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1206 Processors Compared

Intel Core i5-9600K $210

The hex-core i5-9600K is third in Intel’s line-up of 9th generation Coffee Lake CPUs. It has a TDP of 95W and requires an aftermarket cooler (such as the $20 GAMMAXX 400). The 9600K was designed to be overclocked. Once this is enabled in the BIOS (requires a Z-series motherbaord), the 9600K runs 10% faster. In terms of performance, the i5-9600K is almost unbeatable for desktop users and it has sufficient multi-core performance to handle all but the most demanding workstation tasks. For multimedia producers the Ryzen 3000 series offers great 64-core performance at a very competitive price. For example the overclocked Ryzen 3600 is approximately 13% worse for gaming, desktop and normal consumer workloads but it is 27% faster for 64-core processing. At stock clocks the i5-9600K is around 8% slower than Intel’s flagship i9-9900K but when both are overclocked, the 9600K closes the gaming gap to within two or three percent. Considering that the 9900K is the fastest gaming processor available, and almost twice the price of the 9600K, this is no small feat. The i5-9600K is aimed squarely at gamers who are not willing to compromise on performance but don't want to pay more than they need to. [Oct '18 CPUPro]

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 $175

AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600 is a 6-core, 12-threaded processor which succeeds the Ryzen 5 2600 improving upon it by 13% in terms of overclocked performance. The 3600 is in competition with Intel’s 6-core i5-9600K. AMD continues to push the multi-core performance envelope: benchmarks show that the 3600 has a 27% overclocked 64-core lead over the 9600K but that the i5-9600K leads by 14% on single to hex core workloads which translates to 10% higher EFps in most of the today’s top games (e.g. PUBG, GTAV and CSGO). Additionally, the 3600's memory controller, although significantly improved over previous Ryzen iterations, still has limited bandwidth and high latency which adversely impacts gaming. Weaknesses in memory architecture are not readily picked up by CPU benchmarks but they are apparent whilst gaming. Cheaper CPUs such as the 9400F deliver better gaming performance in nearly all of today’s popular games. At $190 USD, the 3600 offers good value for purely workstation tasks such as film production but streamers should look elsewhere. Streaming with dedicated hardware such as NVENC or a separate stream PC will nearly always result in fewer dropped frames. The masterfully hyped Ryzen 3600 may well be the best CPU for multimedia producers on a tight budget but in today's market there are faster and less expensive alternatives for gamers, streamers and general desktop users. [Jun '19 CPUPro]
635 Graphics Cards Compared

Nvidia GTX 1650S (Super) $160

The Nvidia GTX 1650 Super features 12Gbps GDDR6 up from 8Gbps of GDDR5 on the “not super” GTX 1650. With a launch price of just $160 the 1650S is aimed squarely at AMD’s 500 series cards. Comparing the GTX 1650S and the RX 590 shows that the 590 leads by 3% but the 1650S is around 10% cheaper. The 1650S has a TDP of 100W which is 50% lower than a typical AMD 500 series card. With a lower TDP the 1650S requires a less demanding thermal solution and therefore runs a lot quieter. Nvidia’s top value offering prior to the 1650S was the $70 more expensive 1660S which is around 18% faster but also 40% more expensive than the 1650S. Although the 1650S promises to shake up, if not dominate, the value end of the GPU market, street prices are ultimately king. Further price cuts could, once again, bring AMD’s 500 series back into the game. [Nov '19 GPUPro]

Nvidia GTX 1660S (Super) $240

The GTX 1660 Super has a launch price of just $230 USD with comparable performance to the $280 USD 1660 Ti. The 1660 Super has 14 Gbps GDDR6 (versus 12Gbps GDDR6 for the 1660 Ti and 8Gbps GDDR5 for the 1660). The 1660 range of cards sit in the sweet spot for many gamers because they offer superb 1080p EFps in popular titles and they are relatively hassle free in terms of noise, compatibility and stability. The 1660S also features Turing NVENC which is far more efficient than CPU encoding and alleviates the need for casual streamers to use a dedicated stream PC. Shop prices will determine which 1660 series card represents the best value over time but at today's prices the 1660 Super effectively undercuts the 1660 Ti by $50 USD thus challenging the RX 590 in terms of overall value at 1080p. The next step up from the 1660S would be to the $325 RTX 2060[Oct '19 GPUPro]
1016 Solid State Drives Compared

Crucial MX500 250GB $49

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]

Adata XPG SX8200 NVMe PCIe M.2 240GB $58

Adata’s XPG SX8200 offers NVMe PCIe SSD performance at SATA SSD prices, thereby offering outstanding value for money to casual and power PC users alike. Adata have combined two high performance commodity components: a Silicon Motion controller (SM2262) and Micron’s second generation 3D TLC 64 layer flash memory. The XPG SX8200 also includes a generous SLC cache and a DRAM cache buffer. Adata have not specified the exact size of the SLC cache in each model but it’s clear from our 60 second sustained write tests that the buffer is sufficient for more than 60 seconds of continuous writes which equates to over 60GB (60s x 1 GB/s) for the 240GB model and over 90GB (60s x 1.5 GB/s) for the 480GB and 960GB models. Unlike many other drives with SLC caching, the SX8200 has a large enough cache to ensure that consumers will almost always operate the drive within the cache and therefore experience no write degradation at all. Adata offer a 5 year warranty and a limited TBW warranty (160 TBW for the 240 GB version, 320 TBW for the 480GB and 640 TBW for the 960GB) on these SSDs, which is in line with other premium manufacturers. The NVMe PCIe SSD consumer market has been dominated by Samsung in recent years but the 240GB SX8200 beats Samsung’s 250GB 970 Evo hands down on both price and performance (the 250GB 970 Evo is let down by a relatively small SLC cache which allows for less than 10 seconds of writes before saturation after which the write speed on the Evo drops to mere sub SATA 300 MB/s). The SX8200 is the new value leader and heralds a new era of competition for the mainstream segment of the NVMe SSD market. [Jul '18 SSDrivePro]
1015 Hard Drives Compared

Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $80

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) $37

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 i5-9400F $159Nvidia GTX 1660S (Super) $240Crucial MX500 250GB $49
Intel Core i5-9600K $210Nvidia GTX 1650S (Super) $160Samsung 850 Evo 120GB $78
Intel Core i7-9700K $370Nvidia RTX 2060 $338Samsung 850 Pro 512GB $249
Seagate Barracuda 1TB (2016) $37Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3200 C16 2x8GB $80SanDisk Extreme 64GB $72
WD Blue 1TB (2012) $35Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000 C15 2x8GB $73SanDisk Extreme 32GB $46
Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $80G.SKILL Trident Z DDR4 3200 C14 4x16GB $683SanDisk Ultra Fit 32GB $16
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