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AMD combats upgrade woes with ‘crates’ featuring discounted hardware bundles

Looking to upgrade your desktop on the cheap? AMD just revealed its new Combat Crate hardware bundles starting at $263. For now, there are only three, focused on AMD’s first-generation Ryzen 5 1600 processor sporting an included Wraith Spire CPU cooler, but the company says it plans to provide bundles with its first-generation Ryzen 7 1700 processor at a later date. 

For $276, you can get AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600 processor bundled with Gigabyte’s GA-AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard. Featuring AMD’s B350 chipset, this board provides four memory slots supporting up to 64GB of DDR4 system memory clocked up to 3,200MHz. It also provides two USB-A 3.1 Gen2 ports supporting 10Gbps transfers, an M.2 slot supporting PCIe Gen3 x4 connectivity, integrated illumination with multiple lighting zones, and more. 

Meanwhile, AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600 processor consists of six cores with a base speed of 3.2GHz and a maximum speed of 3.6GHz. Other notable features include 12 threads, 16MB of L3 cache, a default power requirement of 65 watts, and the included non-illuminated Wraith Spire cooler. The chip is unlocked so you can push the CPU beyond its out-of-the-box limits. Note that it only supports memory at 2,667MHz or slower. 

If you root for Team MSI, AMD offers a bundle with the MSI B350 Gaming Plus motherboard for $263. It provides four slots supporting up to 64GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 3,200MHz. Other ingredients include USB-C 3.1 Gen1 connectivity, an M.2 slot for a stick-shaped SSD, four SATA 3 connectors, AMD CrossFire support, and more. The board supports MSI’s Mystic Light Sync platform as well. 

The third bundle in AMD’s Combat Crate arsenal costs $549 and includes a graphics card. This bundle consists of AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600 processor, MSI’s B350 Tomahawk motherboard, and MSI’s Radeon RX 580 Armor 8G OC graphics card. This latter component packs 2,304 cores grouped together in 36 “compute units” with a base speed of 1,257MHz and a maximum speed of 1,340MHz although MSI overclocks that top speed to 1,366MHz. The card includes 8GB of onboard memory dedicated to graphics. 

Meanwhile, MSI’s B350 Tomahawk motherboard provides four memory slots supporting up to 64GB of DDR4 memory clocked at 3,200MHz. You’ll also find a turbo M.2 slot for a stick-shaped SSD, four SATA 3 connectors, USB-C connectivity, onboard red illumination, support for MSI’s Mystic Light Sync platform, and more. It even sports golden audio jacks and what MSI calls DDR4 Boost, which provides optimized traces and isolated memory circuitry. 

Keep in mind that everything listed here is essentially previous-generation hardware. AMD introduced its Radeon RX Vega 56 and Vega 64 graphics cards last year based on its latest “Vega” graphics chip design. Of course, if you can’t afford the $399 starting price, AMD’s Radeon RX 500 Series cards are a good way to upgrade if you can find them at a decent price given the current graphics card shortage. 

As for the Ryzen processor, AMD just introduced four second-generation models, one of which replaces the Ryzen 5 1600 chip. Still, the current bundles are a great deal especially if you’re upgrading from ancient AMD hardware, or want to switch over from the Intel/Nvidia dynamic duo. 

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