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Tech For Everyone #1: GPUs and Hypothetical Hardware

Tech For Everyone
Tech For Everyone #1: GPUs and Hypothetical Hardware
By Jason Evangelho • Issue #1 • View online
Welcome to the very first Tech For Everyone newsletter! This exists because something called “Tech FOR EVERYONE” should be, you know, accessible to anyone.
No paywalls. No registration walls. No censors. No rules.
Straight from me to you, delivered to your inbox. The way it used to be. The way it should be.
Thanks for being here. I’ll write hard, you read hard.
(Also, if this looks wonky in your email or on the web, let me know! I’m working out the kinks…)

So I benchmarked a 5-year-old graphics card!
If you’re a PC gamer wanting to build or upgrade your existing system, you’ve probably learned a couple of tough lessons in the past year. First, it’s practically impossible to buy the latest graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia. And even if you are lucky enough to find one in stock, you’re going to pay through the nose.
Even if you’re willing to settle for a used graphics card that’s a generation or two old (like the Radeon Vega 64 or RTX 2060), you’ll also have to swallow exorbitant prices due to the renewed crypto-mining boom.
There’s a painful, ongoing chip shortage across the board, and it’s not just the gaming industry bearing the burden. The smartphone industry is struggling to keep up, and it’s wreaked havoc on the automotive industry.
And hey, Nvidia’s RTX 3060 is out now! I have some commentary on that…
Jason Evangelho ⭕️ Tech For Everyone
Nvidia GTX 1060 launch price: $299
Nvidia GTX 1060 launch price adjusted for inflation: $327
Nvidia RTX 3060 launch price: $329
Nvidia RTX 3060 launch price adjusted for reality: $899
Anyway, I was doing some research recently on the state of PC gaming, I noticed that the most-used GPU on Steam is nearly 5 years old. Yep, it’s the venerable GTX 1060 from Nvidia, a card that was priced perfectly to saturate the mainstream gaming market, and offered stellar performance for the cost.
One day the RTX 3060 may take the #1 spot... once people can buy it.
One day the RTX 3060 may take the #1 spot... once people can buy it.
That got me thinking: is a graphics card that old still viable in 2021? Can it still deliver playable framerates in games that were released 2 or 3 years after it debuted?
Perhaps of equal importance to some of you is this question: can the GTX 1060 still let us still crank up all the visual dials?
1080p Gaming with the GTX 1060 3GB
To find out, I put a very heavily used Asus GTX 1060 Dual on my test bench (which boasts a powerful AMD Ryzen 5900X CPU and 16GB of RAM). Crucially, this particular GTX 1060 only has 3GB of video RAM, so it represents one of the cheaper (and thus more popular) models out there. 
While I love how easy consoles are to use, I prefer PC gaming simply because of the higher ceiling for gorgeous graphics. That means I’m not going easy on this GTX 1060. In the majority of games I tested, I maxed out the graphics settings. 
I only scaled them back in certain cases like Apex Legends where, curiously, reducing “Spot Shadow” detail from High to Medium almost doubles the framerate. 
Overall, the outlook is surprisingly bright!
All 7 games here can average at least 30FPS at 1080p (the blue bars), and that’s with graphics settings cranked up to their maximum values. If you’re using a G-Sync monitor, the experience becomes even smoother.
Super-competitive gamers, however, have zero interest in playing titles like Apex Legends or Call of Duty: Cold War anywhere below a rock-solid 60FPS (it’s more likely they want 120FPS). That’s why I’ve also included minimum framerates (MIN FPS), which are fairly forgiving at 1080p. Provided you’re not trying to win any tournaments…
Will you need to make compromises with other games? Absolutely. Cyberpunk 2077 and Microsoft’s new Flight Simulator will murder the GTX 1060 even at 1080p. To get enjoyable framerates, you’ll need to be more conservative with your quality settings, but they are still playable!
But the limit of 3GB of VRAM can be problematic with games like Call of Duty: Cold War. While playing several rounds of Team Deathmatch on Nuketown, for example, I noticed that several textures looked like they had vaseline smeared over them when aiming down a scope, or they just never materialized properly in the first place.
What about 1440p?
