While the week started off rather slowly, the news crescendoed towards the end of the week, capped by Sony’s Future of Gaming event where we finally caught a glimpse of the elusive PlayStation 5 console. Also interesting is the fate of Kaby Lake-G, held in limbo while Intel and AMD decide who should deliver driver support.
Some lesser stories include news on TSMC -- on fronts both manufacturing and geopolitical. There’s finally also a speculative execution attack that doesn’t come with Intel’s name attached to it. We also have Intel’s Lakefield CPUs, which may be Intel’s most interesting CPU line in years. There’s also news of a particular ISP throttling entire neighborhoods to deal with heavy internet traffic.
This past week at GN, we revisited AMD’s Ryzen 7 1700 for 2020, as well as getting back to case reviews with Cooler Master’s TD500 Mesh case. We also detailed our experiences, to date, with Thermaltake’s marketing and engineering.
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Linus might have competition from NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, who today published the GTC 2020 keynote from his kitchen, given the current world circumstances. The company’s GTC event has rarely featured gaming product launches over the last few years, but often features the architectures that lead into them. Volta is a good example of this, where we didn’t really get gaming cards, but we saw what led to Turing. At this year’s event, the company showed off its new Ampere architecture, with a split-focus on reminding us of gaming and ray tracing advancements while also highlighting all the usual AI, machine learning, and deep learning processing goals of the architecture. Ampere sounds like it’ll be coming down to gaming at some point, as opposed to the Volta/Turing relationship, where they were technically different architectures and launches.
We thought NVIDIA might livestream a pre-recorded video, but the company ended up uploading multiple edited videos into at least 8 parts at time of writing (ed: ended up being 9). Admittedly, some of them were a little hard to listen to with obvious cuts and shoved-in words, but we’re probably more sensitive to that than most since we make so many videos here and deal with that weekly.
This article is a direct paste from our video script due to tight timelines on turning content around for news.
Hardware news this week is slammed with announcements to cover. NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD all had big announcements -- for once, all official and not rumors -- and that includes a big focus on upcoming GPUs. AMD reconfirmed its commitment to RDNA2 in 2020, despite global economic and manufacturing challenges. NVIDIA, meanwhile, invites everyone to "get amped" for its upcoming GTC Online event, a clear indicator of Ampere GPUs. Intel teased its Xe GPUs in an interesting packaging, something worth covering to the extent we currently can.
This week saw the leak-not-a-leak unveil of Crysis: Remastered, a launch for Minecraft RTX Beta and NVIDIA's DLSS 2.0, and AMD's 2nd Gen Epyc 7Fx2 CPUs. Additional stories include rumors about AMD's alleged Ryzen 3 3100 and 3100X CPUs (not to be confused with Ryzen 3000 or Zen 3), rumors about Sony Playstation 5 manufacturing concerns regarding price, Zoom account vulnerabilities, Folding at Home hitting 2.4 exaFLOPS, and coverage of the SMR hard drive issues.
Our recap of hardware news for the past week follows-up on plans to RIP somebody -- but we're not sure who that should be just yet -- in a Folding @ Home points-chasing competition. To a similar tune, Folding @ Home has now surpassed the top 7 supercomputers in compute power totaled, something that NVIDIA, F@H, and the PCMR sub-reddit all drove together. Other positive news has Razer turning production lines toward N95 mask production for Coronavirus/COVID-19 use in hospitals and elsewhere. Bad news includes hits to the economic side of computer hardware, with motherboard sales falling 30-50%.
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.
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