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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.

Best microtower: Digital Storm Bolt II

Price as reviewed: $2857

One of the biggest developments in the gaming PCs of the last few years was the micro-tower. Unlike the bulky, bread-box-shaped (and we've actually seen bread boxes, so believe us) small-form-factor machines, microtowers resemble game consoles more than anything. On the inside though, they pack tremendous firepower. Perhaps the best microtower we saw this year was Digital Storm's Bolt II. Although larger than previous microtower rigs we've reviewed, you can also thank the slightly bigger chassis for better cooling and acoustics, too. Let's not even mention that the Bolt II is a custom designed chassis and built right here. Yup, 'murica.

Best convertible PC: Origin PC Genesis

Price as reviewed: $8365

Many boutique PC vendors  tend to take the best big chassis available from a case vendor such as Corsair, Silverstone or Cooler Master, paint it and call it a day. Not so with Origin PC's new Genesis. Its new custom Genesis is truly unique. When ordered, the customer can pick whether to mount the motherboard to face either right or left side of the case. Even crazier, you can pick whether you want the video cards to vent out the rear or the top. The last trick of the case is the bottom slice, which can be configured with either a hard drive or with radiators for cooling. If you don't want that bottom slice, Origin can remove it, which turns it into a smaller PC called the Millennium.

Best quiet gaming PC : AVA Direct Quiet Gaming PC

Price as reviewed: $2440

Like the name says. What's amazing, though, is AVA Direct pulls off its acoustic trick without resorting to liquid cooling. No, it's air cooling on the CPU and the video card, yet you can game at 2560x1600 without listening to the constant whine of fans. Even better, for a gaming rig, it's actually somewhat affordable. This PC does have one weakness (which you'll have to read about in the review), but it won't affect many gamers.

Best HTPC: Steiger Dynamics LEET Home Theater PC

Price as reviewed: $7295

If you have to ask how much, you know it's not for you. With that out of the way, Steiger Dynamics LEET Home Theater PC is perhaps one of the most gorgeous HTPC's we've ever seen. Ahh, but now you're wondering why this is in a writeup about gaming PCs. You see, the LEET Home Theater PC is no mere HTPC — it also has the gaming chops to play AAA games without compromise.

Best wildcard: Alienware Alpha

Price as reviewed: $550

Every made-up, end-of-the-year, SEO-optimized, click-bait link list has a wildcard. For me, it's Alienware's Alpha, perhaps one of the strangest gaming-PC-cum-console creatures out there today.


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