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Last year's launch of AMD's FX processors was honestly disappointing. The Bulldozer CPU cores that were bundled into each Zambezi chip were hardly power efficient and in many areas couldn't significantly outperform AMD's previous generation platform. Look beyond the direct AMD comparison and the situation looked even worse. In our conclusion to last year's FX-8150 review I wrote the following:

"Single threaded performance is my biggest concern, and compared to Sandy Bridge there's a good 40-50% advantage the i5 2500K enjoys over the FX-8150. My hope is that future derivatives of the FX processor (perhaps based on Piledriver) will boast much more aggressive Turbo Core frequencies, which would do wonders at eating into that advantage."

The performance advantage that Intel enjoyed at the time was beyond what could be erased by a single generation. To make matters worse, before AMD could rev Bulldozer, Intel already began shipping Ivy Bridge - a part that not only increased performance but decreased power consumption as well. It's been a rough road for AMD over these past few years, but you have to give credit where it's due: we haven't seen AMD executing this consistently in quite a while. As promised we've now had multiple generations of each platform ship from AMD. Brazos had a mild update, Llano paved the way for Trinity which is now shipping, and around a year after Zambezi's launch we have Vishera: the Piledriver based AMD FX successor.

At a high level, Vishera swaps out the Bulldozer cores from Zambezi and replaces them with Piledriver. This is the same CPU core that is used in Trinity, but it's optimized for a very different purpose here in Vishera. While Trinity had to worry about working nicely in a laptop, Vishera is strictly a high-end desktop/workstation part. There's no on-die graphics for starters. Clock speeds and TDPs are also up compared to Trinity.

CPU Specification Comparison
CPU Manufacturing Process Cores Transistor Count Die Size
AMD Vishera 8C 32nm 8 1.2B 315mm2
AMD Zambezi 8C 32nm 8 1.2B 315mm2
Intel Ivy Bridge 4C 22nm 4 1.4B 160mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge E (6C) 32nm 6 2.27B 435mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge E (4C) 32nm 4 1.27B 294mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 4C 32nm 4 1.16B 216mm2
Intel Lynnfield 4C 45nm 4 774M 296mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT1) 32nm 2 504M 131mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT2) 32nm 2 624M 149mm2

Vishera is still built on the same 32nm GlobalFoundries SOI process as Zambezi, which means there isn't much room for additional architectural complexity without ballooning die area, and not a whole lot of hope for significantly decreasing power consumption. As a fabless semiconductor manufacturer, AMD is now at GF's mercy when it comes to moving process technology forward. It simply has to make 32nm work for now. Piledriver is a light evolution over Bulldozer, so there's actually no substantial increase in die area compared to the previous generation. Cache sizes remain the same as well, which keeps everything roughly the same. These chips are obviously much larger than Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge parts, but Intel has a full node advantage there which enables that.

Piledriver is a bit more power efficient than Bulldozer, which enables AMD to drive Vishera's frequency up while remaining in the same thermal envelope as Zambezi. The new lineup is in the table below:

CPU Specification Comparison
Processor Codename Cores Clock Speed Max Turbo L2/L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8 4.0GHz 4.2GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $199
AMD FX-8150 Zambezi 8 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $183
AMD FX-8320 Vishera 8 3.5GHz 4.0GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $169
AMD FX-8120 Zambezi 8 3.1GHz 4.0GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $153
AMD FX-6300 Vishera 6 3.5GHz 4.1GHz 6MB/8MB 95W $132
AMD FX-6100 Zambezi 6 3.3GHz 3.9GHz 6MB/8MB 95W $112
AMD FX-4300 Vishera 4 3.8GHz 4.0GHz 4MB/4MB 95W $122
AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 4 3.6GHz 3.8GHz 4MB/4MB 95W $101

The table above says it all. TDPs haven't changed, cache sizes haven't changed and neither have core counts. Across the board Vishera ships at higher base frequencies than the equivalent Zambezi part, but without increasing max turbo frequency (in the case of the 8-core parts). The 6 and 4 core versions get boosts to both sides, without increasing TDP. In our Trinity notebook review I called the new CPU core Bulldozed Tuned. The table above supports that characterization.

