Steve Burke

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

The Intel i7-2600K is arguably one of the most iconic products released by Intel in the last decade, following-up the seminal Nehalem CPUs with major architectural improvements in Sandy Bridge. The 2600K was a soldered CPU with significant performance uplift over Nehalem 930s, and launched when AMD’s Phenom II X6 CPUs were already embattled with the previous Intel architecture. We revisited these CPUs last year, but wanted to come back around to the 2600K in 2018 to see if it’s finally time to upgrade for hangers-on to the once-king CPU.

Our original Intel i7-2600K revisit (2017) can be found here, but we had a completely different test methodology at the time. The data is not at all comparable.

The 2600K CPU was manufactured starting around 2009-2010, launching alongside the Intel Sandy Bridge 2nd Gen Core i-Series of CPUs. This launch followed Nehalem, which challenged the Phenom II X6’s appeal in a heated market. Sandy Bridge launched and has remained a well-respected, nearly idolized CPU since its launch. Intel made tremendous gains over Nehalem and hasn’t quite recaptured that level of per-core increase since. For everyone still on Sandy Bridge and the i7-2600K (or i7-2700K), we wanted to revisit the CPUs and benchmark them in 2018. These 2018 i7-2600K benchmarks compare against Ryzen (R7 2700 and others), the i7-8700K, and the i9-9900K, alongside several other CPUs. For anyone with a 2700K, it’s mostly the same thing, just 100MHz faster.

The AMD Athlon 200GE CPU enters our benchmarking charts today, but we’re reviewing this one with a twist: For this benchmark, we’re testing the CPU entirely as a CPU, ignoring its integrated graphics out of curiosity to see how the $55 part does when coupled with a discrete GPU. To further this, we overclocked this supposedly locked CPU to 3.9GHz using multiplier overclocking, which is disabled by AMD on most boards likely for product segmentation of future 200-series parts. In this instance, the 200GE at 3.9GHz posts significantly improved numbers over stock, making it a candidate to replace the retired price position once held by the Intel Pentium CPUs, at least, up until the 14nm shortage.

In the past, the Intel G3258 and successor G4560 stood as affordable options for ultra-budget builds that were still respectable at gaming tasks. The Pentium G5000 series – including the G5400 and G5600 (in this today’s benchmark) – has skyrocketed in price and dwindled in availability. The G5600 and G5400 alike are in the realm of $100, depending on when you check pricing, with the G5400 often ending up more expensive than the G5600. A lot of this is due to demand, but supply is also weak with the ongoing 14nm shortage. Intel is busy allocating that fab space to other products, minimizing the amount of Pentium G CPUs on market and allowing retailers control to boost prices and meet what demand will pay. This has left a large hole in the market of low-end CPU + low-end dGPU solutions, and that’s a hole which AMD may be able to fill with its Athlon 200GE solution, which had a launch MSRP of $55.

Unlike Ryzen proper chips, the 200GE includes an IGP (Vega graphics) that enables it as a fully standalone part once popped into a motherboard; however, we think its IGP is too weak for most of our normal testing, and we know it’d underperform versus the R3 2200G. The G4560-style market is one we like to look at, so we decided to test the 200GE as an ultra-budget replacement for coupling alongside a low-end dGPU, e.g. a GTX 1050 or RX 550/560. If the CPU holds up against our standardized test battery, it’ll work when coupled with a low-end GPU.

Today we’re reviewing the Intel i5-9600K CPU, a 6-core 8th-Generation refresh part that’s been badged as a 9000-series CPU. The 9600K is familiar to the 8600K, except soldered and boosted in frequency. The new part costs roughly $250 and runs at 3.7GHz base or 4.6GHz turbo, with an all-core closer to 4.3GHz, depending on turbo duration tables. When we last reviewed an i5 CPU, our conclusion was that the i7s made more sense for pure gaming builds, with the R5s undercutting Intel’s dominance in the mid-range. We’re revisiting the value proposition of Intel’s i5 lineup with the 9600K, having already reviewed the 9900K and, of course, the 8700K previously.

