The Radeon VII fails to beat the GeForce RTX 2080

As welcome as some healthy competition on the gpu market would be, sadly the newly launched Radeon VII is not the card to challenge Nvidia at the high end. It is a loud and expensive 300W card with 16GB very fast HBM2 VRAM that still gets beaten by the RTX 2080:

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Please check the comparison page to see exactly which benchmarks were used for this rating.

There is a silver lining: AMD almost reaching the GeForce RTX 2080 is a good thing. AMD’s fastest card so far was the Vega 64, which was also loud and energy hungry but only at the performance level of a GeForce GTX 1080. The Radeon VII delivers at least a respectable performance improvement compared to that predecessor card, even if it is not enough to win in the FPS arena. That means AMD has the potential to release good consumer gpus at the high end, which could lower graphics card prices for all of us.

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But missing gaming performance is not even what hampers the Radeon VII the most. It is just a bit slower than the RTX 2080, a price correction could make up for the FPS difference. The real issue is that it is loud and energy hungry. Computerbase reports that the gpu runs on a much higher voltage than needed, undervolting it costs no performance, the card still runs stable, it just reduces energy usage by a lot and makes the card much quieter. That’s not a first for AMD: Both Vega cards run on voltage outside the peak efficiency of their chip, also Polaris can profit from being undervolted.

AMD needs to step up its game: It is not enough to just come close performance wise. If it wants to grab market share the company needs to beat Nvidia with cards that run faster than Nvidia’s products in the same price bracket; at the very least it needs to stop releasing cards that are obviously not ready for release, that miss the crucial fine tuning with regards to default voltage and cooler quality.

Reaching the high end: Nvidia's new RTX 2060 vs Vega 64 & Co

The GeForce RTX 2060 is a good release, beating its low expectations. It was rumored that the 2060 might be a slightly bigger jump compared to its next bigger GTX variant, the 1070, than the RTX 2070 was to the GTX 1080. Remember, the RTX 2070 was only able to match the performance of the GTX 1080, it was not really faster. A slight advantage over the 1070 would have been enough for the new RTX 2060 to fulfill this mission. Instead, the new Nvidia card not only beats the GTX 1070, it also beats the Vega 56. It even comes close to the performance of the next tier, with the performance level of the GTX 1080 and RTX 2070 firmly in reach of a reasonable overclock.

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

Performance wise this is an excellent result for a new middle class graphics card. Which leads to the drawbacks. The first one is its price.

With $349 the card costs a lot more than what the GTX 1060 did. Price wise this new card is not a xx60, it is a xx70. Given the performance that’s not unjustified: It is after all faster than the GTX 1070, and faster than the even more expensive Radeon Vega 56. But $349 - or 369€ for the Founder’s Edition in Europe - are just outside the target price of a middle class graphics card, which was traditionally 200 to 300 bucks.

There is more. Energy usage is up, it sits at the level of a GTX 1070, not a 1060. Bad for systems with a weak power supply, which happens often when making an office PC gaming ready via a gpu upgrade. And finally: The RTX 2060 still has only 6GB Vram. Which is enough for a lot of games, but is less than AMD offers with the cheaper Radeon RX 580, and the Vram difference will likely cause stutters on higher settings in coming AAA games.

Ignoring the price this would have been an excellent release. Jumping one tier, catapulting the middle class from the level of the GTX 1060 to almost a GTX 1080 would have been a dream come true for many gaming PC builder out there. But the RTX 2060 isn’t simply a new and improved GTX 1060. For that it is just too expensive. It is closer to a GTX 1070 and a Vega 56; It is more attractive than both, as such it will play a role in the market. But that makes it more a card for those who want a cheaper RTX 2070, maybe overclock it to that level, than the right card for someone who just wants a new mid class graphics card for 1080p gaming. For those a cheap Radeon RX 590 or Radeon RX 580 is the more reasonable choice.

AMD's latest GPU: Radeon RX 590 vs GTX 1070, RX 580 and GTX 1060

Given the naming scheme of AMD’s prior series with their R9 290 and R9 390 the release of a new Radeon graphics card with the 90 suffix had to happen at some point. Still, given that AMD already moved on to Vega and that the old Polaris architecture seemed to reach its limit with the RX 580 the release of a RX 590 was a surprise. The RX 590 features:

  • A turbo clock of 1545 MHz, vs the 1340 MHz of the RX 580
  • 12nm vs 14nm node size
  • A TDP of 225W, not 185W, despite the smaller node size

With those specs the RX 590 is bound to be a faster alternative to the RX 580 in our benchmark. And that it is:

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

But the card is also only faster than a RX 580. The RX 590 is not faster than the next Nvidia graphics card that is faster than the RX 580, which is the GTX 1070, and of course that also means it doesn’t come close to a Vega card. How big the difference is depends a lot on the game, but the FPS difference is always big enough to make the GTX 1070 a clearly better choice.

