Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Minimal Gains, But Hope Remains For AMD's FX

AMD's FX-8150 After Two Windows 7 Hotfixes And UEFI Updates
By

Introducing a new processor architecture takes a colossal effort. AMD's modular Bulldozer design ran into its share of resistance at launch. Can a handful of software updates turn the company's flagship FX-8150 into the powerhouse AMD promised?

The nicest thing about working for a site that clearly separates the editorial and sales departments is that the reviewers are able to represent your best interests without any interference. Yes, we get hardware sent to us, but as you know, we don't hold back when it comes to telling you what we think about the components that land in our lab.

In this case, we decided to run our complete benchmark suite instead of testing the examples of software that AMD hand-picked as most-affected by Microsoft's scheduling efforts. Old games running at low resolutions, for example, are hardly worth running (beyond their value as synthetics, that is). That's why we spent a few days testing the hardware the way we would use it. And, at the end, we saw little to no improvement from the evolutionary changes implemented by Microsoft and some of AMD's motherboard partners to help augment performance.

On the other hand, the results of this little exploration suggest to us that there's really no good reason for fans of AMD's efforts to switch sides. Intel's biggest performance advantage surfaced in the same low-resolution gaming situations that no self-proclaimed enthusiast would ever want to use. If I had to pay more for power, like some of our European colleagues, it'd be a lot easier to steer you toward Intel's more mainstream Sandy Bridge-based chips. However, we've also noticed that many enthusiasts put less emphasis on power consumption than absolute performance or overclocking headroom.

AMD has certain advantages, such as its 990FX-based motherboards with nearly twice as many PCIe lanes than similarly-priced Z68-based boards. If you're in the Intel camp, getting that sort of connectivity requires LGA 2011, dinging you with much more expensive motherboards and processors that cost up to $1050. Ouch.

With all of that said, the point of this exercise was to test for improvements in AMD's most recent architecture after several months of patches to Windows 7 and firmware updates. Unfortunately, in our benchmark suite, which is largely made up of applications that our audience has requested over the past year, the speed-ups we were hoping for were not apparent. Only a single application benefited noticeably as a result of the HPC mode that prevents frequency drops in heavy workloads. Thus, most of the discussion surrounding scheduling optimizations remains theoretical, rather than practical.

The silver lining is that Microsoft tells us Windows 7, even patched, is not indicative of how Windows 8 will behave. In our own exploration of performance in the developer build, FX did, in fact, yield better numbers.

Display all 5 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    sosofm , 25 January 2012 13:30
    FX- 8150 for those who work with threaded workloads can be a cheaper alternative.
  • -1 Hide
    jrtolson , 25 January 2012 17:29
    when it come to processor reviews, the reviews always seem biased towards games...

    the point im trying to make is that i have athlon64 3200+ (venice) 754, agp, 3gig ram, x1950pro 512, (soon to be hd4670, as i want to play swords of the stars 2).. its single core built in 2004 runs windows 7.. it plays games at pretty decent fps and i have little or no reason to upgrade it...

    if i did, it would require a rebuild, and i would probabily base it on a athlon//phenom 2 dual/tri core setup.. i think processors reached a threshold a few years back in that it makes little difference on having the latest multicore processors.. chips like bulldozer show their strength in render farm setups and other demanding application enviroments.. not games!!
  • 2 Hide
    joedastudd , 25 January 2012 18:04
    @jrtolson a majority of custom and high end systems are built/brought by gamers.
    User average user isn't going to go out and spend $/£/€250 on a the processor alone just for browsing the web and emails.
    The other market is power users which is what the productivity and media converting benchmarks are for.

    If your happy with your system thats fine, but most PC gamers want to be able to play modern games at decent resolutions with the eye candy turned on.
    As for none gaming applications you'd be surpized at the the difference a newer processor would make. Lets not even talk about trying to encode/transcode media on your system...
  • 1 Hide
    jrtolson , 25 January 2012 23:33
    @joedastudd for the most part u are right, but owning a athlon/phenom or even an older intel core 2 duo with a decent gfx card will allow most games at max or near max settings this is because the games are originally developed for consoles so any pc with similar or new setup than the 360/ps3 should be able to run games no problem.. u are right on the media thing tho, however the point i was making is that the review should concentrate on that more than fps in games.. i as a potential buyer would want to know for e.g how much does having an 8 core fx benefit me in rendering an animation in lightwave 3d (for e.g) against a similar priced 4 core intel product?

    the only way i can describe wot i mean, is like reviewing a new Supercomputer capable of trillions of operations per nano second (exagerating lol), then slating it because it runs skyrim 2 fps slower than a intel i7?

    for wot i understand the bulldozer has extended pipelines so that when using optimised threaded workloads ot runs faster, however bacause of the extended pipeline un optimised code will run per clock slower..

    so to me this means optimised batch processing should fly on these chips, so amd must have targeted the FX line at pro power user market and not gamers? imo
  • 2 Hide
    HEXiT , 26 January 2012 00:12
    i always said FX was not a gaming part, but rather a productivity 1. if you want to play games then amd fx just doesnt cut it at the price. but if you need highly threaded programs like photoshop then its worthy.
    but the forum is gonna be over run buy amd fanboys who ignore good advice and just buy phenom 2 for gaming, asking why there systems dont perform... even with a different o.s. its unlikely the fx will ever be a true gaming grade part. unless every game coming out needs 8 cores...