The A-List

THE VERY BEST GEAR YOU CAN BUY

Update - 2016.12.08

Products of the year

In 2016 PCs got faster, laptops turned into tablets, and phones started exploding (well, those belonging to one particular South Korean company). Adam Banks, head of our Reviews team, picks his products of the year

BEST PC

Palicomp AMD Avenger

We’ve tested some great PCs priced around £500 this year, mostly based on Intel’s i3 processor or squeezing an i5 into the price by compromising elsewhere. Palicomp used AMD’s Athlon X4 880K processor instead, overclocking it and adding both an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 graphics card (for an extra £40 in the current version of the system) and an SSD to eke out every last bit of speed.

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BEST LAPTOP

Asus ZenBook UX305CA

It’s not an all-singing replacement for your desktop PC, but this metal-cased laptop, powered by Intel’s M3 processor, showed it is possible to get an ultra-thin, ultra-modern machine with a supersharp display for around £600.

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BEST LAPTOP TABLET HYBRID

ASUS Transformer Book Flip TP200SA

This year we tested lots of laptops that, by folding or separating into two, turn into tablets. But the Book Flip was the only one that combined good performance with a decent price. It has a nine-hour battery life, built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and very smooth touchpad.

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BEST SMARTPHONE

iOS iPhone SE

Apart from removing the headphone jack to universal annoyance, the iPhone 7 added little to last year’s 6s unless you shelled out even more money for the larger Plus model and its clever dual camera. So our Apple pick is the SE, basically an improved iPhone 5s for less money. We’d like to see more manufacturers using older tech to make cheaper devices.

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BEST SMARTPHONE ANDROID

Motorola Moto G4

When it wasn’t dealing with explosions, Samsung released some great phones this year. But its S7 and S7 Edge are far too expensive for most people. In contrast, Motorola’s Moto G4 broke new ground: a budget smartphone with all the essential features of a top-end one, including reasonably smooth performance, a great screen and a decent camera.

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BEST TABLET

iPad Pro 9.7in

It’s been a quiet year for tablets. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 models continue to rival Apple’s iPads, but neither company updated its range. Huawei’s MediaPad M3 8.0 looked good, but offered much worse performance than the iPad Mini 4 for not much less money. So our tablet of the year has to be Apple’s iPad Pro 9.7in, with the best screen we’ve ever seen on a mobile device.

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BEST PRINTER

Canon Pixma MG5750

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BEST EBOOK READER

Amazon Kindle (2016 model)

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BEST PC MONITOR

AOC Q2778VQE

Update - 2016.11.27Our pick of products that have won the Buy It award

Asus ZenBook UX305CA

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ASUS ZenBook UX305CA High Performance 13 inch Touch Laptop PC ( Intel...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$739.00 $1,499.00

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This metal-cased ‘ultrabook’ looks much more expensive than it is. There’s no touchscreen or 36-degree hinge, just great quality all round and an ultra-sharp display. The M3 processor is adequate for most tasks, though not gaming.

ALTERNATIVE Dell Inspiron 15 5000

If you need a full-size Windows 10 laptop with a DVD drive and a desktop PC-level i5 processor, this is a solid choice.

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2016 Newest Dell Inspiron 15 5000 15.6" FHD Touchscreen Laptop, Intel Core...

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$489.98 $899.00

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Update - 2016.11.26

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LIKE A SUPERNOVA

For a fleeting moment in time the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was our favorite smartphone. But like a ship in the night, it sank, never to be seen again.

So, we are reverting back to the previous champ, being the OnePlus 3 which is still the best going right now. Honorable mentions to the Huawei P9 and Google Pixel, and the Galaxy S7.

PC DESKTOP

Apple iMac 27in with Retina 4k display

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Apple iMac MK462LL/A 27-Inch Retina 5K Desktop (3.2 GHz Intel Core i5,...

Usually ships in 4-5 business days
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$1,619.00 $1,799.00

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The Apple 27in iMac with Retina 4K display is great. The best all-in-one computer around, and by a furlong.

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PERIPHERALS

WIRELESS ROUTER Linksys MaxStream AC5400 MU-MIMO router

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Linksys Max-Stream MU-MIMO Tri-Band AC5400 Wi-Fi Router (EA9500) & Linksys Max-Stream AC1900+...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$443.99 $549.99

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Outstanding range and signal strength, able to stream eight media sources simultaneously and ready for MUMIMO now and in the future.

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NAS  Synology Diskstation DS216+

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Synology NAS Disk Station (DS216+)

Usually ships in 2-3 business days
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$369.90

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For most people the Synology DS216+ is all the NAS they’ll ever need.

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LASER PRINTER Dell B1160w

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Dell Computer B1160w Wireless Monochrome Printer

Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$189.99

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The best all-rounder in our printer group test, with excellent text printing and decent costs.

LAPTOPS

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VALUE

Asus T100HA

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ASUS Transformer Book T100HA-C4-GR 10.1-Inch 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop (Cherry Trail...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am
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Performance that delivers everything typical day to day computing demands short of intense gaming, combined with a fantastic screen and a solid and we think, rugged design makes this the value king.

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GAMING

Asus GL502VS

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ASUS ROG GL502VS-DB71 15.6" Full­HD Gaming Laptop,Intel Core i7­6700HQ,NVIDIA GTX 1070,256GB PCIE...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$1,548.39 $1,699.00

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Asus has built a very solid machine around an incredible new GPU. This has totally revolutionized the performance we can expect from a laptop, putting many regular desktops to shame.

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PROFESSIONAL

Microsoft Surface Book

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Microsoft Surface Book (256 GB, 8 GB RAM, Intel Core i5, NVIDIA...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$1,584.68 $1,899.00

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Truly beautiful, undeniably powerful and without doubt the best professional laptop you can buy.

