For PC of the month, the fast-moving spring season, which was saturated with various hardware announcements, comes to an end. If you have decided to assemble a powerful gaming system for work and entertainment, now is the best time to do so. There will always be situations when, it would seem, you need to wait a little longer for the most successful moment. Another processor is about to be introduced, only a month before the announcement of a new video card, more affordable motherboards are already on the way. Familiar situations? The specter of the best moment keeps slipping away, and changing circumstances force you to take a wait-and-see attitude time after time. So let’s see how we approach the end of the first half of the year through the prism of current game configurations of the traditional “PC of the month“.

The material was prepared with the support of the company Kingston Technology 

PC of the month (May 2023)


Basic gaming PC of the month

CPU Intel Core i3-12100F (4/8; 3.3/4.3 GHz, 12 MB L3) $110
AMD Ryzen 5 5500 (6/12; 3.6/4.2 GHz, 16 MB L3) $105
Motherboard Intel B660 (LGA1700) $105
AMD A520/B450 (Socket AM4) $75
Memory 16 GB (2×8 GB) DDR4-3200 $45
GPU Radeon RX 6600 8 GB / GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB $310
Drive SSD, 1 TB, M.2 PCI-E $55
Body and PSU Middle Tower ATX, 550 W $60
Total for Intel-based PCs $685
Total for AMD-based PCs $650


Memory and SSD for Basic gaming PC from our partner Kingston Technology

PC of the month (May 2023)

Kingston FURY Beast DDR4-3600 (KF436C17BBK2/16) 2×8 GB

Kingston NV2 1 TB (SNV2S/1000G)


In the basic Intel gaming platform, the processor position is occupied by the 4-core Core i3-12100F (4/8; 3.3/4.3 GHz), which is not surprising, but thanks to good single-threaded performance, it is generally a conscious decision, especially for your money. A certain reinforcement here would really not hurt, but there are frankly few alternatives from Intel in the “around $100” price category and a noticeable improvement in the position requires a significant increase in the budget. It should be noted that the price of the “successor” Core i3-13100F (4/8; 3.4/4.5 GHz) has decreased. Now the price difference with that of the predecessor is only $10.

Is it fair to pay for an extra 100-200 MHz to the CPU’s operating frequency? Unfortunately, this is all that distinguishes these models of conventionally different generations. Well, taking into account the fact that the choice in this class is small, the Core i3-13100F may well be in the recommended position. A few extra fps will never hurt, and the formal affiliation to the 13th-generation Core lineup may cheer up the owner.

We remind you that the Core i3-13100F lost the ability to overclock by increasing the reference base frequency. But let’s be honest, such experiments would require motherboards with an external clock generator, which cost from $200, which means that the stories of successful overclocking of the predecessor can only be seen in the reports of enthusiasts.

For the entry-level Intel PC of the Month platform, we recommend looking at the base motherboards based on the Intel B660 chipset. Trying to save money, it’s tempting to go for the entry-level Intel H610 model, but the current price of these devices starts at the equivalent of $80, which is only $20 cheaper than the entry-level versions on the older PCH. Even if you abstract away the better functionality of the Intel B660, which really isn’t always essential, the ability to use faster RAM kits alone justifies the price increase. So, we put $100–110 in the budget for the purchase of the board.

By the way, when choosing a specific model, you can already look into the section with boards for Intel B760. It seems that the supply chain has already profited from the increased starting prices, so the cost of boards on the updated PCH has already approached those on the Intel B660. And this is not surprising, given the cosmetic differences between the chipsets. Of course, in both cases we are talking about boards with DDR4 memory support, although the price factor will not allow you to accidentally make a mistake – DDR5 models cost from $170.

An entry-level gaming system on the AMD platform can be built on the basis of Ryzen 5 5500 (6/12; 3.6/4.2 GHz; 16 MB L3) or Ryzen 5 3600 (6/12; 3.6/4.2GHz; 32MB L3). Both 6-core chips have roughly the same performance. The advantage of the latter is the presence of a PCI-E 4.0 bus. But if its support is not fundamental, or if a motherboard with PCI-E 3.0 is used at all, then for the same price of both CPUs, we give minimal preference to the newer and more economical Ryzen 5 5500.

When considering options for motherboards for starting configurations, it is logical to be guided by the principle of minimum sufficiency. In such cases, the platform usually requires stable, predictable work, while the overclocking capabilities of the processors recede into the background. If there is no particular desire for overclocking, then the opportunity to save money is a priority – you can consider boards on the AMD A520 chipset. Although they do not allow experimenting with the processor multiplier, they still retain the ability to use high-speed RAM modules. The cost of such models starts at $60, but we recommend budgeting $75 for your choice.

