Windows Central Best of 2020

The year 2020 is ... well, it's almost over. Despite many unique challenges, 2020 has actually been a strong year for technology fans — and many of us spent a lot more time with our tech than we'd probably planned. From PCs to peripherals, 3D printers to powerful GPUs, and brand new gaming consoles to next-gen TVs that elevate games to entirely new heights, 2020 saw its fair share of award-worthy new products and services.

These are all our picks for the very best new products of 2020.

Best Laptops and PCs of 2020

Best Overall Laptop

Dell XPS 13

Gorgeous design, stunning performance.

The XPS 13 continues to set the bar for the ideal Windows 10 13-inch Ultrabook. Featuring one of the best displays around, the Sharp IGZO has a near-borderless 16:10 design on all four sides and a fantastic anti-reflective coating. The keyboard, speakers, and trackpad are excellent, as is battery life and performance (more so now that it ships with 11th Gen Intel and Xe graphics). It is also one of the best-looking PCs around. Just make sure to get it on sale.

Most Innovative New Device

Surface Duo

A true Surface phone.

Surface Duo gets our award for the best innovation for obvious reasons. While it is far from perfect (and hard to recommend for casual buyers), the hardware design is ground-breaking in so many ways, pushing the category forward. It's a refreshing take on what a "smartphone" could be in 2020 now that making calls is a lower priority. There is simply nothing like it on the market, and we can't wait to see how this series improves over the next few years.

Best Convertible Laptop

HP ENVY x360 13

Gorgeous design, stunning performance.

Packing AMD's Ryzen 4000 mobile processors, up to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, and a 13.3-inch touch FHD display with inking capabilities, the HP ENVY x360 13 might seem at first glance like any other convertible on the market. However, taking into account the strong AMD performance, comfortable keyboard and touchpad, colorful, bright display, all-day battery life, and the unbelievable price really pushes the ENVY x360 over the top to become our favorite convertible.

Best Ultrabook

Dell XPS 13

Style and power in a portable package.

Featuring the latest chips from Intel, a beautiful 13.4-inch exo-display up to 4K with touch, and some of the thinnest bezels ever seen on a laptop, the XPS 13 is our top pick for best Ultrabook this year. It's beautifully crafted, powerful, with great battery life. Dell really knocked it out of the park!

Best 2-in-1 Tablet

Surface Pro X

Good 2-in-1 tablets are hard to come by these days, but this is the best of them.

The best 2-in-1 tablet market for Windows is increasingly small, which is why ARM-based Surface Pro X is a no-brainer. It has the best design with a fantastic display, thin bezels, excellent audio, and a keyboard with a pen built into it. Toss in 4G LTE and better battery life than Surface Pro 7. It is hard not to like. Plus, it got a refresh this year with new color options and a tiny processor bump. This month, we are supposed to get our first glimpse of x64 emulation.

Best Gaming Laptop

Razer Blade 15

Still the best of the best for gaming on the go.

The Razer Blade 15 is once again the best gaming laptop you can buy simply because it made the best even better. Instead of trying to change what already works, Razer upped the ante inside with even more power, ludicrous 300Hz displays, and even a creator-focused edition with an insane Quadro RTX GPU. The Blade 15 still sets the bar very high.

Best Desktop AIO

HP ENVY AIO 32

What a modern desktop PC should be.

HP released what is easily the best, most powerful all-in-one PC on the market. We're talking a giant 32-inch 4K display that makes on-screen content look incredible, ridiculously good audio, and actual NVIDIA RTX graphics. With the HP ENVY 32, you can game on it, work hard at home on it, and enjoy all your favorite media on it. There are even wireless Qi charging and a pop-out Windows Hello webcam. It truly is the best all-in-one you can buy right now.

Best Pre-Built Gaming PC

HP OMEN 30L

Great PC gaming, no build required.

Don't fancy building your own PC? Go with a pre-built system that's ready to go upon delivery. You can configure the HP Omen 30L with up to an Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM, and an RTX 3090 GPU. It's a monster of a gaming PC, but you don't need to spend too much to get a decent configuration. HP priced this pre-built PC aggressively, starting at just over $1,000 with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor and RX 5700 XT GPU.

