We've recently complained about video card prices skyrocketing due to recent discoveries that AMD GPUs are particularly good at mining Litecoin, a cryptocurrency similar to BitCoin. When this discovery was made, we saw photos floating around the internet of entire stacks of 7970s, R9 290s, and other cards, all purchased with the intention of mining these coins.
This, in tow of the normal holiday season madness, resulted in nearly all current AMD GPUs selling out across the web, all the way down to the 7850. Prices doubled as a result, allowing retailers to reap the demand for a short time -- we've seen 2GB 7850s for $180 on Newegg, where they were just $90 a week or two ago. If you've been wondering why video cards are so expensive right now, this is why.
It's been a while since a true revival of our Cheap Bastard series of gaming PC builds. We recently posted a low-end League of Legends PC for $425 that can be assembled very quickly, but it was really spec'd just for low-end games. We had a recent forum request for a cheap PC build capable of Twitch streaming, YouTube video editing, and gaming for around $500. That's what this gaming PC tries to do. This Cheap Bastard's gaming PC build has no frills -- it just gets the job done, namely gaming on high settings, lightweight video rendering, and Twitch streaming for around $500.
If you need help learning how to build the system, hit us up on the forums or keep an eye out for our impending guide!
Let's get started!
Now that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and "Cyber Week" (yes, really) are over with, I guess we're looking at "Cyber Winter!" Hell, why not Cyber Year, right? That's certainly how sales work.
Regardless, I've once again scoured the web to find the best weekly deals out there. For this week's article, we've got a cheap (ish) 8GB kit of RAM, a high-end CPU, budget gaming case, and more. Christmas is right around the corner, so let's see what presents we have for you.
We recently posted about an alleged slide leak from AMD that, if real, seemed to suggest the end of the line for FX-series CPUs and the AM3+ socket. The slide stirred a great deal of concern throughout major social networks and enthusiast websites, and so I attempted to bring things back down to earth in our original analysis. I reached out to AMD for comment prior to publication, but we weren't able to speak with the company until yesterday.
AMD Manager of APU/CPU Product Reviews James Prior was quick to negate the slide's legitimacy: "I've never seen that slide before, I don't know where that came from," he told me in our call, and quickly followed-up by stating that "it's not real. FX is not end-of-life." Prior pointed-out that it's rare to ever see more than a year into the future with roadmaps, and that the real AMD roadmap looks like this:
Update: AMD has commented on the slide.
Rumors abounded earlier this year that AMD would be ditching high-end / enthusiast-class CPUs in favor of a heavier focus on APUs and mainstream CPUs. With large thanks to its console adaptation, AMD posted its first profit since 2012 in Q3 this year, making for a promising future for the company. The same earnings report indicated that AMD's desktop computing solutions have dwindled in profitability over the course of the last year, meanwhile their GPU and APU solutions have nearly doubled in revenue.
Given this information, the rumors earlier this year made sense: If AMD can pump its R&D into graphics and hybrid solutions (Mantle, HSA, and Hybrid Graphics are all promising), then perhaps the best move would be to cut the FX line. Intel hasn't produced a mainstream mid-range or better processor without an IGP in several years (the i-series CPUs are effectively APUs, though Intel doesn't define the fusion as such); buying one of the go-to Intel CPUs (4670K or 4770K) also means you're getting an IGP with it that, frankly, very few readers in our audience even want or care about.
A new leaked slide allegedly from AMD could indicate that the company is terminating their FX line of CPUs and the AM3+ socket type, and with speculation whirling, let's bring some reality to the scene.
We stated that AMD "indisputably owns the $100-$200 video card market" in our coverage of their newly-released Radeon R9 270 GPU. With the card's focus on delivering high gaming performance at a sub-$200 price-point, it outperforms AMD's present 7850/7870 lineup and nVidia's GTX 660. The R9 270 lands just below the 760 in both price and performance, making the new AMD card an excellent choice for any mid-range, budget-conscious PC builds.
This isn't quite a "cheap" gaming PC build -- like the $425 LoL option we posted -- but instead aims to fill the mid-range market for gamers with a bit more change. This gaming computer is built specifically with Battlefield 4 in mind, though it'll run any game on the market with high-to-max settings on 1080p with 4xAA (or higher). If you're looking for a sub-$1000 DIY budget gaming PC for Battlefield 4 -- or other high-end games, like Assassin's Creed IV -- you've come to the right place.
As a bonus, this entire build has an awesome blue/black theme; the CPU cooler fan, motherboard heatsinks, and RAM all use a metallic blue.
After our coverage of nVidia's GTX 780 Ti -- a $700 enthusiasts-only monster -- we turn now to AMD for a reality-check. For nearly a full year now, we've been recommending AMD's 7850 and nVidia's GTX 650 Ti Boost in the low-end, and given all the shifting of the high-end market, those suggestions have remained stable. We won't see nVidia's entry-level cards until next year, but AMD isn't waiting around: they've announced the R9 270, a card that aims to compete with existing mid-range cards at a significantly lower price-point.
We'll cover the AMD R9 270 specs, price, and preliminary benchmarks against the 7850 and GTX 760 below; new information on the Never Settle Bundle is also included.
We've covered several of nVidia's video card announcements this year, including the 780 + ShadowPlay, 770, and 760. With the launch of the GTX 760, NVidia's final slide stated that -- from memory -- there would be no further cards launched in a SKU lower than the 760 this year. At GN, we saw it as an indicator that no GTX 750 or 750 Ti would be released this year, but higher cards were still likely (at the time, the GTX 760 Ti seemed feasible, but never happened, and now we have the GTX 780 Ti).
Update: The 780 Ti is now posted on Newegg.
The 750 & 750 Ti models might launch next year, but we have no solid evidence of the existence of either card.
Regardless, nVidia's GTX 780 Ti now stands between the 780 and TITAN as a high-end video card. Where Titan aims to be used in professional computationally-intensive applications (with double-point precision), the 780 Ti is meant to be more "gaming-grade." In this post, we'll cover the nVidia GTX 780 Ti specs, some benchmarks vs. AMD's R9-290X, and the release date and MSRP.
AMD's new driver update for its R-series and Radeon GPUs should improve stability in Battlefield 4, one of the company's partnered games. Users of AMD cards on Windows 8 experienced crashes / CTDs and black screens in Battlefield 4, all of which should be resolved with the new driver update.
In addition to stability patches, the driver update builds on top of Catalyst 13.11 beta 7, which boosted Battlefield 4 CrossFire performance roughly 20% over the previous driver.
Full patch notes and the download can be found here.
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.
Halloween is upon us, and since most of our readers are too old to trick or treat, we decided to bring the treats to you. We put together a Halloween-themed build that uses an orange and black scheme, but is still very capable of playing most games at medium-to-high settings.
Theme builds are a fun way to stand out from the usual black-and-blue configuration, so if you're looking to build a new system with a Halloween theme or just love orange and black, this is the build for you. Plenty of alternatives and upgrade options are also listed below.
With this $647 budget gaming computer build, you'll be able to play most modern games on mid-to-high settings and have a couple upgrade options open; for anyone looking for a first-time PC build (or a refresher), this one's a great starting point.