This GN Special Report looks at years of sales data from which CPUs our viewers and readers have purchased. The focus is our audience, and so we’re looking at Intel versus AMD sales volume and, to some extent, marketshare in the enthusiast segment of GN content consumers. Our data looks at average selling price (or ASP) of CPUs, the most popular CPU models and change over a 3.5-year period, and the overall sales volume between Intel and AMD across 4Q16 to 1Q19.

AMD has undoubtedly gained marketshare over the past two years. Multiple factors have aligned for AMD, the most obvious of which is its own architectural innovation with the Zen family of processors. Secondary to this, Intel’s inability to keep up with 14nm demand has crippled its DIY processor availability, with a third hit to Intel being its unexpected and continual delays to 10nm process. It was the perfect storm for AMD: Just one of these things would have helped, but all three together have allowed the company to claw itself back from functionally zero sales volume in the DIY enthusiast space.

Digital distribution platform Desura, recently acquired by Badjuju, has reportedly failed to pay its partnered developers over the past several months. Through forum posts and reader emails, we've learned that indie game developers who have entrusted the service with the sale of their games have gone unpaid, despite exceeding payment threshold requirements. We've received multiple emails from indie developers pertaining to Desura's lack of payment and decided to conduct further investigation.

This past week has been non-stop GTA V content, starting with GPU benchmarking and concluding with an unfathomable experience with phone support services.

Following publication of our investigative report that outed inexplicably poor call center performance, Rockstar reached-out to us with redoubled efforts to resolve uprooted support concerns. Yesterday's feature piece primarily highlighted a hangup policy – support agents claimed a “requirement” to hang-up on phone-in customers immediately after reading from a script. This occurred upon calling for status updates on tickets, which were consistently met with the same response:

Our most recent investigative consumer report set forth a goal to evaluate Rockstar Games' customer service phone and email support. The company has been under fire lately resultant of hacked GTA V social accounts, whereupon users have lost access to their GTA accounts (a $60 purchase) – and their ability to play the game – and have been placed on indefinite hold for a resolution. In the case of one reader who reached-out to us, we were informed that Rockstar customer support “hung up” on the reader, an action that we viewed as inexcusable if true.

We set forth in search of that truth. Our recorded calls (and this story) can be found below.

SSD benchmarks generally include two fundamental file I/O tests: Sequential and 4K random R/W. At a very top-level, sequential tests consist of large, individual files transfers (think: media files), which is more indicative of media consumption and large file rendering / compilation. 4K random tests employ thousands of files approximating 4KB in size each, generally producing results that are more indicative of what a user might experience in a Windows or application-heavy environment.

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Theoretically, this would also be the test to which gamers should pay the most attention. A "pure gaming" environment (not using professional work applications) will be almost entirely exposed to small, random I/O requests generated within the host OS, games, and core applications. A particularly piratical gamer -- or just someone consuming large movie and audio files with great regularity -- would also find use in monitoring sequential I/O in benchmarks.

This article looks at a few things: What types of I/O requests do games spawn most heavily and what will make for the best gaming SSDs with this in mind? There are a few caveats here that we'll go through in a moment -- namely exactly how "noticeable" various SSDs will be in games when it comes to performance. We used tracing software to analyze input / output operations while playing five recent AAA titles and ended up with surprisingly varying results.

UPDATE: Clarified several instances of "file" vs. "I/O" usage.

With the beginning of the third fiscal quarter for 2014, we see analysts filing revenue reports and public companies announcing performance. We recently posted about the boon to desktop PC sales for 2014 -- recovering nearly 6% of a projected 7% decline -- and now it looks like Intel has similarly good news for the PC industry.

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The semiconductor giant has reported 2Q14 revenue as $13.8B -- an 8% hike over 2Q13's $12.8B -- netting a $2.8B profit. Intel's quarterly profits have risen 40% over its 2Q13 reports of $2B. Promisingly for the world of PCs, Intel showed an $8.7B revenue in its PC Client Group (including desktops), a 6% increase over last year.

PC components have frighteningly high failure and DOA rates when compared against other industries, but perhaps one of the least reliable components - and worst to lose - is the hard drive. While talking with a representative from the audio industry at CES, the point was made that "you only need to have the device fail one time before you decide to never buy from that company again." That's generally true, and is generally why we opt for WD or Hitachi in our gaming PC builds -- I've personally had too many drives fail from other sources not to do this.

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Online backup provider Backblaze ran an internal reliability study on 25,000 hard drives and statistically analyzed the endurance of devices from each major company: Seagate, WD, and  Hitachi. The worst hard drive manufacturer, according to Backblaze, is Seagate -- swaggering in with a 14% annual failure rate across all of its offerings.

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