Here are some of the best PC components and accessories on sale in 2018, as chosen by Recombu’s Ben Griffin, because having just a mouse and keyboard is no longer enough.
Got a computer? Good, because contrary to what critics say they are still incredibly useful in a smartphone and tablet world. Just the very thought of typing this very article on either fills me with dread.
But the thing is, you can make really enhance your computing experience with the right items and so here is a collection of the best PC components and accessories of 2018 that do just that.
As new and useful products appear, this article will be updated. So without further ado and in no particular order, let’s begin.
WD My Home Cloud
Storing and transferring photos can be a pain, especially if you are a bit of a digital hoarder. One particularly useful option is Western Digital’s My Home Cloud, which is a mass storage device that uploads without you having to lift a finger.
You simply plug the My Home Cloud device in, connect via Ethernet to your WiFi router and install the My Cloud app. Now you can select an option that uploads all your photos wirelessly every time a connected device is detected, so any photos taken on a day begin uploading automatically the moment you walk through the front door.
You can also use the WD My Home Cloud using a USB cable if you simply want what is a very stylish and storage-heavy device that can be had with anything from 1TB to 16TB of space. Cheaper mass storage solutions are available, but the cloud element may prove useful for some.
From £144.99, Amazon.co.uk
WD My Passport
Yet another highly useful storage gadget that looks pleasant, too, is the WD My Passport. This storage device forgoes the cloud connectivity of the My Home Cloud, but it can still hold a serious amount of digital stuff and it fits nicely into a pocket or bag.
It comes with up to 4TB of storage space, depending on how much you want to spend, and can be had with a black/grey or white/gold colour scheme. That and a three-year warranty, USB 3.0 support, various security features and software designed to import content from your preferred social media makes it hard to fault.
From £44.56, Amazon.co.uk
Samsung M2 960 Evo Solid State Drive (SSD)
For truly fast storage transfer speeds and general reliability, the Samsung M2 960 Evo comes highly recommended. Not only will it improve the start-up speed of your computer, you will get shorter load times and a generally snappier experience – especially if you were previously using a standard Hard Drive.
The main problem is that M2 SSD storage requires a motherboard with an M2 slot, so a reasonably up-to-date computer will be needed unless you are planning a more serious upgrade comprised multiple new components.
The 960 Pro model is faster still, but we would recommend most stick with the 960 Evo as it represents better value for money and will be plenty for most users. Likewise, stick to the 500GB size as a minimum because it only takes a Windows install and a few games before you really eat into the smaller 250GB offering.
From £109.20, Amazon.co.uk
AMD Ryzen 7 1700 central processing unit (CPU)
AMD may be lagging behind when it comes to the very best graphics cards, but its processors are a force to be reckoned with. Because of the eight permanent cores, fast default clock speed and hyperthreading, which provides 16 virtual processors, most PC tasks will be a breeze.
In fact, having those extra cores can be particularly useful for those who use their computer for video editing and to get similar muscle from Intel would cost more money.
The 1700 version comes with its own cooling system, which works well (though aftermarket solutions will keep it even cooler), and is overclockable to the point it can, depending on the one you get, match that of its 1700X overclocked cousin.
Avoid overclocking and it uses substantially less power than the 1700X, which will help keep your energy bills down, but without being that much less impressive unless you are the type to chase every last frame-per-second in gaming.
For those on a smaller budget, the Ryzen 5 1500 is another really great option as you would also need to spend more on an Intel for a similar breadth of capability. You will, of course, need a motherboard that supports the AM4 chip but there are plenty to choose from and for not too much money.
From £229.99, Amazon.co.uk
Corsair LL120/LL140 case fans
RGB lighting is all the rage these days and, to be fair, adding a touch of light-based bling to your computer can be rewarding – even if you tend to stare at the screen most of the time. One of the better examples are the new Corsair Corsair LL120 and 140mm case fans, which deserve a place in our best PC accessories round-up.
Though less powerful than a most aftermarket fans (and actually its older RGB fans), these will still pump decent volumes of air in or out of your case, with the speed adjustable between 600 and 1,300rpm. As for the lighting, 16 LEDs can do anything from a single colour to animated rainbow effects.
To get the best from them, you are best off getting the 120mm triple-pack or the 140mm double-pack if you want 140mm fans (which move more air at a lower RPM, potentially reducing noise) as both come with Corsair’s Lighting Node Pro controller for hooking them up and adjusting the lighting effects.
Admittedly, you are paying a premium for having extra light, but the extra £10 or so per fan certainly brings an otherwise lifeless object to life.
From £21.99, Amazon.co.uk
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L RGB CPU cooler
Computers, particularly those that have been overclocked, generate serious heat that can cause stability issues or, at a lower level, reduce how long a component lasts. This is why serious computers contain numerous case fans and, in more extreme cases, water cooling.
The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L is a capable, reasonably well-priced AIO cooler, which is short for all-in-one. Being a closed loop means there is no danger of the liquid inside coming out unless you really man-handle it and saves you the need to test if it is leaking.
Cooling is achieved by two 120mm fans and a metal radiator, which keep the liquid cool that pumps to and from the RGB-lit pump block that sits on top of your CPU. Thermal paste is included so it can be up and running in no time, whether you are using an AMD or Intel motherboard and processor.
Corsair Air Series 120mm PWM ‘Quiet Edition’ case fans
There are various fans from Corsair, Noctua and Be Quiet that will ensure maximum air flow in and out of your computer. But for keeping the noise to a minimum, the Air Series 120mm PWM Quiet Edition offerings really do the job.
The PWM bit means they connect to your motherboard via a four-pin PWM connector for control of their speed. SP, meanwhile, stands for static pressure and this bit tells you it is designed to push air through the likes of a radiator or air intake more effectively than the AF version.
You can buy the Air Series 120mm Quiet Edition fans in 120mm and 140mm sizes. Either way, expect plenty of air flow at near-silent speeds or a bit more noise if you prefer the High Speed variant, which has a higher potential RPM. Oh and you can swap out the coloured ring (red, blue and white are included) or remove it and enjoy plain black.
From £14.99, Amazon.co.uk
Anidees AI Crystal case
Those planning to build a computer will need a case. In that instance, the Anidees AI Crystal could be for you because it offers three slightly tinted sides of tempered glass for showing off your components in a classy way.
The case is big enough to cope with E-ATX, ATX, MATX and ITX motherboards, although ATX is the most natural fit, and it looks the part when you have three LED fans at the front. The fact it is reasonably priced help, too, and that it is designed to make hiding unsightly cables relatively easy.
There are superior options out there in terms of design and cooling potential could be a tad better (especially if you use the Anidees fans as part of the more expensive kit), but then you could always buy just the case on its own, add superior fans and enjoy your lighting at its best.
From £99.90, Amazon.co.uk
Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer Sparco P310 steering wheel
Want to enhance your PC racing game experience? The Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer Sparco P310 Competition is well worth a look, thanks to a brushless belt-driven system for providing plenty of rotational power.
The fact it works with an Xbox is a bonus, but the suede leather clad steering wheel benefits from software that lets you fine-tune the experience if using it on PC.
We love that it uses a replica Sparco steering wheel for maximum authenticity and that it is really well built. We also appreciate the ergonomics, with all buttons nice to press and in a sensible location.
It is hardly cheap, but then the three pedals (though ugly) work nicely. Plus a rival Fanatec system is more expensive and really not that much better in actual use.