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

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.

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.


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Rating: 8.0.

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