Tom’s Hardware Innovation Awards 2022: Game Changers

TH Innovation Awards
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Every day at Tom’s Hardware, we have the privilege of testing the latest gear and the responsibility of accurately sharing our findings with our readers. From CPUs to gaming PCs, 3D printers and Raspberry Pi expansion boards, a lot of enthusiast hardware passes through our labs. While a lot of products offer great performance and are worth buying, few actually break any new ground.

To recognize the real game changing products and the companies behind them, we’ve launched the first-annual Tom’s Hardware Innovation Awards. The 26 products below each disrupt the market in some way and set a standard that others may follow. 

In order to be eligible for consideration, products must have been either announced or shipped within the last year. While we tested many of the devices below – and linked to our reviews where available – some have not shipped yet and are included here based on their potential. Whether any untested products are worth your money is a question we’ll have to answer in future reviews, but what we can say for all of the gear-below is that it breaks out of the box in ways likely to shape the tech industry’s future.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPU

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AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPU

3D V-Cache brings AMD the gaming crown.

AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D brings an innovative new 3D packaging technology that breathes more life into an existing architecture, creating the best CPU for gaming that we’ve ever tested. AMD pulled this feat off with an eight-core 16-thread chip based on the same 7nm process and Zen 3 architecture as the original Ryzen 5000 chips that debuted back in 2020, but used an innovative hybrid bonding technology to fuse an extra slice of cache atop the processing cores, a first for desktop PCs.

This technique stacks an extra slice of L3 cache atop the chip, called 3D V-Cache, that enables a massive 96MB of total L3 cache capacity. That pays tremendous dividends in gaming — AMD’s chip is 7% faster than the Core i9-12900KS, but Intel’s flagship costs 70% more. The 5800X3D also drops into AM4 motherboards stretching all the way back to the original models that debuted in 2017, a boon for Ryzen fans, and consumes a fraction of the power of Intel’s flagship. 

AMD’s 3D V-Cache tech doesn’t boost all types of work — its gains for desktop PCs remain confined to gaming — but it does show that new types of packaging technology are the new battleground as chipmakers struggle to increase performance and density in the waning light of Moore’s Law. AMD already uses its 3D V-Cache tech for its EPYC data center chips and its arrival for desktop PCs has redefined what’s possible, so we expect to see more of this technology in the company’s future products.

Read: Ryzen 7 5800X3D Review

Paul Alcorn

Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti Graphics Card

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Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti Graphics Card

Fastest GPU ever is first with 21 Gbps Memory

True innovation in graphics cards tends to come in spurts: You get a new architecture or two, like we had in 2020 with Nvidia's Ampere and AMD's RDNA 2, and then a couple of years go by with derivations of those architectures. Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3090 Ti falls into the familiar pattern, packing a fully enabled GA102 chip, but it is a hint of things to come. Whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen.

Nvidia took the now-familiar GA102, but this time instead of 24 1GB GDDR6X chips on both sides of the PCB, operating in 'clamshell mode,' it upgraded the memory to 2GB GDDR6X chips. Then, for good measure, it is the first to use Micron's latest and greatest 21 Gbps GDDR6X to boost memory bandwidth. It didn't stop there.

The TBP (Total Board Power) for the RTX 3090 Ti checks in at a staggering 450W for the base model, and many custom cards push that even higher. In our testing, the Asus 3090 Ti TUF Gaming OC peaked at 492W in OC mode. The good news is that the card stayed cool and so did the memory.

How far will power consumption go when Nvidia launches its Ada architecture and the expected RTX 40-series later this year? Don't be surprised if we see 600W GPUs. On the one hand, that seems horrible, but we've previously tested triple-SLI setups, and we're sure the overall performance gains will be far more enticing than anything multi-GPU gaming ever provided on a consistent basis.

Read: Asus GeForce RTX 3090 Ti TUF Gaming OC Review

– Jarred Walton

Valve Steam Deck Gaming Console

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Valve Steam Deck Gaming Console

Handheld PC gaming goes mainstream.

There have been a few PC gaming handhelds before, but the Steam Deck feels the most complete, feature-packed and ready out of the box. The Steam Deck, while hefty, is comfortable to hold and took the lessons from the Valve controller to make a console-style experience. A version of SteamOS prioritized for the handheld makes it easy to use out of the box. It's the best way we've seen so far to play your PC games on the go without a gaming laptop.

