Maximum PC Reviews, by the Numbers

Amber Bouman

A Guide to Maximum PC Verdicts
Have you ever wondered what separates a “6” verdict from a “7;” or questioned why a product earned a “9,” but was denied our revered Kick Ass award? Here’s the reasoning behind our editorial verdicts.


This is not only the absolute best product in its category—regardless of price—it’s a game-changer that absolutely shatters our perception of what’s possible in this space. An automatic Kick Ass award winner.

Example: Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers


A top-notch product in its class that meets our lofty expectations in most every area and exceeds them in some, but one that doesn’t necessarily stand alone in that estimation. Products that come closest to that level earn a Kick Ass award; not all do.

Example: Asus Maximus III Formula


A well designed and solidly executed product with minor flaws or performance shortcomings that leave it lagging behind its superior competitors.

Example: XFX Radeon HD 5870 XXX Edition


A product in this class still earns a qualified buy recommendation for reasons that are made clear in the review, but you’ll want to compare its pluses and minuses with several competing products before plunking down your dough.

Example: Acer H5360 3D Video Projector


This product is either highly unremarkable—wholly devoid of features or performance that set it apart from the competition—or it’s a noble failure. In the latter case, we commend the vendor for trying something new, but we can’t bring ourselves to give it even a qualified buy recommendation.

Example: Samsung P2770HD Display


A product that falls into this category is significantly flawed and exhibits performance shortcomings in more than a few categories.

Example: Microsoft Sidewinder X8


We probably shouldn’t have agreed to review this product, but the vendor acted in good faith so we’ll take it on the chin. You, however, shouldn’t buy this product unless you’re feeling extremely charitable toward the vendor.

Example: Scythe Kabuoto


There’s a strong chance that any competing product chosen at random would deliver better value than this.

Example: NEC 24WMCX


This product is absolute crap lacking a single redeeming quality.

Example: 25 to Life


This product is not only absolute crap, it contributed to the damage or destruction of another product, created a hazard in the lab, and/or injured an employee at some point.

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