Yesterday, we covered Nvidia's keynote address, which turned out to touch upon a lot of topics, none of them of interest to hardcore gamers. Today, we're going to cover AMD, and trust us, we've got a lot of insights to provide on upcoming gear that will get gamers talking. But first a nugget of gold handed to us from a friendly rep at the MSI booth, which provides a bit more insight into what's going on over at Nvidia (info Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang apparently wasn't ready to share personally). It turns out that there really is such thing as the GTX 1080 Ti, and not only will it be available from board partners (MSI being one of the biggest), but it will be coming around PAX East 2017, which kicks off on March 10, 2017. You heard it here first, folks!
All right, back to AMD. Believe it or not, we got way, way more info out of the good folks at AMD regarding their upcoming gaming gear than Nvidia coughed up at CES. Let's start with what we think is the most promising product on the horizon: Ryzen. Yes, it in fact rhymes with horizon (and is not pronounced risen). The inspiration for the name was that revolutionary performance is just over the horizon. The AMD reps we spoke to were quite forthcoming about what's in store, and we have a feeling your going to come away very impressed with what we uncovered.
First of all, Ryzen will be launching in Q1'17, and while AMD's reps joked that this would often mean "March 29th," in this case it apparently means something earlier than that. Second of all, it's no coincidence that AMD is benching this chip against the $1,100 Intel Core i7-6900K in demos. In the photo below, AMD was showing off two systems equipped with a Titan X Pascal GPU, running Battlefield 1's single-player game. On the left is a 6900K-based system, on the right, a Ryzen system. We played through each scene, and the Ryzen system averaged about 1-2fps higher than the 6900K system. While that may seem insignificant, we're talking about besting an ultra-high-end Intel chip in a game that is very core-sensitive.
What this all means, for better or for worse, is that the 6900K is indeed the benchmark, both for performance and price. So while that might be a bit disappointing for enthusiasts hoping to finally equip their gaming rigs with an 8-core/16-thread beast for the price of a quad-core, there's still hope. AMD made clear that they believe their chip is at least the equal of the 6900K, but that pricing it equal to the 6900K wouldn't end up moving the ball forward in terms of price/performance. In other words, the Ryzen chip will come in significantly under $1,100 when it arrives. Another few insights that AMD was willing to share with us included that the 3.4GHz base clock that has been touted will be the slowest Ryzen chip, and that there will in fact be multiple SKUs, some of them with a higher base clock. Furthermore, every single Ryzen CPU will be fully unlocked, and there will indeed be headroom available sufficient to fire up the passions of enthusiasts.
When we asked if this could be a repeat of the Bulldozer scenario, where the chips were shipped near their top-end clocks, AMD said that Ryzen will be different, but that cooling will be important. They specifically mentioned that they are working with both Noctua and Corsair to get the very best air and AIO liquid coolers, respectively, available at launch with appropriate AM4 brackets for the new X370-based motherboards. And as long as we're talking boards, AMD confirmed that these boards will indeed have PCIe 3.0 (a first for an AMD chipset), and will be available in ATX, mATX, and ITX formats, meaning AMD fans will finally be able to build Small Form Factor PCs with a high-performance CPU.
That, so far, is what we know on Ryzen. Flip to the next page for all the lastest on Vega...