Perhaps just as important is Valve's use of Proton, a Windows compatibility layer for Linux. While Valve is still working through the library to judge how playable games are, that work has made a ton of games that wouldn't work on a Linux system run on the Steam Deck (albeit with some hiccups). And if you want to install Windows, it's possible to do that instead.

And Valve did this all, including a custom AMD Zen 2 chip, at a surprisingly affordable price point. Competitors doing similar things are far more expensive, but they don't make money off of selling games.

Read: Valve Steam Deck Review

– Andrew E. Freedman

Alienware 34-Inch Curved QD-OLED Gaming Monitor

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Alienware 34-Inch Curved QD-OLED Gaming Monitor (AW3423DW)

OLED and Quantum Dot technology meet high refresh rates.

We’ve seen OLED-based monitors for PC desktop duties in the past, but most have taken on the form of repurposed TV panels. However, Alienware has changed things significantly with the AW3423DW, which features a familiar (for PC gamers) 34-inch ultra-wide form-factor with a 3440x1440 resolution and 1800R curve.

The AW3423DW impresses on just about every front, as its OLED panel provides impressive image quality in both SDR and HDR modes, the latter of which can go up to 1000 nits of brightness. In addition, Alienware’s curved screen features an impressively large color gamut, hitting 108 percent of the DCI-P3 color space on our tests. We also have to mention the excellent color saturation and inky blacks thanks to its infinite contrast ratio.

Alienware also gets the basics right with a supported 175 Hz refresh rate, Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate and AMD FreeSync support, and excellent build quality. And when we used it, the gaming felt as smooth and tear-free as we’ve experienced on faster, 240 Hz panels.

Read: Alienware AW3423DW Gaming Monitor Review

– Brandon Hill

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

Easel screen done right

When Microsoft released Windows 11, it needed a piece of hardware to show it off. The Surface Laptop Studio, replacing the Surface Book, highlighted the new operating system by packing it in a new form factor. Rather than the Surface Book's detachable tablet, the Surface Laptop Studio puts the screen on a hinge that moves like an easel, aiming it at artists and others who are handy with a stylus.

Sure, Acer had attempted the form factor before, but you could argue that Microsoft got it down pat in an elegant design. That's on top of a 120 Hz display, an excellent keyboard and an optional stylus that vibrates in an attempt to mimic paper.

It also got around an engineering challenge: the Surface Book was limited to keeping key components behind the tablet screen. With the Surface Laptop Studio, Microsoft engineered around the problem allowing for a discrete GPU, although Microsoft went with low-power CPUs anyway.

Read: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Review

– Andrew E. Freedman

Asus ROG Falchion NX Keyboard

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Asus ROG Falchion NX Keyboard

Configurable touch bar

Compact 65% keyboards are popular for both at-home and on-the-go users for their space-saving design that still delivers most of the keys required for gaming and typing. But with no space between the keys for extra features or buttons, it’s hard to find ways to innovate. But with the ROG Falchion NX, Asus has added a configurable touch bar on the left edge that you can use for volume, zooming in and out, adjust lighting, or whatever else you choose in the keyboard’s Armoury Crate software.

There’s also a rigid plastic cover that protects the Falchion NX while traveling, and can be used as a stand to lift the keyboard up a bit while typing. The 2.4-GHz wireless dongle stores magnetically, you can choose between three Asus switch types (brown, red or the blue switches we tested), and the PBT shine-through keycaps show off the ubiquitous RGB lighting.

If you want longevity between charges though, you may want to use the lighting sparingly. Asus says you’ll get up to 450 hours between charges with the Falchion NX in stealth mode, but only 53 in full-on disco mode.

Read: Asus ROG Falchion NX Review

– Matt Safford

Razer Basilisk V3 Gaming Mouse

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Razer Basilisk V3 Gaming Mouse

Smart scroll wheel, plenty of programmability

Razer’s wired gaming mouse upped the ante with its HyperScroll Tilt wheel, which automatically switches between notched and smooth scrolling, depending on your actions. Sure, we’ve seen this kind of feature on mice like the Logitech MX Master 3, but Razer takes its scroll wheel to another level for gaming, adding a Scroll Acceleration feature and allowing you to configure actions for when you move the wheel left or right.

The Basilisk V3 has 13 different programmable buttons and, if that’s not enough customization for you, hit the HyperShift button and each will take on a second function. The mouse uses optical mechanical switches which offer long life and great tactility while there are 11 customizable RGB zones. It also operates at up to 26,000 CPI, but there’s a sniper button which immediately speeds up the input so you can take quick shots.

