Having reviewed over a dozen CPUs this year, it’s time to round-up the Best of 2019 with the first instalment of our annual GN Awards show. In this series, we’ll pick the best products for categories like performance, overall quality, gaming, overclocking, and more. Our goal today is to help you parse the best CPUs in each category so that you can pick the right parts for PC build purchases during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday sales.
At the end of this content, one of the two companies will walk away with a GN Award Crystal for its efforts this year. Our award crystals are 3D laser-engraved glass cubes that feature a GN tear-down logo, replete with easter eggs like MOSFETs, inductors, VRMs, PCIe slots, fans, and even screws, all in 3D.
Black Friday seems to arrive earlier and earlier each year -- some say Black Friday 2018 never ended -- and that’s especially true with online retailers like Amazon and Newegg. Amazon and Newegg both start on November 23rd and November 25th, respectively, and the conclusion of the sales frenzy will likely be close to end of year. Amazon released a full list of Amazon products on sale early, as well as an overall estimate of what consumers can expect to find throughout the week as well as one-day deals on Thanksgiving day. Today, we’ll be rounding-up what deals are out there and which ones are worth looking at, hopefully helping those looking to either bring some new life to their current setup, or help them build their new one.
Other than the high heat felt by GDDR6 on MSI’s initial Evoke, our criticism over MSI’s poorly positioned and sized thermal pads also started some fires at the company. Shortly after our coverage, a few members of the MSI video card team flew out to us to discuss the issue, decisions that were made, and talk about the best way to fix it while remaining within the logistical confines of manufacturing. MSI had confirmed our testing, but also told us that it was working on solutions. Today, we’re revisiting the MSI Evoke to see if those promises have been met.
The original issue was that MSI used thermal pads which were only about 40% of the size of the top two memory modules, but also had poor mounting pressure and pads located far off-center. Further, the backplate was necessary to this test, as it acted like a thermal trap without any thermal interface between it and the PCB. The MSI Evoke ended up with the worst GDDR6 thermals out of all the partner 5700 XT cards we tested when noise-normalized and was among the worst even when auto. The 5700 XT reference was the only one worse.
One of the busiest weeks of the year is fast approaching: We'll soon be dealing with Threadripper 3 reviews and Intel i9-10980XE reviews, alongside the usual year-end content. In the interim, we've still got hardware news to cover, including this week's collection of industry and release topics for Intel, AMD, Crytek, Backblaze, and Corsair.
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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.
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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.
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