After a slight lapse in news coverage due to a crowded content schedule, we’re back this week with highlights from the last couple of weeks. The news beat has been somewhat sluggish as we settle into the fourth quarter and move ever closer to the unrepentant shopping season. The crowning news item is the arrival of AMD’s remaining 2019 CPUs, including the highly-anticipated 16C/32T Ryzen 9 3950X.
There’s also fresh news on AMD’s continued encroachment on Intel’s x86 market share, Seagate keeping HDD development alive, and Samsung ending its custom CPU designs. Elsewhere within GN, we’ve recently — and exhaustively — detailed CPU and GPU recommendations for Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as pursuing a 6GHz overclock on our i9-9900KS.
This week’s hardware news talks about NVIDIA’s reported revival of the RTX 2070, Intel’s ongoing 14nm shortage issues, AMD and Intel earnings reports, and more. Among the hardware items, GN also discusses its new ongoing partnership with the Eden Reforestation Projects to contribute 10 trees planted for each item sold via the GN store through November.
Show notes after the embedded video.
The Threadripper line launched back in 2017, landing between the brand new and impressive Ryzen desktop chips and the extra high core count Epyc server CPUs. This launch lineup included the 8C/16T 1900X, the 12C/24T 1920X, and the 16C/32T 1950X. These were production-targeted CPUs (even more so than the main Ryzen line), best suited to individuals or small businesses doing rendering or heavily multithreaded tasks that didn’t merit a full Epyc server system. The 1920X launched at $800, but two years later it can be found on Amazon for 1/4th of that price. Today we’re going to figure out whether it’s worth even that.
We’ve picked several $200-ish CPUs to compare. The main competitor we’re considering is AMD’s own R5 3600, a chip with half the cores and half the threads. The newest Intel part we have that’s close to $200 is the 9600K, but it’s currently $240 on Amazon and therefore isn’t really a fair comparison. The i5-9400 is $200 new on Amazon and Newegg, but we don’t own one--we haven’t tested something that low on the Intel product stack since the slightly lower-spec i5-8400, so we’ll be using that as a stand-in, with the caveat that the 9400 would perform slightly better. Used and outdated PC hardware is almost always seriously overpriced and the 12C/24T Xeon E5-2697 v2 is no exception, but since it’s almost down to $200 on ebay and has the same core/thread count as the 1920X, we’ll also consider it.
Inspired by megastore compatriot Walmart, it seems Aldi now wants to sell a gaming PC to you alongside your groceries. Assuredly similar in spec, this week's news round-up also talks about the Archer 2 Supercomputer, which is probably equivalent to a few hundred thousand Aldi gaming computers. The Archer 2 will leverage about 748,000 cores built atop the Epyc processor lineup from AMD. More mainstream desktop-oriented news includes Intel's i3 chips potentially becoming more similar to i7s going forward, and PCIe Gen6 looking toward 2021.
Thermal Design Power, or TDP, is a term used by AMD and Intel to refer in an extremely broad sense to the rate at which a CPU cooler must dissipate heat from the chip to allow it to perform as advertised. Sort of. Depending on the specific formula and product, this number often ends up a combination of science-y variables and voodoo mysticism, ultimately culminating in a figure that’s used to beat-down forum users over which processor has a lower advertised “TDP”. With the push of Ryzen 3000, we’re focusing today on how AMD defines TDP and what its formula actually breaks into, and how that differs from the way cooler manufacturers define it. Buying a 95W TDP processor and a 95W TDP CPU cooler doesn’t mean they’re perfectly matched, and TDP is a much looser calculation than most would expect. There’s also contention between cooler manufacturers and CPU manufacturers over how this should be accurately calculated versus calculated for marketing, something we’ll explore in today’s content.
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The most common component review request from our viewers over the past few months has been the RX 5700 XT Red Devil. Powercolor was never able to get stock to send us one, but we finally sniped one when it popped-up on Amazon. This will likely be the last 5700 XT we review, unless something major comes out – or a THICC III – so we’ll finally have a fairly full picture of how the entire stack aligns compared to the much-praised RX 5700 XT Red Devil from PowerColor. The Red Devil has easily been the most universally recommended in comment threads and for review, and so we’ll be benchmarking it for thermals, noise, and build quality in today’s review.
We bought the Powercolor RX 5700 XT Red Devil for about $440 on Amazon, which puts it into the most direct engagement with Sapphire’s Nitro+ or MSI’s Gaming X variants of the RX 5700 XT GPU. We’ll be looking at the PowerColor card for thermals, acoustics, power budget, and fan/frequency response.
News this week talks about a few product launches -- some not coming to the West -- and new tech demos for PCIe Generation 5 and CXL. We also cover Intel's ongoing battles with marketing, the Threadripper 3 rumors of incompatibility with X399, and advancements in reverse-engineering silicon products.
Show notes will continued after the embedded video, as always.
Our old coverage of the NZXT H700i included a lengthy section on what we deemed a bug-filled fusion of hardware and software that would be a waste of money even if it worked perfectly, with that device finding its way into a trashcan during the review. That was the “Smart Device” version 1, which was reclaimed from the trashcan for exactly this content piece. The intended function of this little black box was to automatically modulate fan speeds to find an optimal balance between noise and thermal performance, relying on internal microphones to gauge the noise-to-thermal response. In practice, its function is to raise the MSRP of the H700 and H710 by an average of $30. We didn’t actually get any performance numbers for the original smart device because we could never successfully coach it through the software calibration phase, something NZXT claims to have fixed in the two years since. Today, we’re testing to see if the smart device is still a net negative for the intelligence of the H-series cases.
It’s been a couple years now since we reviewed the H700i, and to NZXT’s credit, they do sell a cheaper version of the case without the device, so we’ll pause our diatribe there for now. Upon review of the H700i, we asked for an H700d -- or dumb, as dubbed by our Patreon community -- that would rid of the smart device and allow a lower price-point. This was eventually granted across the case family, and we’ve been happy to recommend the H700 as an option in the $130 to $150 category ever since.
As we alluded to in our NZXT H510 Elite review and H710 review, though, the Smart Device version 2 is here, and we’ve finally gotten around to testing it. The PCB inside the new Smart Device is visibly different, but the aim of this review is to see whether different is also better. Also, to actually review the Smart Device, since the software was too broken to test last time.
The NZXT H710 is a slight refresh of the H700 that we reviewed two years ago. To be precise, we reviewed the Smart Device-equipped H700i, but NZXT did us the favor of sending us the base version this time. The appearance and features of the case are almost identical to the original H700, so we’ll focus on cataloguing any minor changes and seeing how the H700 case design holds up in 2019.
The biggest news item this week came in the final hour of filming our weekly news show, and that's the Rockstar Games Red Dead Redemption 2 release for PC. It was a surprise announcement from Rockstar, but we now have a release date, information on updated graphics, and an eclectic mix of launch platforms listed for the PC launch of Red Dead 2. Additional news includes the ongoing lawsuit and countersuit between TSMC and GlobalFoundries, information on the Ryzen Surface products, Intel's X-series Cascade Lake pricing, Ryzen Pro 3000 CPUs, and the FCC's net neutrality rulings.
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