As we reach the end of the year, it's a good time to look back and draw a line between the best tech product launches of 2013 and the rest of the pack. Leveraging the power of TechSpot's Product Finder, here come 2013's most popular and noteworthy tech products across 14 categories.
Even if the Asrock M8's style is not your thing, there's less room to argue that this is a unique gaming PC barebones kit and that was enough to earn our attention. We've been impressed with the looks of previous Asrock products – including its mini PCs – but the M8 is a clear step up having been designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, the driving force behind Thermaltake's Level 10 chassis, a case as overpriced as it is iconic.
Silverstone cases are often praised by enthusiasts and HTPC builders alike, and with good reason. We last checked the Fortress FT03 which deserved TechSpot's Outstanding award and now two years later, the much anticipated Fortress FT04 has made it to market.
Upon first glance this latest version looks a lot like the FT01 that was released back in 2008. The FT04 shares similar dimensions to the FT01, with a slight increase in size that we assume simply means it can fit drives and longer graphics cards more comfortably.
Branded the Obsidian 350D, the newcomer crams its more expensive sibling's features into an affordable microATX package and sports the same clean, black brushed-aluminum finish, handy tool-free design and innovative cable management.
While the base 350D is available for around $90, a second edition goes for $110 that adds a side window. So how does Corsair budget Obsidian fair? Read on and find out.
Lian Li's D8000 is also on the purposely huge HPTX form factor. As a point of reference, a standard ATX mid-tower supporting seven expansion slots generally has a 60L capacity while the big Cubitek HPTX-ICE and Lian Li PC-V2120 tout capacities of 79L and 88L.
With a capacity of 145L, the D8000 shatters that paradigm, offering 140% more room than a standard ATX case, which makes sense since the D8000 is essentially two full tower cases fused together.
Before last year, no In Win cases really caught our attention. That changed when we spotted the open-air X-Frame midway through 2012. Following the X-Frame's success, In Win introduced the H-Frame – a similarly unique chassis with a feature list that includes eleven diamond-cut aluminum plates.
In Win's latest open-air chassis has to be their finest creation yet. The D-Frame is a limited edition aluminum pipe and tempered glass case that is unique and equally pricey. DIY'ers will be pleased nonetheless.
Following the success of 2008's HAF 932 chassis, Cooler Master didn't waste any time adapting its High Air Flow design to various other form factors and price points – many of which we've covered in depth. Along with its larger options, the company offers three mid-towers: the $50 HAF 912, $100 HAF 922 and $130 HAF XM.
While the cost of these cases varies significantly, they're all fairly similar in terms of stature in that their tall, rectangular profile resembles most other mid-towers. Mixing things up, Cooler Master's latest mid-size enclosure, the HAF XB, breaks the conventional mold with boxier dimensions – in fact, the company describes it as a "LAN box".
Released in late 2008, the original Silverstone Raven RV01 quickly caught my attention because of its strange orientation that pointed the motherboard upward at a 90-degree angle, so the "rear" I/O panel was placed on top of the enclosure instead of behind. The Raven 2 Evolution has a more efficient design, it is 24% skinner and 18% shorter than the RV01. The smaller dimensions have also allowed Silverstone to shed 17% of the overall weight. The new changes make for a very interesting computer case, so let's dive in for a closer look...
Cooler Master recently launched yet another enthusiast-friendly CM Storm chassis, the Scout 2. Despite its relatively low $90 price tag, the Scout 2 has plenty to offer, including ergonomic steel-reinforced carrying handles, USB 3.0 support and room for up to two SSDs, nine fans and any graphics card around.
Although we reviewed several Cooler Master enclosures in 2012, it's been a year since we laid hands on a new CM Storm-branded case, so it'll be interesting to see how the company's latest offering holds up in the increasingly competitive sub-$100 territory.
From the perspective of folks who cover tech-related happenings, this is always a polarizing time of year. The final weeks of December are generally void of product announcements, yet only two weeks later, we're bombarded with new gadgets at CES.
Before we move on to the latest and greatest devices of 2013, we figure it's worth revisiting some of 2012's most popular devices as suggested by our Product Finder, which includes reviews by hundreds of seasoned specialists across the Web. We've included 59 products across 14 categories along with their aggregate review score and a brief commentary that explains why they're special.
Gamers tend to take a lot of pride in building their own rigs, but it's generally not enough to have top-notch performance without the looks to match. Motherboards, for instance, have transformed from generic green slabs to works of art. Interestingly, it seems increasingly common to find aggressive military styling among high-end motherboards. Despite the prevalence of military-themed motherboards, enthusiasts haven't had a whole lot of stock options for matching cases.
Hoping to fill that void, Corsair updated its Vengeance gaming lineup earlier this year with the C70 series which comes in Military Green. Thermaltake also launched the Level 10 GT Battle Edition with the same olive drab paint job and a few nifty details that are well worth a look if Army-themed gear is your thing.