It's very easy to reject AMD's mainstream FX processors based on the Piledriver core. Intel has been beating AMD on all fronts for several generations, but for a few generations in price, at least because of part of its success because it is always a generation ahead in manufacturing process technology. In the meantime, the bulldozer microarchitecture and its descendants had an uncomfortable increase. Power consumption, performance per clock, everything takes its toll. AMD is unlikely to make things any better by bringing out the FX-9590 and FX-9370, chips with virtually no overclocking headroom and stunning 220W TDPs. Finally, FX chips still rely on the outdated 900 series chipsets that don't support PCIe 3.0.
Suffice it to say that there is a laundry list.
Guest author Dustin Sklavos is a technical marketing specialist at Corsair and has been writing in the industry since 2005. This article was originally published on the Corsair blog.
However, we took a couple of the most popular AMD chips for a test drive and found that things are not nearly as bad as benchmarks might make you think. But on the contrary.
AMD's most popular chip, the FX-8350, and its true mainstream champion, the $ 100 FX-6300, are on our test bench today. As we recently did with Intel's Haswell-E and Devil's Canyon parts, today we're doing a power-to-performance test to determine how much power an AMD FX-8350 and an FX- 6300 in games and multimedia consume tasks.
Our test bench consists of:
- CENTRAL PROCESSOR: AMD FX-8350 (4 GHz, Turbo to 4.2 GHz, 125 W TDP)
- CENTRAL PROCESSOR: AMD FX-6300 (3.5 GHz, Turbo to 4.1 GHz, 95 W TDP)
- CPU cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 AM3 +
- R.A.M: 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 CAS11 @ DDR3-2133 CAS11
- R.A.M: 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 CAS11 @ DDR3-1866 CAS11
- GPU: Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 290X 4 GB GDDR5
- SSD: Corsair Force LX 512 GB SSD
- Power adapter: Corsair AX760i 760W
Unfortunately, the FX-8350 does not allow memory speeds higher than 2133 MHz without optimizing the BClk. Therefore, we tested this chip at 2133 MHz to avoid memory bottlenecks. The motherboard choice may seem strange, but the GA-990FXA-UD3 has an astonishing number of reviews on Newegg and seems to be the weapon of choice for AMD enthusiasts on a budget. As it turns out, it's a pretty nice board.
One of the advantages of an FX series CPU is that the motherboard ecosystem is very mature. While Intel's X99 ecosystem still has a number of issues (many of which are due to DDR4 compatibility), the 990FX is a fully known size. This board just works.
Our FX-8350 peaked at 4.7 GHz and 1.475 V at the core, and thermal was never an issue with the H100i. The FX-8350 offers excellent heat transfer and while the heat threshold is much lower than that of Intel chips, the FX-8350 does not run very hot.
The Adobe Suite in PCMark 8 is a stroke of luck for people who deal with multimedia, and the FX-8350 does well here. The chip gets a solid boost by just increasing its core clock to its turbo clock, and the power consumption doesn't increase noticeably. In fact, overclocking up to 4.7 GHz offers a healthy increase in performance without a significant increase in power consumption.
The handbrake is the worst case scenario for the FX-8350 because it reduces the CPU at full speed. Peak power and average power are practically the same, and consumption increases by almost 100 W. I would like to point out that aggressive overclocking in Devil & # 39; s Canyon can increase power consumption by up to 70 W or more, not to mention the almost 200 W overclocking that Haswell-E can achieve. However, the rendering times decrease extremely steadily with increasing clock rate. You can pretty much easily pick a point on the curve you want to hit.
If the FX processors are bad gaming chips, this is not shown here. An increase in the 700 MHz networks in BioShock Infinite may be 1 fps, and Tomb Raider just doesn't care. Electricity consumption is increasing, but is again modest.
If we look at how much the average power consumption is increasing, we can see where the turning point of this particular FX-8350 is: 4.4 GHz. After that, significant Vcore increases are required to reach higher clocks. Up to this point, the increases in electricity consumption have been quite modest, even though only the handbrake is really in the middle of it. If you can stay below 1.4V at the core, you're probably fine.
While chips like the FX-9590 and FX-9370 and their 220 W TDPs don't paint a rosy picture for AMD, mainstream workhorses like the FX-8350 catch an unfair rap. The latter is a good performer and overclocker, and the power consumption is not particularly high than with Intel hardware.
AMD's mainstream star: FX-6300
So far we have been more impressed than expected. If the power consumption is not a deal breaker for you, the Vishera CPUs from AMD can offer an excellent price-performance ratio. Next, we put the screws on AMD's true mainstream champion, the $ 100 FX-6300.
I should note that both the FX-8350 and FX-6300 have responded very well to liquid cooling and have never peaked higher than in the mid-1950s. They were both pretty solid overclockers too.
Again we use Adobe Suite, Handbrake, BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider from PCMark 8 for benchmarking and power consumption tests.
PCMark 8 shows a mostly clear trend with an odd flatline from 4.4 GHz to 4.6 GHz. The peak performance increases noticeably, while the average is much more conservative. Incidentally, the PCMark 8 Adobe Suite does not seem to benefit from the additional module (two integer cores) in the FX-8350. The FX-6300 achieves roughly the same results on the same watches, but uses less power.
The handbrake, on the other hand, uses every last core and every last watch that it can get its hands on. Overclocking the FX-6300 from its standard speeds up to 4.8 GHz leads to massive increases in performance. At 4.8 GHz, our benchmark takes about 2/3 of the time it takes to store. Since handbrake is the most CPU-dependent task in the suite, it also significantly increases power consumption. Even then, the blistering overclocking power only increases by about 80 W.
BioShock Infinite receives modest performance gains, but Tomb Raider is flat. Once you've narrowed the bottleneck down to the GPU, CPU speed becomes less relevant. At standard speeds, the FX-6300 is enough to get the job done, and gaming power consumption does not increase significantly due to overclocking.
Similar to the FX-8350, exceeding 4.4 GHz on the FX-6300 required increasing voltage increases, but the headroom is there. I suspect 4.9 GHz or 5 GHz would have been achievable on a more powerful motherboard without hitting a thermal wall. However, the actual power consumption only increases at around 4.6 GHz, with the exception of the fully CPU-bound handbrake, where the power consumption increases the most.
It's easy to keep talking about how fast and efficient modern Intel processors are, but while AMDs overwhelm architectures derived from bulldozer, they're not really bad and certainly powerful enough for any modern task or game. At $ 100, the FX-6300 is an excellent alternative to Intel. While power consumption is increasing, it's not as dramatic as you've heard and performance is there.
Enthusiasts looking to get performance below the price of the Intel Core i5-4670K and i5-4690K should check out the AMD FX-6300.