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10 Video Games of the Decade. : ThyBlackMan

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(ThyBlackMan.com) The 2010s has seen games really improve as far as graphics, storytelling, and gameplay. So many titles came out between 2010 and 2019, that it would be hard to pick which one was Game of the Decade, so here’s my list for ten games that really made this decade for gaming.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda, 2011)

Of any game I’ve purchased this decade, Skyrim is the only one that I’ve purchased more than once. I’ve got this game on Steam, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Bethesda knows just where to hit me when it comes to games that it knows I’ll buy because I did the same thing with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.

Skyrim has an element to it that our second entry also has: crafting. This activity ate up so much of my time that it’s ridiculous. I was free roaming and doing quests just so I could have material and cash to craft in this game. Also, like our next entry, the side quests were more enjoyable than the main story.

You could spend tens, hundreds of hours doing these side quests, fighting beasts, crafting, building up a homestead, foraging and mining and still not get too deeply into the main story.  Actually, the main story is something where you’re like “Well, I reckon I could get back to that.”

Here’s hoping Bethesda actually mentions something about a sequel next year.

2. Fallout 4 (Bethesda, 2015)

I’m a huge Fallout fan and I waited a year and a half to finally get my hands on this game. Before that, I spent hours on Twitch and YouTube Gaming watching others enjoy it. When I did get to play it, I was not disappointed. It was everything I’d been watching and more.

What really made this game for me was the base-building element and the crafting. I’d gotten very used to crafting in games and now and days it’s almost mandatory that a game have some form of crafting. It doesn’t even have to be the most elaborate or require you to hunt resources, crafting just needs to be included.

Fallout 4 had that in addition to being able to establish settlements and having to protect them. I found myself spending more time doing both of these than doing the main story. Then while doing the main story I would often take breaks from that to go free roam and get more stuff for the bases.

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac, 2018)

This is the ultimate Spider-Man game of all time. At least until/if a sequel is made then Insomniac will have to top this one. It had everything I loved from Spider-Man 2—meaning the web-slinging—with some tight combat, surly mobs, and pretty tough bosses. Nothing seemed random from enemies, the game world was fun to travel through, and the story was a blast. Loved 98-percent of the story—ugh, those Mary Jane missions.

The only gripe towards this game was that eventually, it becomes repetitive with the side missions. Well, not the raid missions on bases. They were repetitive but fun as hell. I loved those. The other side missions I could do without.

As a total experience, I had a ton of fun with Spider-Man.

4. Destiny 2 (Bungie, 2017)

I’m not the biggest shooting game fan but when I played Destiny 2, I started to warm up to them. I know Destiny 2 isn’t considered the end all-be all of first-person shooters but it’s a fun game to get into if you’re not a fan of the genre.

I’d play games with a first-person shooting mechanic to it (see Fallout 4) but the competitive nature of FPS just turned me off on the genre. Destiny 2 has a single player vibe but you’re playing cooperatively with others. I mean yeah, there’s a competitive mode in the game but most of Destiny 2 is working together with other Guardians, taking down enemies, doing raids, and collecting dope weapons and armor.

I was sold on it.

5. Fire Emblem: Awakening (Intelligent Systems, 2012)

Nintendo finally makes an appearance! Fire Emblem: Awakening was a dope tactical RPG that I sunk many, many hours into. It was also the first Fire Emblem I managed to beat because that perma-death thing was just…brutal sometimes. Loved the cutscenes and combat in this one.

Leveling up my team and establishing characters’ relationships was something I spent most of my time in the game doing. I mean, it really pushes you along story-wise so there are only so many opportunities to level your characters unless you got the first DLC available. Really fun game for the Nintendo 3DS.

6. Watch Dogs 2 (Ubisoft Montreal, 2016)

Watch Dogs 2 was dope! Such an improvement on the first game and all it took was a main character who wasn’t…wooden and boring. The supporting characters were all cool, lots of stuff to do when you’re not involved in the main mission, nice open world to explore—and it’s mapped pretty accurately to San Francisco.