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HANDHELDS

SMARTPHONE OnePlus 3

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OnePlus 3, RAM 6GB+ROM 64GB 4G FDD-LTE 5.5 inch Android 6.0 Smart...

Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$486.88

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Quick, beautiful, long-lasting and an incredible price; you won’t find a better phone for the money.

TABLET Apple iPad Pro 9.7in

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iPad Pro 9.7-inch (128GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray) 2016 Model

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$631.49 $749.00

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This is a tablet you’ll want to use all the time, and there’s no higher praise for any piece of technology than that.

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EBOOK READER

Kindle Paperwhite

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Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$119.99

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The premium Kindle goes the extra mile, with a more attractive design, lower weight, and better contrast.

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SMARTWATCH

Apple Watch Sport

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Intel Core i5 6600K 3.50 GHz Quad Core Skylake Desktop Processor, Socket...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$219.99 $489.48

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This is not only our pick of Apple Watches, but of the smart watch market overall at this point in time.
Good features, great app support and just so nice to use.

The Kitlog

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KING OF SSDS

Because it’s the perfect PC, and with price no object in the quest for ultimate penultimates, out go the otherwise spectacular Intel 750, OCZ RD400 and Samsung 950 Pro NVMe drives, and in with the utterly monstrous Samsung 960 Pro. Our review spells out just what a leap in storage performance it offers.

But yes, it is expensive, and at this exact moment in time, with the printing machines warming up to receive these pages today, we don’t yet know the Au price. So for just this month we’re using a guesstimate based on the US price.

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NVIDIA 1050 AND 1050TI COMETH

The Labs is running hot with the excitement of a new video card series. We’re putting the new budget cards from Nvidia through the wringer right now, so will we see a new entry next issue for the Game Box?

THE GAME BOX

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INTEL CORE I5 6600K

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Asus Z170 PRO GAMING Desktop Motherboard - Intel Z170 Chipset - Socket...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$134.99 $300.54

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Gaming generally doesn’t make use of hyper-threading which makes this the CPU of choice for this box.

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ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING

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MSI GAMING Radeon RX 480 GDDR5 8GB CrossFire VR Ready FinFET DirectX...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$422.32

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Our Skylake Value Award winner, it packs in a complete set of features yet is priced reasonably. Good audio also means we don’t need a sound card.

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8GB OF DDR4

The speed and brand makes so little difference to performance we can’t recommend one over another.

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AMD RX 480 8GB

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Intel Core i7 6700K 4.00 GHz Unlocked Quad Core Skylake Desktop Processor,...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$319.89 $419.99

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Bettering the GTX 970 , this is the new mid-range GPU champ. Opt for the $50-cheaper 4GB version if you run a 1080p screen.

COOLER

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COOLERMASTER NEPTON 140XL

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Coolermaster RL-N14X-20PK-R1 Nepton 140XL Water Cooling Sys (RL-N14X-20PK-R1)

Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$209.90

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Easy to install AIO CPU cooling, relative quiet and performance to rival twin-radiator units.

SSD

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SAMSUNG 850 PRO 512GB

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Samsung 850 PRO - 512GB - 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE512BW)

Usually ships in 2 to 4 weeks & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$229.99 $279.99

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This SSD offers greatly improved durability. Supplement it with a hard drive of your choice if needed.

KEYBOARD

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COOLER MASTER QUICKFIRE XTI

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Cooler Master QuickFire XTi Multi-Color Backlit Mechanical Keyboard, Blue Switches (SGK-4060-KKCL1-US)

Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am
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Good looks, solid and reliable build and many gaming features.

DISPLAY

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ACER XB271HU

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Acer Predator XB271HU bmiprz 27-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) NVIDIA G-Sync Widescreen...

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$754.99 $799.99

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G-Synced frames up to 165Hz in a generous 27in size yet with a super thin bezel.

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ASUS PG279Q

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ASUS ROG SWIFT PG279Q 27" 2560x1440 IPS 165Hz 4ms G-SYNC Eye Care...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$799.99

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The same core specs and capabilities of the Acer, with an added SD card reader.

MOUSE

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TT ESPORTS LEVEL 10 M

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Tt eSPORTS LEVEL 10 M Advanced Ergonomic Laser Gaming Mouse with 3-Zone...

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Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$69.99

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Mouse perfection. Lovely on-screen and on-pad movement, super accurate and delightful to use.

AUDIO

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HYPERX CLOUD REVOLVER

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HyperX Cloud Revolver Gaming Headset for PC & PS4 (HX-HSCR-BK/NA)

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$119.99

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For the price they sound almost as good as $500 audiophile cans

CASE

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BITFENIX RONIN

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BitFenix Computer Case BFC-COM-100-KKXS1-RP

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$53.27 $97.68

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Bitfenix continues to deliver great budget cases that look terrific and are easy to build in.

POWER SUPPLY

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COOLER MASTER G750M

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Cooler Master GM Series G750M - Compact 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Modular...

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$84.69 $99.99

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Amazon amazon.com

Outstanding value for money, it’s powerful enough for even performance PCs packing twin GPUs.

Apple iPhone SE

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Apple iPhone SE 16GB Factory Unlocked LTE Smartphone - Champagne Gold (Certified...

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-04-15 8:45 am

$269.95 $399.00

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It may be Apple’s ‘budget phone, but the smaller SE beats most others in the market with top-end processing power, a great screen and camera, fingerprint recognition and Apple Pay. You should consider paying £439 for the 64GB model, though.

ALTERNATIVE: iPhone 6s

A bigger screen, better camera and 3D Touch justify the price, but as with the SE the 64GB model is the best choice.

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