We remind you that these models do not support Ryzen 1/2 generation chips. So if you inherited one of the iconic Ryzen 5 1600/2600 chips and decided to build your platform around it, AMD A520 boards won’t work for you, you’ll definitely need an AMD B450 model. However, fees on the latter can be considered in any case.

When talking about the best graphics card for basic gaming configurations, the Radeon RX 6600 8 GB has the highest priority. Excellent performance in its class and models in the line have recently come down in price ($300-320). In addition, you can come across promotional offers even for $280. And in these cases, we are not talking about refurbished adapters, but new video cards with significant discounts. A certain disadvantage of the Radeon RX 6600 8 GB is a rather weak assortment on the market. You have to choose from only 5-6 available adapters.

In the event that for some reason you exclude AMD video cards in your system, next to the Radeon RX 6600 8 GB in the table is the GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB. Yes, it is noticeably inferior (~20%) in productivity to the opponent, but you can be sure that they also have their customers. Entry-level GeForce RTX 3050 8GB models can also be purchased for the equivalent of $300-$310.

Wanting to save while staying in the NVIDIA ecosystem, for $270–280 can only be calculated on GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER 6 GB. To say that this video card is not at all suitable for a gaming system would be an exaggeration. In normal conditions, it is not so much inferior to the GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB. However, the latter is more attractive thanks to 8 GB of memory, the presence of RT cores, and DLSS support.

According to statistics from the Steam game service, the most popular video card among its users is still GeForce GTX 1650 4 GB. This is the answer to the question of whether owners of video cards in this class have a gaming life. Of course, in our recommendations, we try to choose the best and most promising options, but as we can see, requests, requirements, and opportunities may not always coincide.

So if you can allocate up to $200 for the purchase of a video card, then the GeForce GTX 1650 4 GB can be an option. At the same time, it is desirable to choose versions of a later wave with GDDR6 memory. What to expect in this case? Of course, we are only talking about Full HD mode here. In addition, in the most difficult projects, you will have to use settings with low image quality. By the way, in cases of acute shortage of 4 GB of local memory, the use of FSR scaling can save the situation and increase performance. Of course, in such cases, the priority will be the speed and not the quality of the picture. However, for most dynamic games, it will be nicer to get 60 fps instead of 40 fps with more clarity. This is a field for experimentation.

But video cards of the GeForce GTX 1630 4 GB line should not be considered in any case. The difference in price with the GeForce GTX 1650 is only $20-30, but their performance differs by more than 50%.

In the category of basic gaming systems, the Intel ARC A750 8 GB video card would make a noise. After software optimizations, this model is usually not only noticeably faster than the GeForce RTX 3050 but is even able to compete on an equal footing with the Radeon RX 6600 and GeForce RTX 3060. Unfortunately, Intel video cards are still not available in Ukraine. Of course, if you set yourself a goal and don’t bother with the desire to get a video card from official channels, you can still buy Intel ARC A750 8 GB. And it can turn out to be an interesting experience for connoisseurs of non-standard solutions who are ready for experiments. But of course, in the presence of promotional RX 6600, for the purchase of ARC A750, there should be a considerable attraction to promising alternatives.

You have to give credit to the pace at which Intel is trying to improve the software part of its graphics products. Judging by the numerous reviews, the company managed to make significant progress and solve the stability issues that arose at the start. In addition, developers promptly prepare versions of drivers with timely updates for the release of the latest major games. In the news feed, you can often find messages about the addition of Intel XeSS proprietary intelligent scaling technology to new projects. Of course, Intel video cards, like other graphics adapters, can use the more popular AMD FSR.

So the Intel ARC A750 8 GB with a recommended price tag of $249 for the American market with a retail price of $300-320 in Ukraine could very well claim a place in the basic gaming configuration.

Increasing the number of AIB-partners, the number of which is still very limited, would help to gain power for Intel’s next graphics move. However, the company is trying to expand their number by attracting new names. Intel recently “brought back” to the graphics game Sparkle, whose products were quite widespread, including in Ukraine. The Taiwanese company left the video card business about ten years ago, concentrating on embedded devices. We wish Sparkle a successful comeback and look forward to seeing their products on sale again. Intel ARC A750 and Intel ARC A380 series models have already appeared in the manufacturer’s announced range.

Another customer of the “blue” team was the Matrox company, which chose Intel GPUs for the LUMA series of specialized video cards. The ARC-based A310 and A380 devices are designed for multi-monitor configurations. One of the features of the models is the ability to simultaneously display the image on four screens in 5K60 mode or on a pair of 8K monitors with HDR support.

