PC of the month (November 2023)
The second half of autumn is usually a period of price stabilization in the PC component market. The new products presented the day before have been available on online platforms for some time now, and the most impatient buyers have spent a lot of money to please the clever traders. Usually, such a lull becomes a good opportunity for rational purchases, when it’s time to implement planned upgrades and assemble new powerful PCs for gaming and serious work. Here are the traditional PC configurations of the month in three price categories that you can use as a basis for outfitting your systems, optimizing them to suit your own needs and preferences.
Basic gaming PC of the month
|Intel Core i5-12400F (6/12; 2,5/4,4 Ghz, 18 MB L3)
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600 (6/12; 3,5/4,4 Ghz, 32 MB L3)
|Intel B660 (LGA1700)
|AMD A520/B450 (Socket AM4)
|16 ГБ (2×8 ГБ) DDR4-3200
|GeForce RTX 3060 12 ГБ/ Radeon RX 6650 XT / Radeon RX 7600 8 ГБ
|SSD, 1 TB, M.2 PCI-E
|Case and power supply
|Middle Tower ATX, 550 W
|Total amount for Intel-based PCs
|Total amount for PCs on the AMD platform
Accessories for the “Basic Gaming PC” from our partner HATOR
Last time, we switched the starting configuration on the Intel platform to 6-core chips for the first time. The time of 4-core models in gaming systems is over, no matter how efficient the computers are. Modern “heavyweight” projects require more productive CPUs with an increased number of simultaneous computing threads. Therefore, the processor position in the basic configurations was taken by Core i5-12400F (6/12; 2,5/4,4 Ghz). The price of CPUs was $185 in the summer, and by the fall, the price dropped to $160-165. Unfortunately, we can’t expect even more significant price reductions here, as Intel doesn’t often practice aggressive discounting.
For the basic configuration, current Intel 6-core processors are still a bit expensive, but this is no longer a whim, but a necessity. Of course, if you don’t want to check the compliance of your platform with the minimum system requirements every time you release a new project. The availability of the Core i3-12100F (4/8; 3.3/4.3 GHz) for $95 is a great temptation, but – no. Of course, it’s up to you, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
There was a vague hope that with the advent of 14th-generation Core chips, Intel would offer some boost to the Core i3 line by increasing the number of computing units. For example, even a 4/8+2 configuration, or better yet, a 4/8+4 configuration, would be potentially interesting. But, unfortunately, these are just hopes that will remain so. Although the expanded line of Raptor Lake Refresh base chips has not yet been presented, according to previous leaks, Core i3s will remain with a functional 4/8 configuration, and improvements will be limited to a +100 MHz increase in operating frequencies. Well, that’s unfortunate, especially considering that the previous “generation change” for Core i3 also brought only a small frequency boost. These processors have quite decent performance per clock cycle (IPC), which allows them to remain relevant for universal inexpensive systems, but more powerful chips are needed for gaming PCs.
As a basis for basic platforms, we focus on motherboards with Intel B660/B760 chipsets, which allow the use of high-speed RAM kits. Analyzing the number of offers, it is worth noting that the range of models on the updated PCH is already significantly wider, and the starting price tags of simpler devices do not actually differ.
Last time, we also reinforced the basic AMD platform, recommending the Ryzen 5 5600 (6/12; 3.5/4.4 GHz; 32 MB L3) for the processor position. It’s a great CPU for this category of systems, and it’s definitely worth the $140. If you have a cooler with a Socket AM4 mount, you can consider a tray version of the processor, but the savings will not be significant – such versions are offered for ~$130.
When choosing an affordable 6-core AMD chip, you may well come across the Ryzen 5 5600G (6/12; 3.9/4.4 GHz; 16 MB L3) and be surprised that the version with integrated graphics is almost cheaper than the “classic” Ryzen 5 5600. However, despite the similarity of names, they are architecturally different models. The Ryzen 5 5600 belongs to the Vermeer line and uses a Zen 3-based chiplet structure with two crystals on a substrate, a capacious third-level cache (32 MB), and PCI-E 4.0 support. At the same time, Ryzen 5 5600G belongs to the Cezanne family of chips, which have a single-chip design with Zen 3 architecture, but are equipped with 16 MB of L3 and PCI-E 3.0. Therefore, in most cases, including gaming, Ryzen 5 5600 will be more productive, while the strength of Ryzen 5 5600G is the presence of relatively fast integrated graphics. At almost the same price, the Ryzen 5 5600 is better suited for a gaming platform, but the Ryzen 5 5600G will be very attractive for situations where the power of the built-in video core is sufficient.
