Hardware news coverage largely focuses on silicon fabrication this week, with TSMC boasting revenue growth from 7nm production, Intel planning its own 7nm and EUV renovations in US facilities, and other manufacturers getting on-board the 7nm and EUV production train. Beyond this news, we cover a class action lawsuit against AMD for Bulldozer, Samsung's new 970 SSDs, and Backblaze's hard drive reliability report. Note further that GN is in the news, as we're planning a liquid nitrogen (LN2) overclocking livestream for Sunday, 1/27 at 1PM EST. We will have a special guest present.

Show notes below the embedded video, as always.

For this hardware news episode, we compiled more information ascertained at CES, whereupon we tried to validate or invalidate swirling rumors about Ryzen 3000, GTX 1660 parts, and Ice Lake. The show gave us a good opportunity, as always, to talk with people in the know and learn more about the goings-on in the industry. There was plenty of "normal" news, too, like DRAM price declines, surges in AMD notebook interest, and more.

The show notes are below the video. This time, we have a few stories in the notes below that didn't make the cut for the video.

CES is next week, beginning roughly on Monday (with some Sunday press conferences), and so it's next week that will really be abuzz with hardware news. That'll be true to the extent that most of our coverage will be news, not reviews (some exceptions), and so we'd encourage checking back regularly to stay updated on 2019's biggest planned product launches. Most of our news coverage will go up on the YouTube channel, but we are still working on revamping the site here to improve our ability to post news quickly and in written format.

Anyway, the past two weeks still deserve some catching-up. Of major note, NVIDIA is dealing with a class action complaint, Intel is dropping its IGP for some SKUs, and OLED gaming monitors are coming.

We’re revisiting the Intel i7-7700K today, following its not-so-distant launch of January of 2017 for about $340 USD. The 7700K was shortly followed by the i7-8700K, still selling well, which later in the same year but with an additional two cores and four threads. That was a big gain, and one which stacked atop the 7700K’s already relatively high overclocking potential and regular 4.9 to 5GHz OCs. This revisit looks at how the 7700K compares to modern Coffee Lake 8000 and 9000 CPUs (like the 9700K), alongside modern Ryzen CPUs from the Zen+ generation.

For a quick reminder of 7700K specs versus “modern” CPUs – or, at least, as much more “modern” as a 1-year-later launch is – remember that the 7700K was the last of the 4C/8T parts in the i7 line, still using hyper-threading to hit 8T. The 8700K was the next launch in the family, releasing at 6C/12T and changing the lineup substantially at a similar price-point, albeit slightly higher. The 9900K was the next remarkable launch but exited the price category and became more of a low-end HEDT CPU. The 9700K is the truer follow-up to the 7700K, but oddly regresses to an 8T configuration from the 8700K’s 12T configuration, except it instead uses 8 physical cores for all 8 threads, rather than 6 physical cores. Separately, the 7700K critically operated with 8MB of total cache, as opposed to 12MB on the 9700K. The price also changed, with the 7700K closer to $340 and the 9700K at $400 to $430, depending. Even taking the $400 mark, that’s more than adjustment for inflation.

We’re revisiting the 7700K today, looking at whether buyers truly got the short straw with the subsequent and uncharacteristically rapid release of the 8700K. Note also, however, that the 8700K didn’t really properly release at end of 2017. That was more of a paper launch, with few products actually available at launch. Regardless, the feeling is the same for the 7700K buyer.

Intel’s new i7-9700K is available for about $400 to $430, which lands it between the 9900K – priced at around $550, on a good day – and the 8700K’s $370 price-point. We got ours for $400, looking to test the new 8C/8T CPU versus the not-that-old 8700K and the hyperthreaded 9900K of similar spec. Intel made a big move away from 4C/8T CPUs and the incumbent pricing structure, with the 9700K acting as the first K-SKU i7 to lack hyperthreading in some time.

The elimination of hyperthreading primarily calls into question whether hyperthreading is even “worth it” once running on an 8C, high-frequency CPU. The trouble is that this is no longer a linear move. In years past, a move from 4C/8T to 8C/8T would be easier to discuss, but Intel has moved from a 6C/12T 8700K part of a lower price – in the $350-$370 range, on average – to an 8C/8T 9700K at a higher price. Two more physical cores come at the cost of four additional threads, which can post benefit in some thread-bound workloads – we’ll look at those in this content.

