The GamesRadar+ Hardware Awards 2023: all the year's best gaming tech

GamesRadar Hardware Awards
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Another year done, another crop of gadgets and gizmos to pit against each other in the GamesRadar+ Hardware Awards. 2023 was a fantastic year for PC and console alike, with a new suite of RTX 40-Series graphics cards hitting the shelves and new console entries from both Microsoft and Sony. In between all that, though, we've also experienced some of the best headsets, controllers, keyboards, VR headsets, and chairs among all the other gaming tech to grace the shelves in the last 12 months. 

Between new innovations and further refinements of classic design, 2023 has brought some excellent new devices to the market. We've had our hands on all of it, now with the tough job of narrowing the playing field down to a handful of winners.

We've got 15 categories this year, spanning gaming PCs and laptops all the way to board games and VR. The winner in each category will be a device that has truly pushed the limits of this year's tech while remaining influential in its own sphere. We've handpicked these winners after rigorous testing lasting well beyond our initial review period, so you know they can go the distance. 

Best gaming PC - Origin Chronos V3

Origin Chronos V3

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The Origin Chronos V3 takes one of the most innovative PC cases released this year and turns it into a powerhouse pre-build capable of high-end action.

The Corsair Airflow 2000D Airflow is the first ever ITX (small-form factor) chassis that's capable of fitting a full-size AIO cooler inside of it. Not only that, but it can also squeeze the biggest GPUs in it as well, all the while keeping cool air circulating through it thanks to full mesh walls. 

Our review model packed an RTX 4080 inside it, meaning it was more than capable of handling the most demanding modern games and spitting them out at 4K with high frame rates. Now don't get us wrong, we've seen mighty PCs in small cases before. The Corsair One line has been around for a while, and the Acer Predator Orion X is carrying on the small form factor mantle, but the efficiency, style, and design of the Chronos V3 outshone the competition this year.

While Origin modified Corsair's original chassis design ever so slightly, this PC is a testament to the synergy between the two brands. The power that's been packed into this gorgeous case makes it a standout for those that don't want a gaming PC to dominate the real estate of a setup. For innovation, power, and design, this is the best gaming PC we tested in 2023. 

Runner up

Acer Predator Orion 7000 2023

It's always great to see existing gaming PCs update their motherboards to refresh themselves into a new generation. The Predator Orion 7000 line has been a favorite of ours for a while now, so the ability to house DDR5 RAM and the latest Intel processors is a big boon. 

Annoyingly, the new Orion missed out on our top spot this year due to its obnoxiously loud fans and its inability to customize those DDR5 speeds. 

Best gaming laptop - Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Hardware Awards

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In a super competitive landscape, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 still managed to stand out from the crowd in 2023.

2023 brought a new wash of Asus rigs to the market, but the model that benefitted most from Intel's 13th generation processors and Nvidia's RTX 40-Series graphics was the 14-inch wonder, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. This is the best gaming laptop for anyone looking to strike that balance between portability and power (shocker, it nails both) - and we would argue that's a considerable market. After all, if you're going all in on performance you'd look at a gaming PC, go too far the other way and you should really be after a gaming handheld. 

The gaming laptop's position on the market was challenged on both sides this year. PCs are more powerful than ever, and with multiple PC handhelds hitting the shelves it's entirely possible to walk around with a full rig in your pocket. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, with its effortless approach to compact performance, shines ever brighter with this extra competition in tow. 

It's had to work particularly hard to prove its worth in 2023 - what with larger 18-inch machines packing incredible RTX 4090 juggernaut components. But with a Mini LED display, high-end components you just don't see in compact rigs, and a super slick build, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has proven that you don't need to scale down framerates to keep a full blown gaming rig in your backpack. This was the year Asus needed to prove that, and it's done so in a sublime package. 

Runner up

Asus ROG Strix Scar 16

The Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 sits at the very top of our testing pool, offering incredible performance and a supremely immersive display. This was one of the first RTX 40-Series gaming laptops we tested at GamesRadar+ and we're yet to come across another that's wowed in its implementation of these high-end specs in quite the same way. From that RGB-laden chassis to the super vivid Mini LED HDR screen, this thing is a beast. 

Best gaming handheld - Asus ROG Ally

Asus ROG Ally Hardware Awards

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The Asus ROG Ally arrived to take on the mighty Steam Deck during the summer, and while it wasn't perfect at launch, it's now sitting pretty on the handheld throne.