AMD will have to place the RX 590 in a price category firmly below the GTX 1070. In Germany that does not work too well yet, the Sapphire Nitro for example is with 290€ still too expensive. In the US the current price of $279 looks better, as long as the game bundle is still included. But even then a cheaper RX 580 like the XFX GTS remains an attractive alternative.

I would recommend to consider the RX 590 only if you originally wanted a RX 580, but decided to get one of the better models with a good cooler. Since those are often expensive the RX 590 might be in the same price range, and at that point it’s the better choice. For everyone else a GTX 1070 or a cheaper RX 580 is still the way to go, at least with current prices.

AMD's cheaper Threadripper 2: 2970WX & 2920X vs Intel i9-7980XE and the best consumer processors

AMD’s second release of Threadripper 2 processors always looked promising. The earlier Threadripper 2990WX and 2950X worked well as high core count processors, but were on the more extreme end of price and performance. Especially the expensive 2990WX was problematic, as it could only shine in some very specific situations. Now the cheaper alternatives got released and might be more convincing by just being less extreme:

  1. The Threadripper 2970WX, with 24 cores and 48 threads, currently at $1299.
  2. The Threadripper 2920X, with 12 cores and 24 threads, currently at $649.

The boost clock is at 4.3GHz for the 2920X, and at 4.2GHz for the 2970WX. They are as such slightly smaller versions of the 2990WX (32 cores, 64 thread) and the 2950X (16 cores, 32 threads).

This release was all about balance. Would the two new processors find the right balance between price and core count, and be suited for a broad range of application as well as games? That is something especially the 2990WX failed to deliver, having too many cores for games and other applications that focus on single thread performance.

For gaming the new Threadripper processors show a surprising performance:

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

The surprising result here is the placement below the more expensive processors. I fully expected the new versions to be faster in games, as having less cores is advantageous in most games. This shows how well the gaming modes work, and how well the higher turbo clock of the 2950X gets applied.

As it is, the strongest Threadripper 2 for games is the 2950X, presumably because of its high turbo clock. But it still is not faster than the Ryen 7 2700X. The 2990WX follows. The new 2920X is faster than the new 2970WX, as to be expected from their turbo clock. We can see that a regular quad core like the Ryzen 5 2400G is not much slower - and that processor costs around 10% of the 2970WX. The small differences between between the Threadripper models make the most reasonable Threadripper 2 for gaming the cheapest, which is the 2920X.

In other words: Gaming is just not Threadripper’s strong suit, the way cheaper Ryzen 7 2700X remains AMD’s fastest gaming processor.

The result also shows the strong position of Intel. Intel’s processors are just faster in games, even Intel’s high core count i9-7980XE is placed above the Threadripper family. But the i9-9900K and the i7-9700K are even better in games, with the i9-9900K being the strongest gaming processor in the whole benchmark.

Software workloads are a different story:

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check again the comparison page.

As said in the review of Intel’s 9000 series: Software performance differs a lot, and there are areas where single thread performance matters more. In software relying on memory latency or single core speed the results will be closer to the gaming benchmark above. That said, let’s look at the results in this benchmark.

The 2990WX sits at the top, the 2970X can get the second position. And while the i9-7980XE is faster than the remaining Threadrippers it is also a lot more expensive, giving AMD a clear lead in software performance. Even the very high clock of the i9-9900X is not enough to beat the slowest new Threadripper, the 2920X.

The 2950X reaches a strong placement as well, it is a good option when running software that does not scale that well with many cores. The same could be said about the 2920X, but that processor has the additional advantage of being cheaper - the small difference between that model and the i9-9900K make it an attractive option for those that focus less on gaming performance, but who want more multi-thread performance than a regular consumer processor can offer. Of those the Ryzen 7 2700X has the usual strong price-performance.


It was to be expected that Threadripper 2 would not solve all issues of the Treadripper series. And indeed, the core problem (pun intended) remains: Those are expensive processors that only impress in some multi-threaded workloads. But AMD managed to up the core count without reducing gaming performance, that way staying close to the gaming performance of a good Ryzen processor. Which also means gaming performance is worse than with Intel. And that it is absolutely good enough.

