I can still remember the winter of 2008: It was dark times for PC gaming, and talk in the industry made it seemed as though the end was nigh. Today, I'd laugh with the lust of a Viking as I smashed insignificant hardware under my axe.
PC gaming, if you didn't know, is the place for gaming that matters. From indie gaming to free-to-play models and, of course, the centerpiece of PC gaming: the celebrated hardware.
To put out 2014 with a bang, I've rounded up the best gaming hardware PCWorld has seen this year.
Best deal in CPUs: Intel Core i7 5820K
Street Price: $367
Most people really don't need Intel's outstanding $1,000 eight-core Core i7 5960X to play games. In fact, most people don't even need the company's awesome six-core Core i7 5820K CPU, but this chip is — believe it or not — a smoking deal as far as Intel CPUs go.
Here me out, because for $366 or just $50 more than the four-core Core i7 4970K you're getting 50 percent more CPU cores! I saw shopping deals with the Core i7 5820K marked down to the $290. Sure, it'll cost you a bit more for the newfangled DDR4 and X99 chipset-based motherboard, but it's also a platform that has longer legs, as it will get Broadwell-E and probably even Skylake-E sometime in 2016.
What's awesome about the Haswell-E Lite is using it for chores other than gaming. You know, like converting video I legally own for use on my phone. The extra four threads (two physical and two Hyper-Threaded) let me do it faster, or do more things at once, or do multiple things simultaneously. With overclocking, this part will basically do everything the vaunted Core i7 4970K Devil's Canyon will do and run away from the little quad-core CPU in multi-threaded tasks. And for the price, it's like the movie theater: A quarter gets you twice as much Diet Coke, so who can pass that up?
Best CPU we can actually afford: Core i5 4690K
Street Price: $219
I like to put people in categories. For those who say they only care about gaming, but still want the best performance out there for the money, it's hard to look past Intel's Core i5 4690K, aka Devil's Canyon Lite. This chip uses four of Intel's super-efficient Haswell cores and is unlocked, too. It's pretty much the same as its big brother that we used in this build, but $100 cheaper. The absence of Hyper-Threading functionality won't hurt most gamers.
Best single GPU: GeForce GTX 980
Price as reviewed: $550
It's the fastest single-GPU card available today. It runs incredibly cool and sips power to boot. How low? You can run the GeForce GTX 980 on as little as a 500-watt power supply. Throw in Nvidia's full suite of outstanding GeForce Experience utilities and you get a Charlie Sheen "winning" kind of card, but without the career-wrecking benders. The card is also the first to feature HDMI 2.0 that we've seen and will comfortably handle all gaming at 1080p and even work well for most gaming at 2560x1600 too.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.