October may not have matched September’s deluge of product announcements, but it still brought a couple of zingers. We’ve highlighted the best of the bunch, along with a few items that launched this month so you don’t miss out. (Shortages are a real thing these days.)
At this point, we’re starting to move past announcements into product arrivals. Still, a couple of major reveals happened. The biggest is AMD’s Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards—and the bold claim that its top-end card matches (and sometimes even beats) Nvidia’s beefy RTX 3090.
October 2020’s top product announcements
AMD Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards
Turns out that Big Navi is pretty huge. In its October 28 announcement, AMD unveiled its first RDNA2 graphics cards—along with benchmarks showing the RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT holding their own against Nvidia’s monster RTX 30-series GPUs. Moreover, the two highest-end cards undercut Nvidia’s offerings in price, with the RX 6900 XT costing a whopping $500 less than the RTX 3090. We’re looking forward to what our own benchmarks will reveal when these cards launch on November 18 (RX 6800, RX 6800 XT) and December 8 (RX 6900 XT).
Alienware AW2521H 360Hz Gaming Monitor
Finding the perfect gaming monitor for your tastes used to be harder, even if you had ready cash to blow—but nowadays, companies push out more and more panels with a range of resolutions, dimensions, and features. Alienware’s newest boasts an ultra-high refresh rate, providing a 360Hz 1080p IPS display with a 1ms gray-to-gray response time and G-Sync. Come November, you’ll be able to pick up this 24-inch monitor and its promised liquid smoothness for a cool $900.
New WD Black PCIe SSDs
The selection of Gen 4 SSDs continues to gradually expand, with WD among the vendors adding to their lineup. The WD Black SN850 will come in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities starting at $150, with a read speed of 7,000MBps and write speed of 5,300MBps for its 1TB model. Availability begins now (end of October), with an RGB model following in early 2021.
Got a PC without PCIe 4.0 support? The WD Black AN1500 pairs two SN750 Gen 3 NVMe SSDs on a RAID 0 PCIe card to provide blistering speeds that come close to those of a Gen 4 drive. In our review of the 2TB model, we found it reached a 6,500MBps read speed and a write speed exceeding 4,000MBps—not bad if you have a spare PCIe x8 (or x16) slot available.
Google Pixel 5
Google’s latest iteration of its premium Android phone costs hundreds of dollars less than rival flagship phones, with a greater focus on features than raw specs. (It shares the same processor with the cheaper Pixel 4a; upgrades focus on other specs like RAM, battery capacity, and display refresh rate.) Our early impressions of the Pixel 5 indicate that, as usual, its camera and stock Android experience are its primary advantages.
AMD Ryzen 5000 processors
Each generation of Zen processors has shown steady improvement. But instead of core count increases this time around, AMD has focused on eliminating Intel’s last advantage. In its reveal of four new Zen 3 CPUs—the 5950X, 5900X, 5800X, and 5600X—the company touted gaming performance that matches or beats those of rival chips. We’ll find out if that’s true when these CPUs launch on November 5…as well as whether they’re worth the increase in price.
Noctua chromax.black NH-D15S and NH-U9S
Noctua, beloved for its performance, continues to give PC builders more of what they want: an escape from the company’s iconic but divisive beige-and-brown aesthetic. The Chromax Black line now includes two more CPU coolers, the NH-D15S and NH-U9S, which will cost $90 and $65, respectively. This addition brings up the total number of Chromax Black coolers to six, and fills in the single-fan options with 140mm and 92mm variations.
Intel Core i3-10100F
Budget gaming PC builders will soon have an additional CPU option for consideration: The Intel Core i3-10100F drops the integrated graphics from the 4-core, 8-thread i3-10100 for a predicted savings of 25 percent. An official price has yet to be released, but the estimates of $80 to $100 could tempt builders away from AMD’s Ryzen 3 3100 ($99) or Ryzen 3 3300X ($120)—both of which have been difficult to find at their MSRPs (or, in the case of the 3300X, altogether).
Like the Google Pixel 5, OnePlus’s newest phone aims at the mid-range with a price tag of $750. By cutting some corners on the standard OnePlus 8’s specs, you get a camera with solid low-light performance, a 120Hz screen, ultra-fast charging, loads of RAM, and Android 11 out of the box. On specs alone, the 8T compares with higher-end phones, and our initial time with this phone shows it can hold its own in a showdown, too.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Nvidia’s most affordable 30-series graphics card (relatively speaking) went on sale October 29, after a delay from its planned October 15 launch date. You’d be hard-pressed to find one right now, though: Stock sold out within mere minutes.
Ubisoft’s decision to unify its UPlay and Ubisoft Club platforms doesn’t change much—but existing members should check their accounts, as the company has unlocked over 1,000 legacy Ubisoft Club rewards in celebration of the launch.
Ryzen may come up more often in conversations among the enthusiast crowd, but some folks still use Intel parts. For the aesthetically minded among them, NZXT offers a beautifully sleek Z490 motherboard—it’s a shame mobo covers aren’t common.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.