Unfortunately, Matrox moved away from the development of custom video cards a long time ago. PC gaming veterans probably remember how formidable a competitor the Matrox Millenium G400 16 MB was in the late 90s to the then-top gaming models NVIDIA Riva TNT2, 3Dfx Voodoo3, and ATI Rage 128 PRO. Even in those days, Matrox paid increased attention to picture quality, and this was of fundamental importance when transmitting an analog signal. The Canadian company offered a lot of interesting technological developments, but, unfortunately, this did not help it to hold on to the market of competitive game graphics. Perhaps Intel will be able to return the famous developer to the game arena. At least the beginning of cooperation has already been set.

Concluding a short historical excursion, we remind you that we equip basic game systems with 16 GB of RAM using a dual-channel kit 2×8 GB DDR4-3600. Please note that higher-speed modules are offered than those officially supported by processors – DDR4-3200 for Core i3-12100F and Ryzen 5 5500. However, motherboards for both platforms allow you to go beyond the basic specifications, getting additional bandwidth, which usually translates into increased fps. It makes no sense to try to save money by choosing DDR4-3200 kits, now the cost of the kits is very close, so we initially prefer DDR4-3600. Even higher-speed kits – DDR4-3866/4000/4133 – are already significantly more expensive, so it is superfluous for entry-level systems. So a simple set of 2×8 GB DDR4-3600 for $45 seems to be the optimal solution for this category.

Also note that basic motherboards in most cases only have two DIMM slots. In such cases, if you later want to increase the RAM capacity, you will have to change the current kit to another one. This is a strong argument for thinking about 32 GB. Of course, for basic systems, such a capacity of RAM, at first glance, looks excessive, but taking into account the fact that we are talking about gaming platforms, which need to be guaranteed to provide comfortable performance in any of the most difficult projects, then the bar of requirements is set precisely resource-intensive games.

If you are initially thinking about the prospect, or in addition to toys, a larger RAM capacity may be useful in your work, feel free to focus on 32 GB. The cheapest 2×16 GB DDR4-3600 kits can already be purchased for $75. That’s an extraordinary price tag for such an opportunity, so it makes sense to seize the moment.

Over the last quarter, the cost of DDR4 RAM has dropped by about 20%. DRAM makers are already slowing chip production to balance supply and demand, restoring profitability. So a reverse price wave is quite likely after some emptying of warehouse stocks.

Something similar is happening in the segment of solid-state drives. SSD with a capacity of 1 TB is already quite realistic to buy for $50-60, while we recommend that you immediately focus on PCI-E M.2 models, they are usually even cheaper than the slow SATA versions of the 2.5” format. The cost of SSDs has recently been pleasing, but the duration of such price concessions is difficult to predict. Flash chip manufacturers are suffering significant losses as they try to sell manufactured products against the backdrop of sluggish demand.

For end consumers, this situation can be seen as a good opportunity to implement increased requests for a fair price. Therefore, if it is financially possible, it makes no sense to consider drives with a capacity of less than 1 TB.

Optimal gaming PC

CPU Intel Core i5-13400F (6/12+4; 2.5/4.6 GHz + 1.8/3.3 GHz) $230
AMD Ryzen 7 5700X (8/16; 3.6/4.6 GHz) $210
Motherboard Intel B660/B760 (LGA1700) $130
AMD B550 (Socket AM4) $110
RAM 32 GB (2×16 GB) DDR4-3600 $90
GPU GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 8 TB/ Radeon RX 6700 XT 12 GB $500
Drive SSD, 1 ТБ, M.2 NVMe, PCI-E x4 $90
Body and PSU Middle Tower ATX, 650 W $130
Total for Intel-based PCs $1170
Total for AMD-based PCs $1130


Memory and SSD for the optimal gaming PC from our partner Kingston Technology

PC of the month (May 2023)

Kingston FURY Beast DDR4-3600 MHz (KF436C18BBK2/32) 2×16 GB

Kingston KC3000 1 TB (SKC3000S/1024G)


Last time, in optimal configurations, we tried to offer platforms with a minimum cost within this class. Starter systems with a total cost of around $1000 offer a good price/performance ratio. However, for comfortable fps in “heavy” or poorly ported resource-intensive projects, even more power is usually required. Therefore, in the May “PC of the month” we will consider options for additional acceleration with a reasonable increase in the budget for system assembly.

