Should You Build a Gaming PC Right Now? – AMD Zen 3, RDNA 2 and NVIDIA Ampere Caution

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Building a gaming PC can be quite a tough process sometimes. With both AMD and NVIDIA putting out so many products throughout the year, it can get confusing unless you plan out your budget thoroughly. Fortunately, we’ve got a bunch of PC build guides for you, even though they are getting a little old now. After all, we’ll soon be getting new CPUs and graphics cards in the coming months. So what should you do?

On the one hand, we’ve got AMD releasing both their Zen 3 CPUs (Ryzen 4000) and RDNA 2 GPUs at (allegedly) the same time. And then there’s NVIDIA announcing their Ampere cards (RTX 3000?) next month. Intel will also be releasing their Comet Lake-S CPUs, and don’t even get us started on the Tiger Lake situation.

So the question remains – Should you build a gaming PC right now? The short, and smart answer is obviously – NO. Given how most of this hardware will be out by the end of October, it really makes sense to wait for them. Even if you don’t plan on buying the new graphics cards or CPUs, you can at least expect a price drop on current parts so you’ll get a better value for your money regardless. This holds true primarily for GPUs as they’re going to bring a huge improvement over previous years’ offerings both on NVIDIA and AMD’s side. But storage mediums are also about to get an upgrade thanks to PCIe Gen 4.0 and generally faster (and cheaper) SSDs.

The Case for Graphics Cards

NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super Vs Xbox Series X
NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super Vs Xbox Series X
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Let’s take NVIDIA for example. The company launched the Geforce RTX 2000 (Turing) series in late 2018, which brought real-time raytracing to consumers. However, performance in games when using the fancy new feature was quite disappointing, literally dropping framerates by 50%. To address this, NVIDIA recently released the new RTX 2000 Super cards – RTX 2060 Super, RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 Super. All 3 of them are worthy upgrades over the original lineup, especially the RTX 2060 Super which I personally use in a lot of our game/performance reviews here at TechQuila. Here’s a peek at performance difference over a year in the same architecture:

RTX 2060RTX 2060 Super
CUDA Cores19202176
RTX-OPS37 T41 T
Memory Bandwidth336 GB/s448 GB/s
Memory Config6 GB8 GB

The 2060 Super is more close to a base RTX 2070 than the 2060 that it’s supposed to replace. That’s mighty impressive! In fact, it’s about as good as what an Xbox One X offers. That’s quite an improvement you have for a replacement card on the same architecture. But if you still want to crank up the RTX settings for the resolutions those cards are aiming, then there’s still a lot of expected performance that’ll be lost.

We can only imagine what Ampere is going to bring to the table. If the leaks are anything to go by, then the RTX 3000 series will be a huge jump in raytracing performance as well as bring a more universal DLSS solution so more games can benefit from its magic.

Both RX 5500 XT and RX 5600 XT Navi GPU
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Alright, let’s jump onto team red’s side – AMD. This is a little interesting as up until Navi (RDNA), AMD graphics cards were still doing fine but weren’t exactly providing the stiffest competition to NVIDIA. The Radeon RX 500 series was a marginal upgrade over RX 400, and so came the RDNA 1 powered Navi graphics cards in 2019. The Radeon RX 5500, 5600 XT, 5700, and 5700XT finally provided a good, comparable lineup with robust driver support.

On the higher end, the RX 5700 is cheaper than the 2060 Super but performs similarly. The RX 5700 XT performs closer to 2070S, but is priced like a 2060S. If you don’t care much about raytracing, these are the cards you should get (but not at this point!). If you want to stick to 1080p gaming for longer, then picking up a 5600 XT would’ve been a fine choice back when it launched earlier this year.

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However, AMD’s upcoming RDNA 2 cards are going to be a powerhouse (at least we hope so). They’re present in both next-gen consoles – PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, so at least some features are going to be in use for a long time going forward. While AMD managed to give NVIDIA some tough competition in conventional gaming scenarios, they lacked hardware raytracing support. That’s about to change with RDNA 2. So regardless of what company’s GPU you get, you’re bound to get good raytracing performance that should last longer.

AMD Zen 3 and Intel Tiger Lake Are Coming

AMD-Zen-3

AMD’s Zen 3 CPUs are highly awaited for its potential to shake up the market once again. While it’s still being built on an improved 7nm node from TSMC, AMD is still calling it a generational shift, hence the name Zen 3 and not ‘Zen 2+’. The new CPUs will be compatible with X570 as well as older B450 and X470 motherboards. That decision was a last-minute change from their original plans thanks to heavy demand for Ryzen. The current Zen 2 and its refreshed lineup are still going strong, so getting the new CPU shouldn’t be on your priority list unless of course, it’s a bigger improvement than we’re predicting.

Intel on the other hand also has new CPUs coming out, however, those are mostly for laptops. The new Tiger Lake family of chips will debut on mobile devices first, before making its way to desktop early next year. That is unless Intel suddenly decides to change up their roadmap and conventional launch plans. You can learn all about what’s new in Tiger Lake here. Perhaps the biggest feature of it is the improved integrated graphics – powered by Intel’s Xe architecture. We’ll be seeing that in its own dedicated video card form as well, but its performance is most suited as a juiced-up integrated GPU. If you’re in the market for a budget gaming PC, then improved integrated graphics definitely won’t hurt.

In this regard, I don’t think the new CPUs will be as big of an upgrade, but only time will tell how that turns out.

Faster Storage For All  –  Welcome PCIe 4.0 

Fast SSDs in Gaming PCs
image credit – PCWorld

SSDs have been the standard for quite long, and they’re about to get a big boost. Thanks to PCIe Gen 4.0 (which debuted with AMD Ryzen 3000), we’re beginning to see more PC platforms (AMD X570) that support the higher bandwidth. Although PCIe 4 is more important in laptops as per AMD, its existence across desktops and now consoles will definitely lead to more faster (and cheaper) SSDs in the coming months. Right now NVMe SSDs with PCIe 4.0 support are quite expensive, but I expect them to get cheaper once the PS5 and Xbox Series X launches. New console generations move a lot of things in the PC world in terms of price and availability, and this case is no different.

Conclusion – Stating The Obvious

All in all, building a gaming PC at any time is going to include some compromises. There’s new technology on the horizon all the time, but right now it’s more alarming than ever before. There is some seriously impressive hardware launching in the coming months. While 2020 has been an unfortunate year for everybody, I think new (potential) members of the PCMR community deserve something better.

“But what if the new hardware isn’t as impressive?”

Well, you’ll probably save some money anyway when the prices of current products drop alongside the launch of new ones. Once you do figure out what kind of a gaming PC you want to build, don’t forget to check out our collection of PC building guides to get started…

NVIDIA will officially announce their RTX 3000 (Ampere) graphics card lineup on September 1. AMD will follow suit soon in announcing the new Zen 3 (Ryzen 4000) CPUs and RDNA 2 (Navi 2) graphics cards. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are launching in late 2020, most likely November.

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Rahul Majumdar
I've been writing here for quite a while. Tech, Gaming, Film, you name it. Lead Editor here at TechQuila. Occupational hazards include excessive gaming & movie-binging sessions. Most active on Twitter!

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