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FeaturesNew silicon, new devices: Gaming in 2022

New silicon, new devices: Gaming in 2022

Published: 6th Nov 2021 11:06 pm

The month of October has slowly reshaped itself to become one of the most exciting ones in the month of tech; so much so that it has garnered itself the moniker “Techtober;” and this year’s Techtober was gripping to say the least for gamers worldwide. Off the bat, Apple’s new MacBooks’ pro variants with in-house silicon were announced but before the excitement could subside, November 4 saw the release of Intel’s Alder Lake processors; an interesting match-up to say the least.

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Intel’s last few years have been tough as it has struggled to migrate from its 14 NM (nanometer) MOSFET platform. In the silicon industry, the smaller a process can get the more the space available to cram in more transistors and by the end of 2020 most of Intel’s competitors had gone sub-10 NM in their design. AMD was offering its 5000 series on a 7 NM process and Apple’s in-house M1 Silicon was on the even smaller 5 NM. Subsequently, the MacBook Air, for the first time, walked away from Intel Silicon. Smaller chip sizes have always offered more computing power, efficiency and have, at the same time, become increasingly more power-efficient. There was simply no reason to buy an Intel 11 series chip in 2020-21 despite the innovative ways Intel found to cram in more transistors. With Alder Lake, Intel has tried to change all that by migrating to the 7 NM process they call the – Intel 7 process.

Early results show that performance wise Intel’s Alder Lake i9 goes toe-to-toe with AMD’s most powerful 5000 series chips and when unthrottled even outperforms them slightly (all tests on Cinebench). However, as Dave2D and other early users of the chips have experienced, these chips consume a lot of power – sometimes as high as 238 W (i9 12900k) whereas the AMD only consumes 138W (5950X) to eke out that small bit of extra performance. Consequently, the i9 also runs a lot hotter at 238 W by touching as high as 91° C. In conditions like India, liquid-cooling suddenly seems mandatory considering temperatures of the Indian summer.

On the MacBook side of things, this year’s offerings – the M1 Pro and the M1 Max – have ensured that all of Apple’s laptops are now powered by in-house hardware, a transition I expect will follow across all of Apple’s products.

Just like last month’s iPhone 13 Pro Max’s incredible GPU performance, the Max and the Pro follow suit and outperform on both performance and battery life. Marques Brownlee and others have indicated how they have found the change phenomenal. I personally feel that now is the best time for Apple to open up MacOS to gaming developers. With as much power as the M1 Max offers and a whopping 32 cores for its graphics components, games like Forza’s Horizon 5 or the upcoming Elden Ring would thrive, what a sight that could be! A nerd can dream right?

So, the elephant in the room, should you upgrade? For the MacBook side of things – yes and hope for more games to be available on the platform, a necessary trade-off. On Intel’s Alder Lake, I would advise you to wait as the 7NM process is in its first iteration and AMD is a few months away from its next refresh with rumours of a 6NM process swirling about.

With ongoing global silicon shortage though, it is nice to have all three chip options at their best game; more intense competition always leads to better performance and value after all!

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