We have great options for increasing processing power in cases with AMD and Intel platforms. Instead of the basic Core i5-12400F (6/12; 2.5/4.4 GHz), you can use Core i5-13400F (6/12+4; 2.5 /4.6 GHz + 1.8/3.3 GHz). The successor received four additional efficiency cores (E-cores), which increase performance in multi-threaded tasks. In turn, this is also reassuring, providing the necessary confidence that the CPU’s capabilities will be exactly enough for current and future heavy projects. Even if the Core i5-13400F does not provide maximum performance, it will surely avoid a possible drop in fps when the “pure” 6-core will no longer be enough. Well, it will allow us to improve the current indicators in projects like Total War Saga: Troy.

When changing the processor from Core i5-12400F to Core i5-13400F, you will have to increase the budget by adding about $50, but for optimal configurations, this is a rational and acceptable option.

For the AMD platform, replacing the basic Ryzen 5 5600 (6/12; 3.5/4.4 GHz) with the Ryzen 7 5700X (8/16; 3.4/4.6 GHz) looks like a good upgrade. The younger 8-core model, as in the case of Intel chips, will add performance in multi-threaded tasks and eliminate the possible lack of power of 6-core chips in future games. At the beginning of this year, the price of the Ryzen 7 5700X decreased significantly. The current price of $215 looks very attractive, although of course, the Ryzen 5 5600 for $150 was not inferior in this regard.

As for motherboards, the position here is also quite unambiguous. It is logical to equip a mid-range Intel system with an Intel B660/B760 model with slightly improved performance compared to basic PC devices. Here we take a closer look at the VRM configuration with mandatory cooling of power elements. Although the Core i5-13400F has more power consumption than the Core i5-12400F, it is still a relatively economical chip. However, it is desirable to have a reserve for the future for a possible future upgrade without replacing the board.

For an AMD system, it seems rational to purchase an AMD B550 motherboard. The ability to speed up the processor will not be superfluous here, besides, for optimal configurations, PCI-E 4.0 support also seems to be a necessary condition. AMD B550 models start at $80, but these are rather isolated exceptions from Biostar and ASRock, while boards with a better VRM scheme, cooling of power elements, and a pair of M.2 slots are better to look for in the $100-110 price category.

The Socket AM5 platform still remains quite a valuable pleasure for optimal gaming systems. The architectural improvements of the Ryzen 5 7600/7600X could further improve the performance of the system on AMD, even though it is a 6-core chip, but in addition to the additional increase in the purchase budget of the CPU (~$280), increase a price bar is also required for motherboards and DDR5 memory.

Models based on AMD A620 have finally started to appear on sale, but at the time of writing, only top boards with this chipset costing about $150 are available in Ukraine. Frankly, not so attractive offers against the background starting $165 for simple solutions on the AMD B650. The current price of the Ryzen 5 7600 + AMD B650 kit is about $450, while the Ryzen 7 5700X + AMD B550 kit will cost you $320. Taking into account the difference in the price of memory kits of $30-40, the total cost difference between solutions on Socket AM4 and the basic set on Socket AM5 will be $160-170. This is a strong argument for pre-weighing all the pros and cons.

Last time, for optimal gaming PCs “on the minimum” we suggested equipping systems with video cards GeForce RTX 3060 12 GB or Radeon RX 6650 XT 8 GB. And in fact, it is precisely these positions that need to be strengthened in order to qualitatively increase the capabilities of the platform. The nominal continuation in the corresponding graphics lines are respectively GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 8 GB and Radeon RX 6700 XT 12 GB (in the absence of RX 6700 offers). Such a replacement will increase fps on average by 20-30%. And this is approximately in proportion to the increase in the cost of video cards, the purchase of which will require about $500. That is, the price/performance ratio is preserved, which is very good and rarely happens when moving to the next level. And here it seems that everything is fine, if not for one “but”. Of course, it’s about the launch of new mid-level NVIDIA and AMD video cards, which is already scheduled for May 24-25.

Californians will offer GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB. The key technical specifications of the video card are already known. The model will use the AD106-350 graphics processor in a modification with 4352 computers. The operating frequency of the GPU is 2310/2532 MHz with a theoretical computing performance of 22 TFLOPS. At first glance, it looks pretty good, but the configuration of the memory subsystem at least raises questions. The GeForce RTX 4060 Ti uses a 128-bit bus in conjunction with GDDR6 chips running at an effective 18,000 MHz. This provides a bandwidth of only 288 GB/s.

For comparison, the predecessor GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is equipped with a 256-bit bus and has a RAM of 448 GB/s. That is, the speed of data transfer between the GPU and DRAM chips has decreased by more than a third. If we compare it with the RTX 3060 Ti modification equipped with GDDR6X chips, with a resulting RAM of 608 GB/s, the difference is more than twofold.