Best PC Accessories of 2020

Best Phone for Windows Users

Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 20

Forget Windows phones (and iPhones). THIS is the best phone for Microsoft users.

Featuring the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 with 5G capabilities, a high-resolution 120hz 6.8-inch display with pen support, and an amazing mystic gold color, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra is the most phone you can get for your money today. For Microsoft users, it comes bundled with Your Phone, with access to exclusive features such as Your Phone's "Apps" feature, and comes pre-installed with Office.

Best Keyboard

Microsoft Designer Compact Keyboard

Minimalist, quiet, and customizable.

We love minimalism at Windows Central, and Microsoft's new Designer Compact Keyboard is the epitome of minimalism. It's an 80 key low-profile keyboard available in White or Black, and it looks magnificent. It feels great to type on, too, if you prefer a chiclet-style keyboard over mechanical.

Best Mouse

Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro

For work or play (or both), you won't find a better mouse in 2020.

The Razer DeathAdder is one of the most iconic mice ever made, and the newest, wireless version takes the crown of 2020's best. Besides being a killer gaming mouse, it's ergonomic, lightweight, and extremely comfortable to use for a full day in the office, has incredible tracking, and, considering it's a gaming mouse, pretty decent battery life.

Best Monitor

Razer Raptor 27

Gaming or work, the Razer Raptor 27 does it all.

The Razer Raptor 27 is our pick for the best monitor because not only does it look the coolest, but it balances between high-performance gaming and media creation. The Raptor 27 offers a smooth 144Hz refresh rate, HDR, NVIDIA G-Sync, and AMD FreeSync, all with an anti-reflective display for gaming. You get color accuracy with 96 percent DCI-P3, 90 percent AdobeRGB, and 100 percent sRGB, making it ideal for video or photo editing for media pros. Plus, it has Chroma RGB, hello!

Best Ultrawide Monitor

LG 38WN95C-W

See more, do more, play wide.

Ultrawide displays are getting more popular these days, and LG's latest 38WN95C-W QHD+ (3840 x 1600) Nano IPS display checks all the right boxes. Anti-reflective display, 100 percent sRGB, and 95 percent DCI-P3 for color accuracy with plenty of brightness. You also get DisplayHDR 600, 1ms response at 144Hz refresh, NVIDIA G-Sync, and AMD FreeSync making this a serious gaming display for your PC rig. Did we mention the Thunderbolt 3 connectivity with a 94W power delivery, letting you run two inputs into the display and split them down that 38-inch screen? It's simply fantastic.

Best Headphones

Surface Headphones 2

Microsoft's flagship headphones get a new color option and useful features for less.

Microsoft returned to premium audio with its Surface Headphones 2 in 2020, still the king in comfort, with those on-ear volume and noise-cancellation dials forever satisfying to use. They launched at a lower $250 starting price while upping battery life to 20 hours, with new Bluetooth 5 and aptX support. And we're still loving that new matte black colorway this time around.

Best Earbuds

Surface Earbuds

Microsoft does earbuds — and does them well.

Microsoft launched its first pair of wireless Surface Earbuds this year, and we think they're excellent. Featuring aptX sound, touch controls on either earbud, great battery life, and the most comfortable fit for a pair of wireless earbuds we've tried, the Surface Earbuds are our pick for best earbuds in 2020.

Best Microphone

Elgato Wave 3

A condenser mic that's perfect for gamers and streamers.

The Wave 3 is actually Elgato's foray into condenser microphones, and since this space is already fairly well-established and competitive, the company needed to get the launch right. Luckily, the Elgato Wave 3 is an excellent microphone for gamers and streamers, thanks to the array of tools at one's fingertips. Even if you need to position the mic itself a little close to your mouth, the audio quality is outstanding.

Best Webcam

Logitech StreamCam

Another home run of a webcam from Logitech.