I have to say, the combat was pretty solid as well. It suffers from being repetitive to a degree but I got so tied up in tagging, combat, and the story that it softened the repetitiveness.

7. Saints Row: The Third (Deep Silver, 2011)

The best way to describe Saints Row is if Grand Theft Auto and Fast and the Furious had a child. I love this franchise. It puts me in the mind of pre-GTA IV Grand Theft Auto. Funny situations, lots of action, an open world to explores, cars to supe up and pimp out, and a rock-solid story.

Oh yeah, you could also create your main character so you’re not necessarily playing a role but it’s like you’re dropped into this situation where your business is turned on its head and you’re getting it back by force.

It all works for me. Of the three Saints Row games we got this decade, The Third was the strongest.

8. Stardew Valley (ConcernedApe, 2016)

This is my go-to chill game. Now that I think about it, I stand corrected about my statement that Bethesda is the only studio I’ve purchased more than one version of the same game from. Chucklefish and ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley got two purchases and both of them worth it.

While there is combat in Stardew Valley, it takes a backseat to mining, foraging, farming, and developing relationships in the town. It’s like the Harvest Moon spin-off Rune Factory with even less emphasis on combat.

Stardew Valley has a definite charm to it that has me starting it up every fall and winter. Massive Harvest Moon vibes.

9. Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar, 2013)

I like Grand Theft Auto but I’m not a massive GTA fan. It’s selling point is doing insane stuff in a large open world. It’s a subdued version of Saints Row. Like it aged, got some commonsense and shakes it head at Saints Row for doing a lot of the stuff it did when it was a young franchise.

GTA V is really fun though. Swapping between the three main characters only to find them carrying on their day was cool. Rockstar still has it when putting together a story, main missions, and side missions to keep you busy. There’s also a lot of attractions to take in. While it’s low on the list, I still had a blast with it.

10. Wolfenstein: The New Order (MachineGames, 2014)

Wolfenstein 3D was the first shooting game I ever played. When I heard that Bethesda was putting it out I was sold. Wish they’d done the same with Duke Nukem but whatever. Wolfenstein: The New Order had a fleshed-out story—something you expect from games now and days—and I got to air out Nazis. That’s honestly all I needed and this game got several play throughs out of me—which is rare since I tend not to replay linear games.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.



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MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z 6 GB Custom Graphics Card Review

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PRODUCT INFO

MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z

January 2020

Type Graphics Card

Price $340 US

The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT has finally arrived and while the launch didn’t go smooth, the end product is a card that should definitely spice up the mainstream graphics segment. The Radeon 5600 XT is positioned not only against NVIDIA’s Turing GeForce GTX lineup but also GeForce RTX lineup of graphics cards, with a starting price of $279 US.

The Radeon RX 5600 series uplifts AMD by bringing a modern architecture design and moving away from its GCN design featured on the Polaris GPUs. This allows AMD to bring more streamlined graphics performance in modern workloads and gaming titles. AMD was already ahead of the curve in utilizing new techs such as HBM and smaller process nodes and Navi is no exception. Aside from the new graphics architecture, AMD has also introduced GDDR6 memory and a smaller 7nm process node for their mainstream lineup which is a big update from the 14nm process on Polaris and Vega series cards.

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While the Radeon RX 5600 series cards bring new technologies and features to the segment, the tech itself doesn’t come cheap. We can see this in the table illustrating previous mainstream cards and their price segments. In that regard, the RX 5600 XT has definitely seen a markup in the prices of mainstream graphics cards. Also, there was the whole performance upgrade scene where AMD had to change the specifications of the card at the very last minute to compete against the NVIDIA price cuts for their GeForce RTX 2060. We will talk more about this in the review ahead.

