PC of the year

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Three configurations, three price categories, three best options to spend money on a PC. We offer initial platforms, focusing on which, you can assemble well-balanced gaming systems, supplementing them in accordance with your requirements, capabilities and preferences.

Base gaming PC

Prior to the release of the new Intel desktop platform, the Core i5-9400F remains the most attractive processor for the base gaming system. A chip with a functional formula of 6/6 and an operating frequency of 2.9 / 4.1 GHz is quite good for its class, especially considering the actual retail price of $ 165-170. Due to the lack of support for Hyper-Threading, it certainly will not surprise in multi-threaded projects, but in games it is able to provide a decent number of frames / s.

It is in such tasks that it will not be easy for him to oppose even the Ryzen 5 2600 (6/12, 3.4 / 3.9 GHz), which we offer as the base CPU for the AMD launch platform. Of the new generation chips, the manufacturer contrasts the Ryzen 5 3500 model with the impudent 6-core Intel, but with disabled multithreading support and a reduced L3 cache, this model does not look as attractive as the full-fledged Ryzen 5 3600 / 3600X, but in multi-threaded Ryzen 5 2600 tasks would be even preferable. However, in most games, the Ryzen 5 3500 will still provide more frames / s. Therefore, we would definitely not discard such an option to spend ~ $ 140. However, it is worth considering that the Matisse core processors are so far offered exclusively in tray configuration, that is, without a standard cooler. Therefore, for the chip to work, you will need to additionally buy a cooler.

If in the case of the Intel platform, saving on the processor without noticeable performance consequences does not work, then for systems on AMD the 6-core Ryzen 5 1600 chips, which can be bought for $ 115, are still in operation. Controversial savings, which is acceptable except in case of acute shortage of PC assembly.

Of the interesting events on the processor market, it is worth noting the appearance of the Athlon 3000G (2/4; 3.5 GHz) on sale. Thrifty lovers of extra megahertz can rejoice, but for the gaming platform we certainly can not recommend dual-core models, even seasoned with support for multi-threading SMT.

Toward the close of the past year, AMD introduced the Radeon RX 5500 XT video cards, which could potentially be on the list of recommended models for the basic gaming configuration. These models are already appearing in our retail, but at the start of sales, the price tags are very far from the declared ($ 170/200) even taking into account taxes and transportation costs. With a starting price of $ 270-300, they actually have no chance. Here, even effective cooling systems and the presence of 8 GB of memory will not be an excuse.

We have already managed to evaluate the capabilities of the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8 GB. This is a good energy-efficient model that can replace the Radeon RX 570/580, and in some situations even compete with the Radeon RX 590. However, devices based on Polaris chips are still available in sufficient quantities on the market, and given the actual retail prices of these adapters, they are still “In the game” when choosing the right video card for basic configurations.

The previously presented new products – GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER 4 GB are already available in a wide range. Basic versions are offered in Ukraine from about $ 185. And at this price, this is a serious candidate for a purchase in this price class.

For the basic gaming platform, we offer a closer look at the Radeon RX 570 8 GB and GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER 4 GB. Of this pair, a model with a NVIDIA chip will often be more efficient in situations where the video card has enough local memory. If the game needs significantly more than 4 GB, then this will help the Radeon RX 570 8 GB to show its strengths.

In base systems, we still use a hybrid drive bundle. This is an inexpensive SSD with a capacity of 240/256 GB for installing the operating system of the system and a couple of the most relevant games, as well as a 1 TB hard drive – for everything else. Buying such a kit now costs about $ 75 ($ 30 + $ 45). However, even for this category of PCs, if possible, you should already abandon the “mechanics”. Terabyte SSDs are already available for sale at a cost of about $ 100, because the budget for the assembly increases slightly. This is definitely worth keeping all projects on the flash. Access and download speeds are not commensurate with what the HDD can offer.

Along the way, we draw attention to the fact that from about the end of December, the cost of SSDs began to gradually increase. The long cycle of overproduction of flash memory chips has ended, during which solid-state drives are cheaper. Due to various circumstances, according to analysts, the price of flash chips will increase. If you have long planned to acquire an SSD, then you should not put off this purchase much.

Optimal gaming PC

In the case of the optimal gaming configuration based on Intel, the expectations of the new Intel platform are especially high. Yet the 6-core processor in this category is a compromise. The past generation Core i7 chips with a functional formula of 6/12 have actually disappeared from the market. Only the Core i7-8700K remained on sale with an inadequate price tag of $ 400 by today’s standards. Therefore, for this category of gaming PCs, we recommend considering 6-core chips with an unlocked Core i5-9600KF multiplier (6/6; 3.7 / 4.6 GHz) for $ 230. A processor version without integrated graphics costs $ 25-30 cheaper than a model with an activated video core. If you are sure that the “build-in” is definitely not useful to you, this is an opportunity to save a little.

