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PC Hardware Year In Review: 2019 Edition

2019 is finally over, and depending on who you ask, it was either a great or a terrible year for gamers. AMD and NVIDIA both released new (major) products. Intel was noticeably absent this year, releasing only a new mobility architecture (best wishes for 2020) on the 10nm process.

PC hardware: 2019’s most recent and exciting releases

AMD has had a fantastic year, with its Zen 2 launch achieving breakout success. While Zen was thought to be an *almost as good* alternative to Intel’s processors, Zen 2 is on par with and even outperforms Intel’s best in some benchmarks. At the same time, while Intel processors are discovering security flaws daily (and applying mitigations for these slows them down), AMD processors are sailing along relatively smoothly. AMD’s Zen 2-based processors are now in the disruptive stage of their life cycle, propelling the company from a $3 company to a $40 behemoth.

While most enthusiasts are familiar with Zen 2 through the recently released Ryzen 3000 desktop processors, EPYC is where this microarchitecture made the most noise. Fixing AMD’s HPC weakness in Zen has single-handedly made AMD the most competitive x86 company on the planet, catching Intel off guard. Zen 2 also forced Intel to cut prices across the board, with more to come as the company transitions to 10nm in 2020. Zen 2 has been an absolute success story for the company, and we expect Zen 3 to be even better in 2020.

While AMD’s CPU side has been crushing it, the GPU side has been taking its time. The company’s 7nm-based Navi GPU offers great performance at an affordable price point and has greatly aided the company’s finances (7nm offers great economies of scale and is significantly less expensive to manufacture than 14/16nm parts). Unfortunately, we did not see Big Navi this year, which is consistent with our exclusive published almost two years ago, and leaks indicate that we may see it before 2020. So Big Navi parts are yet another aspect to anticipate from AMD in 2020.

NVIDIA’s Turing/SUPER GPUs were first introduced in late 2018 with the flagship part, but it wasn’t until 2019 that we saw a significant decrease in premium and the introduction of the SUPER series. NVIDIA’s Turing GPUs were supposed to revolutionize the GPU industry with their raytracing techniques, and while that didn’t happen, the launch did kick start a slow but steady burn in the industry to support raytracing at the hardware level.

In 2019, NVIDIA also released non-RTX Turing cards such as the GTX 1650, which would go on to become the company’s bread-and-butter graphics. NVIDIA has been one of the most consistent companies in terms of product launches, and we do not doubt that 2020 will be even bigger with the rumored Ampere GPUs.

Intel is the only company on our list that would prefer to forget about 2019. The company faced difficulties due to rising AMD competition, security vulnerabilities discovered, and the delay of its 10nm process to 2020 (while the company technically launched Ice Lake 10th Gen processors, desktop parts will not arrive until 2020). The company’s only significant launch was the introduction of its Ice Lake processors for mobility in late 2019.

Given that Intel has already claimed the 10nm mobility milestone with CNL mobility processors (which were then EOL-ed) that did not ship in volume, this is not a big deal. The main source of excitement in the Intel camp is its Xe graphics efforts, which are expected to bear fruit in 2020. We also anticipate that the company will (finally) transition to the 10nm node in mid-2020, as well as roll out Ice Lake on the desktop side of things.

So, what was your favorite 2019 launch? And if we missed anything, please let us know in the comments!

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