AMD 4800S Desktop Kit review: playing PC games on the Xbox Series X CPU

What when you might take the Zen 2 CPU cores discovered inside Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, transplant them onto a PC motherboard, set up Windows and really play PC games on them? Short of hacking the console and one way or the other crafting drivers for it, it is a pipedream, however we will do the subsequent neatest thing. AMD lately – and considerably stealthily – launched the 4800S Desktop Kit for Chinese OEMs. It’s a Micro ATX motherboard constructed round the Xbox Series X APU, delivery with 16GB of GDDR6 reminiscence. The built-in GPU is disabled, however it’s attainable to put in Windows on it, you’ll be able to connect an honest graphics card – and sure, you’ll be able to play PC games on an Xbox CPU.

The concept that this product even exists is baffling, however there may be some logic to it. Not each PS5 or Series X chip that makes it off the manufacturing line is purposeful. There might be imperfections in the silicon that write off the chip – or elements of it. In this case, AMD chooses chips with faulty GPUs, disables that graphics part and makes use of the CPU portion solely. As you will see in the accompanying video – and certainly in the headline picture – we might be positive it is Series X silicon as a result of when you put the two chips facet by facet, they seem to be a match.

There’s additionally precedent with this occurring earlier than. The AMD 4700S Desktop Kit follows the similar rules, though that is constructed round faulty PlayStation 5 processors. I do personal a 4700S, however it’s kind of of a useless weight. PCI Express bandwidth is simply too restricted to assist high-end graphics, there is no NVMe performance and solely two SATA ports. Meanwhile, the cooler is slight to say the least. With the 4800S, AMD resolves all of those points. There are 4 SATA ports, an NVMe slot, a meatier cooler and, though GPU bandwidth continues to be restricted, the 4x PCIe 4.0 interface does produce good outcomes from higher-end graphics playing cards.

Here’s our video breakdown of the AMD 4800S Desktop Kit – an interesting, if weird, PC product primarily based round the Xbox Series X processor.

I do really personal the 4700S Desktop Kit – and others have lined it extensively. I wrote off our protection as a result of PS5-level gaming merely wasn’t attainable on it, owing to the PCI Express bandwidth limitation. We purchased the 4800S on the suggestion of DF supporter, Fidler_2K, who famous its extra luxurious spec. However, really buying one was problematic. I purchased the 4700S on eBay from an Italian provider. While we have been conscious the 4800S was on the market, we discovered it nigh-on unattainable to truly get it exported.

Thankfully, my colleague Will Judd and his spouse Stella visited China a few months again and managed to safe one – however even then, it required liaising with a neighborhood PC store, getting a complete prebuilt system shipped from elsewhere in China after which stripping the board out in preparation for its return journey to the UK. So, due to Will, Stella and certainly Fidler_2K for making this challenge attainable.

Where to start with 4800S Desktop Kit testing, although? Before having enjoyable with gameplay, I believed I’d do some fundamental benchmarks stacking it up in opposition to the mainstream CPU we use as a matter in fact in our PC gaming opinions – the now-classic Ryzen 5 3600. CineBench R20 provides us an 1184 level single thread rating on the 3600, and an 1148 rating on the 4800S – so the 4800S is barely outdoors of margin of error there when it comes to the differentials, which isn’t shocking as each are Zen 2 processors with comparable single core turbos. On multicore scores, the 4800S has extra cores and due to this fact a better rating – 10539 vs 8113 on the 3600.

We’re utilizing the Clam Chowder Microbench system to check reminiscence velocity and latency (high left). Top proper, as the measurement of information transfers will increase, the 4800S runs out of quick cache, whereas the cache-rich Ryzen 5 3600 retains on trucking. Bottom left, you see that when the 3600 runs out of cache, the increased bandwidth GDDR6 nearly doubles efficiency of 3200MHz DDR4. Bottom proper, the excessive latency of GDDR6 reveals itself vs DDR4. Click to enlarge!

However, the greatest influence to efficiency goes to be in the reminiscence system. A regular desktop CPU is paired with SDRAM modules that you just select your self and insert into the motherboard. The 4800S desktop package comes with GDDR6 on the board. This reminiscence is often used for graphics functions, not CPU. Bandwidth is massively increased which is an efficient factor, however latency – the time taken for entry – can be increased, which is most definitely not an excellent factor. On high of that, the console CPUs, and in flip the 4800S, have loads much less onboard cache than AMD’s Ryzen chips. You can see how that pans out in the graphs under.

Across the complete benchmark, the 3600’s a lot bigger cache affords far increased ranges of bandwidth and, as the measurement of the transfers will increase, the 4800S cannot hold tempo because it runs out of cache and has to drop again to the reminiscence modules. However, one thing attention-grabbing occurs when the transfers break via the cache restrict of the Ryzen 5 3600. Now it is the 4800S taking level, with GDDR6 reminiscence providing nigh-on twice the degree of bandwidth provided by the G.Skill 3200MT/s CL16 reminiscence. Unfortunately, latency is problematic, as the graphs display – regardless of how massive the measurement of the switch.

Before we go on, some phrases of warning in how the information needs to be interpreted. On a fundamental degree, we must always get some thought of the horsepower accessible to builders for his or her console titles. However, equally, we have to settle for that consoles are very completely different beasts. The Xbox CPU is out of its pure habitat. So, simply on a superficial degree, the Xbox CPU and GPU are built-in into the similar chip – there is no must ship out graphics instructions and information over a PCI Express slot as we do on PC. On high of that, the nature of improvement on console and PC could be very completely different: for Xbox Series machines, we must always anticipate builders to tailor their CPU code to the fastened platform Microsoft has developed for them. On PC, games must work on a plethora of various {hardware}.

On the flipside, this PC model of the Xbox Series X CPU has some benefits over the console set-up. With SMT energetic – that means eight cores and 16 threads – the console operates the CPU at a flat 3.6GHz, with one core held in reserve for OS degree capabilities. On the AMD 4800S Desktop Kit, the CPU acts extra like an ordinary Zen 2 processor in that clocks are variable. Typically, it appears to run all cores at round 4.0GHz like the different Zen 2 processors we have examined. That’s a circa 11 p.c improve to hurry, and Windows may entry all eight cores and 16 threads. There is not any OS reservation right here.

So, in abstract, we could get a ballpark indication of the CPU horsepower accessible to console builders in comparison with different processors, however extra precisely, what we’re positively getting are the outcomes of PC variations of console games working in a Windows 11 setting. Even so, I belief you will discover the following pages fairly attention-grabbing!

AMD 4800 Desktop Kit Analysis

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