If there is an urgent need for maximum savings, there are always options for the AMD platform with Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 5 5500 for $80–100.
For this money, the chips are very attractive for basic gaming configurations.
As for motherboards, if you have a limited budget, you can pick up something on the AMD A520/B450 for $75, but if you are going to build a new platform with Ryzen 5 5600, it is more logical to look at AMD B550 boards. The latter make it possible to use the PCI-E 4.0 bus for video cards and M.2 drives. However, such models are more expensive, starting at $90-100.
There were no fundamental changes in video cards. In our opinion, GeForce RTX 3060 12GB, Radeon RX 6650 XT 8 ГБ and Radeon RX 7600 8 ГБ remains the most interesting for basic gaming systems in the current environment. There is nothing new in the head-to-head competition globally – AMD models for a similar price are slightly faster in classic rendering, and NVIDIA solutions are catching up when using ray tracing. In addition, we have an almost unprecedented case when the Californians’ graphics cards are offered with a larger memory capacity. In general, the model remains quite balanced, so it is not surprising that according to the results of the September evaluation of Steam users’ configurations, the GeForce RTX 3060 became the most popular model.
The current cost of GeForce RTX 3060 12 GB models starts at the equivalent of $310-320. To have a wider choice, it is advisable to count on $330+. Given the large stock of previously sold video cards of this series, which were introduced in early 2021, you can also find refurbished adapters on sale with a 1-3 month warranty. In general, we do not focus on such versions, but they can also be options, especially with a significant price reduction.
Let’s also not lose sight of the GeForce RTX 3060 8GB. Although price tags starting at $290 are more likely to encourage you to look at more productive versions with 12 GB of memory. This is exactly the case when you shouldn’t save money.
In a head-to-head battle for user attention between the Radeon RX 6650 XT vs. Radeon RX 7600, the Radeon RX 7600 has a slight edge. Although the performance and power consumption of these models are very close, the newer model obviously has slightly better prospects. In addition, the market is already experiencing a stage of saturation with a fairly good range of Radeon RX 7600s, which in turn is reflected in retail prices. As for the latter, the basic 8GB Radeon RX 7600 models are offered for $300, while the top-of-the-line versions are asking up to $350. The Radeon RX 6650 XT 8GB series is offered in the same price range, which makes it easier to choose. The previous generation model is quite suitable for basic gaming configurations, but now it is interesting only with certain discounts. The nimble newcomer has quickly caught on and is pushing out its predecessor, which formally belongs to the higher end and had a recommended price of $400 at the start of sales in 2022.
Is there something cheaper? Usually, the answer to this question is quite skeptical, but looking at the price drop for the Radeon RX 6600 8GB, this time we really have a rational, more affordable alternative. It is not without a pleasant surprise to note that the local market is saturated with video cards of this series, and in a good range at a price of $230-240. In this case, the Radeon RX 6600 turns out to be about a third cheaper than the Radeon RX 7600, while its performance is ~25% worse. That is, the price/performance ratio of the RX 6600 is even slightly better. Of course, in the case of basic configurations, we try to increase the gaming capabilities of the systems, but of course the financial lever also always has a significant impact on the choice of the final configuration.
A special synergistic effect of savings can be obtained, for example, by using a Radeon RX 6600 + Ryzen 5 3600 bundle, which will cost about $310. Whereas the Radeon RX 7600 + Ryzen 5 5600 set will cost ~$460. The difference in cost is significant enough to be ignored. Yes, a more expensive platform will provide one-third higher performance, but it’s up to you to decide which set to use as a basis.