Sales of 1440p monitors are on the rise, and that’s exactly the resolution AMD is targeting with its upcoming Radeon RX 6700 XT.
Let’s take a look at the same games and settings, but bumped up to 1440p.
The AVG FPS results at 1440p aren’t nearly as promising, with only 2 of the 7 titles managing to deliver higher than 30FPS. Anything lower that is unplayable in my book.
To restore those playable framerates, you’ll need to make serious compromises now, reducing quality to Medium or lower.
But the takeaway? The GTX 1060 is still a mighty competent graphics card, even with its 5th anniversary looming this July!
What GPU are you rocking in your rig? Will you upgrade it this year? Talk to me on Twitter about it, or just reply to jason.evangelho@pm.me
And speaking of GPUs we can't buy...
Being an early adopter of bleeding-edge hardware used to mean something. It instilled us with a sense of pride. Made us feel prestigious. Early adopters were risk-takers who boldly proclaimed “I believe in this product and I’m happy to spend my hard-earned money on it!” 
I made a slight edit to AMD's slide...
I made a slight edit to AMD's slide...
Being an early adopter now? It’s all but impossible and the frustration I’m sensing among tech-savvy consumers is becoming more intense by the day. 
I wanted to gleefully report that AMD is launching its next GPU in the RX 6000 series on March 18th. I wanted to excitedly convey some key bullet points like its $479 price tag, its generous 12GB of VRAM, or its game clock of nearly 2.5GHz. 
I wanted to rush here after seeing the brief announcement video and express my appreciation that AMD is launching its beautifully-designed reference version of the RX 6700 XT alongside partner versions from ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Sapphire, XFX and others on March 18th in an attempt to ease the insane demand that everything with a processor has fallen victim to for the past 12 months. 
But, in the end, I’m with these guys on Twitter, who offered a couple sobering replies to AMD’s announcement: 
Jeremy Soller
@killyourfm Me too. I am really hating hardware right now. Hard not to feel completely fucked over by the very companies we've been stuffing full of profits for decades. No reciprocity whatsoever
Fraevar the BLM Social Distancer
@killyourfm Yeah I'm completely tuned out of most tech news these days because *it doesn't matter*. There are no products to actually buy. Doesn't matter what numbers or features they talk up, the product essentially doesn't exist.
I reviewed the RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 at Forbes when they launched. I gushed, I praised and I joyously benchmarked the crap out of those GPUs. Truly, they were groundbreaking products from AMD. They were graphics cards that finally competed with Nvidia’s high-end offerings on performance, thermals, and acoustics!
Also, they just straight up looked beautiful:
Me, Unboxing The Radeon RX 6000 Series
Me, Unboxing The Radeon RX 6000 Series
When the new RX 6700 XT arrives, I’ll review that too. (And this time it’ll hopefully get some Linux love).
But I have to wonder if the words I write will matter. Will my evaluation convince people holding onto older cards like the RX 580 or Vega 64 or GTX 1060 to buy AMD’s latest and greatest? Maybe. But I can almost guarantee that will be a futile effort unless those poor souls are willing to pay a scalper’s ransom.
So I put the question to you guys: do launches even matter anymore? Are you tracking these hardware announcements like you used to? Talk to me on Twitter about it, or just reply to jason.evangelho@pm.me 
LINK LOVE: STUFF YOU MAYBE MISSED
Before we say goodbye, here are some recent words on the web that I enjoyed. One of them is from my wife, and it includes an old portrait of a super creepy human trapped in a dog’s body…
Steam Remote Play homestream
My day trip to Croatia’s most famous castle - Lana Evangelho - Voice
Sony's controller tech is literally bananas | Patent Trawling
LINUX: It's All About CHOICE | Stephen Cross on Linux For Everyone
Finally, by popular request from longtime Twitter follower John J, here’s a photo of our chocolate lab Slayer. Because he’s the best, most floopiest dog out there. And he loves GIANT FREAKING STICKS.
That’s it for this round! You guys take care, take care of each other, and we’ll talk again soon.
~Jason
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Jason Evangelho

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