AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8-Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7)

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Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 range have been dominating the headlines in 2011, bringing together a heady combination of class leading performance with competitive pricing. Today AMD are set to revitalise their famous FX brand name and we analyse the new flagship FX 8150 Black Edition processor. Is it enough to put them back on the map?

AMD have been struggling to offer Intel a serious fight this year in the mid range sector and we all want a new challenger, because a competitive market is a healthy thing.

The Phenom II X4 processors are literally light years behind and although we regularly use the 6 core Phenom II X6 processors in our offices for some encoding duties, they are also comfortably outperformed by the latest Core i5 and Core i7 designs … an issue made even more apparent after overclocking. Both X4 and X6 are pretty much limited to 4.3ghz-4.4ghz with air cooling, whereas the latest Core i5 and Core i7 processors can reach 5 ghz.

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Enter the new FX 8150 Black Edition processor, the world’s first 8 core desktop chip which has already hit the headlines for breaking an overclocking record, achieving a staggering clock speed of 8.429 ghz when cooled by liquid helium. Obviously such heights are beyond the limits of mere mortals, but the signals are already firmly in place that the new design will overclock easier and further than the previous generation. Precisely the subliminal message AMD wanted to circulate before the official release.

Today, to test the processor, we selected a Gigabyte 990 FXA-UD7 motherboard. AMD sent us an Asus CrossHair V motherboard kit for our review, but we know everyone else is getting the same configuration and we wanted to build a system which wasn’t cherry picked by AMD. I have reviewed this motherboard before and was extremely impressed with the overall design.

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AMD are promoting the product at a performance level between the current Intel Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k, with a price point hopefully to match. The Core i5 2500k has underwent some price reductions in recent months, dropping to £167.99 inc vat. The formidable Core i7 2600k is available at time of publication for £235 inc vat.

The FX8150 should launch with a US price just under $250, meaning AMD should be aiming to hit a UK price of £200 inc vat.

This is all very well, but will the FX 8150 be worth the extra cost when compared against a Core i5 2500k?

We aim to find that out today … and more.

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The AMD FX 8150 processor ships in a very artistic box with the words ‘Black Edition’ featuring on the front. This means that the processor is unlocked, to make sure the overclocking experience is as easy as possible.

Processor Model CPU Base CPU Turbo Core CPU Max Turbo TDP Cores L2 Cache L3 Cache Max DDR3 PKG NB
FX-8150 3.6GHz 3.9GHz 4.2GHz 125W 8 8MB 8MB 1866mhz AM3+ 2.2GHZ
FX-8120 3.1GHz 3.4GHz 4.0GHz 125W 8 8MB 8MB 1866mhz AM3+ 2.2GHZ
FX-6100 3.3GHz 3.6GHz 3.9GHz 95W 6 6MB 8MB 1866mhz AM3+ 2.0GHZ

The FX-8150 slots in right at the top of the new FX range.

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The FX 8150 is based around an 8 core design… the world’s first 8 core desktop chip. It runs with a base frequency of 3.6ghz, and can turbo right up to 4.2ghz. If you are mathematically challenged, this translates to a 600mhz boost.

Above, we have listed CPU Turbo Core speeds of 3.9ghz and ‘max turbo’ speeds of 4.2ghz.

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Above, we took a screenshot during an encoding task, and we can see that the multiplier has increased to 19.5x, giving a clock speed of 3.9ghz, matching the AMD Turbo core figure.

The design offers new instruction support for FMA4, XOP, AES, AVX, and SSE 4.2, for next generation PC applications.

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The Bulldozer Concept was realised with a 2 core design which could share the hardware when the demand was based around a single thread. The engineers wanted a hardware design which would have little impact on the timing and complexity of critical paths. A structure which would also benefit from increasing the amortized bandwidth. AMD designed the chip so it could utilise the shared bandwidth with a targeted feature set to benefit both threads.

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Bulldozer is a ‘monolithic’ dual core building block which can support two threads of execution. It shares latency tolerant functionality with dynamic resource allocation between threads. In real world terms this offers greater scalability and predictability than two threads sharing a single core.

The design also has bandwidth related advantages for multi threaded situations without significant loss on serial single threaded workload components. Another benefit is that when only one thread is active, it can get access to all the shared resources.

The Bulldozer front end modules can decode up to 4 instructions per cycle, which compares to 3 on the previous generation Phenom II processors.

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The shared front end features decoupled predict and fetch pipelines with a prediction directed instruction prefetch design. This is fed into the dedicated cores which feature a unified scheduler per core and a way predicted 16k byte L1 Dcache.

The shared FPU features co processor organisation and reports the completion of tasks back to the parent core. There are dual 128 bit packed integer pipes and a unified scheduler for both threads. The chip has a 16 way unified L2 cache.

chip overview AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

AMD are using the same die for their desktop and server products, each Bulldozer module has two cores, for a total of eight. Zambezi, Interlagos and Valencia chips all follow this structure.