Although the case of the Radeon RX 6600 8 GB overshadows other options for saving money on a video card, let’s take a look at the situation with NVIDIA’s offerings. Here we are waiting for GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB for the same $230-240. It can compete with the RX 6600 only when ray tracing is activated, while in normal modes the model with the AMD chip will have a significant advantage (20-30%). However, let’s take into account the fact that it belongs to the NVIDIA ecosystem, which can give certain advantages in work tasks and DLSS support, which in Full HD mode can give a slightly better visual result than that obtained with FSR scaling.
When searching for affordable graphics cards, you can also come across the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER 6 GB, but offers of these models are rapidly disappearing from online prices, which is not surprising – you can’t sell a model without DLSS and tracing at the price of RTX 3050 anymore. The same goes for the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6 GB.
We won’t use the offensive term “stub” for the GeForce GTX 1650 4GB video card, but we also don’t recommend spending $170 on it at the end of 2023. The pursuit of savings should not become an end in itself, but you will still be playing on this system later.
At the beginning of October, the sale of Intel Arc A580 8 GB video cards finally started officially. But, unfortunately, this time there are no official deliveries to Ukraine. In general, given that Arc A580 was announced a year ago, along with the older models – Intel Arc A750/A770, it seems that Intel has only now accumulated a sufficient number of crystals that are not validated to work in the “sevens”, but are quite suitable for the more affordable Intel Arc A580. As for the price, Intel usually has to play downward, so the recommended $179 for the US market looks attractive.
According to the test results, the Intel Arc A580 8 GB is ahead of the GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB and can easily compete with the Radeon RX 6600 8 GB, even having an advantage over the latter in ray tracing. Therefore, the appearance of these models with a good price tag in our country would be very appropriate, because so far, the few offers of older Intel Arc models do not give reason for optimism about the rapid availability of Arc A580.
Of course, if you set a goal to buy a video card from Intel, then even in Ukraine you can get a reference Intel Arc A750 with a “from the store” warranty for ~$240. But given such inconveniences, obstacles, and the current availability of alternatives, this path will only be overcome by a true rebel and adventurer who is ready to experiment and be amazed at the persistence of developers who are constantly improving software support for their graphics solutions. It is the successes and perseverance of Intel engineers that give us hope that the company will continue to fight in the consumer graphics card segment despite the insane handicap of the current market leaders.
As for the final part of the graphics block, we can’t help but mention another video card worthy of a place in basic gaming configurations. We are talking about GeForce RTX 4060 8 GB. The model is able to add 15-20% to the performance of the GeForce RTX 3060 12 GB, thereby outperforming the Radeon RX 6650 XT and Radeon RX 7600 8 GB. In addition, it has better tracing than its classmates. And with a power consumption of 120 watts, it is generally pleasantly surprising. The only thing is that the price of ~$350-360 is a bit higher than desired, but the market will put everything in its place.
Yes, we know that if you set out to “highlight” the weaknesses of a video card by choosing a mode that requires ~12 GB of video card memory, then the RTX 4060 will look ridiculous against the same RTX 3060 12 GB (a very popular scenario for youtubers). But let’s be honest – such modes are no longer feasible for video cards of this class, and the GeForce RTX 3060 12 GB with such a memory capacity is an exceptional case. All other graphics cards in the $300-350 price segment are equipped with 8 GB. For Full HD with high settings, this is usually enough. Even if not, you can always make the necessary adjustments and get comfortable fps. As a last resort, you can count on DLSS/FSR.
For basic gaming configurations on both platforms, we suggest equipping 16 GB of RAM using a dual-channel DDR4-3600 (2×8 GB) kit. However, in the case of a motherboard with only a couple of DIMM slots, you may want to think about the future, take a close look at the system requirements of the latest gaming heavyweights, remember the cyclical nature of the memory market, and realize that the price increase period has already started. Perhaps this will allow you to make a balanced and wise decision – to equip the system with 32 GB (2×16 GB) of RAM. For now, it will only take an additional $20-30.
