As we continue our awards shows for end of year (see also: Best Cases of 2018), we’re now recapping some of the best and worst CPU launches of the year. The categories include best overall value, most well-rounded, best hobbyist production, best budget gaming, most fun to overclock, and biggest disappointment. We’ll be walking through a year of testing data as we recap the most memorable products leading into Black Friday and holiday sales. As always, links to the products are provided below, alongside our article for a written recap. The video is embedded for the more visual audience.
We’ll be mailing out GN Award Crystals to the companies for their most important products for the year. The award crystal is a 3D laser-engraved GN tear-down logo with extreme attention to detail and, although the products have to earn the award, you can buy one for yourself at store.gamersnexus.net.
As a reminder here, data isn’t the focus today. We’re recapping coverage, so we’re pulling charts sparingly and as needed from a year’s worth of CPU reviews. For those older pieces, keep in mind that some of the tests are using older data. For full detail on any CPU in this video, you’ll want to check our original reviews. Keep in mind that the most recent review – that’ll be the 9600K or 9980XE review – will contain the most up-to-date test data with the most up-to-date Windows and game versions.
It’s time for the annual GN Awards series, starting off with the best – and worst – cases of 2018. Using our database of over 160 test results for cases, we crawled through our reviews for the year to pull cases that had the best out of the box thermals, the best noise levels, best quality at a budget, best design, best all-around, the most overhyped case, and the most disappointing cases. We hit every price category in this round-up and cover cases that are both subjective and objectively good. Links will be provided for anyone shopping this season.
Leading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday, let's walk through the best and worst PC cases of 2018.
Every manufacturer featured in this content will receive one of our Large GN Awards for the Best Of categories – no award for the worst categories, sadly. The GN Award Crystal is only given out for prestige, featuring a detailed 3D laser-engraved GN tear-down logo with fine detail, like VRM components, fans, and electrical circuitry in the design. Although manufacturers have to earn their award, you can buy one for yourself on store.gamersnexus.net in large and medium sizes.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us again. ‘Tis the season, as they say, for unrepentant, gluttonous consumerism. The official dates are Friday, November 23rd and Monday, November 26th; however, that doesn’t stop retailers from enticing would be buyers early – we’ve already seen Newegg doing their “Black November” discounts.
Amazon has announced they’ll be dedicating an entire week to the event, and Newegg has deals going live as early as November the 19th (that’s today). Many deals will go live on Thanksgiving Day, with all deals going live on the day after, presumably at midnight.
We’ll be rounding-up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for computer hardware, heading into the holidays. This should help those looking for advice on where and how to shop. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well, or hit YouTube for our larger audience.
Amazon and Newegg remain the premier options for PC enthusiasts this time of the year, but Dell, Best Buy, Walmart, Fry’s, and Micro Center will all have deals going. We’ll try to aggregate all relevant deals on the homepage, but if some of you spot something, keep us apprised.
DDR5 has existed in a few different forms in the past year or two, but this past week brought news of the first JEDEC-compliant memory chip for future DDR5 implementations. As usual with new memory standards, frequency is expected to increase (and timings will likely loosen) significantly with the new generation, something we talk about in today's list of news items for the week. Also in that list, we talk ongoing CPU shortages for CPUs, Apple's T2 security co-processor and its impact on right to repair, and official mouse/keyboard support on the Xbox.
Show notes follow the video embed, as always.
The RTX 2080 Ti failures aren’t as widespread as they might have seemed from initial reddit threads, but they are absolutely real. When discussing internally whether we thought the issue of artifacting and dying RTX cards had been blown out of proportion by the internet, we had two frames of mind: On one side, the level of attention did seem disproportionate to the size of the issue, particularly as RMA rates are within the norm. Partners are still often under 1% and retailers are under 3.5%, which is standard. The other frame of mind is that, actually, nothing was blown out of proportion for people who spent $1250 and received a brick in return. For those affected buyers, the artifacting is absolutely a real issue, and it deserves real attention.
This content marks the closing of a storyline for us. We published previous videos detailing a few of the failures on our viewers’ cards (borrowed by GN on loan), including an unrelated issue of a 1350MHz lock and BSOD issue. We also tested cards in our livestream to show what the artifacting looks like, seen here. Today, we’re mostly looking at thermals, firmware, the OS, downclocking impact, and finding a conclusion of what the problem isn’t (rather than what it 100% is).
With over a dozen cards mailed in to us, we had a lot to sort through over the past week. This issue certainly exists in a very real way for those who spent $1200+ on an unusable video card, but it isn’t affecting everyone. It’s far from “widespread,” fortunately, and our present understanding is that RMA rates remain within reason for most of the industry. That said, NVIDIA’s response times to some RMA requests have been slow, from what our viewers have expressed, and replacements can take upwards of a month given supply constraints in some regions. That’s a problem.
