AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8-Core CPU Review

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Even before AMD officially released its Bulldozer-based FX-Series of desktop processors last year, the company was already talking about the follow-on microarchitecture codenamed “Piledriver”. In fact, in the conclusion of our launch article featuring the AMD FX-8150, we posted an AMD-provided slide that showed Piledriver was already on-deck and that it would offer IPC and power improvements over existing architectures, which would result in roughly a 10% to 15% uplift in performance.

We have already shown you what Piledriver could do in mainstream APUs in our coverage of the desktop AMD A10 and A8-Series of products here and the mobile A10-4600M here, but today AMD is finally refreshing its higher-end desktop CPU line-up, which hasn’t seen a new product launch for just over a year. The updated AMD FX-Series of desktop processors featuring the Piledriver microarchitecture was codenamed “Vishera” and we’ve had the flagship variant, the new FX-8350, in the lab for a couple of weeks now. Like other FX-Series processors, the FX-8350 is fully unlocked for easier overclocking, but it’s also been updated with some new features and capabilities courtesy of Piledriver, and AMD has been able to crank the clock speeds way up. In fact, the FX-8350 is the first desktop CPU to feature a base clock of a 4GHz, which can officially Turbo up to 4.2GHz.

We’ve got some quick features and specifications of the new FX-8350 below, along with some related information. Then we’ll move on to the nitty gritty and see just what AMD’s latest flagship desktop processor can do...

AMD FX-Series Processor For 2012
Specifications & Features
CPU Description
Tech/Package 32nm / AM3+
TDP Configs 95W, 125W
Processor Core “Piledriver” (up to 8 Cores), 8MB L2 cache, 256-bit FPUs, 8MB L3 cache
Memory DDR3, 1333-1866, 1.5V
Graphics Core N/A – Pair with AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series Graphics
Performance Management -Core Level: CC6 Power State
-Module Level: L2 Cache power gating via CC6
990FX + SB950
Tech/Package 65nm / FC BGA
TDP Configs 10W for typical configurations
ALink III x4 Gen2
SATA 6 Ports, 6Gbps
USB 12 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 1.1 Internal Ports
PCIe 2.0 Lanes 2x16 or 4x8 + 8x1 + 4x1 + (2x1 on SB)
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
Software Drivers: Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux


A Side View of the AMD FX-8350 Processor

Before we dive in talk about the new AMD FX-Series, we should call out a few past HotHardware articles which are pertinent to today’s product launch. Although the FX-8350 we’re going to be showing you here today is a new processor, it leverages technologies we’ve previously covered.

The new FX-Series processors, at least for now, will be paired to existing chipsets and motherboards, so we won’t be talking about a totally new platform, like we had to with Trinity and the recently released A-Series APUs. AMD’s latest FX-Series chips use socket AM3+ and are designed for use with previously released AMD 9-Series chipsets, like the high-end 990FX. If you’re unfamiliar with first-gen FX-Series based on the Bulldozer microarchitecture and want to brush up on the features of the 990FX chipset and the newer Piledriver microarchitecture, the list of articles above is a good place to start.

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results are weird. I5 doing just as well as the i7s in some cases. Are these software tests suitable?

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Results are not weird at all. The tests are a combination of single and multi-threaded workloads, and we've got three families / generations of Intel processors represented. In single threaded workloads, the newer Ivy Bridge-based Core i5's are sometimes able to outperform older Sandy Bridge-based chips due to architectural enhancements and higher Turbo speeds. Also note that additional cores and support for HT won't benefit a test that's single or dual-threaded at most.

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I just had to make this decision for a client who was having difficulties with her Phenom II 965 system which I recognized because we have the same issues on my system with the same processor and MB and frequent lock ups. This is a different architecture all together from CPU to board to memory bus I know but the price difference for an i7-3820 relative to the productivity it produces for her applications as a professional architect are to good to not go with them. This processor is also a couple weeks to late for the necessity we had at then, either way the price VS the performance makes it irrelevant either way.

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rapid1:
either way the price VS the performance makes it irrelevant either way.

Irrelevant?,......I don't think so.

When you consider that most of Intel's latest CPUs require you to buy a new motherboard to go with your shiny new chip, the AM3+ board's ability to run the latest FX processors gains a new clarity.

Even though I already have an FX-4170, I can just buy a FX-8350 CPU and install it and I'm upgraded. I might need a BIOS update, but that's no big deal. The performance isn't what my i7-2600K gets, but it's completely acceptable for my needs.

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Marco, I have a question,............I've heard it said that Windows eight has optimizations built-in that take advantage of AMD Vishera's newer design. Is this true, or is it just so much BS?

Did you test this CPU with Win-8 to see if it performs better in Win-8 as opposed to Win-7? Are there any plans to do so?

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@Realneil - Windows 8 does have updates to the scheduler that should increase performance and efficiency slightly with Bulldozer and Piledriver, but the I haven't done any official testing. Don't expect much of a boost though--a couple of percentage points here and there, tops.

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Marco C:
Don't expect much of a boost though--a couple of percentage points here and there, tops.

Thanks for the answer Marco.

I may get one of these FX-8350 CPUs once the prices calm down a little.

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Me too, the performance looks good enough for me, but Newegg has them listed for $30 over msrp. Maybe next month will be the time to buy.

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CDeeter:

Me too, the performance looks good enough for me, but Newegg has them listed for $30 over msrp. Maybe next month will be the time to buy.

That's why I'm waiting. I don't like the 'brand new' tax either.

 

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Ok, so I am in the middle of deciding between this Amd fx 8350 processor and the Intel® Core™ i7 3970X Six-core 3.5GHz/4.0GHz Turbo 15MB L3 Cache w/ HyperThreading. I have been asking a lot of people for their opinion and really want to know, which processor will preform better? Can someone please tell me which processor has better performance? Thanks.

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They both will perform well, but the Intel part is certainly faster.

You already know that you'll pay a hefty price premium for the extra performance though. The motherboard will be more expensive too.

The bottom line is that the AMD setup is plenty good enough for most uses, but the Uber Expensive Intel part that you're comparing it to is the performance king.

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