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Above, a breakdown of the chip structure. There is 128kb of Level1 data cache, split into 16kb per core. There is 256k of Level 1 instruction cache, split into 64kb per module. Finally there is a 8MB of Level 2 cache, split into 2 MB per module.

The Integrated Northbridge controls a total of 8MB of Level 3 cache, with two 72 bit wide DDR3 memory channels and four 16 bit HyperTransport links. AMD have attempted to minimise the silicon area by sharing functionality between two cores, and circuits are power gated dynamically to help improve power efficiency.

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The AM3+ platform offers support for CPU voltage loadline as well as increases in both ILDT current and DRAM current. This will help improve HyperTransport link speeds. Out of the box memory support extends to DDR3 1866mhz speeds.

We have reviewed the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 motherboard before, but it is well worth a recap for today’s review. It is fully loaded, offering support for DDR3 memory up to 2000mhz and 2,3 and 4 way AMD CrossfireX and Nvidia SLI configurations. The board also includes support for SATA 6GB/s, IEEE 1394a and USB 3.0 devices.

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It is shipped in a large, brightly coloured box with the focus on the stylishly crafted gold and gun metal coloured heatsink. There is a list of specifications along the bottom of the box, ideal for browsing in a store.

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The box is a gatefold design which opens up to detail selling points, such as the power efficiency, support for 4 way SLI and Crossfire and USB 3 and SATA 3 connectivity. Gigabyte also detail the boards design, featuring Japanese solid capacitors and Ferrite Core chokes which are rated to 50,000 hours.

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The bundle is comprehensive, including a manual, driver and software disc, I/O backplate, SATA cables and several stickers for a case. Additionally, there are a plethora of SLI and Crossfire cables in the box: 3 way SLI bracket, 4 way SLI bracket, single SLI cable and two Crossfire cables.

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The 990FXA-UD7 is a very attractively designed board, with eye catching gold and silver heatsinks.

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The board has 6 PCI E x16 slots. Two of them run at x16, two x8 and two x4.

Gigabyte say: “For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_1 slot; if you are installing two PCI Express graphics cards, it is recommended that you install them in the PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX16_2 slots. The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot and the PCIEX8_2 slot with PCIEX16_2. The PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2 slot will operate at up to x8 mode when the PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2 is populated.”

Along the bottom of the board are three USB 2.0 headers, a single USB 3.0 header, a FireWire header and the front I/O audio connector. There are only three CPU fan headers on the board, which still stuns me, even a few months later. This is a high end board, not a budget model.

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Along the bottom of the board are 8 SATA ports. All of these ports are SATA 6GBp/s capable. The two grey ports on the right are handled by the Marvel 88SE9172 controller while the other six are powered by the onboard AMD SB950 South Bridge controller. Next to the SATA ports is a diagnostic debug readout which is used for troubleshooting in case of any problems.

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The motherboard can support memory with speeds at 1066mhz/1333mhz/1600mhz/1866mhz and 2000 mhz (OC). A total of 32GB of memory can be installed and obviously it is a dual channel memory architecture.

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Gigabyte include a cover over the reset CMOS button to prevent accidental activation. They have also included a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header to aid with hardware based security.

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The back panel connectors include: 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector, 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector, 1 x IEEE 1394a port, 7 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 1 x eSATA/USB Combo connector, 1 x eSATA 6Gb/s connector, 1 x RJ-45 port, 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone).

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Above, the AMD FX 8150 Black Edition engineering sample ‘locked and loaded’.

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.

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Test System

Processor: AMD FX 8150 Black Edition @ 3.6ghz
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix (two for Eyefinity section)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Monitors: 3x Ilyama ProLite E2472HDD
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

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Software:
Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit).
FRAPS Professional.
SiSoft Sandra.
Windows Media Player/VLC Player.
CPUz.
GPUz.
CPUID Hardware Monitor.
Cinebench R11.5 (64-bit).
Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 Ultra.
Cyberlink MediaEspresso.
CrystalDiskMark.
3DMark 11.
PCMark 7.
Catalyst 11.10 preview driver.

Games:
Battlefield 3 (pre-release code).
Dirt 3.
Resident Evil 5
Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Alien V Predator.

Comparison Systems:

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Processor
: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T @ 3.3ghz
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix (two for Eyefinity section)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

Intel Core i7 2600k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600k @ 3.4ghz
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen 3
Cooler: Intel XTS-100H
Memory: ADATA 1600mhz DDR3 8GB (2x4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix (two for Eyefinity section)
Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 850W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Boot Drive: Intel 510 SSD 250GB

Intel Core i5 2500k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2500k @ 3.3ghz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2 CPU Cooler
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory 8GB (2x4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix (two for Eyefinity section)
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Boot Drive: Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD.