The Logitech StreamCam is a webcam built for content creators, but its suite of features makes it an excellent all-around webcam, too. The StreamCam delivers a crisp 1080p image at 60 fps, so everything looks fresh and lifelike. When combined with Logitech's software, it gets even better, letting you easily add different filters, adjust exposure and framerate, and even use an auto-tracking mode that always keeps you in the center of the frame. Add in the option to mount it to your monitor or a tripod, and Logitech has knocked this one out of the park.

Best External Drive

Samsung T7

Pro-quality, lightning speeds.

Samsung delivered everything you'd want from a portable SSD, with the T7 lineup among the best in performance, encased with a premium aluminum shell. Its credit card-sized design proves handy in portability, with an elegant yet professional =finish. That's coupled with robust technology inside, with peak speeds up to 1,050MB/s, in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB configurations. The family also welcomed the handy T7 Touch, with an integrated fingerprint scanner for security. This all starts at a relatively affordable price, with the entry-level model below $100.

Best 3D Printer

Prusa Mini

Quality without compromise at a reasonable price.

Resin printing is becoming more mainstream, but no single resin 3D printer stands out quite like the Prusa Mini. Prusa has long been known for making reliable printers that ooze quality, but that quality has always come at a cost. However, with the introduction of the Prusa Mini, Prusa delivered a printer for a great price that doesn't compromise on build or print quality. Even with the title of Mini, this latest printer from Prusa is still large enough to create amazing things and will keep hobbyists happy for years to come.

Best PC Gaming Components and Accessories of 2020

Best GPU

RTX 3080

Unreal performance and features make it the king of GPUs.

It was a big year for PC gamers, with NVIDIA and AMD launching next-gen GPUs, but the NVIDIA RTX 3080 stands out among the rest. It's a big step up from RTX 20-series cards in terms of raw performance, allowing it to deliver a strong 4K gaming experience without breaking the bank like the enormous RTX 3090. Ray tracing and DLSS in compatible games will make everything look so much better without much sacrifice to performance, and the supporting software is as solid as ever. If you've been waiting for an upgrade that allows for 4K PC gaming, you no doubt want to get your hands on the RTX 3080.

Best CPU

Ryzen 9 5900

Easily one of 2020;s most exciting products for PC gamers.

AMD has been on a roll the past few years, and 2002 doesn't show any signs of the company slowing down. The launch of the Ryzen 5000 series processors were yet another big jolt to Intel and the CPU industry. Specifically, the Ryzen 9 5900X, which is the new sweet spot for consumer-grade AMD processors. It's set to be a major player in the PC gaming market and is the best CPU launch of the year by a mile.

Best Motherboard

NZXT Z490 N7

If we had to pick just one motherboard in 2020, this would be it.

It's difficult to give a motherboard a "best" award since most of them do roughly the same thing at the same level. Most AMD X570 motherboards will perform similarly, and the same goes for Intel Z490 motherboards. Still, there's always one that comes to blow everyone else away and this year was NZXT's turn with the Z490 N7. It's a refresh of the older Z390 N7, but further improves on the excellent design, making it one of the best-looking motherboards around. The performance has also seen a slight boost with ASRock brought in to handle the manufacturing and BIOS.

Best Monitor for PC Gaming

ViewSonic XG270Q

No better value for high-end gaming.

With WQHD 1440p, 1ms response, and 165Hz refresh rate (OC, of course), and 98 percent DCI-P3 color accuracy, the ViewSonic ELITE XG270QG 27 certainly has earned its title. There's also NVIDIA G-Sync, some ambient lighting, and ultra-thin bezels on three sides. We can also mention it has a very high customer satisfaction rating and a moderate asking price for all those premium features.

Best Gaming Keyboard

Razer Huntsman Mini

A small keyboard that delivers big performance.

The Razer Huntsman Mini is the company's first attempt at a 60% keyboard and to make it shrunk down the already amazing Huntsman. It's well made, has a choice of optical switches, Razer's iconic Chroma RGB system, and a competitive price tag. Sometimes the best things really do come in small packages.

