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The best gaming PCs and hardware of 2014

Gordon Mah Ung | Dec. 22, 2014
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.

The only true weakness of the GeForce GTX 980 is its price. Without a next-gen product to go against the GeForce GTX 980, AMD has had to play a price war above and below, which has made the card hard to justify, except for those who want the fastest single-GPU card available — and those who prefer Nvidia to AMD on religious grounds.

If nothing else, you can lust after the GeForce GTX 980 for the state of the art it represents right now.

Best reason not to buy a GTX 980: EVGA GeForce GTX 970 ACX 2.0

Price as reviewed: $370

Remember how I said the GeForce GTX 980 has a problem with price? Well, it's not just AMD that's the problem — it's also the awesome price-to-performance ratio that its little sibling, the GeForce GTX 970, offers. For the first few months the card was available, it was nigh impossible to find because of demand. Most gamers just skipped the GeForce GTX 980 for the GeForce GTX 970 because it has most of the performance of its big sister.

If you're shopping for a card, you'll wonder if it's worth paying for the fancy aftermarket cooler of the ACX 2.0. Don't expect to find standard Nvidia coolers on the 970, because there is no standard reference design.

Best-priced GPU: AMD Radeon R9 290

Street price $260

Yes, the R9 290 came out in 2013. So does it even merit being on this list? I think so. That's because AMD's slash-and-burn pricing this year makes the R9 290 a pretty compelling card today.

When introduced last year, it was $400. With price adjustments, variations of the card with aftermarket coolers can be had for as low as $260. We recommend you opt for an aftermarket cooler instead of the stock cooler you see here. The R9 290 is neither the coolest nor quietest card in the house, so it really benefits from the aftermarket coolers.

Best mouse: Logitech G502 Proteus Core

Price as reviewed: $80

It has 11 buttons, and you can scale the Logitech G502 Proteus Core's sensors from 200 CPI to 12,000 CPI. Considering the customization and what Hayden Dingman called "one of the most comfortable designs I've ever held," you have the standout mouse for the year. It doesn't hurt that at $80, the G502 Proteus Core is actually fairly affordable for a gaming mouse.

Yeah, some of you will say gaming mice are just scams because it's about the playuh, not the mouse. But if that were true, you'd be rolling a mechanical mouse, right playuh?

Best keyboard: WASD V2

Price as reviewed: $145

The year isn't over for our mechanical keyboard reviews, but if you're hot to trot on a keyboard that'll have your fingers in heaven, the easy pick is the WASD V2. Available as a compact or 104-key configuration, we called this the "ultimate mechanical gaming keyboard" in our review. Sure, it doesn't have backlighting or other frills, but it has features such as the support for QWERTY or Dvorak (no, not the cranky columnist — the keyboard layout.) If you want a truly custom experience, you can even specify which mechanical switches to use, or order a Zelda-themed version too. 


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