AMD Radeon GPU Segment/Tier Prices

Graphics Segment 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Ultra Enthusiast Tier Radeon R9 Fury X
Radeon R9 Fury
Radeon R9 Nano
Radeon R9 Fury X
Radeon R9 Fury
Radeon R9 Nano
Radeon RX Vega 64 Radeon RX Vega 64 Radeon VII
Price $649 US
$549 US
$649 US
$649 US
$549 US
$649 US
$499 US $499 US $699 US
Enthusiast Tier Radeon R9 390X Radeon R9 390X Radeon RX Vega 56 Radeon RX Vega 56 Radeon RX 5700 XT
Price $429 US $429 US $399 US $399 US $399 US
High-End Tier Radeon R9 390 Radeon R9 390 N/A Radeon RX 590 Radeon RX 5700
Price $329 US $329 US N/A $279 US $349 US
Mainstream Tier Radeon R9 380X
Radeon R9 380
Radeon R9 370X
Radeon R9 370
Radeon RX 480
Radeon RX 470
Radeon RX 580
Radeon RX 570
Radeon RX 580
Radeon RX 570
Radeon RX 5600 XT
Price $229 US
$199 US
$199 US
$179 US
$229 US
$179 US
$229 US
$169 US
$229 US
$169 US
$279 US
Entry Tier Radeon R7 360 Radeon RX 460 Radeon RX 560 Radeon RX 560 Radeon RX 5500 XT
Radeon RX 5500 XT
Price $109 US $129 US $99 US $99 US $199 US
$169 US

Well, in terms of performance the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT 6 GB is supposed to be much faster than the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti at about 20% average. This would allow AMD to reach near RTX 2060 performance at a lower price point which is very impressive on paper. To cut down the costs, AMD had to go with 6 GB GDDR6 memory whereas their RX 5500 XT supports up to 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM. It is quite the sacrifice but in the market where the RX 5600 XT is competing, you won’t find much aside from 6 GB cards (RTX 2060, GTX 1660 Ti, GTX 1660 SUPER).

Unlike the GeForce RTX cards which had some feature advantage over the Radeon RX 5700 series cards, the GeForce GTX cards don’t feature RTX/DLSS support. This puts them just on par with the Radeon RX 5600 series in feature set with the exception of the Turing NVENC encoder which does an exceptional job for gamers on a budget. The Radeon RX 5600 is supported by the latest AMD Adrenaline 2020 Edition bringing features such as Radeon Boost, Integer Scaling, Radeon Image Sharpening, Radeon Anti-Lag, and Freesync support. These are an impressive list of features on their own and something to really consider when comparing AMD’s and NVIDIA’s budget tier range of cards.

So for this review, I will be taking a look at the MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z. This is MSI’s new and flagship custom design for the Navi 10 GPU that features dual TORX 3.0 fans along with the renowned MSI features such as Zero Frozr and Smooth heat pipe design. The card has an MSRP of $339.99 US which is a hefty $60 US premium over the reference MSRP.

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The AMD Radeon RX 5600 Series Family

The AMD Radeon RX 5600 series lineup is made up of a single desktop and mobility variant. The desktop variant is the Radeon RX 5600 XT which I will be testing today in custom flavor from MSI while the mobility variant is the upcoming Radeon RX 5600M which should feature similar specs as the Radeon RX 5600 XT but with notebook optimized clock speeds and TDP.

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT 6 GB Official Specifications ($279 USD MSRP)

Rocking 36 Compute Units or 2304 stream processors on its Navi 10 XLE GPU, this card offers the same core count as the Radeon RX 5700. The clock speeds for the Radeon RX 5600 XT are tuned at 1130 MHz base, 1375 MHz game, and 1560 MHz boost. This would also lead to much lower TDP, around the 160W range while the Radeon RX 5700 has a TDP of 180W. The card will be able to put out 7.19 TFLOPs of Compute horsepower.

Coming to the memory design, this is where we start seeing major differences between the Radeon RX 5700 and the Radeon RX 5600 XT. While the Radeon RX 5700 rocks an 8 GB GDDR6 memory with a 256-bit wide bus interface, the Radeon RX 5600 XT would rock a 6 GB GDDR6 memory with a 192-bit bus interface. The Radeon RX 5700 also delivers a higher 448 GB/s bandwidth, utilizing the 14 Gbps DRAM dies while the Radeon RX 5600 XT would offer 288 GB/s bandwidth, utilizing slower 12 Gbps DRAM dies. The card will require a single 8-pin power connector & display outputs include a single HDMI 2.0b and triple DisplayPort 1.4 ports.