Read: Razer Basilisk V3 Review

– Avram Piltch

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless Headset

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HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless Headset

300 hours of battery life

While most of the best gaming headsets, top out at 30 hours of endurance, HyperX’s Cloud Alpha Wireless promises ten times that amount of battery life. We used the headset on a regular basis over a period of two weeks and it barely dipped below 50 percent capacity.

The Alpha Wireless keeps the tough build, design, and comfort of its wired counterpart, all in a slimmer form factor with improved dual-chamber drivers. The sound quality is great and made even better with software enhancements like NGenuity EQ and DTSX spatial audio. The detachable bi-directional microphone is surprisingly good as well.

There are some trade-offers. Namely, this headset only connects via 2.4-GHz wireless with no wired or Bluetooth options. There’s also no RGB light show or haptic feedback, either of which would require more juice.

Read: HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless Review

–  Isaac Rouse

Lian Li O11D EVO PC Case

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Lian Li O11D EVO PC Case

A case that evolves and changes with you.

If you're the type of PC builder who's never quite happy with the features of any one case, or you want a rig that can grow and change along with your build, Lian Li's O11D EVO should be at the top of your list. An evolution in the design of the company’s popular O11 Dynamic line that debuted in 2018, the O11D Evo is the first case in a while that feels more like an ecosystem than a fixed product.

Out of the box, the mid-tower ATX case can be configured in standard orientation, or reversed so that the glass side panel and motherboard live on the opposite side of the case. And the front-panel IO can be moved as well, giving you easy access to two USB-A, one USB-C, and an audio combo jack either up front or on either side of the bottom of the case.

But that’s just the tip of the transforming iceberg. Lian Li sells five kits for the O11D EVO, letting you move the front IO to the top, replace the front glass panel with mesh for much-improved airflow, or double up on those front-/side-facing USB A/C ports. There are also two different kits for showing off your graphics card, standing up but running horizontally, from the back of the case to the front, or vertically at the front of the case.

Read: Lian Li O11D EVO Hands-On

– Matt Safford

Samsung PM1743 SSD

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Samsung PM1743 SSD

First SSD with PCIe 5.0

Samsung’s PM1743 is the world’s first PCIe 5.0 SSD and touts up to 13 GBps of read throughput and a mind-boggling 2.5 million random read IOPS, both of which are twice that of standard PCIe 4.0 SSDs. While this SSD is destined for the data center and not your desktop PC, we will see variants based on this same technology arrive to more mainstream climes in the near future. 

Intel’s Alder Lake and AMD’s soon-to-be-released AM5 platform both support the PCIe 5.0 interface, and storage devices have proven to be the only devices for mainstream PCs that already saturate the PCIe 4.0 bus. With up to 13 / 6.6 GBps of sequential read/write throughput and 2.5 million / 250,000 random read/write IOPS, we can see that SSDs equipped with revamped controllers will push the PCIe 5.0 bus to its fullest right out of the gate. 

That blistering performance comes at a cost, though: The Samsung PM1743 gulps down ~30W of power under load, roughly triple that of a PCIe 4.0 model. It’s no wonder, then, that SSD makers have already indicated that some of the highest-performance PCIe 5.0 SSDs will need active cooling (i.e., a fan) when they arrive later this year. 

We, for one, welcome the blistering speed. Pairing PCIe 5.0 SSDs with Microsoft’s DirectStorage, which can load PC games in roughly one second, we could see SSDs spur yet another renaissance for PC gaming performance.

Read: Samsung PM1743

– Paul Alcorn

Dell Ultrasharp Webcam

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Dell Ultrasharp Webcam

A new quality standard and a sleek design

If the pandemic and resultant expansion of remote work has taught us anything, it’s that we all need excellent webcams. Dell really took this lesson to heart, releasing the industry-leading Dell Ultrasharp Webcam, which outputs at a sharp 4K and can hit 60 fps running at 1080p.

More important than the Dell Ultrasharp’s resolution and frame rate is its jaw-dropping image quality. The $200 camera and its Sony Starvis CMOS sensor provided better low-light performance than other top-tier cameras such as the Razer Kiyo Pro. And when we took an image with a sunny window behind our face, a common situation, the camera did what no competitor could: kept our face from being washed out.

Dell’s webcam also features a uniquely sleek cylindrical design and it offers three different FOVs. If For wide shots, you can get up to 90 degrees – way more than most cameras – or you can crop down to 78 or 65-degree views. Dell has thrown down the glove here and hopefully we’ll see the company’s main webcam competitors, Logitech and Razer, up their games to match.

