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What you should know before building a PC in the current market – CPUs and GPUs

Impact of 2018 in the coming year

With 2018 closing off, we can reflect on what a wild year it was for PC building. The crypto craze, Nvidia’s new RTX technology, the 9000 series of Intel CPUs vs the 2000 series of Ryzen CPUs. It’s been absolutely action-packed. So what should you keep in mind if you’re planning to build a PC in the coming months?

AMD’s Navi based GPUs

AMD is expected to release new Radeon graphics cards, said to be rivals to the Nvidia 20-series. These Navi based GPUs will be the first GPUs to hit the market that are expected to actually contest the pricey Nvidia RTX cards. Radeon RX 3080, RX 3070, and RX 3060 are the product names, as per leaks from AdoredTV. See 20:47 in the video for the leaks related to the Navi architecture cards. The cards are expected to be, by far, the best bang for the buck under €300 euro. The Radeon 3080 is expected to contest the RTX 2070 and the GTX 1080 TI. The Thermal Design Power (TDP) is also significantly lower, making these cards more energy efficient and less power hungry. The GPUs expected release date is in the first quarter of 2019. More specific details are not yet available, but we will update as soon as they are.

Nvidia RTX Improvements

Nvidia is constantly working to improve the initially underwhelming performance of their new RTX technology. While the tech is obviously very new and only supported on a handful of games in the near future, RTX is revolutionary and will undoubtedly be perfected in the coming years. However, as it stands, it just isn’t enough to justify a price tag over €500, at lowest. The 20-series performance elsewhere, however, is another story. The RTX cards are a big step up from the latest GTX cards, the 10-series. The RTX 2080 TI and RTX Titan are unrivalled by any in the GPU department. Again though, with the price starting at over €1000 euro for either of them, is it a justifiable purchase?

It’s not illogical to assume that the new AMD GPUs will call for a response from Nvidia. Cards performing at such a high level for less than half the price of the Nvidia counterpart is bound to have repercussions. And now that energy efficiency is becoming a massive concern in Ireland and the wider world, these low TDP cards will spread like wildfire. The good kind. As it stands, I know I will be looking to upgrade to a 3000-series Radeon in the new year!

AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs

The Ryzen 2000 series was a ginormous step forward in CPU architecture for the company this year. Before rushing in to build a Ryzen PC, it might be worth your time to wait for the Ryzen 3000 series. Not only because they will undoubtedly bring with them more significant improvements over the 2000-series, but their arrival will also lower the price of the 2000-series for those on a tight budget. This will create great opportunities to have a whopper CPU, while also saving more money for the rest of the build. It is also worth noting that Ryzen CPUs always come at a satisfyingly low competitive price, due to their main competition, Intel. Most notably the Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 CPUs, currently both below €250 for their latest models, are astoundingly low priced for the performance you can expect.

Intel – The Consistently Competitive CPU Company

As it stands, Intel isn’t as threatened as Nvidia with AMD’s new advances. Intel consistently have higher single core performance than Ryzen, making them more ideal for single core tasks. Ryzen however, has shown time and time again that when it comes to mixed core usage, there’s no competition. So naturally, there’s room for choice here. Currently, Intel’s Core i5 CPU is one of the most popular CPUs for a workstation, gaming, and even just high-end desktop usage. This will not be overlooked any time soon, especially at a not-unreasonable price.

Recommendations for buying now, at the end of 2018

If you wish to buy as soon as possible – do not fret. We have compiled a list below recommending our top picks of 2018 with respect to CPUs and GPUs. We have divided our recommendations into 3 parts for each category – best value (best value for your money), best performance (top performance at a realistic price), and most versatile (combination of best price, performance, and task versatility). Here is what we concluded:

Our CPU recommendations

  • Best Value: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
  • Best Performance: Intel Core i9-9900K
  • Most Versatile: Intel Core i5-8600K/9600K
    • There is not a whole lot of difference between the previous generation and the current generation. Primarily, the 9600K has a slightly higher base clock speed.

Our GPU recommendations

  • Best Value: AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB
  • Best Performance: Nvidia RTX 2080 TI
  • Most Versatile: Nvidia GTX 1070
    • A lot of great options for this category – your best option is to figure out what you’re going to use it for, and what resolution you’re going to be using.


As always, what parts are best for your build depends on what you want to use it for. Our GPU and CPU recommendations are very general. For example, if you wanted a versatile CPU for streaming games, we would recommend an Intel Core i7-8700K or i7-9700K over the Core i5s. Your best bet to figure out what is right for you is to learn how to read and compare benchmarks for the parts within your budget. We recommend PC Part Picker as a means of checking compatibility between parts, and for mapping out your build. It is also useful for finding good prices in your region, but it’s never any harm to do your own research too, in case there is a better deal in second-hand parts or locally.

But most importantly – enjoy it. You’re building a PC, it doesn’t get any more DIY than that!

Musician, tech enthusiast, gamer, journalist and web designer
Posts created 36

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