Australian PC Awards 2022 winners: the best of the best in PC

APCA 2022
(Image credit: Future)

The annual Australian PC Awards give us a wonderful opportunity to consider the year past, and spotlight the things that were very much better than the others.

It’s always fun for us to do this, and we hope you’re inspired to do an upgrade or two as we run through the finalists, the highly commended candidates and winners. 

These awards cover all the products released in Australia through 2021, and were judged by members of the Australian editorial team here at TechRadar, along with our friends at sister Future publications APC, PC Gamer, TechLife Australia and PC PowerPlay.

Narrowing down the finalists took a long time, and the many pros and cons were carefully considered. This year in particular, value for money played a larger-than-usual role in determining the winners. Where we feel it was deserved, some almost-made-it products and companies scored a highly commended position if they didn’t win, though not all categories yielded standout gear to occupy the lower steps on the podium.

We extend a huge congratulations to the teams behind the winners, always striving to make good gear, and that pleases us immensely to see and be able to acknowledge.

Australian PC Awards 2022

(Image credit: Future)

Motherboards

Category

(Image credit: Future)

2021 was a big year for motherboard releases, though mostly on the Intel side, with not one, but two major launches during the year. Things were quieter on the AMD side, with the refreshed X570S chipset and a few B550 latecomers.

Intel’s 500 series motherboards may have been overshadowed by Z690 and 12th-gen CPUs late in the year, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some excellent 500-series boards. Just as noteworthy was the long-awaited inclusion of memory overclocking on B560 boards, many B560 of which surprised us with their step up in quality.

But in the end, Z690 was Intel’s hero. Z690 boards include more storage and cutting-edge connectivity options compared to Z590. Add DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support and Intel leads the way. Z690 boards took a step up in price, but the high quality Z690 boards blur the line between mainstream options and the neglected HEDT segment.

AMD X570S boards represent the best and last AM4 motherboards. For the most part, they are fully mature, with refined BIOS and up-to-date feature sets. And they’re not done yet, as AMD’s V-cache CPUs are still to come in 2022.

Best Motherboard Maker

MSI
Best Motherboard M...

MSI
MSI consistently produced high quality motherboards during 2021. Refined BIOS’ and a great blend of features and value for money were a hallmark, with quality offerings at every price point. 

Other Finalists

Best Value Motherboard

Asus ROG Strix B560-F Gaming WiFi  
Best Value Motherb...

Asus ROG Strix B560-F Gaming WiFi   
The Asus ROG Strix B560-F Gaming WIFI redefined what we expect from an Intel B series motherboard. Its strong VRM, networking and connectivity features give many Z590 boards a serious run for their money. 

• Read the full Tom's Hardware review

Highly Commended

Other Finalists

Best Premium Motherboard

MSI MPG X570S Carbon Max WIFI
Best Premium Mothe...

MSI MPG X570S Carbon Max WIFI
MSI’s X570S Carbon Max WIFI is one of the best AM4 motherboards. If you’re looking for a board for a cutting-edge AMD system that doesn’t carry a cringeworthy price, this is the one. 

Read the full Tom's Hardware review

Highly Commended

Other Finalists

Graphics Cards

Category

(Image credit: Future)

2021 saw the release of some fantastic graphics cards. Truly desirable cards like the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti met the needs of gamers with ultra-wide and 4K screens, while more affordable cards like the RTX 3060 and RX 6600 set a new 1080p 60fps baseline. As more and more gamers make use of high refresh rate screens, the need for faster graphics cards was more apparent than ever.

Image scaling technologies such as DLSS and FSR along with ray traced lighting effects went mainstream but, sadly, any discussion around the state of the GPU industry can’t ignore the unprecedented challenges that continue to blight the industry.

The one-two punch of pandemic-related supply chain issues along with surging mining demand meant that fewer cards made their way into the hands of gamers. It’s a sad state of affairs when a supposed mid-range card like the RTX 3060 sold for well over AU$1,000. Saying that 2021 was a lost year for PC gaming isn’t an exaggeration.

2022 is already looking much better as we look towards the launch of next-generation GPUs, not just from Nvidia and AMD, but relative newcomer Intel too.

Best Graphics Card Maker

Gigabyte
Best Graphics Card...

Gigabyte 
Gigabyte’s graphics cards are typically very good, but they also tend to offer strong value for money, and that’s something that’s severely lacking in today's graphics card market. 

Highly Commended

Other Finalists

Best Value Graphics Card

Image
Best Value Graphic...

MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Gaming X
MSI’s RTX 3060 Gaming X’s smart design choices and great balance of cooling ability and low noise operation are exactly right for a mid-range card. It’s a well built and fantastic looking card too. 

• Read the full PC Gamer review

Highly Commended

Other Finalists

Best Premium Graphics Card

Aorus GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Xtreme
Best Premium Graph...

Aorus GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Xtreme
The Aorus RTX 3080 Ti Xtreme is a stunning flagship graphics card. Its four-slot design, LCD display, six video outputs and factory overclock make this the Lamborghini of 3080 Ti’s.

Highly Commended

Other Finalists

CPU

Category

(Image credit: Future)

Intel dominated the CPU market in 2021. The reception of high-end 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs was lukewarm, but 11th-generation mid and entry level options were some of our favourite CPUs. They dominated the lower end of the market in the absence of competing options from AMD.

AMD was quiet, but what it did release, notably the 5000G series APUs, were well received. The Zen 3 cores performed well at their price points, but their trump card was very strong integrated graphics performance. In a year with no truly affordable GPU options, the ability to game without dropping huge money on a discrete card was very welcome.

But the best CPUs of the year came late in 2021. A resurgent Intel fired its best shots in years with its 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. Their hybrid architecture and multi-threading prowess saw them erase the lead AMD had built, while offering class leading single threaded and excellent gaming performance. The accompanying feature-rich Z690 platform with its DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0 support leaves Intel well placed for the battles ahead.

Best Value CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Best Value CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 
AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600G is a tremendous bang for buck offering. Six fast Zen 3 cores with excellent integrated graphics performance and power efficiency make the 5600G one of the few value bright lights in 2021.

• Read full Tom's Hardware review

Other Finalists

Best Premium CPU