We have already witnessed how the new RTX 40xx models with lower memory bandwidth were able to outperform their predecessors, which had a significant quantitative advantage in GB/s. We assume that in these cases an important role is played by the architectural feature of Ada Lovelace solutions, namely, the radically increased capacity of the L2 cache memory in the graphics processor. In the case of RTX 4060 Ti and RTX 3060 Ti, we have a difference of 32 MB versus 4 MB. A relatively large buffer allows you to slightly reduce the dependence on the total memory bandwidth.

However, even accepting this fact, the configuration of a powerful mid-level model with a 128-bit bus, the declared bandwidth and a PCI-E 4.0 x8 interface looks strange. It will be all the more interesting to look at the results of practical tests. NVIDIA promises a 15% increase in performance compared to RTX 3060 Ti. If the games support DLSS 3, the new model should improve the performance of its predecessor by as much as 60%.

According to preliminary information, NVIDIA partners have already been warned about the end of the production cycle of GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which will free up resources for the production of new-generation solutions. Of course, the predecessor will be on sale for at least a few more months. But the extent of its attractiveness for purchase will be decided by the current retail price.

By the way, as for the total memory capacity, the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB version will be the basic option. NVIDIA is also planning a modification with 16 GB, which should be available for sale only in July. It seems that the constant user complaints about insufficient local memory capacity have finally been heard by the developers. Yes, it will be another strange situation where the younger model gets a larger buffer than the GeForce RTX 4070/4070 Ti 12 GB. But this is a case where you shouldn’t complain – it’s better that way than to limit yourself to the 8 GB version only because the older models only have 12 GB.

It is interesting that the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 16 GB will use a different modification of the graphics processor – AD106-351. The configuration of the GPU functional blocks should be preserved, as should the memory subsystem parameters.

A few days before the start of sales of video cards, NVIDIA announced the recommended price of new models. The GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8GB has a starting price tag of $399, while the 16GB versions will cost $100 more, starting at $499.

In July, NVIDIA should present a version GeForce RTX 4060 8 GB. The base model will use the more compact AD107-400 chip with 3072 active computers. This reduction in the number of CUDA cores will reduce the theoretical performance to 15.1 TFLOPS. The memory subsystem configuration will remain identical to that used for the RTX 4060 Ti. Obviously, the significant difference in computers will also affect real game performance. How exactly? We will have to wait until July. However, during the announcement of the GeForce RTX 4060 line, the developers initially announced the capabilities of the starter version, assuring an average advantage of 20% over the GeForce RTX 3060.

That one expected novelty of May should be Radeon RX 7600. After a long pause since the announcement of top models, AMD decided to give priority to the basic adapter of the middle class. The video card is based on the Navi 33 chip with RDNA 3 architecture and includes 2048 computers. The operating frequency of the GPU is up to 2600 MHz. The theoretical computing performance is 21.4 TFLOPS. It is already known for certain that the video cards will be equipped with 8 GB of memory. The configuration will be identical to the one that opponents will get from NVIDIA – 128-bit bus, GDDR6 memory chips with an effective 18,000 MHz, and still the same bandwidth of 288 GB/s. That is, in fact, the technical characteristics of the video card will be very close to those offered by the already presented mobile version of the Radeon RX 7600M XT for laptops.

An additional Infinity Cache buffer with a capacity of 32 MB should help to compensate for the relatively low RAM. This has already worked in cases with Radeon RX 6600/6600 XT/6650 XT, which also have relatively low memory bandwidth, but do not suffer from it in their class.

It is very interesting to look at the direct confrontation between GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB and Radeon RX 7600 8 GB, to evaluate the price/performance ratio, as well as to determine their positions in relation to their predecessors. Already on May 24, these questions will be removed. This is the same case when you should wait for detailed reviews and plan to buy a mid-level video card based on the results.

Against the background of approaching announcements of new-generation solutions, one could expect a period of active release of warehouse stocks from video cards of the current generation. But, unfortunately, nothing similar is happening in this segment yet. Perhaps with the announcement of the cost of new adapters and the start of sales, the situation will change and there will be some time for meticulous and careful hunting for models of the previous generation at attractive prices. But this is not accurate.

One way or another, you will have to reserve about $500 for the purchase of a video card for optimal game configurations – almost half of the total cost of the system. It wasn’t always like that. Recently, in the comments to the news about the return of Sparkle, an attentive reader with a screenshot from a group test of GeForce 8600 GT in DPK 7/2007 reminded me that 15 years ago the usual price for mid-range graphics cards was $130-150. Yes, once the trees were taller.

