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1137 Processors Compared

Intel Core i7-8700K $340

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 2600 $157

The Ryzen 5 2600, from AMD’s second generation (Zen+) of high-end desktop Ryzen processors, supersedes the first generation Ryzen 5 1600. The newer generation sees a lithography reduction from 14nm to 12nm, but no increase in the number of cores and threads (6 and 12 respectively) over the ground-breaking first generation which continues to surpass similarly priced Intel CPUs in terms of multi-core performance. In other words, progress between generations is predominantly driven by power efficiency and therefore higher attainable clock speeds. The 2600 appears to have a stock base/boost clock of 3.4 / 3.9 GHz compared to the 1600’s 3.2 / 3.6 GHz which is expected to result in a modest increase in effective speed that said, early benchmarks are inconclusive. Included in the expected retail price of about $200 is a Wraith Stealth cooler, so the 2600, like the 1600 before it, represents great value for money, especially for workstation users. The 2600 compliments the new 400 series motherboards and is also backwards compatible with the 300 series following a bios update. [Apr '18 CPUPro]
596 Graphics Cards Compared

Nvidia GTX 1080 $455

The GTX 1080 is Nvidia’s new flagship graphics card. It features the new 16 nm (down from 28 nm) Pascal architecture. This is the first die shrink since the release of the GTX 680 at which time the manufacturing process shrunk from 40 nm down to 28 nm. In terms of typical 3D gaming performance the 1080 is around 30% faster than the GTX 980 Ti and it manages to deliver the additional performance with a TDP of just 180 Watts which is 70 Watts less than the 980 Ti. The new Pascal architecture delivers a satisfying jump in performance over Maxwell and the GTX 1080 is now the fastest single GPU available. Over the coming months older generation cards will likely see significant price drops as the better value for money 1070, 1060 and 1050 cards slowly replace their predecessors. [May '16 GPUPro]

AMD RX 580 $200

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]
964 Solid State Drives Compared

Crucial MX500 250GB $53

The MX500 is Crucial’s current flagship consumer SATA SSD featuring their latest second generation 64-layer 3D TLC NAND. It’s available in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB capacities in a 2.5-inch form factor. All but the 2 TB version will also be available in M.2 (2280) form in the future. The MX500 features a Silicon Motion SM2258 controller which is a change from the Marvell 88SS1074 controller featured in the MX300 (it’s nearly two year old predecessor). Performance is around 30% better than on the MX300 which currently retails at the same price. The MX500 has an SLC cache which increases with drive capacity. Consequently, the larger capacities are better able to sustain high sequential write speeds. The 250 GB version has 250MB of SLC cache, the 500 GB has 512 MB, the 1 TB has 1 GB and the 2 TB has 2 GB. Extended sustained write performance tests show that even though speed does drop off after the cache has been exhausted, it is still maintained at very respectable levels. The MX500’s five year warranty is in line with Samsung’s 850 Evo and exceeds it in terms of endurance (just 75 TBW for the 250 GB 850 Evo versus 100 TBW for the 250 GB MX500). It doesn’t quite match up to the Samsung’s 850 Evo’s performance (effective speed 8% slower), however at current prices it is about 20% cheaper, and on balance offers better value for money. [Mar '18 SSDrivePro]

Samsung 860 Evo 250GB $50

The 860 Evo is the latest mainstream SATA SSD from Samsung. The 2.5-inch version of the 860 Evo will be available in several capacities ranging from 250 GB to a staggering 4TB. It’s also available in the slimmer M.2 and mSATA form factors. The 860 Evo demonstrates marginally reduced performance compared to its popular, but now three year old predecessor, the 850 Evo. In a head to head comparison the 860 looses by a very modest 6% in terms of effective speed. The 860 Evo is based on a refinement of Samsung’s consumer grade TLC V-NAND, this time featuring 256Gb and 512 Gb 64 layer V-NAND and it also features a new "MJX" controller. The 250 GB version can reach sequential write speeds of up to 520 MB/s, dropping to 300 MB/s once the SLC cache is exhausted (the 250 GB version has a 12 GB SLC write cache). Peak sequential read speeds of 560 MB/s are achievable across the different capacities. The 250GB version has a 512 MB LPDDR4 DRAM cache. All capacities have a five year warranty, but as a testament to the enhanced reliability of this new technology, the warrantied terabytes written (TBW) has doubled from 75 TBW to 150 TBW for the 250 GB 860 Evo. [Jan '18 SSDrivePro]
1010 Hard Drives Compared

Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $85

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) $45

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]
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The Best.
Intel Core i7-8700K $340Nvidia GTX 1070 $330Samsung 850 Evo 250GB $85
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 $130Nvidia GTX 1060-6GB $243Samsung 850 Evo 500GB $104
Intel Core i5-8600K $237AMD RX 480 $280Samsung 850 Pro 256GB $100
Seagate Barracuda 1TB (2016) $45Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000 C15 2x8GB $130SanDisk Extreme 64GB $43
Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $85G.SKILL Trident Z DDR4 3200 C14 4x16GB $869SanDisk Extreme 32GB $48
WD Blue 1TB (2012) $45Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3200 C16 2x8GB $130SanDisk Ultra Fit 32GB $12
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