Unfortunately, in September, a gradual rise in the price of drives has already begun. The average price of popular 1 TB SSD models has increased by 5-10% over the past month and a half. So far, it’s not critical and not that significant, given the current super-attractive prices, but if the trend continues and drags on, you’ll have to pay more for the drives.
The best gaming PC of the month
|Intel Core i5-13500 (6/12+8; 2,5/4,8 Ghz + 1,8/3,5 Ghz)
|AMD Ryzen 7 7700 (8/16; 3,8/5,3 Ghz, 32 MB L3)
|Intel B760 (LGA1700)
|AMD A620/B650 (Socket AM5)
|32 GB (2×16 GB) DDR5-5600
|Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB
|SSD, 1 TB, M.2 NVMe, PCI-E x4
|Case and power supply
|Middle Tower ATX, 650 W
|Total amount for Intel-based PCs
|Total amount for PCs on the AMD platform
Accessories for the “Optimal Gaming PC” from our partner HATOR
The starting processor for the optimal gaming configuration is the Core i5-13400F (6/12+4; 2.5/4.6 GHz + 1.8/3.3 GHz), which can now be purchased for $230. And it seems that this model has reserved this place for quite a long time. There were certain expectations that the upcoming Core i5-14400F would receive additional energy-efficient cores, but judging by the leaks, the base model of the Core i5 family of the Raptor Lake Refresh will not change the functional formula. So all we can expect with the next “generation change” is an additional 100-200 MHz for the same price.
Well, it looks like we can’t expect any Intel gifts in this CPU category in the near future. So if you need to increase the performance of the processor for some tasks, there is an option with Core i5-13500 (6/12+4; 2.5/4.8 GHz + 1.8/3.5 GHz). For an additional $40, we get 4 more energy-efficient cores and a total functional formula of 6/12+8, +200 MHz higher maximum operating frequencies of P/E-cores, and an integrated graphics core in case something happens to the video card. The upcoming Core i5-14500 will also have a 6/12+8 configuration and slightly higher operating frequencies. The massive Raptor Lake Refresh is expected early next year, so there’s not much point in waiting. If there is a need to increase computing power in multi-threaded tasks with a minimal increase in budget, look towards the Core i5-13500. Note that this model is not offered without integrated graphics at all, so you will have to pay extra for the built-in video core even if you are sure that you will not need this option.
The direction of choosing a motherboard for this category of systems is quite clear. We need a model based on Intel B760 with support for DDR5 RAM. The range of available devices is very wide, so it won’t be difficult to find one that suits your needs in terms of equipment and price. DDR5 versions cost from $110-120, so for $150, you can easily choose a board with a sufficient number of ports, normal VRM, and additional cooling of power assemblies.
We have already transferred the optimal AMD configurations to the Socket AM5 platform, offering to start with the most affordable chip Ryzen 5 7500F (6/12; 3.7/5.0 GHz). A month ago, it was somewhat problematic to buy this chip due to the small number of offers. However, this CPU has recently appeared in the assortment of official suppliers, so we hope that the existing requests will be satisfied. Although in the absence of Ryzen 5 7500F, it is already quite possible to look at Ryzen 5 7600 (6/12; 3.8/5.1 GHz). Even the retail box version of this model is already being offered for $225-230, and this chip has also appeared on the market in a tray version at a very tempting price of $205.
Analyzing the existing range of CPUs on the local market, we also noticed that a very interesting item appeared in the price lists of companies – Ryzen 7 7700 Multipack (100-100000592MP) costing about $275. In this case, the processor is supplied in a Tray version, with a cooler also included. Given that this version is offered quite massively, the likelihood of a mistake is minimal. It is not known exactly how long this attraction of unprecedented generosity will last, but now it is really “imba”. Recall that the classic retail version of Ryzen 7 7700 (8/16; 3.8/5.3 GHz) is currently offered for ~$350. What to do in this case? Well … it is advisable to seize the moment by purchasing an 8-core 16-thread CPU with Zen 4 architecture at such an incredibly attractive price, thereby immediately closing the issue of a possible lack of processor power for years. Yes, an additional $75 is an unplanned budget increase, but this is Ryzen 7 7700 (!).