Monitors: Dell U3011 and 3x Ilyama ProLite E2472HDD

All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests across five closely matched runs and averages out the results to get an accurate median figure.

On the last page we listed the system builds used for the review today. We are aiming to compare the FX 8150 processor against the leading ‘last generation’ AMD Phenom II X6 1100T and the Intel Core i5 2500k and Intel Core i7 2600k. As the FX 8150 is a direct replacement for the 1100T our results today will give an indication of the gains to be expected.

AMD have recommended we test with many synthetic benchmark suites that probably less than 0.5% of you have ever even heard of. We will add one or two of their requests into our overall suite, but we aren’t dominating our testing today with synthetic scripts we never use, or have any interest in. We think you guys will have much more interest in seeing how the hardware performs in real world situations, such as when encoding video or rendering 3D content. This is why the synthetic section today only comprises a very small percentage of the overall testing.

While the Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k systems are vastly different platforms, we have tried to keep the system builds as closely matched as possible. We used memory all at the same 1600mhz clock speed, to keep results as closely rated to the CPU performance as possible.

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CPUZ shows our system build, centralised around the FX 8150 processor. We are using 8GB of G-Skill memory with timings of 9-9-9.

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Strangely enough, at reference speeds we couldn’t get a validation from CPUz, although later in the review when we come to overclock, we did. You can see the link for this hardware build over here.

Earlier in the review we are aiming to show you the reference performance of the new FX 8150 when compared against the reference clocked Core i5 2500k, Core i7 2600k and AMD Phenom 1100T in a variety of synthetic and real world benchmarks. We will then move into game testing and finally an overclocking section, with a head to head against other processors at identical clock speeds.

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AMD have a comprehensive software suite for fine tuning the system directly in Windows. We will however be handling all our overclocking directly in the bios, the traditional way.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.

It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

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The FX 8150 performance characteristics are positive, showing strong integer and float multimedia performance. In the Arithmetic tests, it slots in between the Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k.

Cinebench R11.5 is the newest revision of the popular benchmark from Maxon. The test scenario uses all of your system’s processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral “No Keyframes” animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores.

In fact, CINEBENCH can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.

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We have to admit to feeling slightly disappointed with Cinebench R11.5 performance, especially as the new FX 8150 has two extra cores and is clocked 300mhz higher than the last generation Phenom II X6 1100T processor. The performance variable is minimal.

PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.

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We didn’t directly compare the overall scores with other systems, as differences in components will alter the score. That said, the overall result is healthy as we are using a single HD6970 for this particular test.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.  We used performance settings for this benchmark.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

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A score of over 5,400 points for a system based around a single graphics card is good, but we want to compare against the other systems at the ‘extreme (X)’ setting.

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Performance is very close at the ‘extreme’ setting, with the Core i7 2600k leading the way by a small margin. Surprisingly the Phenom II X6 1100T managed to consistently outperform the FX 8150 system, even if it was by a negligible differential.

Almost everyone uses Flash based websites, and we wanted to judge how each of the systems would handle high definition 1080p content).

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None of the processors have any problems rendering high definition Flash media, although the Core i7 2600k comes out on top, with a 7.3 percent average. The FX 8150 takes second place at 8.4 percent, just ahead of the last generation flagship X6 1100T.

Our good friends at Cyberlink kindly supplied the software for our BluRay and conversion tests.

Cyberlink PowerDVD 11
is one of the finest solutions for the BluRay experience on Windows and we found this software to work perfectly with this chipset. We tested with the Blu-Ray Disc of The Day The Earth Stood Still starring Keano Reeves.

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Again, no performance concerns when viewing 1080p Bluray content, and the performance parameters are so close that it would make little real world difference.

The Matroska Media container is a very popular, open standard Multimedia container which is usually found as .MKV files. It is a very popular format in enthusiast circles and can be played directly in Windows Media Player with suitable codecs installed. We use the Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP).

We ripped our BluRay disc of Sniper Reloaded to 1080P MKV and use Windows Media Player to playback the file.

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Solid performance from all the processors today, with the Core i7 2600k leading the way, by a considerable margin.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

New and Improved Features

  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.

For our testing today we are converting a 3.3GB 720p MKV file (2h:12mins) to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power. We are using the newest version which has been optimised for Sandybridge processors.

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Media Espresso has clearly not yet been optimised for the FX 8150 as the time taken is more than 2 minutes longer than via the Core i5 2500k. That said, the X6 1100T is still many minutes behind the 2500k so it is possible that these times won’t change that much with upcoming revisions.

We next tried turning on hardware acceleration, enabling the HD6970 to take a chunk out of the encoding time.

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Enabling hardware acceleration takes almost 2 minutes from the overall encoding time, however this is still slower than the Core i5 2500k without hardware acceleration enabled. We called Cyberlink during the publication of this review and we are awaiting information on upcoming patches to enhance AMD performance with this software.

