Top Picks: The Ultimate PC Hardware and Software for 2023/2024

The pandemic years are over for the PC. Just a couple of years ago, lockdowns and chip shortages caused PC components (even webcams!) to plunge out of stock and products to be delayed for ages. But not in 2023. Fresh new gear flew fast and furious this year, causing an avalanche of releases seemingly every time you blinked. PCWorld’s staff reviewed more PC hardware and software in 2023 than in recent memory. With such a gluttony of choice, it became harder than ever for PC hardware and software to impress us. Few products earned our rare Editors’ Choice award. And only the very best of the best grace this list. Without further ado, this is the Best PC Hardware and Software of 2023, as chosen by PCWorld’s editors. Congratulations to the winners – with a field this crowded, they’ve definitely earned it.

Best laptop: Dell Inspiron Plus 16
The Dell Inspiron Plus 16 7630 is equipped to do it all. It has a big high refresh rate display, a fast fingerprint reader, solid battery life, and reliable performance. This machine can even handle gaming as well as day-to-day productivity thanks to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU. It is well-designed, durable and more affordable than most flagships. Add the fact that it’s more than most of most flagship laptops and it’s easy to see why this was our favorite notebook of 2023. — Ash Biancuzzo

Best desktop PC: Falcon Northwest FragBox
The Falcon Northwest FragBox epitomizes why you buy a boutique custom PC. It packs extreme power into an unbelievably small, cool, and quiet custom chassis, while Falcon Northwest’s warranty, buying experience, and Windows/software setup is second to none. The FragBox is incredibly customizable, built by hand by a single technician, and stands firmly by the quality of its systems. This boutique custom PC doesn’t come cheap, but perfection never does. — Brad Chacos

Best gaming handheld: Asus ROG Ally
Asus released the ROG Ally and showed that there is still plenty of room for others to be viable. From its beautiful and fast screen to its powerful AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor packing Zen4 and RDNA 3, it rivals and even surpasses in plenty of categories. And while many see the fact that it’s running Windows a downside, it allows for easy use of other launchers. The Asus ROG Ally is my current go-to. — Adam Patrick Murray

Best CPU: Intel Core i7-14700K
Intel’s Core i7-14700K managed to nudge aside its competitors to take our recommendation, thanks to getting four additional efficiency cores. It handles content creation tasks much more easily than other models, and posts similar numbers in games. The fact that compatible motherboards and RAM are still a bit cheaper and more plentiful in options helps too. — Alaina Yee

Best antivirus: Norton 360 Deluxe
Norton 360 Deluxe handles all the heavy lifting for a fair price. For $120 per year, you get dark web monitoring, access to Norton’s password manager and VPN services, and parental controls. There are general utilities like file cleanup baked in as well. — Alaina Yee

Best SSD: Corsair MP700 Pro
An ultra-fast new generation of PCIe 5.0 solid-state drives debuted this year, and Corsair’s MP700 Pro is the best of the bunch. It’s scintillatingly fast, with a massive 2GB-per-TB of DRAM cache to keep things running even faster. — Brad Chacos

Best password manager: Dashlane
Dashlane simplifies online security and makes it effortless. In addition to creating and saving all your passwords, its paid plans include dark web monitoring for your personal info and credentials, as well as VPN access. You can first use it for free and see if you like it. — Alaina Yee

Best Chromebook: Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip
While considering my best pick, I discovered I didn’t love any one Thunderbolt dock without reservation. Of my final three – including the Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma (lack of display ports) and Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Pro Dock (lofty price) – I settled on the Sonnet Echo 13 Triple 4K as the best of them all. Sonnet’s dock uses DisplayLink, which has really grown on me as a more than capable alternative to Thunderbolt. Not only have DisplayLink docks been as stable or more than Thunderbolt, they’re cost-effective and offer a wide variety of display options. — Brad Chacos