It's also important to note that AMD's pricing this time around is far more sensible. While the FX-8150 debuted at $245, the 8350 drops that price to $199 putting it around $40 less than the Core i5 3570K. The chart below shows where AMD expects all of these CPUs to do battle:

AMD's targets are similar to what they were last time: Intel's Core i5 and below. All of the FX processors remain unlocked and ship fully featured with hardware AES acceleration enabled. Most Socket-AM3+ motherboards on the market today should support the new parts with nothing more than a BIOS update. In fact, I used the same ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard I used last year (with a much newer BIOS) for today's review:

The Test

For more comparisons be sure to check out our performance database: Bench.

Motherboard: ASUS Maximus V Gene (Intel Z77)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX)
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Crucial RealSSD C300
OCZ Agility 3 (240GB)
Samsung SSD 830 (512GB)
Memory: 4 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 9-9-9-20
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (Windows 8)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64/Windows 8 Pro x64

General Performance
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238 Comments

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  • Ukdude21 - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    If you are the worried about the earth why don't you give your pc away. Least then we would not have to read your shit comments lol. Reply
  • taltamir - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Starting the power cosumption graphs at 50 watt instead of 0 watt is GROSSLY MISLEADING! and very unfair to AMD.

    Lack of performance per watt comparison is unfair to Intel. Yea, AMD finally is able to, at stock, beat intel on some benchmarks... But they consume significantly more power to do so (intel could easily start selling higher clocked parts too)
    Reply
  • pcfxer - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    If I ever build a new machine...it looks like I'll swing towards my first ever Intel box...hrmmm the anticipation may make me do it just for fun even though my Phenom II X555BE Unlocked and OC'd to 3.5GHz serves me just fine. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    it would be nice if they were normalized to idle power usage since we are comparing CPU power usage. Reply
  • halbhh2 - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    I got curious about the idle power and visited 7 sites to look at reviews. No 2 sites had the same idle power difference between the 8350 vs the i7 3770. Values ranged from 9 watts AMD *lower* (lower! than intel) to 22 watts higher. The higher readings seemed to all be with the Asus Crosshair V, which logically must be a power hog.

    You should consider the idle power numbers *not* representative. Unreliable.
    Reply
  • danrien - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    Seems like its server opteron cousin would be kick-ass. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    LOL - seems like... hahahahhahahah in some imaginary future in a far off land, if and when and only if amd does xxxx and yyyyyy and blah blah blah blah,.... blew it. Reply
  • g101 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    More extreme ignorance from the idiot CeriseCogburn. Little boys who only game should seriously consider not commenting on things they aren't capable of comprehending.

    Stupid little bitchboy CeriseCogburn...What a waste of oxygen.
    Reply
  • DDR4 - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    nice to see AMD make better procs and lower their prices Reply
  • andrewkoch - Friday, November 09, 2012 - link

    If you live in an area that requires A/C most of the year like me, the true cost of owning a FX8350 processor is about an additional $100 year vs. owing a 3570k.
    Fx8350 +15 watts idle +95 watts load vs. i5 3570k
    50 hours week light cpu usage = 75W
    10 hours week heavy cpu usage = 760w
    Combined usage = 1025w @$0.11 Kw/h = $1.12
    A/C usage 75%-80% @$0.11 Kw/h = $.84
    Extra electrical cost $2/week
    Extra electrical cost $100/yearly or $300/3 years

    Maybe my math is wrong, but if you use A/C most of the year and pay for electricity an AMD cpu is a waste of money. Then again some people still use incandescent light bulbs instead of compact fluorescent lamps or LED bulbs.
    Reply

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