For some time enthusiasts were looking to AMDs FX architecture to provide some much needed competition to Intel in the high end of the CPU marketplace. When it was delivered the product wasn’t aimed at Intel’s high end X79/2011 platform though, it was a competitor for the i5/i7 chips on Z77 and this hugely disappointed many… whether it deserved to or not.
Looking back it was clear that this was another step along AMDs path towards offering products which gave the consumer as much of a mix of performance, value and features as possible. The same approach which has seen them offer APUs in the low to mainstream markets with industry leading graphics performance at their price point.
Now a year on from the FX-8150 launch AMD are back with a revision of their performance orientated CPUs. The new FX-8350 revises the cores used and bumps up the speed for a product which again is designed to maximise price and performance for those looking to spend about $199 on a chip. We will be taking a look at the new chip in a selection of real world and synthetic tests against the FX-8150 and i5-3570K along with a look at the benefits of AMDs recently launched 12.11 beta driver which promises much improved 7000 series performance.
The AMD FX-8350
One of the most customer focused approaches AMD have had in recent years is to stick with a socket for as long as possible and that trend continues with the new range of FX CPUs which share the same heatspreader and pin layout as the previous generation. With little more than a BIOS update it will drop into many existing AM3+ boards from all of the major manufacturers.
Like the FX-8150 this is a true 8-core processor which is fully unlocked, ensuring that it will have maximum appeal to enthusiasts. AMD will also offer 6 and 4 core models based on the same technology however those have not yet been sampled.
The FX-8350 is a 32nm, 125w chip with 8MB of L2 and L3 cache. It has an advertised speed of 4.0GHz however like other high end processors it has the ability to tailor its speed depending on the current workload. This means we idle down lower when the processor is not in use and when under load this model is capable of hitting speeds of 4.2GHz.
Key to the enhanced specifications of the new "Vishera" range of FX processors are the Piledriver cores within. These are the same technology we saw on the recent APUs from AMD and are designed to offer improved branch prediction, scheduling, prefetching and efficiency tweaks for a more refined design.
Last month Intel launched their Z97 chipset, essentially an evolution of Z87, which in many cases brought new features such as SATA Express and M.2 compatibility to the mainstream desktop market. There was of course no new CPU at that time with the existing socket 1150 processors working without issue in the new boards. Since then though Intel launched (along with some lower spec models) the Core i7-4790K, a model which sits at the top of their mainstream platform. Today we see how it compares to various other models when installed on Gigabytes Z97X Gaming 5 and paired with PowerColors new dual core 290X Devil 13.