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John Weland | December 29, 2021

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2021 Staff Picks: Favorite Things

It’s that time of year again, when we look back at the year and remember some of the things we like best. There’s been a lot of innovation going on in the tech world. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the supply chain has been a real mess again this year. However, there were still some things that the staff writers at Hardware Meta really liked. For our last post of the year, staff writer John Weland shares some of his personal favorite tech things from 2021. ~ Raven Knight, Ed.

Favorite Case for 2021

The Lain Li Q58 fully loaded with hardware. It's heavy

My pick for best case would have to go to the Lian Li Q58, it’s small, well-built and allows for a ridiculously power-dense system to be built inside of it. A two-tone aesthetic; aluminum and tempered glass; gullwing-esque doors; ball-in-socket mounting. All premium, and perfectly executed. For me, the front panel I/O actually being on the front (rather than the top) is the absolute the icing on the cake. Anyone with cats knows that your power button does not go on top.

Favorite CPU

Ryzen 5 5600g box next to an open B1 case

I was quite pleased when I got to check out the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G. It was the first time I was able to build a GPU-less PC that was capable of that level of “workstation” workloads. Being an APU it does have an on-die GPU more than capable of running a lot of games 1080p 30-60. Since its inception the Ryzen APU line has been the go-to for anyone wanting a small power efficient build (GPUless) but still wanted on-die graphics that were capable. It’s one drawback for me is that the on-die GPU was still GCN based on Vega and I have been long waiting an RDNA/RDNA2 on-die solution. Let’s hope this comes to fruition in 2022.

Favorite things used in 2021 but not reviewed

There were a few things I got my hands on in 2021(whether or not they came out in 2021), that I have enjoyed using but didn’t write on. A few honorable mentions as it were.

Power Color Red Devil 6900XT: It’s a hot, massive GPU that has given me a quality and performance boost in my game that I didn’t even know existed. However, with the world-wide chip shortage and the scalpers market. I picked mine up at $1500. I didn’t feel right reviewing a card that far over MSRP and touting how great it is. While it is absolutely amazing, I struggle to call it $1500 worth of amazing.

RODE Podcaster Pro & RODE Pod Mic: in 2021 I upped my audio game. Because I have been WFH since 2016, new roles at new companies meant a lot more zoom meetings. Also managing a non-profit (jcapsmn.org) and hosting the director’s meetings live meant I needed to up my audio game. This setup is small enough, portable and can run with a PC or standalone. Plus, it opens the doors for a few other content creation methods. (2022 podcast? maybe.)

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