Read: Dell Ultrasharp Webcam

– Avram Piltch

AnkerMake M5 3D Printer

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AnkerMake M5 3D Printer

Faster 3D printing

Perhaps 3D prints will never output as fast as their paper counterparts, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in a world where a decent model can take literally all day to complete. The AnkerMake M5 promises to solve the speed problem by outputting regular prints at 250mm per second and 2,500mm per second in an accelerated (but lower quality) mode.

Popular FDM 3D printers such as the Creality Ender 3 Pro usually output at around 60mm per second, which is less than a quarter of the M5’s claimed speed. Due out later this year, Anker’s first 3D printer also features a built-in camera you can use to watch your prints, Wi-Fi, its own smartphone app and sturdy metal parts. Its 235 x 235 x 250mm build volume is nothing to sneeze at either.

If the AnkerMake M5 operates at even half of the speed it promises, it could set off a new performance race in 3D printing. Considering how slow most 3D printers are today, that’s a great thing.

– Avram Piltch

Thermaltake Pacific R2 Ultra Memory LCD Monitor Kit

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Thermaltake Pacific R2 Ultra Memory LCD Monitor Kit

A screen for your RAM

RGB is so 2019! The coolest bling you can bring to the inside of your PC involves screens; lots of screens. While we’ve seen motherboards with status displays on them and AIO coolers with round LCD displays on them, Thermaltake takes internal screens to the next level with its Pacific R2 Ultra.

The Pacific R2 Ultra is a 3.9-inch, full-color LCD screen that sits on top of your DDR4 or DDR5 RAM and shows everything from your system health to your favorite animation. Using Thermaltake’s TT RGB Plus application you can make the 480 x 128 resolution display show the temperature, frequency or use percentage of the RAM or other key components such as the CPU and GPU. You can also select from a list of animated GIFs or upload your own. The device attaches to your motherboard or RGB hub via its included micro USB to 9-pin cable.

– Avram Piltch

Argon EON Raspberry Pi-Powered NAS

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Argon EON Raspberry Pi-Powered NAS

Turn your Pi into professional networked storage drive.

Turning a Raspberry Pi into a NAS is nothing new, but with Argon’s EON we see how it can be done with style. The innovation is in the design. Gone are the wires and boring boxes, instead we have a gleaming tower of aluminum and acrylic which contains up to four SATA drives and your choice of Raspberry Pi 4. 

Cooling the Raspberry Pi 4 is made possible via a beefy heatsink, and the drives are kept cool with a super quiet fan at the top of the case. This is a NAS that will look at home in your office, makerspace or living room.

Read: Argon EON Review

– Les Pounder

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 Laptop

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 Laptop

Second screen that’s actually useful

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of attempts at bringing the multi-screen experience to laptops. From Asus’s ZenBook Duo, which puts a second display on top of the keyboard, to Apple’s MacBooks with Touch Bars to Lenovo’s ancient and bulky ThinkPad W701ds, which had a 10-inch screen that popped out of the lid, all of these were interesting ideas that weren’t not very practical.

Lenovo’s upcoming ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 laptop has a secondary, 8-inch display that sits to the right of the keyboard and provides some actual value. The 800 x 1280 touch panel uses the company’s software to provide some features you wouldn’t get elsewhere, even if you attached a portable monitor to your laptop. It can zoom in on a particular part of an image while seeing the entire picture on the main screen – something we experienced when using Adobe Lightroom on the ThinkBook at a Lenovo press event.  

Lenovo’s software also allows you to use the secondary display as a touchscreen calculator, an app launcher or a white board for drawing. There’s a “waterfall display” feature which vertically extends the main screen so you can see more rows on a spreadsheet, for example. You can also use it to mirror the screen on your Android phone. 

The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is due out later this year for a very-affordable starting price of $1,399. It even comes with an active stylus you can use with either the secondary or primary display.

Read: Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 Hands-On

– Avram Piltch

MSI MPG321UR-QD Xbox Edition Monitor

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MSI MPG321UR-QD Xbox Edition Monitor

Quantum dot delivers amazing color to PC and Xbox.

The 32-inch monitor category is very popular with PC gamers, and MSI is keen on bringing console gamers into the fold. We reviewed the standard MPG321UR-QD, and MSI followed up with the MPG321UR-QD Xbox Edition certified for use with the Xbox Series X.  

The MPG321UR-QD Xbox Edition uses an IPS panel calibrated to near perfection out of the box and provides excellent color; in fact, it’s one of the most colorful monitors that we’ve ever tested. It can hit 117% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 83% of Rec.2020.