This money can be spent on a more efficient cooling system, because a complete cooler copes well only with normal operation, and the noise level will certainly become a reason for replacement. A more efficient cooler is also required in the context of possible processor overclocking. An unlocked multiplier is a common occurrence for AMD Ryzen family processors, but for Intel chips this event is not ordinary. And the real provocation is playing around with the frequencies, especially since the Core i5-9600KF has much to overclock (4.8-5.0 GHz), and the performance gain can be quite noticeable.

Recall that for additional afterburner, motherboards based on Intel Z370 / Z390 are required, but we recommend models on these PCHs even if overclocking is not particularly interesting – they allow you to use high-speed memory sets, not limited to the basic DDR4-2400 / 2666.

Choosing a processor for the optimal gaming platform on AMD is simple – it’s a Ryzen 5 3600 or a slightly faster Ryzen 5 3600X. In standard modes without additional overclocking, these 6-core 12-threading chips with very decent performance indicators per beat do well with games without annoying drawdowns. With minimal or medium graphics quality settings, the high-frequency 6-core Intel will be a little ahead, but with an increase in picture quality, the situation is often aligned, while Ryzen’s multithreading support allows them to better cope with episodic increased loads.

When choosing an AMD processor in this category, the eye involuntarily clings to the Ryzen 7 2700. Well, the ability to get an octa-core 16-thread processor for $ 170 is very tempting. If, besides games, you often use multithreaded applications, then there is something to think about, but now new 6-cores are definitely better for games. We checked.

With graphics cards for optimal configurations, everything is fine too. There are many suitable options for this class of systems. If you can allocate a budget of $ 450 for the purchase of a graphics adapter, then the best options are the GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER and Radeon RX 5700 XT. Worthy opponents with similar price tags, but their own characteristics. A model with an AMD chip is on average more productive (5-10%), while adapters on the TU106 are more economical and already allow you to try projects with ray tracing. Hybrid rendering with trace miscalculations will be used including next-generation game consoles, because such an opportunity does not look as useless as it might seem to someone during the announcement of GeForce RTX. Yes, almost a year and a half after the release of the first models of the series with hardware support for DXR, there will be about a dozen games with ray tracing, but then more.

If you don’t want to spend more than $ 400 on buying a video card, you can look in the direction of the Radeon RX 5700, and if you have $ 350 – GeForce RTX 2060 6 GB. The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti claims to be $ 300, and the announced Radeon RX 5600 XT will soon compete in this segment. The novelty is based on the same Navi 10 chip as the older models in the series. Moreover, the functional configuration of the GPU is absolutely identical to that for the version used by the Radeon RX 5700. To reduce the performance, the developers reduced the memory bus width from 256 to 192 bits, and also played around with the operating frequencies of the GDDR6 chips and the GPU itself. Given the configuration of the memory controller, the total amount of local memory on the Radeon RX 5600 XT is 6 GB.

As a result, AMD promises a very formidable competitor for the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. At least on the developer’s presentation slides, the video card surely bypasses this particular NVIDIA model. The comparison with it is not accidental, because the Radeon RX 5600 XT 6 GB received the identical recommended price tag – $ 279. The start of sales is scheduled for January 21. Then the results of comparative tests will be available. In any case, AMD should not forget about the existence of the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER 6 GB, which is not much inferior to the Ti-version, but has a much more attractive price tag. This model can be considered the starting point for the optimal gaming configuration. We remember the classic version of the GeForce GTX 1660, but SUPER-modifications with GDDR6 memory offer the best price / performance ratio.

Progressive gaming PC

Difficult times have come for those who choose components for a powerful Intel-based gaming system. On the one hand, the processors of this manufacturer still offer maximum performance in these tasks, and it remains only to determine the functional composition of the cores / threads (8/8 or 8/16) of a particular CPU model. On the other hand, it is at hand to launch the launch of a new desktop platform with 10-core flagships and, theoretically, the ability to get a little more performance for the same money.