As a foreword, note that the R5 2600's current and maintaining price-point of $160 makes it a less direct comparison. The 2600X, which would perform about where an overclocked 2600 performs, is about $220. This is also cheaper, but still closer to compare. Even closer is the R7 2700, which is $250-$270, depending on sales. The 2700 maintains at about $270 when sales aren't active. The most fair comparison by price would be the 2700, then, not the by-name comparison with the R5 2600(X) CPUs.

AMD launched its RX 580 2048 silently in China a few months ago, and in doing so damaged its brand credibility by rebranding the RX 570 as an RX 580. The point of having those two, distinct names is that they represent different products. The RX 580 2048 has 2048 FPUs (or streaming processors), which happens to be exactly what the RX 570 has. The RX 580 is also a few MHz higher in clock, which is fully attainable with an overclocked RX 570. Working with GamersNexus contacts in Taiwan, who then worked with contacts in China, we managed to obtain this China-only product launch so we could take a closer look at why, exactly, AMD thinks an RX 570 Ti deserves the name “RX 580.”

Taking an existing product with a relatively good reputation and rebuilding it as a worse product isn’t new. Don’t get us wrong: The RX 570, which is what the RX 580 2048 is, is a reasonably good card, especially with its new prices of roughly $150 (Newegg) to $180 elsewhere. That said, an RX 580 2048 is, by definition, not an RX 580. That’s lying. It is an RX 570, or maybe an RX 575, if AMD thinks that a 40MHz clock difference deserves a new SKU. AMD is pulling the same deceitful trick that NVIDIA pulled with its GT 1030 DDR4 card. It’s disgraceful, misleading, and predatory of consumers who may otherwise not understand the significance of the suffix “2048.” If they’re looking for an RX 580, they’re still finding one – except it isn’t one, and to brand the RX 580 2048 as an RX 580 is disgraceful.

We have a separate video scheduled to hit our channel with a tear-down of the card, in case you’re curious about build quality. Today, we’re using the DATALAND RX 580 2048 as our vessel for testing AMD’s new GPU. Keep in mind that, for all our scorn toward the GPU, DATALAND is somewhat unfortunately the host. DATALAND didn’t make the GPU – they just put it on the PCB and under the cooler (which is actually not bad). It also appears that DATALAND (迪兰) works alongside TUL, the parent company to PowerColor.

We paid about $180 USD for this card, which puts it around where some RX 570s sell for (though others are available for ~$150). Keep in mind that pricing in China will be a bit higher than the US, on average.

Fortnite has exploded onto the scene this year and, even if you’re not a fan of the game, it’s good for the hardware economy: Fortnite is bringing more newcomers into the PC gaming space, which spurs growth for the industry as a whole. With demand burgeoning for budget gaming PCs for Fortnite, we decided to put together a mid-range gaming PC build for playing and streaming Fortnite, like to Twitch. The budget for our Fortnite gaming & streaming PC build was about $700-$750, which will fluctuate depending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Although it is possible to play Fortnite for much cheaper, we have to highlight that the ultimate goal of this content is to assemble a machine capable of both playing and streaming the game. This is for the startup – someone who’s just starting with streaming and isn’t ready to invest into taking it too seriously. The build will still permit good quality livestreaming via OBS without many sacrifices (again, while playing Fortnite simultaneously), but could benefit from some manual tuning by the user. Overall, you get a fully capable machine that is also a good vessel for learning about computer hardware tuning, overclocking, and upgrading.

Although commenters always like to post their version of a build list that is cheaper, and therefore evidently “superior,” we must point out one critical fact: Every part selected has gone through our lab this year, has gone through exhaustive testing, and is something we generally trust to not be a garbage-tier component. As we’re recommending parts to thousands of people, we have to be sure they all work well together, and this build does. The memory, for instance, works well with the B450 Aorus Pro motherboard, and tertiary/secondary timings have largely been pre-tuned for you. This reduces a lot of work that is often faced with lower-end boards. The VRM has been looked at by GN’s resident liquid nitrogen overclocker and has been given a pass as “good enough for a 6-core,” which is exactly what we’re using. The BIOS features and VRM will struggle to push an 8-core, but do perfectly fine with a 6-core, as we’ve validated here. The PSU is also a near-perfect fit, as total system power consumption lands at about 50% load for the PSU, which peaks on the efficiency curve.

Let’s get into the component selection.

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