Initially framed as an April Fools gag, the Asus ROG Ally still feels too good to be true. Boasting full PC game compatibility thanks to Windows 11, an 120Hz 1080p display, and one of the fastest AMD APUs available, the best gaming handheld contender is more than just a Steam Deck alternative. In fact, while it had a few issues at launch, it has managed to iron its quirks out over the course of 2023, now offering premium portable features for far less than the likes of the Ayaneo 2S or rival Onexplayer devices out there.

It's worth noting that there are two versions of the Asus ROG Ally out there, and our award naturally goes to the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme version. The chip has effectively smashed performance expectations originally set by the Steam Deck, and while Valve's portable powerhouse can still pull off decent frame rates, the Ally sets the bar ever higher even while running the latest games. 

The Steam Deck may have opened the handheld gaming PC floodgates, but the Asus ROG Ally is the device that instigated a more widespread storm. There's every chance another portable will challenge the Ally for the throne in 2024, and we're excited to see higher spec rivals arrive at a similar price. But, for now, the laptop maker's console-shaped rig is our favorite, and we've got a feeling it'll win over more players as we sail into the new year.

Runner up

The Super Pocket

If you're big into retro games and love collecting physical releases, you won't want to sleep on the Super Pocket. Not only does it cost less than most new console games, but it comes in either Capcom or Taito flavors and can run over 500 games by way of additional Evercade cartridges. For under $60, you're getting a pretty incredible Game Boy-inspired gaming handheld that feels anything but cheap, and you won't have to worry about messing with emulators to play the classics. 

Best gaming monitor - Samsung Odyssey OLED G9

Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 hardware awards

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Just when we thought gaming monitors couldn't get any better, the Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 smashed out expectations with incredible contrast, colors, and monstrous panel size.

Out of all the monitors we had the pleasure of using in 2023, the Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 left the biggest impression - and that's not least due to the fact it's a 49-inch kaiju with an incredible wrap around curve. On top of that, the company's OLED panel provides a level of realistic visual prowess that not many screens can come close to matching.

There's a good reason the OLED G9 holds the ultrawide slot on our best gaming monitor list, and it's down to the way it immerses the senses in supported games. Detailed RPGs like Cyberpunk 2077 will completely trick your peripheral vision when displayed on this panel, providing the next best thing to popping on a gaming headset. Naturally, if you use a gaming PC, you're going to benefit more, particularly if you enable ray tracing and other fancy effects. However, we also found this screen to be an exceptional monitor for PS5 if used face on at a desk. 

Of course, it's also important to note that the Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 is also 240Hz, meaning it'll hold up in speedy competitive shooters. That higher refresh rate provides the monitor with a level of versatility that is award worthy, as while the screen undeniably wears a premium price tag, you're getting a lot of functionality crammed into one display. 

Runner up

LG UltraGear 45GR95QE-B

This was a close call, and while the LG UltraGear 45GR95QE-B hasn't snatched the top spot, it provides incredible curves and industry leading OLED visuals. Measuring at 45-inches, it's still an absolute whopper of a screen, and inky blacks and eye catching contrast really will fool you into believing what you're seeing when enveloped in PC and console graphics. In addition, it'll furnish your setup with a speedy 240Hz refresh rate, so you won't have to trade away responsiveness to achieve exceptional clarity.

Best graphics card - Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (PNY XLRB)

RTX 4070 hardware awards

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We waited a while for a new mid-range champion, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 thankfully managed to save the day with affordable new gen GPU specs.

Nvidia's first wave of its new 2023 graphics cards really only catered to premium gaming PC enthusiasts. However, the GeForce RTX 4070 eventually arrived to provide the majority of players with an experience you can actually afford, and the green team's new DLSS 3.5 tech means the GPU can boost fps beyond its native capabilities. 

While testing PNY's version of the RTX 4070, we found that the GPU could hit 120fps in demanding adventures like Control at 1440p thanks to DLSS. Even with the AI suite disabled, the card was still able to achieve around 70fps, providing an impressive uplift compared to the RTX 3070. Magical tools like Frame Generation also help this card dabble with 4K visuals even when handling the latest games, so even if you're on a pretty tight budget, you won't necessarily need to splash out on an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 to experience new-gen UHD.

Simply put, we think the RTX 4070 is the people's GPU of this generation, striking a more reasonable balance between price and specs. Sure, if you're aiming for cutting edge then you'll want to turn your attention to more expensive alternatives. Nevertheless, if you ask us to recommend a graphics card that'll comfortably tackle new release system requirements for the foreseeable, this is our pick.