Alas, at CES 2020, we never heard any news about the specific launch dates for the LGA1200. Motherboard manufacturers have already prepared new models, at least on Intel Z490 chipsets. However, the delay is behind the processors themselves. There are suggestions that it is primarily associated with the nuances of the top 10-core Core i9-10900K. The processor received a TDP of 125 W, but its actual power consumption under load is noticeably higher. Perhaps Intel still needs time to resolve this issue. Obviously, the manufacturer can not imagine a new line without a flagship, because the general debut of the LGA1200 is delayed. No specific deadlines have yet been announced. Therefore, all waiting are in a somewhat limbo. Of course, just before the announcement of the new platform, few people want to seriously spend money on buying an outgoing one. But in the case of the LGA1200, we do not expect any revelations, because if it’s time to build a gaming platform – just do it.

Against the background of a slight increase in prices for the Core i7-9700K / 9700KF, instead of the previously used chips, we suggest considering a progressive configuration with the Core i9-9900KF. A processor with a functional formula of 8/16 allows you to close the question with a possible lack of CPU performance for the next couple of years. In principle, an 8-core processor without Hyper-Threading support is now enough for any games, but there is no certainty about the great prospects. Especially against the background of already confirmed information that future consoles from Sony and Microsoft will use 8-core 16-thread chips. So that over time you don’t have to reproach yourself for saving $ 100-150 during the assembly of a progressive system, we use the Core i9-9900KF for the ultimate configuration. Recall that processors are supplied without a cooling system. Even for the regular mode of CPU of this class, you will need a rather efficient cooler, so you should initially add $ 50 + to the budget.

To counter the older Ryzen 7/9 3000 models and the new Threadripper, Intel is trying to reanimate the LGA2066 platform by introducing the Cascade Lake-X processor family. Sales of new chips officially started at the end of November, but so far these CPUs are actually not yet in our market. Recall that the lineup includes models with 10/12/14/18 cores. Processors are not much different from their predecessors, but the cost of a CPU with the same functional formulas is halved. In addition, there is reason to believe that within the framework of this platform, Intel is still preparing the flagship 22-core model Core i9-10990XE. In any case, the LGA2066 is unattractive in the context of gaming platforms. For these purposes, top-end 8-core chips for LGA1151 are much better suited.

The most suitable candidate from AMD for a progressive gaming system remains Ryzen 7 3700X (8/16; 3.6 / 4.4 GHz). The close-priced model Ryzen 7 3800X (8/16; 3.9 / 4.5 GHz) with an increased thermal package actually has no advantages, and models with a large number of processing cores in the context of games do not help much either.

For a powerful gaming platform, we recommended using motherboards on AMD X470, however, the range of these models has decreased significantly. Models on AMD X570 seem to be the obvious choice in this case, however, it should be borne in mind that the budget will have to be increased slightly, and also come to terms with the fact that an additional fan will almost certainly be used to cool the chipset.

Fans of opening many tabs in the browser are well acquainted with the resource-intensiveness of these applications, which willingly consume RAM. Two to three dozen open pages can easily require several gigabytes of RAM. In order not to close the browser and other applications before launching heavy games, in progressive systems we increase the recommended amount of installed RAM from 16 GB to 32 GB. Two-channel kits of this volume have appeared on sale at very reasonable prices ($ 180–200). For Intel and AMD platforms, we recommend using the DDR4-3600 kits. For systems based on Ryzen 3000, faster sets will not be useful due to the activation of the asynchronous mode of the memory controller and Infinity Fabric. In the case of Intel chips, even higher operating memory frequencies will be a plus, but the cost of such kits increases markedly.

The video card as part of a progressive gaming platform is a variable position. The rational purchase here is the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER. If you want to save a little, you can search for options Assistive GeForce RTX 2080, but the number of offers of adapters of this line has decreased significantly lately. Nevertheless, if you can find such a model at a good price (~ $ 700) – no contraindications. Moreover, in this form it will have even a slightly better price / performance ratio. But if the latter is a priority for you, you can try to “fail” to the GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER. In its class, it will provide the maximum number of fps in terms of $.

Owners of 4K-monitors should better look towards the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and prepare ~ $ 1200–1300 for payment. For a comfortable game with this resolution, even with a top-end video card, you sometimes have to go into the graphics quality settings.

Increasingly, there are rumors about the upcoming appearance of flagship models with AMD chips. At CES 2020, Lisa Su confirmed the assumption that the company is working on productive graphics cards and they will be very good. Alas, no technical details, and especially the timing of the appearance of Big Navi has not yet been reported. The company should hurry up with this. Well, firstly, everyone was already looking forward to such decisions, and secondly, the new AMD video cards should definitely appear earlier than future NVIDIA adapters with 7-nm chips based on Ampere architecture. We hope this year both manufacturers will be pleased with interesting products, and real competition will allow us to get good video cards at a reasonable price.