Here's what I'd consider if I were buying a Steve Dillen

I think a KEY aspect of any winch is to keep up with some basic maintenance and to know the limits of your equipment. Hydraulic, PTO, Electric, Armstrong or Fusion really makes no difference as long as you understand and accept the strengths and weaknesses of whatever equipment you're using.

Here's what I'd consider if I were buying a winch.....

1. Can I get parts? 2 days after I buy it? 2 days after the warranty expires? 5 years after the warranty expires? 10 years after the warranty expires? How long do I expect to keep the winch? Warn probably has the best track record in this area.

2. Does it hold enough cable to reach the distance I usually want to winch? You hate to be 10' short of the only solid object from which you can attach....I think we've all been there! It seems that a lot of winches come with 80' of line. Of the 5 times I tried to winch with my
M6000 before I switched over from cable to rope, 3 of them I was about 10' short and had to extend with whatever was handy. With 100', I've not had an issue. The 8274 is the recognized leader in this -- I think if someone tried hard, they could probably cram nearly 200' of synthetic
rope on that drum.

3. Does it have enough power to be useful on the 4th wrap of the drum? This is the ONLY time that I think that high winch ratings are a meaningful factor. Remember that 90% of the time you don't need 9000lbs of pull to drag something out (which is measured on the inner wrap of line). Most often you're dragging out 30' of line, pulling for 30 seconds and then respooling. I'm talking normal 4x4 use here, not those on 35"+ who like to aerate peat bogs......not that anyone here falls into that category!

4. Is duty cycle important? This is where I think that the less  recognized names probably introduce additional limitation. We all know pretty well how much abuse a Warn can take. I think this limitation in alternate brands can be managed by paying close attention to the temperature of the motor when you're using it. If you're winching just yourself, this is probably not a problem (but then ACCEPT that limitation and don't offer to winch 28 trucks through that bottomless vat of muck you just extracted yourself from.). PTO is probably best here, Hydraulic second, Electric third.

5. How weather sealed is it? I expect that this is probably an area where less recognized names can probably save some cost (although I've also found Warn to be less than optimal in the weather sealing department....). I think increased maintenance or a bit of prep with some dielectric grease and silicone can probably limit your (and your winch's) exposure here. Lack of use compounds this... Hydraulic is probably best in this category, PTO second, electric third.....

6. Is the line speed suitable? (Both no-load and full load need to be considered - this is probably why nobody but me is running a milemarker hydraulic....and even I am getting tired of low line speed if I'm trying to put my duty cycle to work. Sure, I can pull 28 trucks through muck without burning anything out, but I'd also like to be home in time for Christmas dinner! It looks (quick google) that the Smittybilt 8k has a 265:1 reduction gear. While this will probably have significant negative impact on line speed (it appears that a Warn M8000 runs a 219:1 reduction gear), it also makes an interesting comment about the efficiency of the motor driving this reduction gear. I don't really know the difference between "series wound" and "permanent magnet" when it comes to DC motors, but these two terms seem to pop up regularly.

7. Cost. While it does have to hit the chequebook eventually, I think it's important to decide what it is you really are buying. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that you can really look at detailed
technical specs of many of the winches before you buy. Sometimes a deal on new isn't such a deal -- and occasionally something used really fits the bill. My best deal in terms of "number of feet winched per dollar spent" was definitely the Warn M6000 that I bought from Terry who bought
it from ????? that is now mounted on the back of Tash's Ranger.

....reminding myself that nobody really asked for my input here!