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Even though we are closing out the rest of 2019 (and the 2010s in general, for that matter) the PC gaming community is still buzzing with a lot of end of year activity.
2019 saw a resurgence in PC gaming with some pretty incredible titles released over the past 12 months, as well as an introduction of incredible new pieces of hardware – especially from AMD.
More people are PC gaming now than ever before, embracing everything that PC gaming brings to the table, and millions are looking to upgrade or otherwise invest in PC gaming not only now in the last month of 2019 but throughout 2020 and beyond.
Below we highlight the three biggest PC gaming stories of December 2019, really putting a bow on the year as well as looking forward a little bit into the early part of 2020.
Let’s dive right in!
Steam Kicks Off Their Last Winter Sale of The Decade
Steam is legendary in the world of PC gaming, the Valve gaming launcher that acts as the digital hub and home for most people to not only purchase but play their favorite PC games.
For a number of years now Steam has held what they call the Winter Sale, significantly discounting titles (often for the first time) – sometimes by as much as 60% off or more.
The Winter Sale has also become known for the bundle discounts and packages that they offer, packages that give PC gamers an opportunity to not only build out their Steam collection with games they might not have purchased at full price but also including in-game products, DLC packages, and more.
One of the coolest wrinkles for the 2019 Winter Sale (going on right now) is that gamers can earn “Festivity Tokens” by purchasing games through the Steam platform or by completing Holiday Quests. These tokens can then be used to purchase exclusive stickers and effects for Steam Chat or used to unlock Steam Winter Sale Coupons that boost savings even more so.
Some of the best deals of the Winner Sale include:
- Dark Souls 3 marked down 75% off (the most it’s ever been discounted)
- Max Payne 3 can be had for just seven dollars
- Star Wars Jedi: Fall in Order is $50 (17% off its launch price), a pretty big discount considering the games only been out a month but is already one of the Game of the Year contenders
Google Stadia Proves NOT to Be a PC Gaming “Killer”
Google jump headfirst into the world of video games in a major way about a month ago when they unveiled their new Stadia platform.
Marketed as the “next big thing” in the world of PC gaming, the promise of Stadia was that it was going to eliminate the need for PC gaming hardware completely by allowing everyone to play their favorite games from the cloud.
Now, Google isn’t the first company to try and come up with a cloud computing platform. Microsoft and Sony both have been toying with this kind of service (with a number of independent – and admittedly smaller – organizations trying their hand at cloud gaming, too), with the new Xbox slated for release next holiday season expected to launch with a service very similar to Stadia.
The trouble here, however, is that Stadia isn’t gaining anywhere near the kind of traction that the folks at Google would have liked to see right out of the box.
Preorders were incredibly low according to industry sources, people just not excited about everything that Stadia promised – and certainly not excited about the complete lack of platform exclusive games or that they would have had to buy all of the games they want to play on Stadia all over again but have them locked behind this proprietary platform.
Combine that with the fact that the cloud computing solutions aren’t anywhere near as powerful or as capable (or as responsive, for that matter) as dedicated gaming hardware – and that you give up a lot of control you would have had as a traditional PC gamer – and it’s proven to be a real recipe for disaster.
Sure, Stadia has only been out for a little over 30 days right now. And the odds are good that the folks at Google are going to find a way to throw a mountain of money at this platform if they feel that it really is the future of gaming.
But as it sits right now PC and laptop gaming traditionalists have absolutely nothing to worry about as far as Stadia is concerned.
New AMD Ryzen Benchmarks Revealed
As we highlighted earlier, AMD has seen a major resurgence in 2019 with the launch of some pretty incredible new processors and graphics cards.
Not satisfied to rest on their laurels, it looks like AMD is getting set to launch even more powerful gaming hardware in early 2020 – at least if the new leaks regarding the Ryzen 7 4700U APU benchmarks are to be believed.
This chipset (code-named the “Renoir”) APU from AMD is a central focus of the new 4000 Series lineup of Accelerated Processing Units designed to go toe to toe with some of the best Intel chipsets already available.
For quite a while now AMD has been eating away at the market share Intel owns when it comes to gaming hardware, particularly putting pressure on the lower end market of processors and looking to convince people to move away from Intel and Nvidia components and instead embrace the symbiotic relationship between AMD processors and graphics cards.
With this new Renoir chipset approach, however, AMD is aiming a bazooka directly at some of the “heavy lifting” processors that Intel has just recently come out with. The new 4700U benchmarks show that this chipset is going to be able to stand up directly against the latest Intel Core i5 processors thanks in large part to a new Zen 2 micro architecture that takes advantage of eight core processing hardware.
The benchmark data that has leaked shows that this chip is going to come with a 2 GHz base clock right out of the box, but that it’s also going to include the always effortless ability to overclock AMD chips all the way up to 4.2 GHz – all without seeing skyhigh temperature increases or having to move away from air cooling technology.
It is a little bit odd that while the new APU benchmarks show eight cores featured in this Renoir chip it shows no information regarding Simultaneous Multi Threading capabilities. It’s tough to imagine that AMD would not have made sure that this NexGen piece of technology includes SMT, but we are going to need to wait until the earlier part of 2020 to get our hands on more details.
The very fact that the hotly anticipated AMD Ryzen 7 4700U looks to be capable to operate within a 15 W envelope while doubling up on the amount of cores that the previous generation APU featured is nothing short of spectacular. It really shows how far AMD chipsets have come in just the last few years but also how aggressively they are at creating even more powerful and even more performance focused pieces of tech with every new launch.