I watched the evolution of the computer magazine over that period, through Byte and PC World.
At the beginning .. there were genuinely interesting computers - Sirius, Apricot, anyone? Then along came the IBM Pc and all its clones.
I remember a review which wasn't called "Another 20 indistinguishable beige boxes" but should have been, and could hear the desperation in the writer's mind as he struggled to find something, anything to say about these boxes. Even the internal wiring came in for comment, and tiny percentage difference in the specification and performance made into column inches.
Since by then everything ran Windows, there was nothing else to distinguish one clone from another.
And yes, in those days you bought the magazines for the adverts, to compare specs and price up a new system.
While reminiscing - PCW used to run competitions that actually required thought and mathematical ability, usually involving 10 digit number so you couldn't use 16-bit ints or floating point. (Of course the BBC Micro had 32-bit ints which made it ideal for these puzzles!)
My favourite was the following:
Using the digits from 0 to 9, generate all possible permutations, and list the billionth. How long will it take take you to work this out either with pencil and paper or a 68000-class processor?