Hardware news is busy this week. We've been in the throes of planning a trip to China for several months now, including a leg to Taiwan to visit several HQs, but may have to postpone due to the recent Wuhan flu outbreaks near some of the regions we were scheduled for. We're also talking about RDNA2, AMD's quarterly earnings and YOY reports, Intel's CacheOut vulnerability, and people who want Windows 7 for free.

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The AMD RX 5600 XT Jebaited Edition video cards launched yesterday, and the company created a mess by completely changing what the video card was meant to do before launch. Basically, it initially shipped as more of a 1660 Super competitor, but ended up being overhauled to become a 2060 competitor. This is overall a good thing from a price competition standpoint, but a horrible mess for buyers and manufacturers of the cards. The update came in the form of a VBIOS flash that can increase performance upwards of 11%, but not all the shipped cards have the VBIOS applied, meaning customers will be buying cards that perform worse than what reviews show. Worse still, some cards will never have that VBIOS available, with some partners splitting their 5600 XT into two SKUs. It’d sort of be like if the 1660 and 1660 Super were sold under a single name, but with two completely different performance classes. In today’s content, we’re going to help you flash 5600 XT cards to unlock the full performance, assuming your card has made such a VBIOS available. This will also apply to other AMD video cards.

In this hardware news episode, we're announcing our charity drive to support Australian wildlife affected by bushfires, including a special charity auction modmat, and we're also covering notable topics in the industry. Cyberpunk 2077 gets coverage, X670 / 600-series chipsets for AMD Ryzen 4000 CPUs are up for discussion, big Navi rumors are debunked, Microsoft is going carbon negative, and more.

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We return again to our annual Awards Show series, where we recap a year’s worth of content to distill-down our opinions on the best-of-the-best hardware that we’ve tested. We also like to talk about some of the worst trends and biggest disappointments in these pieces, hopefully shaming some of the industry into doing better things next year. This episode focuses on the Best Gaming GPUs of 2019, with categories like Best Overall, Most Well-Rounded, Best Modding Support, Best Budget, and more. NVIDIA and AMD have flooded warehouse shelves with cards over the past 11 months, but it’s finally calming down and coming to a close. Time to recap the Best GPUs of 2019, with all links in the description below for each card.

We’ve already posted two of our end-of-year recaps, one for Best Cases of 2019, the other for Best CPUs of 2019, and now we’re back with Best GPUs. As a reminder for this content type, our focus is to help people building systems with a quick-reference recap for a year’s worth of testing. We’re not going to deep-dive with a data-centric approach, but rather quickly cover the stack in a quicker fashion. If you want deep-dive analytics or test data for any one of these devices, check our reviews throughout the year. Note also that, although we will talk about partner models a bit, the “Best X” coverage will focus on the GPU itself (made by AMD or NVIDIA). For our most recent partner recap, check out our “Best RX 5700 XT” coverage.

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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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.

XFX’s highest-end RX 5700 XT might be called the THICC Ultra, but our review will look into whether it’s THICC in name only or if this meme-ified card can take cooling seriously. With all the plastic embellishments, the meme of a name, and the $450 price-point, this entire card’s existence seems mismatched and dichotomous. It’s got the professional look and high-end price-point, but the name of something you’d expect to find on AliExpress. As the most expensive 5700 XT we’ve bought or received yet, today we’ll tear into the XFX THICC for thermal performance, cooler quality, build quality, and positioning versus competition.

XFX has the RX 5700 XT THICC listed at $430 and $450, with our option being the more expensive of the two. By the listings, the only difference is the frequency, where the RX 5700 XT THICC II Ultra is clocked at an alleged 1730MHz to the THICC II non-Ultra’s 1605MHz base clock. If the cooler works well on the more expensive, higher-clocked model, it’ll work well on the lower-clocked one; that said, certain design failures can’t be overcome simply by lowering clocks, and we’ll be talking about that today.

Other than announcing our upcoming collaborative stream with overclocker Joe Stepongzi (Bearded Hardware), we're also talking Threadripper specification leaks, 6000MHz memory overclocking, RDNA 2 and Zen 3 roadmap information, and smaller items. For us, though, we're excited to announce that we're streaming some liquid nitrogen extreme overclocks with AMD parts this weekend. We haven't run both the 5700 XT and 3900X under liquid nitrogen at the same time, so we'll be doing that on Sunday (9/15) at 1PM Eastern Time (NYC time). On Saturday (9/14), we'll be streaming the efforts to overclock just the 3900X under liquid nitrogen. Joe Stepongzi, pro overclocker with a decade of experience in the 'sport,' will be joining us to help run the show.

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