The Full Nerd: AMD's chief gaming architect talks Ryzen 4000 laptops, SmartShift, and PC innovation

In this special episode, we're joined by AMD chief gaming architect Frank Azor to discuss the 'free performance' of SmartShift, the 'AMD Advantage' in gaming laptops, PC innovation, and a lot more.

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In this special edition of The Full Nerd, Gordon Ung, Brad Chacos, and Adam Patrick Murray are joined by Frank Azor, the Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions at AMD and Alienware’s co-founder. Azor swung by to talk about the “AMD Advantage” in gaming laptops that marry Ryzen CPUs with Radeon GPUs, like the new Dell G5 15 SE, and a whole lot more.

Grab your favorite beverage, because this one’s long—and remarkably insightful.

The new Dell G5 15 SE starts at $879 but performance-wise, it hangs with GeForce RTX 2060 and 2070 notebooks that can cost hundreds more. That’s due partly to SmartShift, an AMD technology that dynamically shifts more power to the Ryzen 4000 CPU or Radeon RX 5000-series GPU as needed, giving you more oomph where you need it most. Azor explains everything we need to know about SmartShift, including crucial differences between it and the similar “Dynamic Boost” feature that Nvidia announced for mobile GeForce GPUs shortly after SmartShift’s reveal. Since Ryzen CPUs play nice with both technologies, AMD has unique insight into how they compare.

That’s not all though. Azor also explains the state of AMD’s mobile gaming ambitions, how laptops get planned and created at big PC companies, why you shouldn’t ever overlook Nvidia, Radeon driver concerns, where Radeon Software fits into the “AMD Advantage,” and how deeply AMD’s marketing now embeds within the company’s product teams. And since Frank’s a true PC O.G., we sidetrack a bit here and there to talk about the future of laptop innovation, the first RGB keyboards, and case paint that changes color depending on how hard you shock it. Groovy.

And as always, we fielded questions from you, our viewers, listeners, and Discord members.

You can witness it all in the video embedded above. You can also watch The Full Nerd’s Frank Azor interview on YouTube (subscribe to the channel while you’re there!) or listen to it on Soundcloud if you prefer the audio alone. 

Speaking of audio, you can subscribe to The Full Nerd in iTunes (please leave a review if you enjoy the show). We’re also on StitcherGoogle Play, Spotify, or you can point your favorite podcast-savvy RSS reader to: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:226190044/sounds.rss  

Have a PC- or gaming-related question? Email thefullnerd@pcworld.com and we’ll try to answer it in the next episode. You can also join the PC-related discussions and ask us questions on The Full Nerd’s Discord server. Finally, be sure to follow PCWorld on FacebookYouTube, and Twitch to watch future episodes live and pick our brains in real time! 

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