Across the board, PC vendors kept doing “their thing” in 2017. It wasn’t quite a repeat, but more a refresh of the footprints left by the previous. Microsoft’s leadership in the convertible space continued to inspire imitators, the war to cement standards in the VR space continued to rage onwards and the Intel-AMD rivalry reached a new era with the arrival of Ryzen.
There weren’t many big game-changing surprises, and those that did shock tended be more iterative than evolutionary. Still, there were a lot of awesome notebooks, storage and networking products released over the last twelve months.
Here are our picks for the best.
Best Gaming Laptop of 2017
Winner: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501
If we’re talking about pushing the boundaries for gaming laptops, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 fits the bill pretty handily.
Not just content with bringing together Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 and Intel’s 7th-gen i7 processor, it made significant advances in form-factor that are sure to inspire plenty of copycats in the years to come.
Leveraging Nvidia’s new Max-Q design, the Zephyrus doesn’t just look thinner and lighter than any other gaming laptop out there - it actually is. As we said in our review, "if you're looking for the thinnest, lightest, most powerful gaming laptop and don't give two damns about battery life, it's going to be hard to find something better than the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501."
You can read our full review of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 here.
Runner Up: Gigabyte Aorus X9
Best Professional Laptop of 2017
Winner: Dell XPS 13
Even in a world where 2-in-1 focused offerings like the Microsoft Surface and Lenovo’s Yoga range continue to gain in both popularity and prowess, there’s still something to be said for a classic, no-nonsense laptop. Still a certain charm to be found in the elegance of a good clam-shell design and the click-clack of a fully-featured keyboard.
The Dell XPS 13 excels at embodying both of these qualities in a way that reminds you why we’re still building these kinds of portable PCs decades even in a time where convertibles are more popular than ever. Äs said in our review, “We fully expected the XPS 13 with its quad-core CPU to offer only marginal improvements at best, but the performance results were truly amazing."
"For those who do CPU-intensive tasks, the XPS 13 can truly hang with laptops that weigh almost twice as much.”
Runner Up: Surface Laptop
Winner: Lenovo Yoga 920
With no end in sight to the dominance of Microsoft’s Surface hardware, it’s been refreshing to see companies like Lenovo and Samsung finally begin to close to gap with impressive offerings of their own.
The Yoga 920 is a solid example of this - bringing together a powerful 8th-gen Intel Core processor and an ultra-crisp 4K display. It’s the latest in a long line of beastly 2-in-1s from the brand and a sign that they’ll continue to leapfrog the competition well into 2018. Portable PCs are getting competitive again, thank goodness.
You can read our hands-on take on the Lenovo Yoga 920 here.
Runner Up: Samsung Galaxy Book
You can read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Book here.
Best Networking Product
Winner: Linksys WRT32XRead more: EVGA SC17 4K Gaming Laptop: Full, in-depth Review
However, despite the rise of ‘The Lifestyle Routers’, it’s Linksys’ WRT32X that really left us impressed. The high-spec router offers something that no other gaming router has been able to offer - a reason to actually buy in beyond just asphalt aesthetics.
As we said in our review, Linksys’ WRT32X gaming router absolutely lives up to its potential, making a compelling case not just for itself but for a new class of gaming routers. Dedicated products that understands and caters to the specific needs of their audience and offer them not just good looks but solid features that genuinely improve the experience.
"If you can’t tell or feel the difference between a ping of 50 and 15, the premium price on the Linksys’ WRT32X is going to be a hard pill to swallow. However, if you’re invested enough in your online gaming experience to be shopping for a gaming router in the first place, you’d be crazy to overlook this eSports-grade offering.”
There have been plenty of gaming routers before the WRT32X, however, none have been able to offer the same kind of advantage or difference in performance that you get with Killer’s network traffic prioritization engine.
Puns aside, this one feels like a real game-changer for the category - and that kind of thing should always get some recognition.
Runner Up: TP-Link Deco M5MSI GL62M 7RDX gaming laptop review
Best Storage Product
Winner: Intel Optane 900P
Speaking of game-changers, 2017 held more than a few when it came to consumer storage products. SanDisk continued to hold their lead with the world’s largest MicroSD cards, personal cloud solutions like WD’s My Cloud Home made significant gains in popularity and ease-of-use while SSDs evolved into more portable form-factors than ever before (such as Samsung’s T5).
However, on purely mathematical level, no degree of change in consumer storage can measure up to the one offered by Intel’s new Optane SSD offering. As bluntly worded in our review of the Optane 900P, “If you want the best storage for your consumer PC—the Intel SSD 900P is it. When you factor in longevity, nothing else even comes close.”
Runner Up: WD My Cloud Home