Runner up

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 (MSI Ventus Black 2x)

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 was the first Lovelace GPU to cost under $300, and while we hope it isn't the last, this entry-level card will be our go to for a while. Just like its chonkier RTX 4000 sibling, this card can use DLSS 3.5 and Frame Generation to hit higher frame rates, allowing for a surprisingly high spec experience. Admittedly, you'll have to stick with older entries to your PC backlog if you're aiming for 4K, but you'll be able to easily play the latest games at 1440p if you take advantage of the green team's AI tools. Plus, it's also less glutenous for power, which is always a win when it comes to keeping rig costs down.

Best SSD - Verbatim Vi7000G

Verbatim SSD hardware awards

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A true underdog - Verbatim made its first Gen 4 NVMe SSD this year and it punched its way to the top of the weight class with speeds that are just as good as the biggest brands.

The Verbatim Vi7000G came out of absolutely nowhere this year. Verbatim has been a staple of the digital storage and memory sector for ages, but it hasn't exactly tried to insert itself into the gaming market. When the Vi7000G arrived, its value for money blew us away, and in the larger picture of 2023 as a whole, it even outclassed the arrival of Gen 5 SSDs, many of which are still pricey and don't have all that much support yet. 

The 2TB model of this SSD for gaming also works brilliantly as a PS5 SSD thanks to its integrated heatsink, but it's affordability is what really set it apart. Verbatim cuts through the noise of messy SSD prices and charges an honest asking price, which couldn't be truer for the 2TB model. Moreover, this drive packs some great speed too. The PS5 recognized it as one of the fastest drives we've tested, at 6,250MB/s. In a PC, things were even better, with CrystalDiskMark recognizing 7,124MB/s of sequential read. To get those kinds of speeds, you usually have to go for a much bigger brand and pay a lot more money.

We can't deny that the disappointing arrival of the WD Black SN850P around the same time did make the spotlight on Verbatim shine a bit brighter. There's an awful lot of price foolery and confusion when it comes to shopping for SSDs these days, and so when a brand puts out an honest drive that's priced in a consumer friendly way, it's a shining example that the industry should follow. 

Runner up

Samsung 990 Pro 4TB

Now, we know, the original Samsung 990 Pro was our SSD of the year last year. But for Samsung to release an updated version this year that has a massive 4TB capacity is big news. Not only is it not half bad in terms of value, but it's as strong a performer as you'll find in the Gen 4 arena. Again, there are now Gen 5 drives around, but the capacity vs performance vs price to consider means that we'd actually recommend this more strongly for now.

Best gaming mouse - Razer Cobra Pro

Razer Cobra Pro hardware awards

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Versatility is key here, and the Razer Cobra Pro kicked off the brand's new line of gaming mice with a particularly flexible bang. 

Razer launched a new line of gaming mice this year, with the Razer Cobra Pro heading up the 2023 range in the summer. Why is it so special? We've been seeing more and more of the best gaming mouse models pidgeon-holed into specific use-cases in the last few years. You're either picking up a super lightweight FPS-first mouse that's light on buttons, super skinny, and built for speed over customization or a macro laden beast of a pointer designed for MMO fans. If your playstyle doesn't land in either camp you can feel stuck. 

Enter the Cobra Pro. This is a relatively lightweight (77g) mouse with the sensor quality of a speedy FPS-first mouse. But it's also got the larger domed form factor of a pointer designed for a more relaxed palm grip, and the programmability of a more flexible device. Throw in dual wireless connectivity through both 2.4GHz and Bluetooth, up to 170 hours of battery life, and additional grips to each side of the taller body and you've got a supremely versatile device. This is truly a jack of all trades gaming mouse - and that's not something we see all too often. 

There have been some excellent gaming mice launched in the last twelve months, but none have provided such a well-rounded spec sheet. The Razer Cobra Pro could cater to pretty much anyone in the market, and perform well in each use-case. That makes it our top pick for 2023. 

Runner up

Corsair Darkstar Wireless

Corsair sought to reinvent the MMO mouse this year, with the triumphant Darkstar Wireless model. Rather than relying on the often fiddly 12 button array of its previous Scimitar RGB Elite (and many others that followed in its footsteps), though, the Darkstar shifts the left button panel around. Instead of a bank of easily mis-clickable buttons you've now got a set of six clickers around a super grippy central panel. It takes a little getting used to at first, but it was inspired enough to stick around in our testing setup for months after first reviewing. 