We equipped optimal gaming systems with 32 GB of RAM. Now is a great opportunity to get a dual-channel DDR4-3600 kit with a stock low-latency formula for only $80-90. As we mentioned, the overproduction situation of DRAM chips is prompting manufacturers to lower prices, so now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity. Moreover, 32 GB is no longer about a reserve for the future, such a RAM capacity is increasingly found in the recommended system requirements for resource-intensive games.

For optimal configurations, we also recommend a 1TB SSD, while increasing the storage budget by offering a choice of faster M.2 PCI-E 4.0 models with an additional cache buffer. It is for the gaming platform that SSD performance is of secondary importance, but the same drive is also used as a system drive, so in this class, you should choose a faster model. However, if you decide to increase the budget a little and buy a simpler model, but for 2 TB, who will judge you for that? The number of 100+ GB projects is steadily increasing and will continue to grow. You need to prepare for such challenges.

Progressive gaming PC of the month

CPU Intel Core i5-13600KF (6/12+8; 3.5/5.1 GHz, 2.6/3.9 GHz) $340
AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (8/16; 4.5/5.4 GHz) $370
Motherboard Intel Z690/Z790 (LGA1700) $230
AMD B650 (Socket AM5) $200
RAM 32 GB (2×16 GB) DDR5-5600/6000 $130
GPU GeForce RTX 4070 12 GB / Radeon RX 6800 XT 16 GB $800
Drive SSD 2 TB, M.2 PCI-E 4.0 $170
Body and PSU Middle Tower ATX, 750 W $210
Total for Intel-based PCs $1880
Total for AMD-based PCs $1880


Memory and SSD for progressive gaming PC from our partner Kingston Technology

PC of the month (May 2023)

Kingston FURY Beast RGB DDR5-5600 (KF556C40BBAK2-32) 2×16 GB

Kingston FURY Renegade 2 TB (SFYRD/2000G)


For a powerful gaming system on Intel, we offer Core i5-13600KF (6/12+8; 3.5/5.1 GHz + 2.6/3.9 GHz). Considering the configuration of the processor, this chip cannot be called “6-core”. The entire line of Core i5 chips of the 13th generation received additional energy-efficient computers, which significantly increased the multi-threaded performance of the CPU. At the same time, the top model of the series – the Core i5-13600KF – also received a modernized Raptor Lake architecture with increased L2/L3 cache buffers, as in older chips. That’s why this 14-core, 20-thread processor is perfect for an ambitious gaming PC.

When choosing a chip for the Intel platform, the Core i7-12700KF model (8/16+4; 3.6/5.0 GHz + 2.7/3.8 GHz) may come into view, which has recently dropped in price to $360. In this case, it is logical to ask this question and consider this chip for a progressive configuration. Indeed, after a noticeable price reduction, the model becomes quite attractive, however, according to the results of practical tests, the Core i5-13600KF in most cases shows better results. Including in games. Raptor Lake’s improved architecture with increased IPC pays off. Therefore, in general, the Core i7-12700KF is a good option for its price, but the slightly more affordable Core i5-13600KF looks even better.

In the second half of the year, Intel plans to refresh its desktop line of processors by offering Raptor Lake Refresh chips that will work on current boards with the LGA1700 socket. It is speculated that the possible improvements may involve increasing the operating frequencies with peak values of 6.2-6.5 MHz. Considering how difficult it was to get 6 GHz of the flagship of the current line – Core i9-13900KS, the additional acceleration within the framework of the 10-nanometer technical process looks like something extraordinary. A really cool update to the Core i5 line would be to switch all chips in the series to the Raptor Lake architecture, while the Core i3 could be boosted by a pair of additional energy-efficient cores. As for the older lines, the increase in clock frequencies alone is hardly enough to classify these processors as part of the 14th-generation Core line. We hope that Intel will prepare a surprise, and will be able to surprise.

The fate of Meteor Lake desktop chips is still in limbo. Obviously, interesting processors with a tile chiplet structure will appear in the mobile segment, but whether we will see these CPUs in a version for desktop systems is a question. Information on this account is contradictory. According to some sources, the manufacturer is still preparing the Meteor Lake-S line, which will be limited to chips with a functional formula of 6/12+8 and a TDP of 65 W, according to other sources, Intel will concentrate already on Arrow Lake-S, and cover the desktop niche chips this year will be updated with Raptor Lake Refresh for LGA1700. Further clarifications are needed, so we will keep a close eye on the news and keep you informed.

