Can AMD Woo PC Gamers Back Next Year?
Most people in the video game community didn’t see it coming. But this year, we saw a resurgence from AMD like never before. The company has risen like a phoenix from the ashes to do battle once more after many had left it for dead. Since January, AMD stocks are up by a whopping 300 percent. And their new products seem to be ticking all the right boxes with gamers.
Most would agree that the launch of AMD’s new budget graphics card was just what the market needed. Nvidia, AMD’s only major rival in the space, had been churning out high-performance parts, for sure. But the prices were well outside the budgets of most gamers. Even lower end parts, like the GTX1060, are still north of $250 RRP.
But the main excitement isn’t about Polaris or any of AMD’s new 16 nm graphics chips. It’s what the company has got in store for us gamers in the future. Next year players are in for a treat. For the first time in years, they’ll be able to build viable gaming rigs entirely from AMD parts. Let’s start with Zen first. For those of you who don’t know, Zen is AMD’s upcoming performance CPU, to be released February 2017. AMD hasn’t had a CPU that’s been able to compete with Intel’s cutting edge tech since the Athlon 64. And that chip is now well over ten years old. According to reports, however, the new Zen has Broadwell-like performance. And this puts it way ahead of anything we’ve seen from AMD in recent years. This product is very much do or die for the company. And if the initial reports are to be believed, the company has decided to “do.”
Then there’s the upcoming Vega GPUs set for release in the first quarter next year. These GPUs are expected to use AMD’s next-gen high-bandwidth memory. Vega means that memory bandwidth should no longer be a bottleneck for gamers. That means more 4K gaming and more VR-capable graphics cards.
But what’s so interesting about AMD here is the strategic position they will enjoy next year. For starters, because of an industry agreement with the makers of HBM memory, they’ll have first dibs on the supply. They’ll also benefit from the fact that their cards are built with Directx 12 in mind. In DX12 games like Doom and Hitman, it’s clear that AMD enjoy a massive performance boost over their rivals, Nvidia. And with the advent of a new architecture, like Vega, the performance gap should all but close entirely.
Thus the choices available to PC builders will be vastly expanded next year. You’ll get a real choice of CPU and GPU alongside the usual gaming computer desk and peripherals. And, hopefully, that means we’re returning to the days of AMD versus Intel versus Nvidia.
This is great news for those of us who really care about getting a good deal on our gaming hardware. We’ve had to put up with slowly inflating prices from both Intel and Nvidia for a number of years now. And while they’ve provided great products, we’ve often wondered whether we’re getting value for money. But now that AMD is back in town, it seems like getting value for money will become a lot more likely. And hopefully, it means that more of us can make the hop over to VR gaming sooner.