This is the last part of a series of articles dedicated to the personal results of 2023 by the editors and authors of Mezha.Media. Links to the previous parts can be found at the end of the text. And finally, we will talk about the hardware of 2023.

The rules are a bit different here. They still don’t exist, but we would like to draw your attention to the fact that while some of the authors of this material talk about specific products they have personally purchased, others talk about products announced in 2023 that impressed them with their characteristics, design, etc. And some of them write about this year’s industrial trends.

Enjoy reading and have a Happy New Year!

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

Oleg Kasich, editor of Mezha.Media

In the context of desktop components, 2023 turned out to be a fairly flat year in terms of technological development. The period was quite eventful in terms of new product launches, although without any significant breakthrough products. However, I still want to single out one of the desktop processors – AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D. This year, AMD continued to build on the success of its 3D V-Cache multi-layer layout technology models, which feature a chip with additional L3 cache memory. Combined with the Zen 4 architecture computing cores, this 8-core chip is the fastest gaming processor on the market. The 64 MB of third-level cache memory increased by 64 MB sometimes leads to phenomenal results, and the maximum effect is manifested in games.

Back in January, during CES 2023, AMD announced several lines of mobile processors. Subjectively, the most interesting was the AMD Ryzen 7040 (Phoenix) series with chips based on Zen 4 processor architecture and integrated graphics on RDNA 3. A successful combination with good performance and functionality in its class. In addition, certain Ryzen 7040 models have been equipped with the Ryzen AI AI acceleration unit, the practical benefits of which are to be revealed later. Low-cost variants of Ryzen 7040U chips are the basis of Ryzen Z1 and Ryzen Z1 Extreme processors for portable gaming consoles such as ASUS ROG Ally. Moreover, it looks like the Phoenix platform with the Zen4/RDNA3 architectural combination will also be used for future Ryzen 8000G desktop chips on the Socket AM5 platform.

At the end of this year, Intel introduced a line of mobile processors Intel Core Ultra. For the first time for consumer CPUs, the manufacturer uses a tile structure with several silicon crystals that are combined on a single substrate using Intel’s Foveros 3D packaging technology. It is also interesting that the components are made according to different technological standards, and moreover, some of the crystals are manufactured by TSMC. However, in addition to interesting engineering solutions, the new chips offer certain user improvements. Finally, Intel has managed to significantly improve the performance of integrated graphics, which will allow it to compete with the corresponding top-end AMD solutions. The processors also received an NPU hardware unit to accelerate AI algorithms. It is likely that we will be able to evaluate the potential of Intel Core Ultra as early as 2024 with the emergence of a wide range of laptops based on them.

In general, large system players of the IT market in 2023 paid maximum attention to the powerful AI accelerator segment. The rapid development of services based on generative artificial intelligence in its various variations and manifestations requires infinitely high computing performance. That’s why specialized HPC modules are the next big thing for manufacturers that can offer the right solutions. Accelerators such as NVIDIA H100, AMD Instinct MI300, and Intel Gaudi2 bring companies considerable profits, so maximum competition is expected here. With the emergence of specialized AI acceleration units in user processors, we can expect the development of the local specialized computing ecosystem. Thus, “everything will be AI”, and in 2024 it will be even more convincing than in the outgoing year. It is no coincidence that the latest large-scale presentations of manufacturers are held under slogans such as AI Everywhere and Advancing AI.

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

Taras Mishchenko, editor-in-chief of Mezha.Media

This year, I can’t mention anything in particular, but there were quite a few interesting trends that I would like to talk about. First, it is the maturation of the flexible smartphone category. Only Galaxy Fold5 got to us this year, but there are more and better models of this kind. From the design with thinner bodies, more robust materials, water protection, and software that allows you to unlock the benefits of the internal flexible screen. Given that in 2023 we also saw more laptops with flexible screens from major players, we can expect to see this technology penetrate other categories. I think we will see more interesting examples of its use at CES 2024.

Secondly, since we are talking about laptops, the release of the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070, 4080, and 4090 mobile graphics cards at the end of last year allowed manufacturers to create even more powerful and versatile gaming laptops in 2023 that can be conveniently used for both gaming and work. Apparently, next year, the main focus of manufacturers will be on design refinement, we will see even thinner and more comfortable cases, and of course, we expect OLED displays to come to gaming models on a massive scale.

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

Igor Sushon, editor of Mezha.Media

Like our editor-in-chief, I didn’t focus on specific devices, but I did emphasize some general things.

For example, today we need to look at the progress in the development of smartphones in terms of several years. Annual updates don’t often offer really big upgrades. The flagships have begun to communicate with satellites and master titanium cases, while cheaper smartphones are improving water and dust protection, continue to look for interesting external solutions, and generally improve the user experience. However, this does not play as prominent a role between generations as it used to.

An interesting leap is taking place in the competition of foldable smartphones. Now they are not associated only with Samsung (even despite the recent success of Fold and Flip). Motorola, BBK, and other brands have entered the “game” with more excitement. It would be interesting to see what experiments Apple is conducting in this category, but the company currently has other priorities, such as mixed reality.

VR and AR technologies were also in the headlines throughout the year. And yes, this was mainly due to Apple Vision Pro. The headset is still a month or two away from store shelves, but all competitors who have long had ready-made solutions seem to have been forced to remind themselves and grab their place in the business. And although the cost of Apple’s headset at several thousand dollars makes no sense compared to, for example, the price tag of Meta Quest 3 ($499), it is only a matter of time before Apple releases a cheaper version (hints of which have already been released by insiders in the info field). However, this is also a work in progress for the next few years, and it is not a given that the industry will grow significantly during this time.