Extreme Ultra-Violet Lithography is something of a unicorn in the space of silicon manufacturing, and has been discussed for generation upon generation. EUV only recently started seeing any form of use in mass produced products, with Samsung kicking off high-volume efforts recently. Intel has also made progress with EUV, deviating from its choice of DUV lithography for a struggling 10nm process and instead setting sights on a 7nm option. This is our leading news item in the recap today, with RAM price declines following closely behind.

As always, show notes are below the embedded video.

The Intel i7-2600K is arguably one of the most iconic products released by Intel in the last decade, following-up the seminal Nehalem CPUs with major architectural improvements in Sandy Bridge. The 2600K was a soldered CPU with significant performance uplift over Nehalem 930s, and launched when AMD’s Phenom II X6 CPUs were already embattled with the previous Intel architecture. We revisited these CPUs last year, but wanted to come back around to the 2600K in 2018 to see if it’s finally time to upgrade for hangers-on to the once-king CPU.

Our original Intel i7-2600K revisit (2017) can be found here, but we had a completely different test methodology at the time. The data is not at all comparable.

The 2600K CPU was manufactured starting around 2009-2010, launching alongside the Intel Sandy Bridge 2nd Gen Core i-Series of CPUs. This launch followed Nehalem, which challenged the Phenom II X6’s appeal in a heated market. Sandy Bridge launched and has remained a well-respected, nearly idolized CPU since its launch. Intel made tremendous gains over Nehalem and hasn’t quite recaptured that level of per-core increase since. For everyone still on Sandy Bridge and the i7-2600K (or i7-2700K), we wanted to revisit the CPUs and benchmark them in 2018. These 2018 i7-2600K benchmarks compare against Ryzen (R7 2700 and others), the i7-8700K, and the i9-9900K, alongside several other CPUs. For anyone with a 2700K, it’s mostly the same thing, just 100MHz faster.

Amazon made news this past week, and it wasn't just for Black Friday: The company has been working on producing an ARM CPU named "Graviton," offering an AWS solution competing with existing AWS Intel and AMD offerings, but driving price down significantly lower. This has undoubtedly been among the biggest news items in the past week, although Intel's Arctic Sound murmerings, the GTX 1060 GDDR5X, and the FTC v. Loot Box fight all deserve attention. That last item is particularly interesting, and marks a landmark battle as the US Government looks to regulate game content that may border on gambling.

As always, show notes are below.

The memory supplier price-fixing investigation has been going on for months now, something we spoke about in June (and before then, too). The Chinese government has been leading an investigation into SK Hynix, Samsung, and Micron regarding memory price fixing, pursuant to seemingly endless record-setting profits at higher costs per bit than previous years. That investigation has made some headway, as you'll read in today's news recap, but the "massive evidence" claimed to be found by the Chinese government has not yet been made public. In addition to RAM price fixing news, the Intel CPU shortage looks to be continuing through March, coupled in news with rumors of a 10-core desktop CPU.

Show notes below the video for our weekly recap, as always.

Today we’re reviewing the Intel i5-9600K CPU, a 6-core 8th-Generation refresh part that’s been badged as a 9000-series CPU. The 9600K is familiar to the 8600K, except soldered and boosted in frequency. The new part costs roughly $250 and runs at 3.7GHz base or 4.6GHz turbo, with an all-core closer to 4.3GHz, depending on turbo duration tables. When we last reviewed an i5 CPU, our conclusion was that the i7s made more sense for pure gaming builds, with the R5s undercutting Intel’s dominance in the mid-range. We’re revisiting the value proposition of Intel’s i5 lineup with the 9600K, having already reviewed the 9900K and, of course, the 8700K previously.

As a foreword, note that the R5 2600's current and maintaining price-point of $160 makes it a less direct comparison. The 2600X, which would perform about where an overclocked 2600 performs, is about $220. This is also cheaper, but still closer to compare. Even closer is the R7 2700, which is $250-$270, depending on sales. The 2700 maintains at about $270 when sales aren't active. The most fair comparison by price would be the 2700, then, not the by-name comparison with the R5 2600(X) CPUs.

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