There was a lot of great stuff for PC geeks – PC stuff for 2019. From new AX routers to blazingly fast PCIe NVMe SSDs it occupied a large slice of our coverage.
The main thing I noticed about PC stuff 2019 was the rise of Ryzen, but not necessarily the fall of Intel. The Sith Lord struck back with a vengeance with its 10th generation i9 and Project Athena only to be annoyed by Qualcomm and its SD8cx Windows on ARM chips.
In PC Stuff 2019 the Chip War was really about a few things
- AMD maintaining its ‘bang for buck’ Ryzen reputation with gamers
- AMD enhancing its low-power ‘U’ Ryzen 3-series offerings to notebook makers like the Surface Laptop 2 15”.
- Intel winning the high ground with its 10th generation Core i9 series over AMD Threadripper
- And Windows needing an-always on, always connected device based on let’s face it, a sizeable ARM-based smartphone!
Here is some of the stuff that impressed us in PC Stuff 2019.
First an apology – we drew you in with Logitech G gaming rig but so little of this article is about gaming. PC Stuff 2019 is about consumer and small business things that we found invaluable.
Notebooks – too many to choose but we did
GadgetGuy loves a Lenovo Yoga C930 (14) 360° hinge. It is our 2019 workhorse after the great experience we had with the Yoga 920 in 2018. We love the hinge pen dock, Thunderbolt 3 and its Dolby Vision 13.9” screen. We heartily recommend Lenovo Yoga.
But we need to make a few honourable mentions
Samsung Galaxy Book 2 ($1599 complete) Windows on ARM and Microsoft Surface Pro X ($1849 plus keyboard and accessories) Windows on ARM. While we cannot give an unreserved buy recommendation, they are perfect for the traveller that wants long battery life, LTE and only uses Office 365 and the usual Windows productivity software – they won’t run 64-bit apps.
The latest Microsoft Surface Pro 7 continues the Surface design of a full-fat Windows tablet with detachable keyboard from $1399 to $3749 plus keyboard ($199-249) and accessories. But it adds USB-C – at long bloody last! If you need a desktop replacement with a 10th Generation Intel Core, this is it!
HP Spectre x360 2019 for the drop-dead sexy 13.3” or 15.6 design. Starting at $1999 to $4199 you have what is arguably the best looking 360° on the planet. It offers 1080 to 4K as well as a choice of 10th generation Intel Core processors. I like the Dark Ash/Silver but my wife prefers the new Poseidon Blue.
PC Stuff 2019 – Monitors
Its 4K, Thunderbolt 3/USB-C or nothing but you need the graphics card to drive them – especially dual monitor setups.
The enormous Samsung 49” gaming monitor – at 32:9, 3840 x 1080, Free-sync, 1800R curved that was frankly too damned big for office use (which we judge things on) but perfect for a gamer staff member.
Channel 7 Sunrise GadgetGuy and gamer Val Quinn concurs saying, “It is huge, huge I tell you! It is like sitting in front of the Pentagon ‘Command and Control Centre’ where you can see everything.” We covered other Samsung gaming, and business monitors with QLED (Quantum Dot) technology and its colours blow us away. See Samsung’s range here.
Honourable mention: Samsung Space fold-up/down monitor for those in tight spaces.
Philips countered the Sammy 49” with a 43” Momentum, 4K, HDR1000, 16:9 monitor. It was awesome to see, but the 16:9 format meant eye and neck strain trying to take in such a vast vista. In reality, it was another specialist gaming monitor that our Gaming Gadgeteer Arjun Lal would have killed for as he tried a Philips 55” 4K TV as a gaming monitor. Philips 4K monitors offered some of the best value in 2019 and deserves to be on your shopping list.
I will let you into a little secret – The 35” 4K BenQ EX3501R UWQHD USB-C was my personal favourite of 2019. You could not have asked for more (except perhaps two of them as I need dual monitors) and its AMVA, WLED, 21:9, curved UWQHD screen was to die for. BenQ is another brand you need to consider.
HP has its ‘Z’ range, and the one to create most monitor envy was it $1795 Z38c UWQHD 3840 x 1600 (that is ultra-wide 4K), 10-bit colour, USB-C data/video/power support, increased contrast to 1000:1 and 2300R curve… Need I go on? Interestingly its new Z43 is cheaper at $1331. Most of HP’s (and Dells) monitors use LG panels.
Not to be outdone our CEO and ‘Applespert’ Val Quinn reviewed LG’s $3199, 5K 34WK95U, ultrawide monitor. He loved it so much he bought one to replace his LG 32” UWQHD. LG makes a great range of monitors – hint don’t be put off by the recommended retail prices. We bought it for $1829 from Mwave, and it’s bigger 38” brother is now $1499.
Acer Predator – it is about speed
Thomas Bartlett drooled over the Acer Predator gaming monitor XB273K, a 4K, native 120Hz panel (overclockable to 144Hz) with NVIDIA G-Sync. Acer’s monitor website is here, and it also can be found at a lower price online. But a caution – Read Arjun’s Nvidia – higher framerates means a better Kill Death ratio before you junk your existing 60Hz monitors.
