2020 has been…I think we can all agree we’ve aged more than a year. Already. But that doesn’t mean it’s all been bad, and if anyone’s had a great year, AMD is it. The company’s stock price has nearly doubled, CPU sales have skyrocketed, and product performance is excellent.
In a few days AMD will announce it’s Zen 3 processors, and is expected to release them later this month. And on October 28th we’ll get to see the upcoming line of AMD RDNA 2 GPUs. So now’s a perfect time to see why 2020 is the year of AMD.
AMD Owns The Console Market
We here at CoolNation are gamers first, PC gamers second. A good game is a good game, and a great rig will always be how we want to play. But the games come first. And AMD is at the forefront of both of this year’s major console releases. Sony’s Playstation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X (and Series S) are completely fabricated on AMD’s CPU and GPU designs.
Both use custom AMD Zen 2 processors and custom AMD RDNA 2 videocards. The hardware in both major consoles was designed by Sony and Microsoft respectively, all reliant on AMD’s architecture. With at least millions of units of each releasing on the second week of November, we may see tens of millions of AMD RDNA graphics cards in the wild before desktop models launch.
AMD Has The Best Low-Cost CPUs
Gaming performance doesn’t rely heavily on CPU power. The GPU is a bit more important for that graphics processing. You’ll still see a difference between a $50 CPU and a $500 CPU when gaming, especially depending on the type of game (ie. RTS, MMO), but these days most chips are pretty powerful.
The AMD Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 processors are no joke. The highest end of the bunch is the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X, a 3.8GHz quad-core 65W chip that retails for $130. Even the low-end AMD Ryzen 3 3100, a 3.6GHz quad-core 65W, is just $100. And that’s not even considering last-gen options. Jump up to the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 starting at $200, and that’ll boost to a 6-core 3.6GHz, or if you’re lucky you can find the 3600X for the same price to jump to 3.8GHz and 95W.
That’s not even considering the APU options. The point is clear: if you want a brand-new CPU, to fit that AM4 motherboard and work with DDR4 RAM, AMD has a processor for your gaming needs. And with the upcoming announcement days away, all of these chips will soon be even cheaper.
AMD Has The Best High-End CPUs
A few years ago Intel’s high-end Extreme Edition processors were the end-all. I’ve still got an i7-5960X, and it’s ridiculously powerful. But this generation around AMD is the king of CPU prowess. Not only does Intel have no direct competition to AMD’s high-end, the best is 46-cores shy.
At the highest-end is the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, a 64-core beast with a boost clock speed of 3GHz. It’s so powerful that even without a GPU a rig can play Crysis, CPU only. That’s insane. And no wonder: 280W powers that monster, and at $3,990, it’s less than half the price of the closest Intel competitor.
And even if you want something a bit wallet-friendlier, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT is a 12-core 4.7GHz masterpiece. The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is almost identical, just 100MHz slower, and both are under $500. But let’s not forget the gaming crown, which belongs to the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X. 16-cores, 3.5GHz with a boost clock up to 4.7GHz, which even at $670 is a great deal.
AMD Has The Best Low- and Mid-Range GPUs
Budget-minded gamers have long-adored AMD for competitively priced parts. We already know they own the CPU space at all budgets, and Intel’s missteps have help solidify AMD’s growing stronghold. NVIDIA has proven to be a stronger competitor in the graphics space, yet AMD’s strategy of targeting the lower-cost has worked wonders.
For less than $200 you can get solid 1080p gaming with a AMD Radeon 5500 XT. $170 will get you high-performance HD gaming. Up it to $250 and you’ll get the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT (pictured above), built for 1440p or high-performance 1080p. 36 CUs, a 1375MHz base and 1560MHz boost clock speed, and PCIe 4 throughput.
Compare that to NVIDIA…and, well, you just have to buy a last-gen card. To 2 generations old. It might be a better bet to buy it used too if that’s the choice, because even a GTX 1650 goes for the same price as a RX 5500 XT. AMD makes the case to buy solid, new GPUs at these budget ranges in every case.
AMD Is Only Speeding Up
Three years ago if you’d asked me how AMD as a company was performing, I’d have said only okay. Then the Ryzen line of CPUs released, the company jumped from 11% to 25% market share, the stock price went through the roof…the company turned into a very buff David. And that’s against Goliath’s Intel and NVIDIA, both juggernauts in their respective fields.
Yet time and time again over the past few years (and historically too) AMD has outpaced the competition. With Ryzen, the company went from the underdog to the top dog in every CPU price range. And with both the latest 3000 series of Ryzen chips and 5000 series of Radeon GPUs, we’ve seen quick performance improvements within a year and great pricing on older models. The company is following a smart iterative pattern that exemplifies just how fast hardware is improving.
In just a few days AMD will show off the next generation of CPUs with Zen 3. On October 28nd we’ll see the first AMD RDNA 2 GPUs. In a month the latest consoles will release, running on Zen 3 processors and RDNA 2 graphics, so we know that we’ll see both for PCs before then. And even during a pandemic, we’re seeing AMD continue to shine, and possibly even thanks to it and the greater reliance on powerful, low-cost computing. So for all the difficulty we’ve seen, 2020 is still the year of AMD.