This content stars our viewers and readers. We charted the most popular video cards over the launch period for NVIDIA’s RTX devices, as we were curious if GTX or RTX gained the most sales in this time. We’ve also got some AMD data toward the end, but the focus here is on a shifting momentum between Pascal and Turing architectures and what the consumers want.
We’re looking exclusively at what our viewers and readers have purchased over the two-month launch window since RTX was announced. This samples several hundred purchases, but is in no way at all a representative sample of the whole. Keep in mind that we have a lot of sampling biases here, the primary of which is that it’s our audience – that means these are people who are more enthusiast-leaning, likely buy higher end, and probably follow at least some of our suggestions. You can’t extrapolate this data market-wide, but it is an interesting cross-section for our audience.
The Intel i9-9980XE is a revamped i9-7980XE with solder and higher out-of-box clocks. It’s also got much higher out-of-the-box thermals as compared to a delidded 7980XE, as you’ll see in our testing, and is disappointingly limited in its overclocking headroom when using practical cooling solutions. The 9980XE should effectively be a higher clocked 7980XE with a better stock cooling interface and could be a good candidate for future streams where we RIP YouTube personalities. That is, it would be with chilled water on top of it, whereas the 7980XE has more thermal headroom out of the delid tool. Regardless, we have full benchmarks of this new CPU, including perspectives from both the enthusiast overclocker’s viewpoint and the professional user’s viewpoint. Testing includes overclocking, thermals, Photoshop, Premiere, Blender, gaming, power, and more.
Differences between the 7980XE and 9980XE are relatively minimal when compared to launches with new architectures. The 9980XE functionally is a 7980XE, it’s just soldered and faster – a pre-overclock, more or less. We immediately ran into overclocking limitations on the X299 DARK and Gigabyte Gaming 9 motherboards alike, the former of which has been used by our team to claim (fleeting) TimeSpy world records. These limitations stemmed from a lack of thermal headroom, something our delidded 7980XE doesn’t face to the same degree.
The X299 DARK was used for overclocking tests and the Gigabyte Gaming 9 was used for 'stock' tests, although its MCE toggle apparently does nothing. We used the latest BIOS for each motherboard. Additional test methodology information is in our 9900K review.
Respected manufacturers of silence-focused PC cases like be quiet! and Fractal Design use a number of tricks to keep noise levels down. These often include specially designed fans, thick pads of noise-damping foam, sealed front panels, and elaborately baffled vents. We tend to prefer high airflow to silence when given a choice, and it usually is presented that way: as a choice. The reality is that it doesn’t have to be a choice, and that an airflow-oriented case can, with minor work, achieve equivalent noise levels to a silence-focused case (while offering better thermals).
Our testing tends to reinforce that idea of a choice: our baseline results are measured with the case fans at maximum speed and therefore maximum noise, making cases like the SilverStone RL06 sound like jet engines. The baseline torture tests are good for consistency, showcasing maximum performance, and for highlighting the performance differences between cases, but they don’t represent how most users run their PCs for 24/7 usage. Instead, most users would likely turn down the fans to an acceptable noise level--maybe even the same level as intentionally quiet cases like the Silent Base 601.
Our thesis for this benchmark paper proposes that fans can be turned down sufficiently to equate noise levels of a silence-focused case, but while still achieving superior thermal performance. The candidates chosen as a case study were the Silverstone Redline 06 and the be quiet! Silent Base 601. The RL06 is one of the best-ventilated and noisiest cases we’ve tested in the past couple of years, while the SB601 is silence-focused with restricted airflow.
One variable that we aren’t equipped to measure is the type of noise. Volume is one thing, but the frequency and subjective annoying-ness matter too. For the most part, noise damping foam addresses concerns of high-frequency whines and shorter wavelengths, while thicker paneling addresses low-frequency hums and longer wavelengths. For today’s testing, we are entirely focusing on noise level at 20” and testing thermals at normalized volumes.
Although the year is winding down, hardware announcements are still heavy through the mid-point in November: NVIDIA pushed a major driver update and has done well to address BSOD issues, the company has added new suppliers to its memory list (a good thing), and RTX should start getting support once Windows updates roll-out. On the flip-side, AMD is pushing 7nm CPU and GPU discussion as high-end serve parts hit the market.
Show notes below the embedded video.
Intel’s TDP has long been questioned, but this particular generation put the 95W TDP under fire as users noticed media outlets measuring power consumption at well over 100W on most boards. It isn’t uncommon to see the 9900K at 150W or more in some AVX workloads, like Blender, thus far-and-away exceeding the 95W number. Aside from TDP being an imperfect specification for power, there’s also a lot that isn’t understood about it – including by motherboard manufacturers, apparently. All manufacturers are exceeding Intel guidance for the Turbo boosting duration in some way, which is causing the uncharacteristically high power consumption that produces unfairly advantaged performance results. The other end of this is that the 9900K looks much hotter in some tests.
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