Fritz is a German chess program developed by Frans Morsch and Mathias Feist and published by ChessBase. We are using the latest version of the benchmark which is V4.3.

fritz benchmark AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

We like the Fritz Benchmark, because it is a program based on chess related algorithms and indicates processing efficiency when dealing with complex calculations. In this test the Core i7 2600k leads the way by a clear margin, scoring 13,345 points. The FX 8150 chip takes second position, scoring 11,871 points.

Handbrake is a fantastic free program which we wanted to include to confirm findings with Media Espresso, earlier in the review. HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.

We used the latest V 0.9.5 for testing today across all platforms. We encoded an DVD.MPG file.

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These results are more positive for the AMD processor. The FX 8150 isn’t quite as fast as the Core i7 2600k, but it is very close. The Core i5 2500k trails in last place, almost one full minute slower.

V2011 is the first release of 3DStudio Max to fully support the Windows 7 operating system. This is a professional level tool that many people use for work purposes and our test will show any possible differences between board design today.

Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 software offers compelling new techniques to help bring designs to life by aggregating data, iterating ideas, and presenting the results.

Streamlined, more intelligent data exchange workflows and innovative new modeling and visualization tools help significantly increase designers’ creativity and productivity, enabling them to better explore, validate, and communicate the stories behind their designs.

Major new features:

  • Slate: A node based material editor.
  • Quicksilver: Hardware renderer with multithreaded rendering engine that utilizes both CPU and GPU.
  • Extended Graphite Modeling Toolset
  • 3ds Max Composite: A HDRI-capable compositor based on Autodesk Toxik.
  • Viewport Canvas toolset for 3D and 2D texture painting directly in the viewport
  • Object Painting: use 3D geometry as ‘brushes’ on other geometry
  • Character Animation Toolkit (CAT): now integrated as part of the base package
  • Autodesk Material Library: Over 1200 new photometrically accurate shaders
  • Additional file format support: includes native support for Sketchup, Inventor
  • FBX file linking
  • Save to Previous Release (2010)

We created a new 8200×3200 scene and recorded the time for the hardware to finalise the render.

3d studio max AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

The Core i7 2600k comes out on top, with a 6.53 final render time.  This is around 16 seconds faster than the FX 8150. The Intel Core i5 2500k takes last place, over a single minute slower.

DiRT 3 was only released a short while ago but has received much praise from gamers and reviewers across the globe.  It is the latest iteration of the Colin McRae Rally series, despite Codemasters dropping the Colin McRae branding.  It supports DirectX 11 which enhances detail and brings a number of other visual enhancements to the gaming experience.

dirt 3 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

Gaming performance is really close, however the Intel Core i7 and Core i5 K processors take the top two positions, by a couple of frames per second.

Battlefield 3 has yet to be released however there is a playable beta available which is open to the public. This is one of the most awaited games of the year.

bf3 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

Battlefield 3 really runs well on the AMD system, averaging a little higher than the Core i7 2600k, even if it would be hard to tell the difference in the real world. The Core i5 2500k is only a little behind, neck and neck with the Phenom II X6 1100T.

Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.

To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparible throughout reviews.

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Performance is neck and neck between the last generation X6 1100T and the Core i7 2600k, scoring an average of 61.3 fps. The FX8150 performs at the bottom of the pile in this benchmark, although the differences are marginal.

Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.

resident evil 5 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

Resident Evil is a great looking Direct X 10 game and the FX 8150 comes out on top with this test, averaging almost 1 frame per second more than the competing Core i7 2600k. The last generation X6 1100T struggles a little with this game, dropping to the bottom of the hardware on test today, by a clear margin.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a science fiction action role-playing video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Released in August 2011, it is the third game in the Deus Ex series, and a prequel to the original game released in 2000.

The game is set in 2027, 25 years before the first title, where corporations have extended their influence past the reach of global governments. The game follows Adam Jensen, the security chief for one of the world’s most powerful human augmentation corporations, Sarif Industries. After a devastating attack on Sarif’s headquarters, Adam is forced to undergo radical surgeries that fuse his body with mechanical augmentations, and he is embroiled in the search for those responsible for the attack.

deus ex AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

The AMD FX 8150 performs very well at these settings, keeping up with the Core i7 2600k.

To test Eyefinity today we are using two HD6970′s graphics cards in a CrossfireX configuration on all of the systems.

dirt 3 eyefinity AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

deus ex eyefinity AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution delivered the best CrossfireX performance with the Core i7 2600k, outperforming the AMD FX 8150 by a couple of frames per second. It is faster however than the Core i5 2500k.

AMD created quite a buzz a short while before launch, by achieving a staggering clock speed of 8.429 ghz with the AMD FX8150 processor. This is going to be just a dream however, as the mainstream audience won’t be using liquid nitrogen or helium to cool their hardware.