But no one buys a Threadripper for gaming. And right: In application workloads Threadripper 2 beats Intel’s offerings, even the expensive high core count option that is the i9-7980XE. That this also holds true for the clearly cheaper 2970WX is a very good result for AMD.

Intel's new 9000 series: i9-9900K, i7-9700K and i5-9600K vs i7-8700K and Ryzen 7 2700X

Intel’s new processors were announced as the fastest gaming processors, and to be also quite fast in other application workloads. Coffee Lake Refresh includes three processors:

  1. The i9-9900K, with 8 cores and 16 threads, currently at $579.99
  2. The i7-9700K, with 8 cores and 8 threads, currently at $409.99
  3. The i5-9600K, with 6 cores and 6 threads, currently at $279.99

All of them reach a high turbo clock: the i9 5.0, the i7 4.9 and the i5 4.6 GHz - without overclocking.

That is a very special release. It’s the first time that Intel releases consumer processors with 8 cores. It’s also the first time Intel releases an i7 without hyperthreading, presumable to give the new i9-9900K a reason to exist. And it’s the first reaction to AMD’s Ryzen processors where Intel had some time to prepare.

Now, we already know the i9-9900k gets hot. But how is the performance? Also the i7-9700K is very interesting this time: Its predecessor, the i7-8700K, had only 6 cores but with 12 threads 4 threads more. Will the missing hyperthreading limit the performance more than the two additional cores and the higher turbo clock can make up for?

Over the last days I gathered reviews for the pc-kombo meta benchmark. The meta benchmark creates a global order out of many distinct smaller benchmarks, currently more than 282. Based on that benchmarks one can not judge how many FPS a processors will reach exactly, but one can judge which processor is faster overall.

Let’s look at gaming performance first:

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

The i9-9900K is the fastest gaming processor overall. As the core and thread counts suggest it beats the 9700K. And the i7-9700K beats the former champion, the i7-8700K: Turns out that hyperthreading is less useful than having more cores available. The higher turbo block also won’t hurt this result.

For everyone wanting to use less money it will be nice to know that the i5-9600K stays quite close to the i7-8700K. Since the i7-8700K is not that much slower than the i7-9700K that means that the i5-9600K is still a good option for high FPS gaming, with a similar performance as the i5-8600K. As a result the Ryzen 7 2700X can’t compete here.

However, let’s not forget that the gaming performance of the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 5 2600X is still high enough to play all current games properly. It’s just in the high FPS area where Intel was already stronger before this release, and now has a slightly higher lead.

Outside of gaming Intel also reach a very high position with its new processors:

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Again, to see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

Finally reaching 8 cores lets Intel overtake the Ryzen 7 2700X in the software performance benchmark, a big win. But the difference is not as big as in gaming, and the smaller chips do not win against the Ryzen processor. Having 16 threads available helps the Ryzen processor against the i7-9700K. And the i5-9600K does not fare well in this benchmarks, though the 9600K did not see many reviews yet and will likely improve later on when more data is added. It should also be noted that software performance is a huge field, and in some applications the performance rating will be more similar to the above gaming performance.

Still, it’s a good result for Intel. The i9-9900K gets a good rating here, and also the i7-9700K does very well. The real stars of this benchmark are processors with an extremely high core count, like the workstation i9 and Threadripper. But this is the best result Intel could have hoped to reach on their consumer platform: Beating the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X on raw performance.


Time for a conclusion. The 9000 series has some issues. Those are hot processors that eat a lot of energy, and they are also very expensive, especially the i9-9900K. But with that i9-9900K Intel for the first time since Ryzen placed a processor on the consumer market that can beat AMD on gaming and multi-threaded application performance, while before Intel only had a lead in gaming. But the i9 is sadly also very expensive, making the Ryzen 7 2700X for many budgets a more attractive option.

The i7-9700K and the i5-9600K are less special. They replace the i7-8700K and the i5-8600K and deliver a small performance improvement, but they do not change the overall situations: Less performance in multi-threaded software workloads than Ryzen, but a better performance in gaming.

As a result, the i9-9900K is the best option currently for those wanting the absolute best performance without making the step to a way more expensive workstation processor, but only for those willing to also buy the best possible cooling hardware and willing to disregard price-performance. The i7-9700K and the i5-9600K can be interchanged with the i7-8700K and the i5-8600K depending on their price, they are best suited for gaming builds targeting 144 FPS. For regular 60Hz gaming (regardless on which resolution) the Ryzen 5 2600X and the Intel Core i5-8400 are still the smarter option, with the Ryzen 5 2600 being a cheaper alternative.