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1055 Processors Compared

Intel Core i7-8700K $330

The i7-8700K is Intel’s latest, top of the range, 8th generation Coffee Lake processor. Like Kaby Lake and Sky Lake before that, Coffee Lake is based on Intel’s 14nm architecture which has been slightly optimized on each iteration. Following AMD’s modus operandi, Intel has upped the cores and threads across the range of their CPUs. In previous generations, a 6-core processor would have been a high-end desk-top (HEDT) processor, however the i7-8700K is the first Intel CPU with 6 cores and 12 threads to be classified (and priced) as a mainstream consumer processor. Specifically, the i7-8700K features a base clock speed of 3.7 GHz which boosts to 4.7 GHz (4.5 GHz for the previous generation i7-7700k), 12MB of smart (L3) cache and 2 channels of DDR4 RAM. The majority of the performance improvements over the 7th generation stem from the higher core count which results in a 50% increase in multi-core speed between the i7-7700k and i7-8700k. A new motherboard will need to be factored into the budget when upgrading to the 8700K as it requires a new Intel Z370 chipset which has supposedly been designed to better deliver power to CPUs with a greater number of cores. Also available in this latest release of CPUs is the 6 core 6 thread i5-8600k which is a more rational option (around $100 cheaper) for the vast majority of users that don’t require hyper-threading. Sandy bridge owners can finally justify an upgrade but with the next iteration of AMD's Zen architecture just around the corner the CPU market will be a lot faster moving now that Intel, once again, has to compete. [Sep '17 CPUPro]

AMD Ryzen 5 1600 $189

The Ryzen 5 1600 is one of four new Ryzen 5 processors released this month. Based on the AMD Zen architecture, which is comparable to Intel in terms of IPC, the Ryzen 5 1600 has six cores which is more than the vast majority of games are able to use (most games cannot use more than four cores). Ryzen 5 CPUs offer gamers better value for money than the eight core Ryzen 7 models released last month. With six cores the 1600 is approximately 75% better at multi-threaded tasks than Intel's quad core i5 flagship – the similarly priced i5-7600K, the 1600 however, has 25% lower single and 33% lower quad core scores. The 1600 has stock base/boost clock speeds of 3.2/3.6 GHz and its price tag of $219 includes a cooler. Assuming a modest overclock of 10% brings the 1600 within striking range of the 1600X which is the Ryzen 5 flagship. The 1600X sports stock base/boost clocks of 3.6/4.0 GHz but costs $30 more than the 1600 and ships without a cooler included in the box. The Ryzen 5 1600 is the best value for money six core CPU we have seen to date. [Apr '17 CPUPro]
566 Graphics Cards Compared

Nvidia GTX 1060-6GB $335

The GTX 1060 is Nvidia’s third 16 nm Pascal based GPU. It follows last month’s release of the higher end GTX 1070 and 1080. The 1060 has a TDP of 120 Watts and its aftermarket variants are available right away alongside the reference Founders edition. Comparing the GTX 1060 and 970 shows that although the 1060 leads by 12% it is also currently more expensive. Nvidia rushed the release of the GTX 1060 to help retain market share that may otherwise have gone to AMD’s new Polaris based RX 480. Comparing the RX 480 and GTX 1060 shows that for pre DX12 games the 1060 edges ahead by 12%. Due to better hardware compatibility, the RX 480 is able to match the 1060 in DX12 games but this will remain a corner case until most games are optimized for DX12 (likely to take several years). The 1060 has the potential to become a hugely successful card, but that all depends on where prices settle. [Jul '16 GPUPro]

AMD RX 580 $335

The RX 580 is released this week and is AMD’s latest flagship GPU based on second generation Polaris architecture. For all intents and purposes it is a refresh of the RX 480 released just 10 months prior. Modifications to the architecture have yielded improved performance per wattage and increased clock speeds of around 10% for base and around 5% for boost. The RX 580 will come with either 4GB or 8GB of high-bandwidth GDDR5 memory. Exact pricing for this mid-range chip remains to be seen, but the RX 500 series is likely to cannibalize sales of AMD’s 400 series. Performance wise, the RX 580 is in direct competition with NVIDIA’s popular GTX 1060 6GB which in now 9 months old. Perhaps after last year’s ill timed head to head release of the RX 480 and the faster but similarly priced GTX 1060 (a standoff which NVIDIA seem to have won based on market share), AMD are attempting to draw back some market share with the newer, slightly upgraded RX 580. The upcoming release of the 500 series comes ahead of AMD’s Vega architecture, for which specification and pricing details are not yet public but which will is expected to yield a significant jump in performance compared to Polaris. [Apr '17 GPUPro]
908 Solid State Drives Compared