Best gaming keyboard - Asus ROG Azoth

Asus ROG Azoth hardware awards

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A hot-swappable gaming keyboard with all the trimmings, the Asus ROG Azoth kickstarted a new custom revolution this year.

We've seen many of the best gaming keyboards introducing hot-swappable switches to their range in 2023, but Asus kicked off the party in January with the ROG Azoth. It's stood the test of time, going toe to toe with more recent releases from Corsair and Razer to offer up the best typing and gaming experience on the market right now. This is a particularly special deck, from its super slick, almost soft linear switches to its high-end PBT keycaps and faultless wireless connection. 

It's a premium package, but no other gaming keyboard released this year offered up the same all-in-one feature set and the build quality and feel of the Azoth. Those ROG NX switches play a big part in the overall appeal of this typing experience, but even switching them out for a set of clicky blues we were still enjoying a tight 75% form factor with all the necessary controls and then some. From the programmable control switch in the top righ tcorner to the digital display next to it, we were still finding neat quality of life improvements even after we finished our initial testing period. 

Considering these switches are just as springy and the deck just as solidly silent as the day we pulled it out the box, the Azoth can go the distance - and that's not something we can say too often. This isn't just the best gaming deck of the year, it's the best hot-swappable keyboard we've tested yet. 

Runner up

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro

The Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro dropped the rulebook a little this year. The 2023 instalment didn't give us a wireless connection, but it went all in on macro functionality. If you're creating a full cockpit of controls, that trade off is more than worth it. In fact, this keyboard is so masterful in cramming in extra buttons and dials, it's our favorite full sized gaming keyboard overall right now. No other gaming keyboard released this year can compete with the sheer number of programmable commands at your fingertips here. 

Best gaming headset - Turtle Beach Stealth Pro

Turtle Beach Stealth Pro hardware awards

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The Turtle Beach Stealth Pro took the multiplatform world by storm in 2023, offering powerful audio and a suite of extra features. 

After previously building a name in more budget-based gaming headsets, Turtle Beach unveiled its multiplatform mega-headset in the spring. The Stealth Pro has gone on to prove itself invaluable in the hands of anyone regularly splitting their time across PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It's not quite got the chops of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, but out of 2023's crop it's certainly the best in the business. 

The hot-swappable battery packs can be rotated in and out of the headset itself (with the other sat charging on the main hub) for 12 hours of charge per pack. That wireless transmitter can connect to everything from PS5 to Xbox, PC to Nintendo Switch, and maintain a high quality connection while doing so. 

We were incredibly surprised to find that Xbox audio came out just as impressive as that of a PS5 or PC - a true rarity in the world of multiplatform options. You're usually getting a headset geared towards a particular console, to the detriment of audio quality across others. That's just not the case here, and we've only ever been able to say that about a handful of devices - making this the best gaming headset for multiplatform use we've ever tested.

Runner up

Audeze Maxwell

The 90mm planar drivers put the Audeze Maxwells in pride of place for any audiophile after a high-end experience. Audeze built on their reputation for luxuriously tuned gaming headsets earlier in the year, and the Maxwells carry the widest, most detailed soundstage we've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Throw in a fantastic 80 hour battery life and a crisp microphone and you've got some serious ear candy here. 

Best gaming chair - Boulies Ninja Pro

Boulies Ninja Pro hardware awards

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If you think that gaming chairs are too firm to be comfortable for longer sessions, you need to know about the Boulies Ninja Pro.

The Boulies Ninja Pro has usurped Secretlab's best efforts for us this year, crowning itself the new king of the best gaming chair power rankings. While offering so many of the adjustability and ergonomics features seen in other top brands, Boulies has added a cherry on top - extremely plush cushioning and materials that feel just as premium as the most expensive seats out there.

In our review, we found that the best way to describe the Ninja Pro is like a warm, friendly hug. As ridiculous as that might sound, it's what the experience boils down to. You feel embraced but the Ninja Pro's cushions, you feel supported by the build quality and ergonomics, and you feel as though you could stay sat in it for hours. 

All that, and the Boulies Ninja Pro 2024 is more affordable than the other best gaming chairs it's overtaken. Where Secretlab might allow you to rep your favorite game or franchise with bombastic officially licensed designs, Boulies looks to sleek and classy colorways that are sure to compliment your existing setups. To us, that's the sign of a true champion.