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Today we are using our long term favourite air cooler, the Noctua NH D14. This has won more awards worldwide than any other air cooler on the market. It may cost a small fortune, but no air cooler has yet to knock it from the performance throne.

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We have a lot of experience with the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 motherboard and have always achieved great overclocked results with it. For this section of the review, we wanted to get the system stable to 4.6ghz so we could compare clock for clock against the Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k, on the next page.

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The bios is really straightforward to use and due to the ‘no compromises’ design has fantastic power regulation and stability in an overclocked state.

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We changed the hardware thermal control to disabled.

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By adding another 0.100V we managed to get the system stable at 4.6ghz. As simple as that. It really is a testament to the quality of the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 that a 1 GHZ overclock is such a painfree process.

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System validation at 4.6ghz is available here. As you can see, the system is perfectly validated at this speed, but it didn’t certify at the reference clock speeds of 3.6ghz. Bizarre.

We did manage to get the processor clocked even higher, but we will follow up shortly in the review, after testing against the Intel systems, on a clock per clock basis.

It is worth pointing out that the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 has no bios setting to disable APM (Application Power Management). Without this disabled, the motherboard will maintain the TDP limit when overclocking or overvolting above the limits. As a result APM will throttle some of the cores back to lower Pstates during heavy, multithreaded workloads reducing performance.

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To get around this, we have to use AMD OverDrive software (above). We enable TurboCore, apply, then disable TurboCore … this in effect also disables Application Power Management.

Special thanks to Sami Makinen for lending us some of his expertise to work around this issue.

The AMD FX 8150 ships at a clock speed of 3.6ghz, which is markedly faster than the last generation X6 1100T flagship, which was clocked at 3.3ghz.

We overclocked both the Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k systems to the same 4.6ghz clock speed as the AMD FX 8150 processor, by changing the multipliers, leaving the FSB at reference speeds, and memory at 1600mhz. This negates the clock differential between all the chips.

cinebench8 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

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When the clock speeds are matched the performance differential between the Core i5 2500k and FX 8150 is very close, 7.29 points compared to 7.32 points, in favour of the FX 8150. It is worth reiterating that the FX 8150 has eight physical cores while the Core i5 2500k only has four.

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Surprisingly, even at 4.3ghz, the last generation Phenom II X6 1100T outperforms both the Core i5 2500k and FX 8150 – scoring 7.51 points. This is particularly interesting on an architectural level as the FX 8150 has two extra physical cores when compared to the X6 1100T.

As mentioned on the last page, we overclocked both the Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k systems to the same 4.6ghz clock speed as the AMD FX 8150 processor, by changing the multipliers, leaving the FSB at reference speeds, and memory at 1600mhz. This negates the clock differential between all the chips.

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The AMD FX8150 takes second place, behind the Core i7 2600k in our performance chart. It delivers very strong Integer results at 4.6ghz.

We wanted to revisit the media encoding section of the review after overclocking all the systems to an equal clock basis of 4.6ghz.

video encoding3 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

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Moving from 3.6ghz to 4.6ghz gives huge gains for the system, dropping the initial encoding time by a whopping 2 minutes to just over 12 minutes. When enabling HD6970 hardware encoding, the time improves by well over another minute, to 10 minutes and 54 seconds.

As mentioned earlier in the review, Cyberlink tend to update this program fairly regularly, so we do expect a software patch to be released in the next month or two which will target the new AMD hardware. Media Espresso was updated recently with full Sandybridge and Fusion support.

As we noted earlier in the review, hitting a clock speed of 4.6ghz only required a 0.100 voltage increase and a simple change of the multiplier.

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Achieving 4.8ghz required a little extra voltage – +0.125 according to the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 bios as shown above.

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We also changed the Load Line Control to the ‘extreme’ setting for complete stability. Until now we didn’t need to use this setting.

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System validation at 4.8ghz is available over here.

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We think this is very impressive for air cooling and is around 400mhz better than we achieved with the last generation X6 1100T.

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We tried for 5ghz and managed to get the system booting.

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System validation at 5ghz is available here. Sadly however, the system wasn’t completely rock solid at this speed and would occasionally bluescreen, regardless of the voltage settings we tried (and there were many). That said, we feel with quality watercooling that 5.0ghz and more would be possible. Clearly, in the right hands the FX 8150 will clock much higher than any processor AMD have released to date.

As detailed earlier in the review, we have to use the software related APM fix to ensure the processor is working at full speed via the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 motherboard.

As detailed on the previous page, we did get the system posting at 5.0ghz, and even managed to run some benchmarks. We won’t be publishing the results however because the system was running very hot and would occasionally BSOD under heavy load. With improved cooling we are positive that higher clock speeds would be achievable.

This page shows some results we achieved at 4.8ghz, which was 100% stable and could be used 24/7. With the selection of quality partnering components, such as the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 and Noctua NH D14, it really helps the FX 8150 achieve some fantastic final clock speeds.

