AMD Displays the Brightest Display Future I’ve Seen at CES 2016
4k is all the rage these days. Everyone is trying to get a single GPU to be able to play 60 FPS on a 4k display with modern titles. But what if I told you that you really don’t need 4k? You’d probably be asking me to show you the red and blue pills as well. The reality though is that in spite of all the 4k resolution displays and high definition VR experiences I saw, the thing that impressed me the most was a simple 1440p display that was absolutely gorgeous to look at. Oh, and I got to find out about some new CPUs and stock coolers as well.
Let’s start out with this notion of unnecessary 4k resolution. There are two main details in display technology that are integral to a better viewing experience and I’m going to try to sum them up as basically as possible, with the understanding that I was able to muster. First, the display has to be manufactured as HDR. Simply put, it means that the display gives the widest range possible from lights and darks. OLED screens are great at this because they can dim individual pixels, hence the “High Dynamic Range” (HDR), so darks and lights contrast well. Also, the TV has to be programmed to support HDR so that it can properly display it. If this sounds difficult, this technology is actually already part of numerous displays in production from companies like LG.
However, there is one other key component. Most pixels are designed to create colors using the RGB spectrum, but this standard has been around since the CRT days and has trouble producing a wide range of colors that are similar to each other. YUV is an updated form of RGB that uses the Y to control brightness, then uses the UV to create the actual colors. It also takes only 2/3 of the bandwidth to stream an image as a typical RGB stream uses which means that HDMI 1.4b is enough to maintain the quality. After this, by making sure a monitor is using a 10 bit color standard as well as Freesync technology, you have a 1440p display that looks identical to a 4k. The best gaming experience I had all week was Battlefront on one such set up. The best news is, if AMD helps manufacturers go in this direction, it will be much easier for gamers to get the kind of experience they are wanting out of their displays.
On the CPU side of things, I wish I could say I had a ton of Zen news, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until later in the year. I did find out that AMD is releasing their most powerful APU yet with the A10-7890K. This Godvari based design is essentially a higher clocked version of the previous, but it will go up to a 4.3 GHz turbo speed and possibly have some extra overclocking room. Price will be the determining factor, but AMD has two reasons for this chip. One is that AMD is kind of focusing on kids a bit more. Before you scratch your head too much, do you remember being 16, asking your mom for a new computer, and her telling you, “Just pick out something and make sure it doesn’t cost more than $___?” I hope I wasn’t the only one. Generally, parents have very restrictive budgets, so kids and teenagers alike will be trying to get the most bang for their buck. While I think this is pretty smart, AMD also mentioned that board partners are refreshing both the AM3+ and FM2+ sockets to include things like USB 3.1 type C connectors and M.2 slots. This will give people who are doing a full upgrade something to look forward to, while I’m sure existing 7870K owners will find this of little consequence.
Finally, let’s talk about AMD’s new stock cooler. The more I see AMD trying to pick up their game against INTEL and NVIDIA, the more impressed I get. Team Red decided to give the stock cooler a good name for once by making something that isn’t embarrassing to have in a custom system. It’s using a copper fin design with four heatpipes, a nice looking white LED on the fan shroud, and a fan that seems to have gotten inspiration from NOCTUA. Seriously, I put my ear right next to the thing and could barely hear a whisper. The other nice thing is that AMD is taking away the speed control on the fan. You can still slow it down if the motherboard can actually lower 3 pin voltage, but otherwise the fan will stay at one speed all the time. It still uses a 4 pin connector, but the PWM feature is removed to give a continuous max air flow. It looks nice, sounds nice, and will be great for people who don’t care about overclocking, though I wouldn’t be surprised for some people to find some extra headroom, especially on lower wattage chips.
AMD is really getting my hopes up for the upcoming Zen and Polaris architectures this year. The improvements I’m seeing now help me to believe in what they are claiming for the future and that gets an old hardware nut like me excited (I know! I’m gonna be 31 soon!). There’s a couple of things I forgot to mention. I got to play around on RAZER’s external graphic enclosure and that was surprisingly smooth. I also got to play Battlefront on a Polaris GPU! It was great and while AMD wasn’t ready to divulge too many details, I did see a mere 80-90 watts of system draw compared to the 140-155 watts in an identical system that was running a Maxwell card (I can’t remember if it was the 950 or 950 Ti, but it was one of the two). What I can tell you is that while some of that efficiency is due to FinFET, architectural design is part of it as well. It’s okay, I understand you’re jealous, but not all of us can experience Polaris at the same time.
For more shots of our AMD tour, as well as the press deck for CES 2016, check out below.
PureOC at AMD
AMD’s CES 2016 Slide Deck