Runner up

Corsair TC100 Relaxed

Speaking of more comfort for less money, the Corsair TC100 Relaxed cooked up a storm in 2023. On the budget end of the scale, it also offers a lot of premium features that are usually reserved for high-end thrones. We've seen it discounted a few times this year too, but even at its MSRP it's a total bargain for the comfort you get. If there were more cosmetic options, this might have even been a dark horse for the gold medal. 

Best controller - Victrix Pro BFG

Victrix Pro BFG hardware awards

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The Victrix Pro BFG was released pretty early on in 2023, and since then, it's been the controller to beat. 

This is a gamepad so good it's raised the bar for what modern E-Sports controllers should aim to be. Following on from the legacy of the Victrix Gambit controller for Xbox, PDP went fully modular with the design of the BFG. In our review, we compared it to that old Bruce Lee adage, "Be like water, my friend", because no matter what genre of game you turn this controller to, it has a trick up its sleeve and an attachment in its case to make it the perfect tool for the job. 

Even if the extreme versatility wasn't there, you'd still have one of the most comfortable controllers on the market right now, along with some of the best back buttons ever placed on one. Admittedly, the Victrix Pro BFG isn't necessarily a controller you'd choose for a more relaxed, laid-back session - because it's stripped back in pursuit of competitive greatness you won't find haptics or trigger resistance. With this in hand, though, the spot atop any leaderboard could be yours. 

All that, and it's noticeably cheaper than the other officially licensed PS5 controllers on neighboring shelves. 

Runner up

DualSense Edge

This was a close call in 2023 because we've seen some showstopping gamepads released this year. This runner-up badge was almost given to the GameSir T4 Kaleid, or the Nacon Revolution Pro 5, but in the end, comfort and intuitive first-party features have won out. 

The DualSense Edge isn't everything we hoped for Sony's first homegrown pro controller. It's pricey and only has two back buttons when others in its weight class opt for four. Regardless, the Edge has grown on us throughout the year, and it outclasses the regular DualSense thanks to its rounded grips, added weight, and brilliant software integration with the PS5. 

Best VR headset - PSVR 2

PSVR 2 hardware awards

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PlayStation's second VR device took home the Golden Joystick award for best gaming hardware this year, so it's a clear choice for best VR headset.

We could talk about how PSVR 2 kicked off an amazing year for VR technology. We could say that it arguably reignited the mainstream gaming crowd's interest in this medium, but in truth, all we have to say is that PSVR 2 is a superb piece of hardware. 

No matter if you use this headset for one of the growing VR games in its library, or you want to fully enclose yourself in the impressive cinematic mode for non-VR content, PSVR 2 is one of the best sidekicks the PS5 has to offer. Games like The Last Clockwinder and Synapse come to life thanks to the incredible OLED display of this visor. The same can be said of content in Cinematic mode, with inky blacks and an adjustable screen size completely immersing you in games like Outer Wilds and Returnal.

The graphical fidelity is up there with the best VR headsets for PCs, but a great VR headset is about so much more than that. The Haptic feedback and capacitive sensors here are innovations that now make every other VR device feel as though it's coming up short. Foveated rendering is present too, and all of this is in a package that costs a fraction of the price it does for PC VR headsets.

Runner up

Meta Quest 3

The Meta Quest 3 is a great follow-up to Oculus's 2020 device. Thanks to the highest-end features present in PSVR 2, it narrowly misses out on the gold medal. Arguably though, it's aiming for a different market. While Sony's second headset aims at hardcore PlayStation gamers, the Quest 3 looks to serve a much wider subset of tech enthusiasts who want a VR headset for more than just gaming. The mixed-reality chops of the Quest 3 are really praiseworthy, and in any other year, this probably would have won. 

Best 3D printer - Anycubic Photon Mono M5s

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s Hardware Awards

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A 3D printer that just works... but does much more than that.

It goes without saying that 3D printing is complicated. You see, the actual printing is easy; it's all the prep and troubleshooting that make things a headache. Almost everyone's felt the pain of a failed print because the build plate wasn't properly leveled, for example.

That's why the Anycubic Photon Mono M5s is such a marvel. Alongside a self-leveling build plate, it's crammed with a host of clever self-diagnostic functions that can catch issues (such as not having enough resin to complete the proposed job) long before they happen. As someone who only got into 3D printing a few years ago, that's an absolute godsend. I've had more than my fair share of print failures, so it's borderline magical for this thing to just… work. There's no muss and no fuss. Sure, it's not perfect. But at least I know that if something goes wrong, it's almost certainly my fault.