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At 4.8ghz, the FX 8150 scores 7.68 points, which allows it to take second spot. It is still noticeably behind the Core i7 2600k however, which is also running 200mhz slower.

The AMD FX 8150 Black Edition is certainly a high performance processor, although I have to admit that for the majority of applications on test today, it failed to really get me excited. I am loathe to give the impression that I am a ‘jaded reviewer’, but with a brand new, ‘world first’ eight core architectural design I had expected better results with our suite of today’s ‘real world’ software.

AMD have released the 2011 FX range with new instruction support for FMA4, XOP, AES, AVX, and SSE 4.2 and they are understandably keen to promote these features – even if, today, they mean very little. We certainly didn’t use some of the (literally) unknown software on their recommended list, but we added several to our regular suite, such as Handbrake 9.5 and Fritz Chess. We selected these specifically because they will be utilised by a wide enthusiast audience on a fairly regular basis.

The FX 8150 performed very well with these programs, although it was still comfortably outperformed by the Core i7 2600k. The FX 8150 fares well against the Core i5 2500k, outperforming the Intel counterpart in almost everything at ‘out of the box’ settings.

Realistically however this is only half of the story, because both the Core i5 2500k and FX 8150 Black Edition are heavily promoted as unlocked processors ideal for the overclocking audience. This is supported by AMD’s FX 8150 pre launch media frenzy of achieving a world record clock speed of 8.429 ghz.

When we overclock the FX 8150 and i5 2500k to the same clock speeds, then the results aren’t quite as crystal clear – Cinebench for instance, which is based on the Cinema 4D rendering engine, gives almost identical results which indicates that AMD really do need the 300mhz core clock advantage to have a clear and concise victory.

We also need to address the cost in the United Kingdom. AMD have said the processor will cost around $250 in the USA, which would directly convert to a price of £157. Sadly, this is never the case, and with a 20% VAT rate and other country specific charges it appears as if AMD will be releasing the processor around the £220 inc vat price point.

If this is the case, then it is basically going head to head with the Core i7 2600k, which won’t be good for AMD on any level. Overclockers UK are selling the 2600k for £235 inc vat, and sadly the FX 8150 can’t compete against this processor, either at reference speeds, or when overclocked. If AMD can get the UK price to £180-£190 inc vat it will make more sense.

We noticed great performance results when using the FX 8150 in a gaming system, as it often managed to keep up with, or outperform the Core i7 2600k with some of the engines we tested. These differences we might add, are often within one or two frames per second. Very slight.

We thought we would recap over all the review content today and present some graphs highlighting FX 8150, i7 2600k and i5 2500k performance. First place in a specific benchmark earns 5 points, second place earns 3 points and last place 1 point.

Let us look at results of the hardware at ‘out of the box’ settings.

out of the box results5 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

At reference clock speeds the Intel Core i7 2600k is the clear winner scoring 64 points out of a possible 70 points. The FX 8150 takes second place with 42 points and the Core i5 2500k takes last place with 20 points. Obviously this is at default clock speeds, and when overclocked to 4.6ghz (or beyond) then the results are a little closer between the FX 8150 and Core i5 2500k.

Would we buy an FX 8150? This is a good question and one that we have been debating for many days. The problem AMD have right now is the cost of ownership. If the FX 8150 retails at £220 inc vat, then we need to add the cost of the motherboard, which in the case of the 990FXA-UD7 is currently around £200. Aiming further down the food chain to an MSI 990FXA-GD80 will set you back £150 inc vat (saving £50). We haven’t tested the MSI board however, so we can’t confirm it will overclock as well as the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 used today.

The Intel Core i5 2500k system we built today costs £170 inc vat for the processor, with the Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 motherboard adding another £82 inc vat. This means the Intel Core i5 2500k core components cost £252 inc vat, while the AMD FX8150 counterparts will cost £420 inc vat.

At £420 for the core components, it positions the FX 8150 build head to head against a Core i7 2600k system … which is not a win scenario for AMD.

Unless AMD can drop the UK price of the FX 8150 processor then it is going to be a tough sell, because when combined with the current pricing of the 990FXA motherboards the value for money aspect is relatively poor. We would still opt for the Core i5 2500k system, due to the competitive performance levels and significantly lower price.

If you can pick up a FX 8150 for around £180-£190 then it becomes a stronger buying decision, because at £220 the market is just too competitive right now for this to win our top award. Either that, or pick up an AMD FX 8150 on a holiday to America, because they are getting a heck of a deal at $250 (around £160).

Pros:

  • overclocks well.
  • good scaling.
  • faster than the Core i5 2500k.
  • performs exceptionally well with modern gaming engines.

Cons:

  • UK pricing is high, putting it head to head against Core i7 2600k.
  • When Core i5 2500k is overclocked it is closely matched, and costs less.
  • 990FXA motherboards are still expensive.

