- Best Motherboard Maker
- Best Value Motherboard
- Best Premium Motherboard
- Best Graphics Card Maker
- Best Value Graphics Card
- Best Premium Graphics Card
- Best Value CPU
- Best Premium CPU
- Best Internal Storage Maker
- Best External Storage Maker
- Best SOHO or Home NAS
- Best Value Laptop or 2-in-1
- Best Premium Laptop or 2-in-1
- Best Gaming Laptop
- Best Desktop PC Maker
- Best Memory Maker
- Best Cooling Product
- Best Monitor
- Best Keyboard
- Best Mouse
- Best Gaming Headset
- Best PC Case
- Best Router
- Best Reseller
- Excellence Award
- Gold Award
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.
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 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.
Best Value Motherboard
- Nzxt N7 B550
- MSI MPG B560i Gaming Edge Wi-Fi
- Asus ROG Strix B560-F Gaming Wi-Fi
- Gigabyte B560M Aorus Elite
- Asrock B560 Steel Legend
- Asus TUF Gaming B560-Plus WIFI
Best Premium Motherboard
- Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro
- MSI MEG Z690 Unify
- Asrock Z690 Taichi
- MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Carbon WIFI
- Asus TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WIFI
- Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Master
- Asrock Z590 PG Velocita
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’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.
Best Value Graphics Card
Best Premium Graphics Card
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.
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