That's also useful for experts, naturally – there's a lot faff saved with this powerful but reasonably-sized kit. Combine it with high speed resin and you're away; models can be finished in literally less than half the time. Plus, they'll all come out in crisp 12K resolution. That makes it a real contender for our list of the best 3D printers, and certainly the best one from 2023.

Runner up

Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra 12K

This impressive piece of kit came for the Photon Mono M5s' lunch in mid-2023, packing that same 12K resolution and very user-friendly tech. It actually one-ups the competition by including an air purifier, too. 

As such, the only thing that stopped the Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra 12K from clinching the top spot was the fact that it didn't also come with a self-leveling build plate. As I mentioned in my review, "I have almost nothing bad to say about this thing." 

Best tabletop game - Disney Lorcana

Disney Lorcana hardware awards

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We can't remember a game that was this hyped or sold so well in a long time. And luckily, it lived up to the fuss.

It always felt as if it'd be easier to break into a vault than the trading card game market. Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon have that arena sewn up, after all – it's widely accepted that they're some of the best card games ever made, so going up against them is a fool's errand.

Then Disney Lorcana arrived.

Pitting a deck of familiar or reimagined Disney characters against each other, there was (understandably) a lot of hype surrounding the project and it quickly became one of the most talked-about releases of 2023. A pre-order rush soon followed, to the point that Disney Lorcana starter decks became near-impossible to find. And with good reason; aside from featuring drop-dead gorgeous artwork, the game is so much more accessible than its competition. However, it still has a strategic edge. 

Rather than being weighed down by jargon that's borderline incomprehensible unless you've been playing for years, the basics are easy to learn. Instead, Lorcana's complexity comes through abilities that are clearly explained on the card themselves. How and when you use these powers is where things get spicy, so it's a solid fit regardless of whether you're a trading card game expert or beginner.

More importantly, it's fun. I argued that Disney Lorcana is the trading card game we need right now earlier this year, and I stand by that assessment months later. Its fast but thoughtful gameplay is still as compelling now as it was when it first hit shelves.

Runner up


It's been a long road to get here; despite having appeared on Kickstarter a long time ago, Frosthaven didn't truly arrive until this year. That means it's fair game for our 2023 awards, and how could it not be? This sprawling RPG is just as good as its predecessors, if not better – as I said a few months back, it's a "smarter and slicker adventure" on the whole.

Thanks to quality-of-life improvements and gameplay tweaks born of feedback from its predecessor (already one of the best board games), Frosthaven is on top form. Town-building mechanics and a more nuanced story help it stand out even if you've played Gloomhaven to death. 

Best Lego set - Rivendell

Lego Rivendell hardware awards

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There's a reason people's jaws drop when they see this kit – 'impressive' undersells it.

Product shots and social media posts don't do Lego Rivendell justice. This is the kind of set that makes people's eyes pop when they see it in person. There's usually an awed 'wow' that Owen Wilson would be proud of as well.

Its size is just the beginning. Along with being divided into three massive sections, there are well over a dozen minifigures to populate it. Look closer and you'll find hidden secrets everywhere you look too. Tiny maps of Middle-earth scattered around the study? Check. The broken sword of kings on a pedestal, ready for little Aragorn to wring his hands over? Yep, that's here too. Oh, and don't forget Bilbo's tower bedroom (complete with a tiny writing desk, his memoirs, and an alternate face to represent that scary 'Gollum' moment). It's a Lord of the Rings fan's dream.

The build-process is every bit as endearing. There's a ridiculous attention to detail here; alongside Easter eggs like an eye of Sauron beneath the council area (it's soon covered up so is purely for fun), the instruction book is crammed with genuinely interesting asides from the design team. That tips an already excellent kit into being one of the best Lego sets overall, and I genuinely can't think of anything able to equal it.

Runner up

Gringotts Bank

This was a set that raised eyebrows when it was announced earlier in 2023. Balancing precariously on a thin, underground base representing the vaults beneath London, this wizarding bank looked liable to fall over at the slightest encouragement.

Luckily, us naysayers were wrong.

It's a magnificent feat of Lego engineering, and as we mentioned in our review of Lego Gringotts Bank, is "one of the finest-looking modular buildings to date." Fans of Harry's world will adore its many references, and the surprising level of detail throughout helps it soar. 

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