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AMD Bulldozer FX-8150 Processor Review

Author: MAC
Date: October 11, 2011
Product Name: AMD FX-8150
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Conclusion


On page 2 of this review, we said that AMD made the right decision in pricing the $245 FX-8150 against $220 Core i5-2500K, albeit we ended that sentence with “…kind of.” Now that you have seen the benchmarks, you probably understand why we made that remark, but let's put things into clearer pespective with the tables below.


As you can see, the FX-8150 does indeed demonstrate its superiority in all the highly multi-threaded applications, as it clearly should since it's an eight-core chip competing against a four-core one. However, it gets trampled in more lightly threaded programs, as well as most games. The exception to this is in the very latest games where the Zambezi chip still loses, but by an insignificant amount. Based on our talks with AMD, they firmly assert that it is in these newer pieces of software that Zambezi's supposedly forward-looking architecture can really shine. When compared with the $315 Core i7-2600K, the FX-8150 comes out looking even worse, since the four-core/eight-thread HyperThreading-enabled Intel chip can more than match the Zambezi's multi-threading performance in most applications.

Overall then, while Zambezi might have been a very capable competitor to Intel's Bloomfield LGA1366 and Lynnfield LGA1156 series, its allure whithers when placed head-to-head against modern-day Sandy Bridge processors. Generally speaking it can hold its own in modern games, but mostly in situations where the GPU is acting ast the bottleneck, since it takes the CPU out of the equation a bit. While apps that take full advantage of its forward-looking AES, AVX, FMA4 and XOP instruction set and the improved thread scheduler in Windows 8 might give Zambezi a healthy performance bump in the future, as it stands today it's hard to recommend when comparing to Intel's current offerings. The exception to this is perhaps in situations were multi-threading performance is the number one priority, since with the right software you are getting good Bang for your Buck in that area.


When compared to AMD's previous flagship four-core Phenom II X4 980, the FX-8150 obviously comes out looking quite rosy, except for the few instances where its single-threaded performance is revealed to be lacking. However, when compared to the Phenom II X6 1100T things get cloudy again. It is hard to find value in the $245 FX-8150 when the X6 1100T retails for a mere $190. That is almost 30% cheaper and you are getting very similar performance in all but the most highly-threaded applications. With 3 to 4 years of development time, a new manufacturing process, and twice as many transistors as a Phenom II X6, you can't blame us for being slightly disappointed. Heck, the FX-8150 doesn't even consume less power than the Phenom II X6 1100T.

AMD are quick to boast that Zambezi has two 2 additional cores, a huge chunk of cache, and a lot more megahertz than the competition, but at the moment it doesn't seem like they have been able to squeeze much extra performance from all those bits and bobbles. As it stands, in most instances, AMD are lagging behind Intel when it comes to performance per dollar, performance per watt and performance per square millimeter of die space. The good news for AMD fans is the Pilediver refresh should be arriving in early 2012, albeit in APU form first, and they claim a 10-15% performance increase. However, even that threatens to be totally eclipsed since Intel's upcoming mainstream Ivy Bridge processors are also launching sometime in early 2012.

 
 
 

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