tried to cram too much in. There are no cursor keys, but you get a well-spaced layout and hot damn are analogue keys cool.

You can even get it to rapidly register a key press on a downstroke and then intelligently reset that press when you release the key, a feature called Rapid Trigger. Not only that, the software is also great and requires no download as it'll just run in your browser. So much in a small package, but the small package may put some people off.

Read our Wooting 60HE review.

Best gaming headset of 2022

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless

(Image credit: HyperX)
HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless review (opens in new tab)

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless
I have very few gripes with the original wired HyperX Cloud Alpha. They offer a wonderfully sharp response with one particular highlight: crisp bass. A dual-chamber design helped keep the bass deep and the highs and mids vibrant.

The main issue was you had to settle for the good, but not as good, Cloud II's if you wanted to go wireless. Well, there's no need for compromise anymore. With the Cloud Alpha Wireless, you can score the best-in-class audio quality with the freedom of a wireless headset. And believe me, it's your headset that you want to cut the cord on first—that's true freedom from your desktop.

Read our HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless review.

Honourable mention:

Corsair HS55 Stereo
If there's one product that surprised me this year, it's this pair of Corsair cans. It's not that I didn't expect fairly well-rounded audio out of Corsair's cheaper headsets—I've rated them well in the past for this very trait. It's more than the microphone on the Corsair sounds supremely good considering the price tag on the HS55.

If your primary concern is regarding being heard by your team mates on the other side of the Discord call, this headset is a sure-fire way to make sure they hear you loud and clear. Along with their simple build quality and convenient flip-up mic arm, I'm convinced this is the cheaper gaming headset to buy right now.

Read our Corsair HS55 Stereo review.

The Wildcard 2022

Steam Deck wildcard

(Image credit: Future)
Steam Deck review (opens in new tab)

Valve Steam Deck
Sometimes there comes a piece of hardware that defies expectation. The Deck is absolutely one of those, popping up in a category that his historically done nothing in the PC space, the handheld market. It's surprisingly powerful, it's open, it's repairable, it's uniquely PC and uniquely Valve. And it might just change how you game.

Read our Steam Deck review.

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.

With contributions from