Samsung 850 Pro 256GB $160

The 256GB Samsung 850 Pro is the fastest consumer SSD we have seen to date. Thanks to Samsung's new 3D V-NAND the 850 Pro has lower power consumption and better performance, albeit marginally, than both the 840 Evo and 840 Pro. Looking at the benchmark figures for the 840 and 850 Pros shows that the effective performance improvement is 10% whereas the 850 Pro beats the 840 Evo by 16%. These drives effectively saturate SATA 3.0 making it difficult to distinguish between them in day-to-day use. At current prices the 850 Pro is prohibitively expensive, prices need to drop by 15% before it approaches the 840 Pro from a value perspective. Samsung may release a value orientated 850 Evo soon, but for now "most" users are better off with the 840 Pro. [Oct '14 SSDrivePro]

Samsung 850 Evo 250GB $85

The 250GB Samsung 850 Evo has a similar architecture to its hugely successful predecessor, the 840 Evo. Both drives are TLC based but the 850 uses 3D V-NAND as opposed to regular NAND. Both drives also feature a Turbowrite cache (TWC) which buffers up to 3GB of writes. The TWC enables high burst write speeds but when the cache exhausts write speeds drop to 300 MB/s. Comparing the 850 and 840 Evos shows that effective speed, has improved by 11% and the warranty has been extended from three to five years but prices are also up by 11%. The 850 Evo does put in superb benchmarks (second only to the 850 Pro) but these are only valid within the TWC. At current price levels the 850 Evo struggles to compete with the value leaders[Dec '14 SSDrivePro]
984 Hard Drives Compared

Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $75

The new 3TB Seagate Barracuda 2016 (ST3000DM008) replaces its hugely successful predecessor, the 3TB Barracuda 7200.14 2011 (ST3000DM001). Comparing performance between the two models shows that the newer drive has 12% faster sequential speeds, comparable 4K speeds, improved mixed sequential speed and reduced mixed 4K speed. Overall, the effective speed is 12% faster on the 2016 model. Since there is normally little price difference between the two models the 2016 version is the clear winner especially for use as a backup drive with its impressive sequential read and write speeds of nearly 200 MBps. See the current value leaders here[Feb '17 HDrivePro]

Seagate Barracuda 1TB (2016) $42

The 1TB Seagate Barracuda 2016 (ST1000DM010) has an impressive performance profile. With Sequential read/writes averaging 173 and 159 MBps respectively, the Barracuda can make short work of even moderately large backups. The small file (4K) performance profile is less impressive but still adequate with average read/writes coming in at 0.87 and 1.53 MBps respectively. For use as OS drives, rotational disks are quickly loosing market share to SSDs which offer orders of magnitude faster 4k read/write speeds. On the other hand cheap TLC based SSDs often have slower sustained write speeds than their rotational counterparts. Reasonably good overall performance can be achieved by using a TLC SSD to host the OS and a larger rotational drive such as the Barracuda for backups and media files. Larger capacity variants of this drive offer both better performance and better value for money. [Feb '17 HDrivePro]
634 USB Flash Drives Compared

Mushkin Ventura Ultra USB 3.0 60GB $67

The Mushkin Ventura Ultra USB 3.0 has a Sandforce controller coupled with MLC NAND. This combination produces mediocre results for an SSD but for a USB flash drive its small file 4K performance is staggering. Comparing the Ventura Ultra and Sandisk Extreme shows that for small file IO the Ventura is around 200% faster than the Extreme. The Extreme has faster peak write speeds but overall the Ultra leads by a whopping 72%. The Ultra is a great choice for hosting Operating Systems or for use as boot media (check mobo. compat.) where its small file performance and low access times will reduce load times by orders of magnitude. Thanks to its exceptionally reasonable pricing, the Ultra topples the Extreme as my top USB pick for both value for money AND overall performance. [May '14 USBFlashPro]

SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 16GB $18

The benchmark scores for the SanDisk Extreme were stunning. Until now every flash drive we have tested has shown a serious weakness in the area of 4K random writes. The SanDisk Extreme achieved a 4K random write speed of 2.1 MB/s which was over three times faster than the best of the rest, unfortunately we were unable to get consistent measurements but 2.1 MB/s was towards at the lower end of the range (10.8 MB/s - 1.71 MB/s) we observed. We suspect the inconsistency relates to the way the controller batches page cleanup. The other benchmark observations were all consistent and to date this drive has the highest sequential read we have seen on a 16GB flash drive. The SanDisk Extreme has not been released in the UK. Our test unit had to be shipped from Hong Kong where we were able to purchase it at at an extremely reasonable price. We will update the price if/when the drive becomes officially available in the UK ... [Jul '12 USBFlashPro]
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The Best.
Intel Core i7-8700K $330Nvidia GTX 1070 $447Samsung 850 Evo 250GB $85
Intel Core i7-7700K $290Nvidia GTX 1060-6GB $335Samsung 850 Evo 500GB $139
Intel Core i5-8600K $235AMD RX 480 $400Samsung 850 Pro 256GB $160
Seagate Barracuda 1TB (2016) $42Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000 C15 2x8GB $170SanDisk Extreme 64GB $44
Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $75G.SKILL Trident Z DDR4 3200 C14 4x16GB $931SanDisk Extreme 32GB $23
Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB $51Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3200 C16 2x8GB $205SanDisk Extreme 16GB $18
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