AMD continues its tactic of targeted price strikes, trying to attract as many potential buyers as possible who are still hesitant to make a choice. Another demonstration of the effectiveness of this tactic is the Ryzen 7 5700X (8/16; 3.4/4.6 GHz; 32 MB L3), which is already available for $185. It is worth reminding you that this is a fairly powerful 8-core processor with a frequency formula of 3.4/4.6 GHz and 32 MB L3. So if for some reason you decide to stay with Socket AM4, then this is one of the most attractive chips within this platform. It is not surprising that Ryzen 7 5700X is currently generating the most interest among visitors to price aggregators.
Is it time to strengthen the graphics subsystem of optimal PCs? At least now we have the opportunity to do so. Of course, we’re talking about the long-awaited Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB. Although the range of models available in Ukraine is still far from the desired one, the current retail price of the basic versions of the adapters at $550 already allows us to consider these graphics cards in the context of mid-range gaming platforms.
If we compare the capabilities of the Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB with those of the Radeon RX 6750 XT 12 GB, we can expect a performance increase of 15-20%, while in ray tracing mode the advantage of the new product can reach 30%. This is with a very similar level of power consumption of both adapters (~230 W). The overall picture is quite optimistic, but it should be borne in mind that Radeon RX 6750 XT 12 GB already costs from $430-450, so their performance/price ratio is at least as good.
The Radeon RX 7700 XT 12GB would be more attractive with an additional price reduction, but given the recommended price for the US market of $449, such a request seems unlikely. It should also be noted that relatively simple Sapphire Pulse models are still offered in Ukraine with a price tag of ~$550, three-fan versions of Pure cost ~$580, and Nitro+ and dimensional adapters from ASUS TUF and GIGABYTE are already asking for ~$600. This is already very close to the starting price tag for the GeForce RTX 4070 12 GB, which is 10-15% faster without RT and +30% faster with tracing enabled. Therefore, for now, the Radeon RX 7700 XT 12GB is a likely, attractive, but not so clear-cut choice.
We could add the Radeon RX 6800 16 GB to the list of potential candidates, but these models are already on the market, and the pricing for the remaining ones does not give a complete picture. If you manage to get such a video card for ~$500-530, it will be a good option. In a head-to-head matchup, this model will mostly lose minimally (5-10%) to the Radeon RX 7700 XT 12GB in both non-traced and ray tracing modes. The power consumption of these graphics cards is also close, but the 16 GB buffer versus 12 GB will already be a definite advantage in super-heavy projects.
Another very interesting top-of-the-line option for optimal configurations is the Radeon RX 7800 XT 16 GB. A real threat to the GeForce RTX 4070 12GB. On average, it is 5% ahead of NVIDIA, but there are cases when the advantage is up to 10-15%. With tracing, the picture is the opposite – the Californian solution is already in favor, which is also 50 watts more economical under load. But the strength of the Radeon RX 7800 XT is its larger memory capacity. No matter how you slice it, 16 GB is 16 GB.
Among the NVIDIA solutions, the current options include the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB for $450. It is 15-20% less than the Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB and has parity when activating ray tracing mode. In addition, it has a significantly lower power consumption level (165 watts). The difference in price offsets the difference in performance, so this model, even with 8 GB of memory on board, remains a good deal for optimal configurations. At least for cases where a Full HD screen is used.
A similar level of performance is demonstrated by the GeForce RTX 3070 8 GB, but the price tags of ~$550, which still remain unshakable, are frankly surprising. In Full HD mode, the fps will mostly vary by ~5-10%, both in one direction and the other. So in general, we can talk about parity. But to switch to 1440p, a graphics card with more memory capacity is desirable in any case.
So even with the technological monumentality, 256-bit memory bus, and large coolers, the price is determined by the actual capabilities of the video card. In the aggregate, the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8GB is more interesting here. Of course, the GeForce RTX 3070 8GB is still in service, but the price needs to drop to make it worth buying.
What do we have in the end? The GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8GB and Radeon RX 6750 XT 12GB at ~$450 are great options for Full HD and cases where you don’t want to spend more on a mid-range graphics card or your budget doesn’t allow for an increase.