The Ryzen 7 7700X (8/16; 4.5/5.4 GHz) fully satisfies the computing power adequate for a progressive gaming platform on AMD. The 8-core chip on the Zen 4 will offer gaming performance at the level of the Core i5-13600KF. With a close retail price, we can talk about parity.

Socket AM5 allows you to assemble the ultimate gaming platform if you equip the system with a processor Ryzen 7 7800X3D (8/16; 4.2/5.0 GHz; 96 MB L3). Thanks to the additional 3D V-Cache cache buffer, this 8-core chip manages to outperform not only the Core i9-13900KS but also the 16-core model of the X3D family in games. Of course, here we are talking about principles because the difference in actual indicators is relatively small. However, this does not diminish the very fact of receiving the well-deserved title of “the best processor for games”.

If uncompromising is your life credo, then the $540 Ryzen 7 7800X3D is quite worthy of adorning a progressive gaming system. However, it should be noted that the additional cache of 64 MB does not always radically improve performance, so in most applied tasks the Ryzen 7 7800X3D shows indicators on a par with those of the Ryzen 7 7700X. Therefore, it is a chip “for the gaming soul”. For multi-threaded workloads, it will be more efficient to spend money on a 12-core Ryzen 9 7900X (~$470) or even a 16-core Ryzen 9 7950X (~$600).

The history of the Socket AM5 platform does not consist only of victories. Recently, there has been a lot of noise around the topic of possible damage to processors Ryzen 7000X3D. An uncontrolled increase in SoC voltage on the processor can lead to very unpleasant consequences. Values of 1.4+ V in an unfortunate coincidence can disable not only the processor but also the motherboard. Models with 3D V-Cache are more sensitive to overvoltage of the memory controller, but even for regular versions of Ryzen 7000, these values are too high.

When searching for the root causes of CPU overheating, it turned out that the voltage on the SoC can increase only independently by the user during overclocking experiments, but even automatically, with the seemingly safe use of standard EXPO/XMP memory profiles. If in the case of overclocking, the enthusiast mostly understands and consciously takes increased risks, then the situation with the basic configuration of the modules is unpleasant. Such things should be “caught” by board manufacturers in cooperation with AMD at the stage of testing new products.

The potential problem is solved by updating the firmware with a modernized version of the AGESA microcode, which provides for a strict limitation of the SoC voltage at the level of 1.3 V. According to the developers, this will not affect the overclocking capabilities of the memory modules but will protect the chip from operating with parameters that significantly exceed beyond specification. Motherboard manufacturers have already introduced BIOS versions with the appropriate adjustment. Although the situation with the failure of Ryzen 7000X3D chips has not acquired a mass character, it is better to update the firmware according to AMD’s recommendations to avoid possible problems.

This time we will configure the graphics subsystem with a reference to the potential use of a screen with a resolution of 2560×1440 (1440p). For such cases, it seems rational to purchase a GeForce RTX 4070 12 GB video card. According to the results of practical tests, the performance of this model is very close to that of the GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB. And this is a good level, especially considering that the new product has a larger memory capacity, is much more economical, and supports DLSS 3.

GeForce RTX 4070 12 GB is already widely available in Ukraine. The retail price in our country starts at the level of $750, but in order not to be limited only to basic adapters from Palit when choosing a specific model, it is better to count on $800.

Among AMD solutions, a worthy opponent for the GeForce RTX 4070 12 GB is the Radeon RX 6800 XT 16 GB, but unfortunately, the current range of available models in our market is minimal. Pricing for the remainder of these models is chaotic. Usually, it’s also about $800+. Of course, the increased memory capacity is extremely tempting, but in order to choose the Radeon models of the previous generation in such conditions, you need increased motivation and an initial charge for AMD solutions. In general, it is desirable for the company to speed up the announcement of the Radeon RX 7700/7800 models, because while the excellent promotional offers for the Radeon RX 6800/6900 are relevant in limited markets, in other cases AMD will gradually lose its fortune.

For now, we are jealously watching the optimistic statements of AMD representatives about the possibility of purchasing a video card with 16 GB of memory for as little as $499. We are talking about Radeon RX 6800 16 GB, which can be obtained even for less on Western online sites. Unfortunately, there are no similar offers with discounts in Ukraine. The current retail price of the Radeon RX 6800 16GB is around $750. In such conditions, the GeForce RTX 4070 has advantages.

NVIDIA is trying to add attractiveness to the new generation of video cards, offering buyers older models (including RTX 4070), as well as PCs based on them, an additional bonus in the form of a gift code for Diablo IV. Considering that even the standard version of the game costs UAH 2,499 (~$65), this can be a pleasant surprise for many fans of the series who have already planned the appropriate expenses.

