Best Of 2013 - SSDs: Samsung 840 EVO
SSD prices have tumbled this past year such that these days the very best upgrade you can make to any PC for the money is cheaper than ever before. None embodies that principle more than the Samsung 840 EVO, an updated version of the 840 SSD offering excellent performance at competitive prices and now in a wide range of capacities.
Whilst relative performance might be close the voting certainly wasn’t; Samsung’s consumer drive were runaway winners with an almost 70% share. That’s no wonder when you consider that they also provide cloning and disk management software as part of the retail package.
The Samsung EVO mSATA has just been released, so keep your eyes open for that if you’re running a mobile or desktop system with that capability.
Best of 2013 - Graphics Cards: NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti
The lack of an AMD R9 290-series representative on our short-list was always going to prove controversial, even though it was populated with some of the best cards released this year. The reason why is summarised in Rich’s conclusion to the Radeon R9 290X review:
[The R9 290X’s] speed however comes at a price, not the one you pay at the checkout which is actually quite reasonable but the one you will pay later in life when your hearing fades!
No surprises therefore that the winner from our graphics card shortlist this year is the reference NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti. With performance topping even that of the GTX TITAN and a reference cooler that quietly hums away rather than wail like a banshee, the 780 Ti stole Rich’s heart as the fastest single-GPU card on the planet right now. AMD will have a chance next year as all the non-reference Hawaii GPU-based cards with third-party cooling will be eligible, but for now NVIDIA’s flagship rules the roost.
Best of 2013 - External Storage Solutions: Corsair Flash Voyager GS 128GB
Whether it be brand recognition or excellent performance and value figures, Corsair was once again the winner in our external storage poll. The Voyager GS claimed read/write rates of 250MB/s and 90MB/s respectively, and easily topped those numbers in many of our synthetic tests. Complementing the numbers were a peerless build quality and price which, at ~£90, was lower than the cost of many 120GB eSATA SSD solutions available at the time.
We should also mention Synology. Their vote was split between the DS214 and DS213air, both of which made it onto our shortlist for very good reason. We have been continually impressed by their products over the past year, surprising us not only with their usability but also the continual drum beat of software development. Those already sporting a Synology NAS device should look out for DiskStation Manager 5’s beta, starting very soon.