GeForce RTX 4070 12 GB and Radeon RX 7800 XT 16 GB for ~$650–670 – is a joy for the owner of a 2560×1440 monitor. It doesn’t seem to be as expensive as top-end graphics cards, but it’s already “harsh” enough to handle heavy projects in native mode with high or even maximum quality.
Between these two groups remains the Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB for $550. In principle, the video card is suitable for both cases, but I would like to see it closer to the first group with a price tag of ~$500. Then it would be the top of its class, but for now it’s a compromise option with a normal price/performance ratio.
According to TrendForce analysts, memory chips are starting to become more expensive, and the price of RAM modules will rise accordingly. For the fourth quarter of this year, growth is projected at 2-8%, but it is possible that it will be more significant. This situation is not surprising. The memory market has an undulating nature with a rather rapid decline in the cost of DRAM, when manufacturers have excessive stocks of chips and demand does not keep up with supply. Over time, companies reduce production volumes, and the supply/demand ratio balances out, achieving a temporary balance. As sales of smartphones, PCs, laptops, and other devices grow, the demand for DRAM chips increases again, and a certain shortage of chips pushes prices up. And the cycle starts again.
It seems that we are now at the beginning of another upward wave. Of course, there is no point in investing resources in the purchase of operators (distributors are already doing this), but at least it is time to choose a suitable set. Since Socket AM5 uses exclusively DDR5, and we also recommend this standard for LGA1700 systems, we recommend focusing on dual-channel DDR5-5600 kits with a capacity of 32 GB (2×16 GB). An inexpensive set can still be purchased for $100-110. Pay attention only to the starting delays. Among the most affordable ones, there are modules with terrible basic CL46, which is a shame, but a set with CL36-40 will be quite a good option.
When choosing a drive, the dilemma is probably the most pressing one: choose a brisk terabyte drive from a well-known manufacturer for ~$80, or be tempted by a budget 2TB SSD, which is already offered at very attractive prices of $80-90. Both options are probably valid. On the one hand, potentially higher-quality SSDs add confidence in data safety, on the other hand, the huge capacity of the latest gaming projects requires more and more free space for installation. It’s up to everyone to decide for themselves. One way or another, it is advisable to buy an SSD from a trusted supplier that will not raise any questions when you need to apply for warranty service.
When it comes to data safety, the responsibility lies solely with the user. No matter how good an SSD is, it is hardware that can fail. And attempts to recover the necessary information from a solid-state drive are an undertaking that has almost no chance of success. So backing up to external drives and cloud storage is a must. There is usually not much critical data on a home system. It’s not difficult to reinstall all the toys, but it would be a shame to lose the family photo archive.
Advanced gaming PC of the month
|Intel Core i5-14600KF (6/12+8; 3,5/5,3 Ghz, 2,6/4,0 Ghz)
|AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D (8/16; 3,7/5,0 Ghz; 96 МБ L3)
|Intel Z690/Z790 (LGA1700)
|AMD B650 (Socket AM5)
|32 GB (2×16 GB) DDR5-6000
|Radeon RX 7900 XTX 24 GB / GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB
|SSD 2 TB, M.2 PCI-E 4.0
|Case and power supply
|Middle Tower ATX, 750 W
|Total amount for Intel-based PCs
|Total amount for PCs on the AMD platform
Accessories for the “Advanced Gaming PC” from our partner HATOR
For advanced configurations, we try to use only the best, so of course we chose the latest 14th generation Core processor for the corresponding platform based on Intel components. Yes, yes, we felt sarcastic smiles on the other side of the screens. Indeed, this time the transition to the next processor generation was rather nominal. In most cases, the changes are cosmetic, but at an identical cost, even an additional 100-200 MHz can be added to the Raptor Lake Refresh asset.
On the processor side, we were quite satisfied with the Core i5-13600KF (6/12+8; 3.5/5.1 GHz + 2.6/3.9 GHz), so it is logical that it was replaced by the Core i5-14600KF (6/12+8; 3.5/5.3 GHz + 2.6/4.0 GHz), which is already available for sale in Ukraine at a price of ~$350.