PC Stuff 2019 – Docks – dual monitors, Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C
If you are lucky enough to have a Thunderbolt 3 PC or Mac, you can drive two [email protected] monitors from the right dock.
Last year we reviewed Kensington Thunderbolt 3 dock 170W (SD5200DT), OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and Belkin Thunderbolt 3 dock all were excellent although at that time Kensington was best for Windows and OWCN for Mac. Drivers have come a long way since then.
ATEN has joined the fray with its UH7230 Thunderbolt 3 dock, and it’s a slightly later take on the others offering USB-C and USB-A 3.1, Gen 1 connectivity as well.
But the crown here has to go to Kensington because of its sheer range of docks for USB-C (Alt Mode), USB-A, Thunderbolt, Surface Pro, MacBook, desktop, travel, 1080/2K/4K and more that all work so well.
But my personal favourite this year is traveller’s friend – the ALOGIC USB-C Dock Wave that has USB-C, 4K HDMI, Qi charge and a 5000mAh power bank all-in-one.
PC Stuff 2019 – Storage
Very fast PCIe 3.0 4-lane NVMe M.2 2280
The overall winner in the SSD Samsung 970 EVO Plus – blindingly fast at sequential read/write of 3536/3327MBps. At $300 for a 1TB and $600 for 2TB these are superb.
But a close, very close second was the WD Black SN750 – but these cost a few dollars more so Samsung takes the crown.
External SSD SATA 6 drives
Samsung T5 external USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 2TB SSD took the crown at $300 for 1TB and $600 for 2TB.
But I liked the ‘drink coaster’ style of the USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 LaCie Portable 2TB SSD.
Honourable mention must go to Samsung’s X5 external Thunderbolt 3 that blew USB-C/SATA 6 speeds out of the water. However at $939 for 1TB and $1799 for 2TB you may have to be deliriously happy elsewhere.
Hard disk – do they still make them?
Honourable mention for Seagate’s Iron Wolf Pro NAS drives that holds GadgetGuy’s most treasured data possessions. There is still a place for spinning disks in NAS and data centres, and you can get 10/12/14/16TB for $599/678/7654/949 making it very low-cost storage.
NAS – for small business
There is only one brand as far as GadgetGuy (a small business) is concerned, and that is Synology.
Our pick this year was its DS919+ for its seriously fast speeds enabled by two PCIe NVMe M.2 2280 SSD cache slots. We achieved a record 116MBps over gigabit LAN and double that over 2x Gigabit aggregation – seriously fast NAS storage.
But more than that the SSD speed ups internal read/writes making it possible to render/serve 4K video on the NAS. This is a ridiculously low cost $698 device that takes four hard disks – add Seagate’s Iron Wolf Pro and two Samsung EVO 970 and you have a fantastic, reliable internal NAS.
PC Stuff 2019 – Routers – big ones
Enter NETGEAR with its AX 6000 series dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and the game has changed. It has AX 4 stream, 8 stream and 12 stream routers. These work flawlessly and provide up to 6000Mbps over 2.4GHz (1.2Gbps) and 5GHz (4.8Gbps).
I note that NETGEAR also has a Nighthawk 8-stream Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 extender that I can’t wait to try.
Mesh – Honourable mention
We updated our Mesh guide upgrading our reluctant acceptance from ‘hate it’ to ‘OK in some circumstances’. We think of Mesh as we think of 5G – a great hoax perpetrated to sell more routers.
But one deserves mention – the Synology MR2200AC Mesh tri-band. The critical issue here is that we use three at GadgetGuy – one on each floor – linked by Ethernet cable to provide a proper AC2200 signal on each floor. If we had to rely on the vagaries of Mesh Tri-band using a dedicated 5Ghz backchannel, then this would not be here.
Google also has a new Nest Mesh AC2200/AC1200 MU-MIMO that can connect via Ethernet. No review yet, but we expect it will be vastly better than V1.0!
Also new is D-Link’s Cover-2200 Tri-band AC2200 mesh system with onboard McAfee Secure Home protection. It also can use Ethernet or 5Ghz backhaul, and we will be reviewing it soon.
Speaking of McAfee, we gave top marks to D-Link’s D-Fend Dir 2600 McAfee router. While it can be used as a standalone Wi-Fi router for a small home/apartment to stop network and malware attacks the real value of this gem is to add it to an existing network and protect everything!
PC Stuff 2019 – free software for Windows
The find of the year is Shutup10 – the free privacy tool Windows should have had.
LastPass free password manager is all you need to manage passwords on Windows, macOS, Android and in various browsers.
And my old favourites Wise Disk Cleaner and Wise Registry Cleaner free from Wise. Run these two weekly, and you will never suffer from disk bloat, cookie tracking and so much more. They are totally safe and if you like them why not fling a donation to it.
GadgetGuy’s take – it was a good year for PC stuff 2019
If you were to buy any of our picks, we guarantee that you will get the best value for money and performance.
It is so nice to play with pretty, shiny things.