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Friday, November 27, 2020

Black Friday Gaming PC 2020? Not this year!

 I like to do a special Black Friday Gaming PC build every year, but this year, component prices are completely fubar. Ryzen 9 5900X? Can't find it in stock anywhere but eBay at massively inflated prices! The same goes for the rest of AMD's Zen 3 CPU line. And don't even get me started on graphics cards.

RTX 3070RTX 3080, and even the exorbitantly priced RTX 3090? All are sold out and will likely remain in limited supply / high demand until at least February 2021. Our savior AMD, with its Radeon RX 6800 XT and Radeon RX 6800, is actually even worse. That's because AMD is trying to procure next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S console processors, plus Zen 3 CPUs, plus RDNA2 GPUs, all from TSMC using its 7nm node. Meanwhile, TSMC has customers lining up, including Apple, Nvidia (GA100), and maybe even Intel!

It goes deeper than that. The die size for one of the CPU compute dies in a Ryzen 5000 series processor is 80mm2. The die size of the Navi 21 GPU in RX 6800 series is 519mm2. So, AMD can get one GPU or about 6.5 CPU compute dies from the same wafer area. The GPU needs memory, cooling, a PCB, and more. The CPU just needs a package and some resistors and capacitors. Basically, a single RX 6800 series graphics card costs about 10X as much as a single Ryzen 7 5800X to produce. With high demand for both, AMD will make far more money by producing CPUs.

COVID-19-fueled shortages and increased prices apply to many other PC components as well. Last year I found a 550W 80 Plus Gold power supply for $67. This year, the cheapest high quality 550W PSU is about $95.

There are a few components that you can find at reasonable prices, at least. Good quality motherboards for both Z490 chipset (Intel) and X570 chipset (AMD) start at around $150-$160. You can also pick up 2x8GB DDR4-3200 memory for $50, or 2x16GB DDR4-3200 memory for $95. That's way cheaper than last year. SSD prices are also down, with 1TB M.2 drives starting at $95. There are plenty of viable PC cases, like the Corsair Carbide 275R Airflow for $65.

But without a decent price on a CPU or graphics card, it's going to be hard to build a good new PC. Even previous generation GPUs like the RTX 2060 Super and RX 5700 XT now cost over $50 more than they did just a few months back, and there are better GPUs enticing us. My advice: Save your pennies and buy something else.

And Happy Thanksgiving!

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