Artificial intelligence has also shaken up the industry this year. Yes, we are mostly talking about software and cloud work, of course. However, AI also has its own separate place in hardware. Smartphone processors have had separate units for AI computing for years, and Apple has also found a place for them in its own Apple Silicon processors for Mac. Later, AMD added XDNA to its NPU chips, and Intel caught up with it at the end of this year with the new Core Ultra line.

AI has long been helping with photos on smartphones, learning the owner’s patterns and quietly adjusting small things or suggesting individual actions/applications. And 2023 was a big transition from imperceptible background actions to much more direct interaction with users. For example, some of the images for the Border materials were made with the help of AI. And all this is developing at a frantic pace, just look at the examples of different versions of Midjourney. Meanwhile, government regulators are already actively working on new laws regarding the responsibilities of companies developing AI and controlling its use. This is only the beginning of the story.

One thing I particularly liked this year was gaming laptops. Not only do they improve performance and stability, but after CES 2023 they will be offered in 16 and 18 inch formats. It may not seem like a big improvement. However, based purely on subjective impressions, even a slightly larger screen makes a big difference to the user experience and impression. This is something like the MacBook Pro enlargement a few years ago – it seems like a small thing, but when you work on a laptop every day, you feel it. In this case, there is no need to talk about the gaming experience.

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

Serhiy Svitlychnyi, editor, author of Mezha.Media

Frankly speaking, the real hardware of the year for me was the Pixel 7 smartphone, which replaced the old OnePlus 6T, but since it was released last fall, I’ll name a couple of other devices that interested me during testing in 2023.

The first will be the ASUS ROG Ally, a solid competitor to the Steam Deck, which, thanks to Windows 11 and the Game Pass service, can be called a “portable Xbox”.

And the second is an electronic notebook Lenovo Smart Paper, a large “reader” with an e-ink screen and the ability to manually enter notes. Like the ROG Ally, this device is not for everyone (especially considering its price), but for its purposes it turns out to be a very convenient tool, and if the developer improves the software, it will be even better.

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

Oleg Danylov, editor of Mezha.Media

As regular readers of Mezhda probably already know, this year I finally realized my dream and completely, except for the peripherals, upgraded my PC. So I hope not to mention hardware for the near future. It’s not time to upgrade my smartphone either, so I’ll choose a rather unusual hardware that really impressed me this year.

These are the SpaceX Super Heavy launch vehicle and the SpaceX Starship. And even though both SpaceX Super Heavy/Starship test launches in April and November ended in explosions, it was something. The SpaceX Super Heavy/Starship is the most incredible, amazing thing that earthlings have created since the Space Shuttle.

Yes, Elon Musk personally turned out to be a rare bastard and scumbag, but SpaceX engineers are doing a very important thing by promoting the entire space industry and igniting the hearts of those who are in love with space.

Jeremy Clarkson’s words in 2003 about the Space Shuttle can now be applied to the SpaceX Super Heavy/Starship: “Yes, I understand that the shuttle’s purpose at the moment is only to service the orbital station. Yes, I am well aware that testing whether geraniums can bloom in zero gravity is another step in man’s knowledge of the universe. But we forget the main thing. It doesn’t matter what happens at the station itself. It is much more important that we were able to build such a thing.”

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

Dmytro Kuryatnyk, author of Mezha.Media

The hardware of the year unexpectedly became a portable gaming computer Steam Deck. Not a console, by the way, but a computer, since the experience of using this gadget is still closely related to digging through the settings in an attempt to balance image quality, FPS, battery life, and noise level. You can, of course, play using the default settings, but the result will be suboptimal.

In general, the ability to play former PlayStation exclusives on a fairly portable device with a good picture (these games are, funnily enough, optimized the best) is some kind of magic. Mostly, though, I use Steam Deck to run an old game that I haven’t gotten around to playing on my PC, to play a couple of missions in Marvel’s Midnight Suns before bed, or to test how it handles a new title. Surprisingly, it copes with almost everything. If only I could connect third-party launchers without any fiddling around, this device would be worth the price.

Volodymyr Dyachenko, videographer at Mezha.Media

On the brink of the new year: hardware that surprised us in 2023

A few words about my purchase this year. For quite some time now, I have been using a Sony α7 6400 camera for my work. Mirrorless cameras from the Japanese manufacturer have proven to be versatile tools for creating photos and videos. During important field shoots, it is advisable to have an additional camera in reserve in case one of them breaks down. So, the question arose of purchasing another “assistant”.

Given the high prices of new Sony products, I decided to wait for an interesting offer on the secondary market. Since my optics fleet was replenished a few years ago with a Sigma 24mm f/1.4 lens from the Art line for full-frame cameras, I chose to go with options with a full-frame sensor size. The budget of 40,000 hryvnias was a Sony α7 III, which is not a new camera, but still relevant.

The device has fast autofocus, an effective matrix stabilization system, good battery life, and high-quality 4K video recording. Liquidity was an important factor in the choice, as you can get rid of the camera at a bargain price without significant financial losses. So, if you are looking for an affordable universal tool for creating photos and videos, I advise you to take a closer look at the Sony α7 III.

And what hardware impressed you in 2023 can be written in the comments.

The previous installments of the 2023 edition of the Mezha’s summary can be found here:
Automotive results of 2023: winners, achievements, technologies, failures
Made in Ukraine. Results of 2023 with Ukrainian game developers
On the brink of the new year: what we played in 2023
On the brink of the new year: what we watched in 2023
On the brink of the new year: what we read in 2023