Best Gaming Mouse

Razer Basilisk V2

Want to secure gaming victory? Do NOT tell your competitors about this mouse.

The Razer Basilisk V2 is quite large, ergonomic, and very much a mouse for keen gamers. The signature clutch trigger on the thumb returns, helping fans of FPS games get that "Razer unfair advantage" by slowing their DPS on the fly, while inside, it's packed with all the latest and greatest Razer mouse tech for supreme performance.

Best PC Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud II Wireless

Adding wireless to an already-superb headset elevates it to new heights.

What's better than the HyperX Cloud II gaming headset? The Cloud II Wireless allows you to forgo the braided cable and go full 2.4GHz connection. The headset is as comfortable as you expect from the Cloud lineup, and it's built extremely well to ensure it lasts well into the future. Perhaps most importantly, audio is still excellent despite the wireless connection. The microphone is clear and filters out plosive sounds, plus it can be removed if you're looking to use the headset for audio-only. There were some other great headsets launched in 2020, but this one takes the award for its well-rounded feature set and excellent sound quality.

Best Xbox Accessories of 2020

Best Overall Xbox Accessory

Razer Kishi

Turn your smartphone into an Xbox.

The Razer Kishi quite easily takes the crown as top Xbox accessory this year, for solving one of Xbox Game Pass's biggest problems on mobile - ergonomics. The Kishi envelops most popular modern smartphones and eliminates the need to use janky Bluetooth for gaming on the go, connecting directly to Android and iOS with USB-C. Combined with Xbox Game Pass xCloud cloud gaming, the Kishi can turn your phone into your very own portable Xbox, which is simply awesome.

Best Xbox Headset

LucidSound LS50X

Premium gaming audio, unparalleled comfort.

The LucidSound LS50X is the one new headset in 2020 that really defined premium for Xbox. Luxurious comfort, with thick and airy, coolant-gel infused earcups. Robust build quality, with metal-reinforced headbands and hinges. Versatility, with Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth separate signals. And most importantly of all, a well-balanced sound that delivers for both media and gaming in a big way. The LS50X climbs to the top of the pile to become our favorite headset of 2020 for Xbox.

Best 4K TV for Xbox

LG CX OLED

Your next-gen console deserves this high-end TV.

Xbox Series X pushes the bleeding-edge HDMI 2.1 standard in its infancy, enabling support for 4K resolution at 120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR), and auto low latency mode (ALLM) at launch. It leaves only a few 4K TVs that stand up to the challenge, with the LG CX the only option that fully meets next-generation demands. LG has bolstered its striking OLED technology, famed for deep blacks and rich colors, with various gaming-focused features. The result is the absolute best 4K TV for Xbox gamers in 2020.

Best Xbox Controller

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller 2020

Hands-down the best controller available in 2020.

Microsoft revised its signature controller alongside the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. While a dedicated sharing button was the primary addition, it also touted improved ergonomics, textured triggers, and a new hybrid d-pad design. The new Xbox Wireless Controller packs everything you need for Xbox gaming, with onboard Bluetooth support also extending the fun to PC and mobile. While mostly familiar, Microsoft learned from past successes like the Elite Series 2, further refining an already standout gamepad.

Best Windows Apps of 2020

Best Overall Windows 10 App

Microsoft Edge

The new Microsoft Edge puts all those memes about browsers from Microsoft to rest.

Microsoft rebuilt Edge on the Chromium engine, and the payoff was huge. The new Microsoft Edge is fast, compatible with just about every website, and supports extensions built for Google Chrome. You can throw out the memes about Microsoft making slow and clunky browsers. The best news about Edge is that Microsoft is clearly investing time and effort into it. The browser regularly gets new features and has active development branches for testing out new features.

Best Windows Collaboration App

Microsoft Teams

Simple, easy to use, with all the features you need.

2020 saw millions of people have to work, teach, and learn from home. Microsoft Teams skyrocketed in usage this year, hitting 115 million daily active users by November. Bundling Teams with Office turned out to be a brilliant decision by Microsoft, as many organizations chose Teams over competing apps and services. Microsoft Teams is now available on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. The app saw several major updates and new features over the year as well, including Together mode, increased grid views on all platforms, and integrations with popular services like Slack and Box.