In addition, given that it is Xbox Series X-certified, the MPG321UR-QD Xbox Edition features a 4K UHD resolution with FreeSync (and G-Sync) support at speeds up to 144Hz (although the Xbox Series X tops out at 120Hz) over HDMI 2.1. MSI includes built-in KVM features, making the monitor even more versatile.

Read: MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD Xbox Edition Review

– Brandon Hill

Fractal Design Torrent PC Case

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Fractal Design Torrent PC Case

Cool in more ways than one.

For the past few years, most PC case designs have prioritized glass panels and good looks over airflow. But Factal’s Torrent case proves you can have great looks and components that run cool. Thanks to a pair of huge 180mm fans in its meshed and aggressively grilled front, plus three more 140mm spinners in the bottom, our testing showed the Torrent is an excellent performer.

The Torrent also sports smart internal design, two glass panels and a nine-port PWM fan hub. Besides bucking the trend of fairly stagnant case design and proving you don’t need restrictive airflow to make a case look great, the design of the Torrent is also spurring change across the case realm. 

We’ve seen more cases with large fans (which tend to be quieter while moving lots of air) since Fractal launched the Torrent than we have in the past several years. Oh, and the company has released smaller versions of the Torrent as well.

Read: Fractal Design Torrent Review

– Matt Safford

ThinkVision M14d Mobile Monitor

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ThinkVision M14d Mobile Monitor

Take a 2.2K screen on the road

Lenovo already makes some of the best portable monitors in the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 and M14t, but its next-generation mobile display promises a new level of screen and buid quality. The ThinkVision M14d steps up to a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 2240 x 1400 resolution from the 16:9, 1080p specs of its predecessors.

Like prior ThinkVision portable monitors, the M14d has an attractive and sturdy kickstand to keep it standing up on your desk. The monitor weighs just 1.3 pounds, which means that it won’t add much heft to your bag as you carry it on your next business trip or commute. Its rated 300 nits of brightness should be more than enough to see your work, even if there’s some sunlight coming into the room.

The ThinkVision M14d t connects to your laptop via USB-C alt mode, using either of the USB-C 3.2 ports that sit on either side of it.  You can use whatever USB-C port isn’t attached to your laptop as a pass-through to connect peripherals or even charge a smartphone. When it launches later this year for $449, the M14d promises to be the ultimate portable productivity screen.

– Avram Piltch

Pimoroni PicoSystem Gaming Handheld

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Pimoroni PicoSystem Gaming Handheld

Make your own games for Pi-powered console.

Think handheld gaming and you instantly go to Nintendo’s Game Boy but Pimoroni’s PicoSystem is a handheld that you can make your own games for. Powered by Raspberry Pi’s RP2040 SoC, PicoSystem is an ideal way for indie gamers to find their feet. 

Programmed via C++ or MicroPython, PicoSystem has a 1.54 inch IPS display, four face buttons and a D-pad all wrapped up in a svelte aluminum case. The PicoSystem and indie game communities have worked on a series of games which push past raw pixels and FPS, back to a time when gameplay mattered more than graphics.

Read: Pimoroni PicoSystem Review

– Les Pounder

Alienware x14 Gaming Laptop

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Alienware x14 Gaming Laptop

Compact gaming and USB-C charging

There are only a few gaming laptops designed for those who want their rig to be truly compact and pretty. Alienware's x14 fits that bill, at just 0.57 inches thick and 4.06 pounds. It's far more travel-friendly than full-power 15- or 17-inch beasts. And it’s the first gaming laptop we’ve seen that charges solely over USB-C. We look forward to a future where all (or at least most) gaming laptops can ditch the traditional power brick, and the Alienware X14 feels like a taste of that tantalizing future.

In terms of look and feel, the Alienware x14 is basically just a smaller version of what we’ve seen with previous Alienware x15 and x17 laptops in the last couple years. But that’s great because the design looks and feels great. 

There's no rear light ring as there is with the x14's larger siblings, but you do get RGB lighting on the keyboard and the iconic alien head on the lid. We’d love to see options for GPUs more powerful than the 3060, and a mechanical keyboard option like on larger models, but here’s hoping for that when Alienware gets around to refreshing its smallest spaceship.

Read: Alienware x14 review

– Andrew E. Freedman

Movo WebMic HD Pro

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Movo WebMic HD Pro

Podcast mic with webcam built-in.

