Should You Build a PC in 2020?

Computer components arranged on a desk.Ruslan Grumble / Shutterstock

Nobody wants to build a new PC if, in a month or so, a super awesome component is going to be rolled out or the prices are going to drop significantly. So, is 2020 a good time? Yes, but waiting until October is a good idea, especially for AMD fans.

October is AMD month

Three diagonal ads announcing Zen 3 and RDNA 2 processors and graphics cards.AMD

On October 8, 2020, AMD introduced the Zen 3 processor architecture, the successor to its current Ryzen 3000 chips based on Zen 2. We do not yet know the release date, but AMD CEO Lisa Su said on Twitter “It’s going to be an exciting fall.” This suggests an October or November version.

Given AMD’s recent history, they are probably solid processors. Still, it’s a good idea to wait for revisions on launch day before committing to a new processor. However, bargain hunters should be looking for deals on older Ryzen processors by the end of the year.

AMD also has news on its new generation graphics cards (nicknamed RX 6000) discontinued October 28. The new AMD GPUs are based on the company’s Big Navi (also known as RDNA2) architecture. It is not known when these cards will be deployed.

They should offer features like real time laser tracing, and variable rate and mesh shading, all of which are expected in the next generation of consoles. General improvement in performance should also be on the agenda.

Again, it’s wise to wait for reviews before committing to a new GPU. You should also be able to get deals on older AMD and Nvidia cards.

Nvidia RTX 30 series cards arrive before Big Navi

A black and silver RTX 3090 graphics card.NVIDIA

Even before AMD talks about its next RX 6000 cards, Nvidia will already be selling its latest GPU dynamos. Nvidia recently announced new GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards, including RTX 3070, 3080, 3090, with release dates in September and October 2020.

These graphics cards won’t be cheap, but they should offer much better performance. Hardware features include GDDR6X graphics memory on both top-level cards, as well as tools to optimize system latency.

Anyone looking for an awesome gaming machine should take a serious look at these cards. If you don’t have the cash right now, the new cards should also create some good deals on older equipment in the coming months.

Intel processors are good and still recent

A 10th Generation Intel Blue processor package.Intel

Intel 10th generation Desktop processors (Comet Lake-S) are still quite recent. Released in the spring of 2020, they were also generally well received. If you’re using a standard Intel desktop processor, now is a good time to buy it.

Even if you’re building a gaming PC, you should be fine with one of these processors. If you’re looking to stand the test of time, the Ryzen 3000 or the upcoming Zen 3 processor will be the best bet. This is mainly due to the transition from AMD to PCIe 4.0, which, presumably, Zen 3, will support just like Ryzen 3000.

Intel has decided not to jump on the PCIe 4.0 bandwagon with its 10th generation chips. However, some Comet Lake-S Z490 motherboards are billed as PCIe 4.0 compliant, in anticipation of future Intel support.

Comet Lake-S is a refinement of Skylake, as all Core desktop chips have been for years. The next series of Intel Core processors are expected to be based on Rocket lake, and they would have struck in late 2020 or early 2021.

These are expected to be the first line of Intel Core desktop processors in years that won’t tie into Skylake, even though they’ll use the same 14nm process as their predecessors. Rumor has it that Rocket Lake will support PCIe 4.0 and use the same socket type (LGA 1200) as Comet Lake-S.

Here’s the thing, though: No one knows how Rocket Lake will compare to Comet Lake-S. Intel has been working on Skylake enhancements for years, but will the new processor platform be that smooth? Only time will tell.

Intel watchers also seem more interested in Alder Lake, which is not expected until the second half of 2021. Alder Lake is a 10nm chip that uses a hybrid design. The Golden Cove and Gracemont cores work together, as ARM’s big.LITTLE approach. In 2022 (or later), Intel is expected to introduce Meteor Lake 7nm chips, which could be even better.

We could go on, but the question is whether you should wait or just buy Comet Lake-S now? At this point we don’t know what’s worth the wait, but we do know that Comet Lake-S is solid and available right now.

Future Intel processors are unknown and, likely, far enough away that we wouldn’t bet on anything other than AMD, as it has concrete announcement dates. If Comet Lake-S meets your needs, there is no reason to wait!

Anyone who wants to build a high-powered workstation (without going into Xeons, which we won’t cover here) will also do very well with Intel’s Cascade-Lake X processors or AMD’s latest Zen 2 Threadrippers.

RELATED: 10th Generation Intel Processors: What’s New and Why It Matters

Other components

RGB LEDs in a PC case.Alberto Garcia Guillen / Shutterstock

So what about everything else? RAM has finally dropped to reasonable prices this year, and those mid-year component shortages seem to be correcting themselves. Bargain hunters might find that some B550 models and other AMD-based motherboards are out of stock, but generally most of the components are available.

There have also been good sales in recent months on M.2 NVMe drives, so keep an eye out for bargains. We recommend that you research sales on most components now, and don’t forget that there are a lot of them that you can reuse as well. For example, if you have an older PC with good DDR4 RAM or a high quality PSU, reuse may be a good plan.

Building a new PC can be a welcome distraction, and now is a great time to grab your components. The only exception would be if you’re interested in AMD (wait until October), or if you just can’t support another Intel processor which is, again, a refinement of Skylake.

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