As I have already mentioned, I personally trust SPCR's reviews far more than ANYONE elses, however SPCR can still be receiving cherry picked parts without knowing, and reviewing only the best samples.
I've read the above & while I'm pleased you trust SPCR, I've also addressed this concept -- of cherry-picked items being sent our way -- in the past. You might be convinced that samples are cherry picked, but I am not, and I've examined every sample that lands at SPCR & met with most of the people who send the samples.
The bottom line is that the big companies don't have the time or interest and they wouldn't even know what exactly to cherry-pick for in the case of SPCR, because what we scrutinize is so different from 99% of other sites.
As the the smaller guys who might send "preselected" samples, sometimes I specifically ask that they check to make sure something works before they send it to me. In the case of some items -- like motherboards -- this is just common sense. The return rate on some things approaches or exceed 10%; why waste everyone's time with a DOA sample?
In terms of more involved cherry picking -- ie, selecting a sample that runs cooler & quieter just for SPCR -- I don't believe this has ever happened and I highly doubt that it ever will. It's just not practical, the marketing & promo guys are just too busy do pull off such a feat, and as with the big guys, they don't even know what to look for. And even if they did manage to do this, all it would take is a few unhappy SPCR readers complaining online for the review sample to look like a special cherry, at which point we'd be pressing the supplier for more samples.
I think as a modern consumer, with most mass-produced goods, you have to assume a certain level of variance -- maybe +/- 1~3% depending on what it is and what parameters you're looking at. And you will have a certain DOA or close to DOA 1~5% of the time. Sometimes you get unlucky.
Cherry pick? I doubt it very much.