Kitguru says: A high performance processor, but the launch is hampered with a higher than expected UK price.

WORTH BUYING1 300x300 AMD FX 8150 Black Edition 8 Core Review (with Gigabyte 990FXA UD7)

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  • Iain

    It seems quite good, I preordered one, will try and get it past 5 ghz with water :)

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  • Samuel

    Yeah 2600k is still the leader under £300, much as I had thought before release. Still, I like the eight core design, seems a fine gaming solution and thats really what most of us do.

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  • Optix

    Its disappointing. I dont think its much better, if at all than the 2500k and it costs more here. I prefer the motherboards from AMD but realistically, that cheapo gigabyte board you reviewed would be all I would ever need.

    Not that impressed overall, but its not a poor product. I had imagined it might be a disaster.

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  • Terry

    In the hands of the expert crowd with phase, im sure this will hit 5-7ghz. it might be a killer product then.

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  • Badfluff

    @ samuel. Sure I game, but all I do? I think not.

    My views on this are slightly disappointing. It is a good chip., but it is VERy late to the game. Intel have a new range to announce very soon. I dont think anyone would be massively happy about this release. Intel will be having a chuckle.

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  • Trevor

    I know it is a new technology, but why is it failing so badly against the 2600k when rendering and professional tasks? It has double the physical cores? It seems such an inefficient design. Very disappointed, I wont be ordering one.

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  • Intel r0xors

    My friend told me I was mad buying a 2500k last month ‘because bulldozer will be a much better processor and cost less’.

    What happened? AMD?

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  • john

    biased review. Just for your info the processors have to be tested at lower resolution in games just so you do not get limited by graphic cards performance (i thought you should know that by now), that being the case in this review where the scores in game are far to close. Give it a go at lower resolutions and see how it ends up then.

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  • john

    If you want to show the difrence between those procesors that should be the way to do it. The way this review is made doesn’t actually presents the difrences between tho competitors (because thay are all limited by the GPU). For that matter why should we buy any of those ? we should just go for a weaker CPU (and much cheaper one) that provides 3 less fps less (at that resolution) than those “high end” CPUS

    And you skyped the power consumtion slide. I wonder why? from what i have read at 4,8 ghz the FX consumes as much as 260 W while running Cinebench.

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  • Brooke

    Who cares about low resolution? I always read those in reviews and say ‘great this one is 3 fps more, but I never use that res anyway, so who cares?’.

    Seems like a decent chip to me, but overprices here.

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Zardon

    John, I don’t want to show differences between processors and system builds at settings that no gamer or enthusiast user will ever touch. We have limited time and focus on the important aspects of the hardware. When building a system it is key to factor in who will buy it and how much they will spend. No one will spend all this money on a gaming system then nothing on a screen to enjoy the high end hardware.

    I think we have shown the differences between the processors in many ways. It actually highlights that at high resolution most of them perform at a very similar level with only slight variables. If you are buying a processor for gaming, then the Core i5 2500k is still the ideal ‘enthusiast’ solution due to the low price in the UK, as I said in the conclusion. A lot of people will be reassured to know that if they buy any of the processors on test today, with a good graphics card that their gaming experience will be first class (even if there are slight variables).

    In regards to power consumption, we are always limited to time. I don’t publish a third party ‘slide’ showing a result. I would test it myself and give an analysis of idle and load results. I haven’t had time to do it right.

    If you have any more concerns over ‘conspiracy theories’ please feel free to email me.

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  • Fred

    Makes sense and I found it a good review. always some haters ;)

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  • Urional

    Chip is good, but its not good enough, Not against Intel really.

    It also looks weak on a single core basis. weaker than the last generation X6.

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  • Apple Jack

    I got a lot from this, especially in regards to rendering. I work rendering 6 hours a day, sometimes from home and i have a 2600k which has b een a great, relatively inexpensive purchase. with studio max it performs well and a part of me was hoping that the 8 core 8150 could very well outperform the 2600k thanks to the extra physical cores, but sadly the cores seem inefficient, lacking ‘horsepower’.

    In regards to other areas it seems strong, but really wont come to full force until the extra extensions are used, which going on history will be long into the next cycle of hardware from intel. Direct X 11 for instance is barely used now, and when it is, it makes very little image quality difference (apart from a few t itles).

    Its not quite the release I was expecting or hoping for. I will wait for X79, but it will be out of my price league. shame the 8 cores hasnt really made any difference in the real world :(

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  • Huckster

    Gaming on any of those systems is fine. thats the conclusion I get. 1080p, if you buy any of the chips you are set. Simple as that. I live in the real world myself and know that even if I bought a last generation X6 1090T or even the 1060 I could play any game on my TV at 1080p.

