AMD FX-8320e Review – The CPU
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AMD FX-8320e Review – Our Motherboard – MSI 970 Gaming
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Down at the bottom left of the board we find a slot layout which runs from PCIe 1x through 16x, 1x, PCI, 8x, finishing with another PCI. Sitting beside these is the dedicated audio portion which sits separated from the main PCB by red track lighting. The audio processor has EMI shielding and surrounding it are dedicated audio capacitors from Nichicons acoustic series. Also in this area are dual headphone amplifiers which help those using headphones achieve maximum sound quality.
There are six SATA 3 ports on the 970 Gaming and these support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.
Further up the board we have a standard 24 pin power connector (which pairs with the 8 pin next to the CPU socket) and between the main power connector and our AM3+ CPU socket we have four memory slots. These are capable of holding 32GB of DDR3 at speeds up to 2133MHz.
Turning round to the back of the board we find a decent range of connectivity. This starts with PS/2 and 2x USB 2.0 (gold plated) before running through optical audio (7.1), 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 2xUSB 2.0, Killer E2205 GB LAN and gold plated audio ports which also run off the ALC1150 Realtek chip.
MSI offer their Command Centre software on the 970 Gaming board and it allows us to monitor and control our board from within Windows. We can for example view in real time the clocks of the CPU, including when they are hitting turbo and by how much. Or get involved in some tweaking. For those who are not too keen to take on manual overclocking, the OC Genie screen handles the hard work for us, boosting performance in just a few clicks. Also included with the 970 Gaming is Creative’s SoundBlaster audio control panel.
In terms of the BIOS, MSI once again use their Click BIOS 4 which allows us to use our mouse and keyboard, just like the OS to quickly tweak our board. A basic summary screen gives us access to key features and we can then delve a little deeper into the settings, view information on the installed components, update our BIOS from USB and configure detailed fan profiles.
AMD FX-8320e Review – Performance
Intel Core i7-4790K
Intel Core i5-4460
Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 5
MSI 970 Gaming
Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench
Intel Wireless AC 7260
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate
ASUS 120Hz/3D Display
Windows 8.1 64-bit
AMD Drivers: 14.12
Adobe Creative Cloud
The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drive was performed (NTFS) and then Windows 8.1 was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, the hard drives were de-fragmented (where appropriate). For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated).
Good Benchmarking Practice
Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.
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AMD FX-8320e Review – Conclusion
With the FX-8320e AMD have managed to create a very well balanced CPU. It offers performance very close to the more expensive 8370e however does so at a lower price point and with a touch less heat/power use. The CPU performs best in tasks which fully take advantage of multi-core use with AMD also specifically stating they feel gaming on this processor with a 270 series card hits the great 1080p playable range. In our testing we went a little higher and overall the CPU performed well in gaming tasks so this seems a fair comment from them.
The board we tested with today was the MSI 970 Gaming which is a reasonably up to date board based around AMDs 970 chipset rather than the higher end 990FX. Given the CPU/GPU combination recommended by AMD, the 970 chipset is a decent match for the 8320e and there is little missing from the mainstream board for most consumers to concern themselves with. We still get 6 SATA ports, Crossfire compatibility (multi-GPU to improve performance) and support for reasonably spec’d DDR3. A few more USB 3.0 ports would always be appreciated but MSI do go with a good audio and network solution for this class of board, elevating it above the competition (Dual headphone amps, dedicated audio capacitors, shielded components, Killer NIC).
Of course, as we touched on earlier, one of the strengths of this CPU (and many of AMDs FX range) is that it is compatible with older motherboards. So if you are using an 890 Chipset board with a Phenom CPU you could find that this (after a BIOS update) just drops in and starts running. That can significantly increase the lifespan of any system based around one of those boards. So that mixed with the overall cost and performance balance of this CPU, wins it our recommended award.