Do note that these are the reference specifications which are since the cards release not being followed by AIBs. AIBs are instead using custom BIOS’s to deliver higher clocks for both GPU and VRAM along with higher TDP limits of up to 160W.

AMD Radeon RX 5000 ‘7nm Navi RDNA’ GPU Lineup Specs:

Graphics Card Radeon RX 5700 XT 50th Anniversary Radeon RX 5700 XT Radeon RX 5700 Radeon RX 5600 XT Radeon RX 5500 XT
GPU Architecture 7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen) 7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen) 7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen) 7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen) 7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)
Stream Processors 2560 SPs 2560 SPs 2304 SPs 2304 SPs 1408 SPs
TMUs / ROPs 160 / 64 160 / 64 144 / 64 144 / 64 88 / 32
Base Clock 1680 MHz 1605 MHz 1465 MHz 1130 MHz 1670 MHz
Boost Clock 1980 MHz 1905 MHz 1725 MHz 1560 MHz 1845 MHz
Game Clock 1830 MHz 1755 MHz 1625 MHz 1375 MHz 1717 MHz
Compute Power 10.14 TFLOPs 9.75 TFLOPs 7.95 TFLOPs 7.19 TFLOPs 5.19 TFLOPs
VRAM 8 GB GDDR6 8 GB GDDR6 8 GB GDDR6 6 GB GDDR6 8 GB GDDR6
Bus Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 128-bit
Bandwidth 448 GB/s 448 GB/s 448 GB/s 288 GB/s 224 GB/s
TBP 235W 225W 180W 150W 130W
Price $449 US $399 US $349 US $279 US $169 US (4 GB)
$199 US (8 GB)
Launch 7th July 2019 7th July 2019 7th July 2019 21st January, 2020 7th October 2019

Radeon RX 5600 “7nm Navi RDNA GPU” Feature Set and A Word on HW-Enabled Ray Tracing

While we would share a few tidbits of the RDNA architecture itself below, there are also some highlights we should mention for the Navi GPU. According to AMD themselves, the Navi 10 GPU will be 14% faster at the same power and should consume 23% lower power at the same clock speeds as Vega 64 GPU. The AMD Navi GPU has a die size of 251mm2 and delivers 2.3x perf per area over Vega 64. The chip packs 10.3 Billion transistors while the Vega 10 GPU packed 12.5 Billion transistors on almost twice the die space.

Also, when it comes to ray tracing, AMD is indeed developing their own suite around it. According to their vision, current GCN and RDNA architecture will be able to perform ray tracing on shaders which will be used through ProRender for creators and Radeon Rays for developers. In next-gen RDNA which is supposed to launch in 2020 on 7nm+ node, AMD will be bringing hardware-enabled ray tracing with select lighting effects for real-time gaming. AMD will also enable full-scene ray tracing which would be leveraged through cloud computing.

New Compute Unit Design
Great Compute Efficiency For Diverse Workloads

  • 2x Instruction Rate (enabled by 2x Scalar Units and 2x Schedulers)
  • Single Cycle Issue (enabled by Executing Wwave32 on SIMD32)
  • Dual Mode Execution (Wave 32 and Wave 64 Modes Adapt for Workloads)
  • Resource Pooling (2 CUs Coordinate as a Work Group Processor)

As you can tell, AMD is changing a lot in terms of architecture with RDNA (Radeon DNA) compared to GCN. There’s a new Compute unity design, a more streamlined Graphics pipeline & a multi-level cache hierarchy. Aside from the GPU architecture, support for GDDR6 memory is another major change that brings AMD’s graphics cards on par with NVIDIA in utilizing modern memory designs for higher bandwidth.



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