    Im more interested in the raw productivity tests as I dont just game, and this chip hasn’t shown me I dont need to change my last generation AMD hardware for this. They really are so far behind Intel that I am shocked this was ever released.

    All the new instruction support really will mean very little this year or perhaps even next year. quite saddened :(

    Overclockers will like the processor however because it seems a little of fun, like the K series from Intel in that regard. hitting new speeds and seeing what is possible with cooling changes. the X4 and X6 sucked in that regard.

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  • john

    You complettly forgot about power consumtion… 260W at 4.8 while doing cinebench is ALOT… plus the 4 “cores”one are worst than the older quad core generation. This showld not have been released. Now Intel will just charge much more for their CPU… bad bad bad AMD

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  • Nize

    I find it rather worring that you publish a CPU review without showing power consumption, tight schedule or not. This review in my view gives a completely wrong signal to consumers. The AMD FX-8150 not only perform worse than for example the 2600K, its draws A LOT more power. Some one mentioned 4,8 GHz.. take a look at this graph from NordicHardware..
    http://www.nordichardware.se/images/labswedish/artiklar/CPU-Chipset/Bulldozer/largethumbnails/poweroc.png

    Source: http://www.nordichardware.se/test-lab-cpu-chipset/44360-amd-fx-8150-bulldozer-goer-entre-pa-marknaden-test.html?start=30#content

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Zardon

    Hi Nize. We can take a look at power consumption later when we get time to do it properly. But people can certainly look at your links in the meantime.

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  • Nize

    Glad to hear it and good to see the open discussions in the comments Zardon!

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  • ChrisJ

    Haters gonna hate.

    I’m more interested in how it plays Shogun 2. I don’t play most of the games in the review except for Deus Ex. Basically AMD say “use the scorpius platform” which will be a FX cpu, any AMD GPU from 6850 upwards and the 990FX mobo’s. What I want to know is: will the FX-8150 with the HD6870X2 play Shogun 2 better than the 2500K with the same GPU?
    That said, nearly all other reviews basically say “It’s ok, but it doesn’t live up to expectations”. My point is that all the hype surrounding it meant that it would never have met expectations because expectations were that it would beat the i7, it hasn’t but it does seem to have nestled into a niche between the i7 and i5.
    Also, AMD doesn’t have the collossal R&D budget that Intel has.
    I don’t think the review was biased at all.

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  • Colin Fr.

    Amazing how people always want more :p Im the same, id like to have seen detailed power consumption like the rest of the review which was very detailed.

    No bias at all. I think all the hardware was presented very fairly and I can take from this that the core i5 2500k is still the bargain buy.

    I dont think the FX chip is bad at all, and ive seen it online for £199.99 as it looks like AMD are taking the comments onboard. Some retailers selling it for £230 however so pay attention if you buy one !

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  • U. Drakes

    All the good DX11 games covered and at the resolution I want to see.

    Looks pretty good all around, but on a ‘core per core’ basis it is quite weak really. Still it looks like a mega fun processor to play with, which is one aspect AMD were missing for years. I can see guys getting 6ghz on high end cooling with this.

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  • procupine14

    You know, I was really expecting better performance numbers at that price. Looks like I will be waiting until they go down a bit. I’m pretty excited to see what I can accomplish with my water cooling setup. For now, looks like I will be getting a second HD6870 and getting my 955BE stable at a higher clock speed.

    Great review Z. As always, there are some people that like to nit pick but anyone who follows this site really regularly knows that you guys are super slammed with work.

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  • Stupido

    If this CPU is priced below i5 2500k it would be interesting, maybe so for the people that bought 990-whatever board…
    But still, the power consumption is really worrying… I hope they can fix this in next stepping.
    all in all, disappointing release… but not that much for me, since I’m not a fanboi :D

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  • John

    here is the Shogun 2 performance:

    http://www.hardware.fr/articles/842-22/jeux-3d-total-war-shogun-2-starcraft-ii-anno-1404.html

    an i3 2130 does better… cheers AMD

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  • Daniel

    why your CPUZ says that your Bulldozer is 8130P? (ES) ?

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Zardon

    Just the version of CPUz. correct name is listed in ‘specification’.

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  • Michael

    A lot of you are forgetting that this is a new design path that AMD has taken with their CPU (more like APU, as this is the first steps they are making towards it), also the troubles that AMD had with Global Foundries during production and release… and last but not least, you are all speaking as though this is what they will release for an entire year (or more even?), as I understand it, there will be further revisions/progression in 2012 and onward.

    Now to be honest, I was waiting to see what Bulldozer would actually be like before making my uprgade from a Intel Q9400, and in all honesty, the only thing im really disappointed with about this processor is it’s price. it’s actual competition (2500K) doesnt hammer it to hell and back, not by a long shot.

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  • mp

    Another test with Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 and Crosshair Formula V
    http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showthread.php?t=358508&page=3

    Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 runs better

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