Best of CES 2021: The most intriguing and innovative PC hardware

CES 2021 was virtual, but the parade of PC hardware went on regardless. Big names AMD, Intel, and Nvidia all made splashy announcements, and PC manufacturers followed in their wake with new products, many coming soon.

No time to sift through all our CES coverage? No problem! Read on for our Best of CES picks—the most intriguing and innovative products we saw.

AMD Ryzen 5000 Mobile

ryzen 5000 mobile AMD

Last year you couldn’t find a high-end gaming laptop with a Ryzen CPU In it to save your life. This year the tables are turning, with probably a dozen different designs announced or in the works.

That should confirm the confidence laptop makers have in AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Mobile, based on the award-winning Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 desktop chip. While we don’t have independent testing yet, we expect it to dominate in multi-core performance and take the lead in single-core performance. —Gordon Mah Ung

Intel Tiger Lake H35

intel Tiger Lake H35 Intel

Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake CPU has been a legitimate ray of light in a Ryzen-clouded sky. Featuring improved efficiency, high clocks, and leading integrated graphics, we’d honestly say Tiger Lake was the best CPU for what people do in a small laptop.

With Tiger Lake H35, we think Intel may have found a sweet spot, promising up to 5GHz clock speeds in laptops that aren’t quite thin-and-light but weigh far less than your typical gaming laptop. It probably won’t win any races with AMD’s new Ryzen 5000, but it’s likely to offer lots of speed for what most people do. —Gordon Mah Ung 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060

nvidia geforce rtx graphics card generic image ces 2021 Nvidia

Among the many goodies Nvidia announced at CES, the $329 GeForce RTX 3060 desktop graphics card deserves to be highlighted because it gives mainstream gamers a next-gen graphics option that doesn’t require a second mortgage (although spiking custom card prices won’t help). 

Better yet, the GeForce RTX 3060 includes an ample 12GB of GDDR6 memory—more  than any other graphics card in the Ampere lineup shy of the flagship RTX 3090. (You can thank AMD’s Radeon cards for forcing Nvidia to be more generous.) Either way, the affordable GeForce RTX 3060 should be a hit when it launches in late February. —Brad Chacos