By the way, with the emergence of successors, the “previous generation” models should logically go down in price at least a little bit. So far, no such trends have been observed, but it hasn’t been long since the 14th-generation Core chips went on sale.
Even if there were no architectural changes in the case of Raptor Lake Refresh, it does not mean that no optimizations are being made in general. It seems that Intel continues to improve the technology of manufacturing crystals according to 10 nm standards and there are some achievements here. At the very least, the top-end Core 14th chips have improved frequency potential. In the case of the Core i5-14600K, it is quite possible to get all the processor cores to work under load at 5700 MHz. Of course, such conditions will require a very efficient cooling system, but this is a certain consolation for enthusiasts.
Among the 14th-generation Core chips, the most noticeable acceleration was achieved by the Core i7 processors. For example, the Core i7-14700K/KF, in addition to a slight increase in operating frequencies compared to its predecessors, also received 4 additional energy-efficient cores. So instead of the functional formula of 8/16+8, the new Core i7s offer 8/16+12, allowing up to 28 data streams to be processed simultaneously.
Practical tests show a performance boost of 10-15% in multithreaded tasks. You shouldn’t expect much of a boost in gaming, as the minimum boost will be more likely due to the increase in the frequencies of productive cores. But if you were initially focused on Core i7, it makes sense to look towards the new models. The recommended prices for Core i7-13700KF and Core i7-14700KF are identical – $384, but the actual retail prices are still different ($430 vs $460).
Speaking in general about the capabilities of Intel’s new chips, experienced overclockers have already managed to update frequency records, making the Core i9-14900K run at 9043 MHz. But this is experience, luck, and extreme cooling conditions with liquid helium and appropriate equipment. We’ve also already had a chance to get a superficial look at the capabilities of the Core i9-14900K in quiet user conditions. Well, it’s powerful and energy-intensive. It’s an ultimatum solution for a gaming system, but it’s rather redundant for our advanced configurations.
Raptor Lake Refresh processors are compatible with Intel 600/700 chipset motherboards. Of course, top-end CPUs with high power consumption require motherboards with a powerful power stabilization power supply. Therefore, despite the fact that the 14th generation Core works with previously introduced motherboards, the manufacturers of the latter used the appearance of Raptor Lake Refresh as an excuse to update their devices by increasing the power of the VRM. We have already tested one of these new products from ASUS, and if you are interested in the details, we suggest you read the relevant review.
When using the Core i5-14600KF, it is logical to choose a Intel Z690/Z790 board with a good power supply, especially if you do not include further overclocking experiments. Even if you don’t plan to do so, you shouldn’t skimp on the cooling system – effective CO will be essential for the CPU to operate in normal mode. It should be noted that enthusiast models of Intel processors with unlocked multipliers come without a standard cooler, so you will have to buy a cooler in any case.
We charge the advanced AMD system with the best processor for gaming – Ryzen 7 7800X3D (8/16; 4.2/5.0 GHz, 96 MB L3). The eight-core chip with a significantly increased L3 cache buffer allows you to get the maximum number of fps in most cases. Note that there is a significant price delta between the offers for this item in the price lists. Chips from the official supply channel are offered for ~$480, while CPUs supplied by other means can be purchased for the equivalent of $440. Here, you are already setting your own priorities.
With the arrival of the multipack version of the Ryzen 7 7700 (8/16; 3.8/5.3 GHz, 32 MB L3) at a very attractive price ($275), this CPU can be used not only as part of an optimal but also an advanced configuration. Especially if you’re not chasing record-breaking fps or planning to play in 4K mode. In the latter case, you can spend the money you save on strengthening the graphics subsystem.
This time, when choosing a video card, we decided to go from the opposite, immediately offering the top options for advanced configurations. If we bracket the ultimatum GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB, then by all indications it is GeForce RTX 4080 16 ГБ and Radeon RX 7900 XTX 24 ГБ. Very worthy opponents, for the purchase of which in both cases you will have to spend about $1250-1350. In a direct confrontation, the balance of power of models close in price is already familiar: the AMD adapter is 5-10% faster in classic rendering, and the representative of the NVIDIA graphics cohort looks 15-20% better with ray tracing, and is also somewhat more economical under load.