Best Windows Social App

Fenice for Twitter

Your new Windows Twitter app ... or it should be.

Fenice saw a major rewrite in 2020, bringing it version 5. The popular Twitter client is new from the ground up, which brings new features and improved performance. You can now detach its columns into separate windows or switch to single column mode. Fenice for Twitter is an excellent Twitter client that's smooth, attractive, and easy to customize. My favorite new feature is Compact Overlay support, which allows you to keep Fenice over all of your apps.

Best Windows News App

Microsoft News

All the news, or only the news, you want, when you want.

2020 has been quite the year when it comes to news. Whether you want to read up on health coverage, political news, or catch up on the latest tech, Microsoft News is a solid choice. Microsoft News allows you to customize your newsfeed, including picking your news sources and the topics you want to follow. It also has a clean interface that works well on phones, tablets, laptops, or at your desk.

Best Mixed Reality of 2020

Best Windows Mixed Reality Headset

HP Reverb G2

Better visual and auditory experiences, and it doesn't make you sign into Facebook.

Look! A PC-based VR headset that doesn't require you to use Facebook. If that isn't enough, the HP Reverb G2 is a big upgrade over the original Reverb, bringing new lenses and a better display, manual IPD adjustments, new headphones, new controllers with better button layout, and four built-in cameras for improved motion tracking. If you're looking for a high-end VR experience and don't want to shell out for the Valve Index, the Reverb G2 should be on your shortlist.

Best Virtual Reality Game

Half-Life: Alyx

The one game you should be playing if you own a head-mounted display.

Waiting 13 years for a sequel isn't ideal, but when the payoff is a game as groundbreaking as Half-Life: Alyx, it's hard to remain sore. Valve created a 15-hour masterpiece that pushes the limits of VR. It's immersive, it's gorgeous, and it's full of puzzles and mechanics that are perfect for VR. Whether you're a fan of Half-Life, a fan of VR, or both, do yourself a favor and play this game.

Best Xbox and PC Games of 2020

These are the very best games of the year, as picked by our editors. But this is just a small sample of all the games that won 2020 Windows Central Game Awards.

Best Xbox Game

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

A beautiful, heartfelt journey worthy of awards.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a game that had a bit of a rough landing when it launched, but not long after, the diligent artists at Moon Studios polished up what is now quite easily one of the best Xbox console exclusive games of all time. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a work of art, quite literally, with hand-painted visuals that really push the boundaries of what should be possible in a 2D sidescroller, with a truly stunning and dynamic musical score to match. Ori and the Will of the Wisps quite easily nabs the crown for our top Xbox game of 2020, and we can't wait to see what Moon Studios does next.

Best Windows PC Game

Microsoft Flight Simulator

With a mind-blowing, cloud-backed recreation of the globe, picking this winner was a breeze.

Microsoft Flight Simulator took to the skies as an ambitious cloud showcase the company, leveraging satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to portray unparalleled accuracy and fidelity across its locales. The result is a 1:1 digital recreation of planet Earth down to individual buildings and trees. That's not even touching on unmatched weather models and aerodynamics systems, all backing one of the market's deepest simulation experiences. Microsoft Flight Simulator delivered innovation at a mind-blowing scale, highlighting the full potential of the cloud.

Most Anticipated Windows and Xbox Game

The Medium

With a mind-blowing, cloud-backed recreation of the globe, picking this winner was a breeze.

The horror aficionados at @BlooberTeam appear to be taking a step into the big leagues with The Medium, their next title designed exclusively for Xbox and PC. Following their excellent work on Observer and Blair Witch, Bloober Team has partnered with industry legend Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame to contribute to this two-tone experience, which puts you in the mind of a psychic medium, navigating reality and a nightmarish otherworld to solve a cold murder case. The game launches in early 2021, and we simply cannot wait to find out more.

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