Times have changed since the mid-90s when PC Advisor launched, and no more so than in the field of the personal computer.

As we approach our 200th anniversary – that’s 200 issues, of course, not years, since even Babbage hadn’t alighted on his mechanical computer by 1811 – we’ve taken stock of the way we review PCs. In particular, the traditional notion that most people still have of the PC as a boxy tower that lives under the desk and drives a monitor by keyboard and mouse.

That desktop PC paradigm survives with enthusiast machines such as the PC Specialist FX-8150 HD, which takes a new generation of multi-core ‘Bulldozer’ processor from AMD.

But buying habits have changed, and a ‘PC’ now is as likely to be a laptop or tablet. When a static PC is needed, it could be dedicated to gaming, media or business. We've reviewed several general-purpose systems that can turn their hand to a variety of tasks in the home.

Also taking most computing tasks in their stride are multimedia laptops. These are akin to the desktop-replacement laptops of a few years ago, with similar processing power to desktop PCs. Their decent graphics chips enable Windows gameplay, while large screens aid enjoyment of films and gaming.

If it’s cutting-edge performance you crave, we’ve been busy testing the first peripherals to feature the über-fast Thunderbolt interface - see our Promise Pegasus R6 and Apple Thunderbolt Display reviews. This Intel/Apple-designed means to connect storage and peripherals is currently found only on Apple PCs, but in the same way that various technologies were pioneered by Apple before trickling into the Windows world – think USB, Wi-Fi, FireWire and integrated laptop webcams here – you can expect to see this useful next-generation connectivity more commonplace in the coming year.

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