For obvious reasons, the frequency of virtual meetings from home has exploded over the last couple of years. And if you want to maintain a commanding, respectable presence among your colleagues while you’re secretly dressed like a clown from the waist down, you’ll want to look and sound as good as possible. 

That problem is that, to look professional, you need a good camera, a quality microphone and, depending on the time of day or weather, some lighting so you don’t look like a corpse hiding in the darkness.

Despite being primarily a microphone company, Movo has managed to combine a ring light, quality camera and a great-sounding condenser mic into a single device. It’s not perfect. As our reviewer noted, it’s bulky and the stand and mounting mechanism aren’t great. But after spending a few months with the 4K model, the video and sound quality are excellent, and it takes up much less room on my cramped desk than three separate devices.

Read: Movo WebMic HD Pro review

– Matt Safford

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate Keyboard

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Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate Keyboard

Animated LED matrix

Flashy lighting and other visual features are often wasted on things you don’t actually see much, like mice that disappear in your palm or headsets that are out of sight when you’re wearing them. But Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate brings the striking AniMe Matrix display, first found on the lid of the company’s ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop, to a full-size gaming keyboard that will occupy a fairly large amount of your desk space. 

And lights aside, it also features swappable switches, great media controls, a soft wrist rest and double-shot PBT keycaps. It feels like the luxury retro-future of our 90s cyberpunk dreams, and offers up levels of customizability usually relegated to pricier custom keyboard enthusiast kits. The gamer aesthetic won’t be for everyone, but if you like it, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate delivers lots of high-end features and a customizable display unlike anything you’ll find on other keyboards.

Read: Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate keyboard review

– Matt Safford

Razer Blade 14 (2022) Gaming Laptop

Razer Blade 14 (2022) Gaming Laptop

(Image credit: Razer)

Thin but loaded with high-end components

14-inch gaming laptops are the new hotness, but they typically suffer from one issue: limited configuration options that leave out the most powerful parts. Razer is going for the gold this year, by placing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and AMD's Ryzen 9 6900HX. Considering the Alienware x14 only goes up to an RTX 3060, this is a big upgrade.

We haven't gotten to test the Blade 14 just yet, but if the Blade's vapor chamber cooling can keep this 0.66-inch thick chassis cool, it will be one to keep an eye on.

– Andrew E. Freedman

Creality CR-30 3D Printer

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Creality CR-30 3D Printer

Endless printing with a conveyor belt

“Set it and forget it,” is the ideal situation for any maker who wants to output a detailed 3D print, because detailed models can take 20+ hours to complete and even small tools can eat up 5 or 6 hours. But what happens when you need to print a lot of 3D parts and can’t pop into your office several times a day to pull a completed item off of the bed and start the next one?

Creality’s CR-30 uses a conveyor belt to keep the printing going even when you’re not around to supervise. You can even print really long parts that wouldn’t fit on a normal print bed. 

As the CR-30 prints one item, its textured belt carries it away so the next workload can begin. In our tests, the printer spit out 10 different parts in 15 and a half hours, without any errors. 

Read: Creality CR-30 Review

– Avram Piltch

Co Print 3D Printer Accessory

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Co Print 3D Printer Accessory

Print with up to seven colors at once.

One of the most frustrating issues with 3D printing is that even the best 3D printers can only output in monochrome, because they use just one roll of filament at a time. Sure, you can make multicolor prints by pausing the printer and changing rolls, but that’s a lot of manual labor, particularly if you want to use more than two colors. 

Co Print 3D, a new accessory that’s due out later this year, seamlessly switches the feed to your printer among up to seven different filaments. You just feed your filaments into the back of the device, configure your slicer and watch as it sends the right roll down your printer’s Bowden tube at the right time. You can even use the Co Print 3D to mix different kinds of filament into your project, including ABS, PLA and water-soluble materials. 

– Avram Piltch

Opal C1 Webcam

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Opal C1 Webcam

Computational photography comes to the desktop

While even mid-range smartphones now use computational photography – adjusting images based on CPU processing – computer webcams haven’t used this technology . . . up until now. The Opal C1 Webcam uses an onboard processor to handle complex situations such as low-light environments with great aplomb.

The 4K webcam offers fantastic fidelity and even has a built-in array of three omnidirectional, beamforming mics. In several scenarios during our testing, it even beat the Dell Ultrasharp webcam, which is our overall favorite. However, you will pay a pretty penny for the device as it costs $300 and  works best when paired with its Mac-only software.

Read: Opal C1 Review

– Avram Piltch

Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.