Chillblast’s Director, Ben Miles highlights some of this year’s leading edge hardware releases.
It’s been an incredibly newsworthy couple of years for the IT industry, with the working-from-home revolution and renewed interest in PC gaming pumping demand for consumer hardware to record levels. What’s been less exciting is the hardware release calendar. AMD’s flagship CPUs were last updated way back in November 2020, and although Intel brought its 12000 series out in Q2 2022, we all knew they were just the starter before the main course: Raptor Lake.
GPU releases have been no more exciting, with both the NVIDIA 30 series and AMD Radeon 6000 series about to hit their second birthdays. It almost never happens that the stars align for hardware launches, but that’s exactly what’s happened in Q4 2022, with revolutionary new ranges coming from teams Red, Green and Blue, all within a few short weeks of one another.
No longer propped up by the endless cryptocurrency demand, NVIDIA knew it needed to deliver something truly momentous if it was to create significant interest in its brand-new graphics cards. The 4090 is the first model to be unveiled, and if the performance of this flagship card sets a precedent for the rest of the range, the market leader in graphics chips has done just that.
RTX 4090 delivers roughly 60-70% better performance across a wide spectrum of benchmarks than its predecessor, and that’s before you start factoring in clever technologies like DLSS 3, which boosts the advantage to an even more incredible 200-400%. Whilst it remains to be seen if 4070 and 4080 cards can follow suit, the initial demand for the RTX 4090 has been incredibly strong, despite its £2000 price point, with pre-orders far exceeding supply.
The PC video card market has been a duopoly of NVIDIA and AMD for two decades now, with no new meaningful entrants into the market since 3dfx’s demise way back in 2002. Despite threatening to release a gaming GPU for a number of years, Intel has never quite managed to bring anything credible to market, until now.
Targeting the incredibly lucrative upper-mid-range market, currently occupied by the GeForce RTX 3060 and Radeon RX 6700 cards, the Intel Arc A770 delivers highly competitive performance. It is also no slouch when it comes to next-gen features, with its own alternative to DLSS (XeSS) and surprisingly punchy ray-tracing grunt. Whilst initial reviews point to some driver immaturity, the foundations have been laid for a credible third entrant into the GPU race.
AMD’s new CPUs have already landed, with Team Red’s new processors building on the incredible performance and value delivered by the 5000 series. At launch, we have four high-end processors on which to base our evaluation, and the 7950X, 7900X, 7700X and 7600X deliver big gains of more than 25% in both single and multi-cored performance. This is due in no small part to a new architecture, which adds DDR5 memory support and a long overdue upgrade to an LGA-type socket. You’ll therefore need a new motherboard and RAM to unlock this new performance, as the long-lived AM4 architecture has finally been retired in favour of AM5.
Coming out only a few short days after AMD’s new flagships, Intel’s long awaited “Raptor Lake” architecture has also been released, and for the first time in a while, Team Blue is not only taking the fight to AMD in single core performance. With a huge 24-cores in total, 8 of which are performance-cores and the remaining 16 efficiency-cores, the 13900K scores big wins against even the 7950X in many benchmarks. Even more impressive is that Intel has delivered this on a platform that can be used with either DDR5 or DDR4 memory, which will be particularly important in the mid-range gaming battle. Here, customers will be able to build a Core-i5 13600K system for roughly half the cost of a Ryzen 5 7600X equivalent, due to cheaper RAM and board costs. The 13th generation is fully backwards compatible with Intel’s 600 series boards, although for best possible results you’ll want to use the new Z790 series boards that have been released alongside the CPUs.
NVIDIA is recommending at least a 1000W PSU for a Core-i9 or Ryzen 9 based system when used in conjunction with its new flagship RTX 4090. This is partly due to the power draw of the card itself, but also because the flagship processors from both camps are now pulling 250-300W at full load. Add even mild overclocking to the equation and you can understand why enthusiasts are looking back at 1200W PSUs that seemed almost irrelevant a few months ago.
A 360mm or “triple” radiator water cooler is also recommended to keep these new processors running at peak performance. Both chips boost aggressively to a 95 degrees Celsius ceiling, reducing clock speeds when this is exceeded, so performance and cooling goes hand in hand with both of these new architectures.
With all of these exciting new launches, it’s never been a more exciting time to upgrade your system, although with each of these new launches coming with a long list of dependencies on the rest of your hardware, it’s probably easier to invest in a whole new system.
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