Of course, the promotional offer is not random. NVIDIA has obviously joined the graphic optimization of the longhouse. Diablo IV will support ray tracing, Reflex to reduce latency, and DLSS 3 is available for RTX 40xx owners.

We are very much looking forward to the update of the Radeon RX 7×00 line. Recently, in the AMD ROCm software environment, a mention of Radeon RX 7950 XT/XTX video cards was found somewhat unexpectedly. The technical configuration of these models is interesting, taking into account the fact that the Radeon RX 7900 XTX already uses Navi 31 with all activated computing units. That is, there is potentially a possibility of frequency acceleration and, theoretically, an increase in the Infinity Cache buffer. Here you also want unexpected surprises for confident competition with GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB.

Returning to the current recommended video cards, we note that configurations with a 4K screen will probably require some graphics enhancement. In the NVIDIA line, we are talking about the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti 12 GB, which, although significantly more expensive than the base model ($1050-1100), and in general has a slightly worse price/performance ratio, will add about 20-25% to desired fps. In difficult projects, this can already be a fundamental difference. Of course, an even better option would be GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB, which is able to improve the performance of RTX 4070 already and 50–60% will allow you to activate ray tracing without fear, but the price tag of $1500 is still quite difficult to perceive in the context of gaming systems.

Increasing the graphics power in the AMD line is also not a problem. With a budget of $1000–1100, you should count on Radeon RX 7900 XT 20 GB. A great option both for 1440p at maximum speed and for 4K, where the increased memory capacity will be very appropriate. The Radeon RX 7900 XTX 24 GB will provide even more power, but this pleasure is not cheap either (~$1300).

The need to equip progressive gaming configurations with 32 GB of RAM has long been unquestionable. The above-mentioned Diablo IV joined the projects with this recommended value of RAM. A lot can be said about optimization here, but it makes no sense to ignore requests. A dual-channel kit 2×16 GB DDR5-5600/6000 can already be purchased for $130-140. You should focus on such sets. DDR5-5200 is only $10-20 cheaper, so paying extra for the guaranteed extra bandwidth is acceptable.

By the way, in order to use the memory in these modes, in most cases you will have to activate EXPO/XMP profiles. In the wave of resonance with the damage of Ryzen processors, some board manufacturers managed to introduce warning stickers into the BIOS with information that the use of EXPO/XMP is overclocking and therefore is not considered a warranty case in case of hardware damage. After the problem was llocalized, ASUS officially announced that the use of beta versions of BIOS and AMD EXPO, Intel XMP, and DOCP profiles are covered by warranty service.

Therefore, owners of Socket AM5 platforms should not limit themselves to the basic modes of memory modules. After updating the firmware, it is completely safe to use standard profiles with increased frequencies and does not violate the terms of warranty support. We remind you that for Ryzen 7000 systems, the best performance is provided by the DDR5-6000 mode with minimum timings.

Top gaming platforms are organically equipped with 2 TB drives. PC owners of this class may be interested in maximum speed SSDs with PCI-E 5.0 interface. For similar models, an amazing data transfer speed is declared – up to 10-12 GB/s. However, such powerful SSDs have peculiarities. First, you should make sure that your motherboard allows you to use PCI-E 5.0 drives at all. For both platforms and recommended models on AMD B650 and Intel Z690/Z790, the presence of M.2 PCI-E 5.0 is an optional option. It will be a shame to buy an expensive SSD and be limited to PCI-E 4.0.

If everything is fine with PCI-E 5.0 support, you should pay special attention to the additional cooling of the SSD. Speed controllers have increased heating. The first tests of serial drives show that without additional radiators, SSDs overheat very quickly. In the best case, the speed drops to 100 MB/c, in the worst case, it is even possible to disconnect the drives. TechpowerUp colleagues encountered a similar problem when trying to test the Corsair MP700 2 TB without cooling. The developers of the Phison E26 controller even had to respond to such situations, who prepared new firmware with more aggressive throttling during overheating. At the same time, the manufacturers emphasized that for PCI-E 5.0 SSDs, additional cooling is actually a mandatory condition for operation.

In the case of gaming systems, it makes no sense to chase after the fastest drives, here the maximum priority is in a larger capacity. Therefore, even for a progressive configuration, a cheerful “two-terabyte” PCI-E 4.0 for $150-170 is quite suitable.

Regardless of the chosen configuration, your own preferences, modifications, and improvements to your game systems, we do not forget about the strong and regular support of the Armed Forces – this will speed up our victory.

The material was prepared with the support of the company Kingston Technology 

PC of the month (May 2023)