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1158 Processors Compared

Intel Core i5-9600K $260

The hex-core i5-9600K is third in the latest line-up of Intel’s 9th generation of unlocked CPUs based on their refreshed Coffee Lake 14nm architecture. This round of releases also includes the 8 core, 8 thread i7-9700K and the flagship 8 core, 16 thread i9-9900K, out of which the 9600K at USD $280 is the value leader. The 9600K supersedes last year’s similarly priced 6 core 8600K and out of the box operates at higher clocks: base 3.7 GHz vs 3.6 GHz, all core 4.3 GHz vs 4.1 GHz and single 4.6 GHz vs 4.3 GHz. The 9600K has a TDP of 95W and will require a large cooler to match. The new Z390 or last years Z370 chipset with a BIOS update are both supported. Intensive multi-threaded task masters would do better to spend a similar amount on the Ryzen 7 2700X, where an extra USD $10 buys 2 more cores and 10 more threads resulting in multi-core benchmarks 70% higher than for the 9600K. However, for the vast majority of users that undertake up to quad-core workloads, the 9600K offers very reasonable bang for your buck, and when fully overclocked, almost second to none performance for gamers. [Oct '18 CPUPro]

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 $139

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]
613 Graphics Cards Compared

Nvidia GTX 1660-Ti $270

The GTX 1660 Ti the latest mid-range and mid-priced graphics card for gamers, succeeding the now two year old GTX 1060 6GB. As NVIDIA have tried to imply with their naming convention, performance of this 16 series GPU lies somewhere between their 10 series and 20 series but the 16 does not contain any of the recent RTX cores, which given the lack of RTX ready games, by itself is no hindrance at all. The 1660 Ti features a new TU116 Turing based die, 6GB of VRAM, 1536 CUDA cores and has a 120W TDP which is a remarkably low power draw for its performance. The reference GPU clock speeds are 1500MHz and 1770MHz for base and boost respectively, and manufacturer overclocked speeds will be higher. Early benchmarks show that the 1660 Ti has a clear 33% effective speed advantage over its $60 cheaper 1060 6GB predecessor and that it performs just 4% slower than the $80 more expensive GTX 1070 in terms of effective speed. As well as crowding out the direct competition from NVIDIA’s own 1070, at an opening price of $280, the GTX 1660 Ti competes squarely with AMD’s RX 590 ($260) which has an 18% lower effective speed. Perhaps this will be an impetus for AMD to adjust pricing for the RX 590 and offer something more value-led in the mid-range. [Feb '19 GPUPro]

AMD RX 580 $159

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]
1000 Solid State Drives Compared

Crucial MX500 250GB $40

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 $65

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) $40

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 $356Nvidia GTX 1070 $380Samsung 850 Evo 250GB $70
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 $139Nvidia GTX 1060-6GB $208Samsung 850 Evo 500GB $99
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 $108Nvidia GTX 1080-Ti $808Samsung 850 Pro 256GB $93
Seagate Barracuda 1TB (2016) $40Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000 C15 2x8GB $90SanDisk Extreme 64GB $128
WD Blue 1TB (2012) $41G.SKILL Trident Z DDR4 3200 C14 4x16GB $601SanDisk Extreme 32GB $48
Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2016) $80Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3200 C16 2x8GB $95SanDisk Ultra Fit 32GB $12
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