A step below will be GeForce RTX 4070 Ti 12 GB and Radeon RX 7900 XT 20 GB. Compared to the first pair, the performance of these models is 20-25% lower, but the cost of these adapters does not cross the $1000 mark. These are very good solutions for 1440p, but for 4K, the capabilities of video cards may not always be enough. This is especially true for the NVIDIA model, which has only 12 GB of memory on board. Undoubtedly, GeForce RTX 4070 Ti has its strengths, but the frankly small buffer for this category of graphics adapters looks unconvincing. Or at least without the desired margin for the future. Resource-intensive projects with ray tracing, and especially with the activation of spectacular Path Tracing, require more memory. A clear confirmation of this is the system requirements for Alan Wake 2 and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.
Obviously, NVIDIA also realizes this, despite conditional assurances like “12 GB is enough for everyone”. It’s no coincidence that the retail price of GeForce RTX 4070 Ti is slowly but surely drifting towards ~$900. Even more convincing signs that the developers are thinking about updating the line of older graphics cards are the active rumors about the preparation of enhanced versions of GeForce RTX 4080/4070 Ti/4070 in SUPER-modifications. This is a good opportunity to improve performance.
Returning to the solutions already on offer, we should also mention the Radeon RX 7900 GRE 16 GB. The model was introduced for the Chinese market, but later its sales geography expanded. At the time of the presentation in July, with a recommended price of $650, this offer looked quite interesting against the $900 price tag for the Radeon RX 7900 XT 20 GB version. However, after the global announcement of the Radeon RX 7800 XT 16 GB for $499, the attractiveness of the Radeon RX 7900 GRE (Golden Rabbit Edition) has decreased. The fact is that the actual performance of the Radeon RX 7900 GRE is only 5-15% higher than that of the RX 7800 XT, while the recommended price differs by almost a third.
In the three months since the announcement of Radeon RX 7900 GRE 16 GB, only one modification of this model has appeared on sale in Ukraine. This is an adapter from XFX based on the reference design. The current price of $800 does not look very attractive against the background of $900+ for a full-fledged RX 7900 XT 20 GB ($900+) and especially with the already mentioned Radeon RX 7800 XT 16 GB for ~$650. The Radeon RX 7900 GRE 16 GB may be more interesting due to promotional offers.
For advanced configurations, there are generally no questions about the desired RAM capacity. The 64 GB recommendation is not yet found in the system requirements of even the heaviest gaming projects, but 32 GB is already the standard for PCs of this class. You can consider a larger capacity if professional work tasks require it. However, forward-thinking users can consider future needs and also take into account the current “low point” in the DRAM chip market with the subsequent rise in the price of chips and modules. We recommend equipping advanced systems with 32 GB DDR5-6000 as a basic option. We have no objection to more, but it’s at your discretion.
The range of PCI-E 5.0 drives is expanding very slowly. But it’s not surprising, given the prices, heat, and connection nuances. The latter is easier on Socket AM5, where processors have a larger number of corresponding lines, and many boards, even mid-range ones, are equipped with M.2 PCI-E 5.0. On Intel’s LGA1700 platform, this is also possible, but requires additional efforts from motherboard manufacturers, which ultimately increases the cost of devices. Therefore, high-speed ports appear only on top-end boards. However, given the cost and heating of SSDs, this is not a big deal. Especially when it comes to gaming platforms, where maximum linear transfers are not even of secondary importance.
For advanced configurations, a proven 2TB PCI-E 4.0 with a good controller, additional DRAM buffer, fast flash chips, and a reliable 5-year manufacturer’s warranty will be quite suitable. It would be even better to use a pair of such SSDs, given that new projects with a capacity of less than 100 GB are already considered quite an achievement and optimization.
Regardless of the chosen configuration, our own preferences, modifications and improvements to our gaming systems, we should not forget about the feasible and regular support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – this will speed up our victory.