Greetings folks, and welcome to another Go! Gaming Giant Hardware Review. Today I’ve got an AMD FX-8320 CPU on the test-bench for you all.
Piledriver, Vishera, Bulldozer.. What’s The Difference?
There were several reasons that the previous generation of AMD FX chips (Bulldozer) were considered a failure, but the two biggest reasons were that they simply weren’t faster than the chips they were replacing, as well they were highly overpriced for the longest time.
Now, with the Piledriver chips, AMD feels they have nailed those two biggest issues. First off they were able to crank up the core speeds, all the while keeping the TDP for the chip at a toasty 125w. The second thing is that the launching price for these chips was much more in-line with what you would expect from an AMD product. (who hasn’t been known for overly high-priced chips in well over a decade)
We’ll be putting the AMD FX-8320 through a barrage of tests today to see if AMD was truly able to maximize the performance of the AMD FX line.
Installation & First Impression
Installation of the chip was as simple as 1,2,3.
1: Turn off the PC, release the CPU Cooler
2: Remove old chip, insert new chip, re-apply thermal gel (if necessary)
3: Put the CPU Cooler back on, reset CMOS, boot PC
Once installed, the PC booted up without a hitch.. Sadly, this was the last time I had smooth sailing with the FX-8320. Now before I get into the bevy of issues I’ve had with this chip — let it be known that I have been in contact with AMD about it, and they feel confident that it isn’t a problem with the chip, but rather a problem with the PC itself. (whether it be incompatibility or something else) Now so far everything I’ve tried so far hasn’t fixed the issue, but there is still one last thing I can try, and that’s a different motherboard. At the moment I do not have another AM3+ board on hand, so that is out of the question for the moment, but once I do get a chance to attempt that, I will update this review if it fixes the problem.
After first boot-up, the PC appeared to be running perfectly, then I launched up Far Cry 2 and Prime95 to start gathering some temperatures. This is when I received my first PC crash with the new chip. For the first 48 hours, anytime I would stress the chip, it would reset the PC. I figured initially that I had possibly reseated the Corsair H80 water-block incorrectly (if you’ve ever installed one, you know it’s not hard to mess it up) but alas, even after re-seating the block twice, the problem persisted.
Something miraculous (or terrible) happened after the first 48 hours. The PC stopped resetting EVERY time I stressed it, instead adopting the trend of just restarting at random. Now I have no way to know for sure when the PC is just going to restart. As you’ll see in the temperature section down below, the temps are toasty, but not nearly to the level of thermal shutdown.
Temperatures & Overclocking
Temperatures were gathered in the same manner that I always use to gather temps. Far Cry 2 running at max settings to get the GPU and memory cooking, then throw in some Prime95 to make sure that the CPU begins to stretch its’ legs as well.
Looking at the numbers, they seem a bit high compared to the numbers being reported by others using this chip. Especially when you factor in that these numbers were achieved with NT-H1 Noctua thermal paste on a Corsair H80 in push/pull with two Noctua NF-F12 fans on it.
Overclocking the FX-8320 is as simple as ever thanks to it being a black-edition unlocked chip. I was able to attain 4.2Ghz in less than five seconds of work. That’s a decent chunk of extra speed from just having to bump the multiplier up. For those who really want to get technical with the overclocking — you should be more than able to push the clock up to the aforementioned 4.2Ghz, and then adjust the FSB from there to achieve even greater speeds. I personally leave the ridiculous overclocking to the PC Enthusiasts. I am a PC Gamer, therefore I only need enough extra performance to help my games achieve the magical 60 FPS. (or close to it)
Once overclocked the temps really didn’t rise that much. You’ve gotta figure, and extra 700mhz of speed per core cost me 4c in total full-load temperature. Sounds like a fair trade to me.
I ran through quite the list of tests for the FX-8320, but to keep things neat and orderly, I will list them below.
AMD FX 8320 (3.5/4.2Ghz) // Kingston HyperX Predator RAM 32GB @ CAS7 (Review Coming Soon)
- 3DMark Vantage
- 3DMark 11
- PCMark 7
- GeekBench 2
- AIDA Queen
- Far Cry 2
- Far Cry 3
- Crysis 2
So let’s kick things off with the synthetic benchmarks — then we’ll move into the games.
3DMark Vantage – Performance Preset
Hmm, 15,329 to 18,805 to 22,080… I think the FX-8320 scaled extremely well when you consider in the fact that the FX-6200 was already running at 4.4Ghz when it achieved that score.
3DMark 11 – Extreme Preset
Yet again the numbers go up from chip to chip, and then speed to speed… Although the boost isn’t even close to being in the same ballpark as in Vantage, the numbers don’t lie.
Same as the previous two tests. It’s blatantly obvious that the FX-8320 is scaling extremely well in synthetic benchmarks. The true test it appears, will be in the gaming benchmarks. Note that the FX-6200 at 4.4Ghz is almost on par with the FX-8320 running stock speeds here, when it comes to Computation points. Luckily the OC comes in and gains some massive ground.
Same story, different benchmark. The FX-8320 outpaces the OC’d FX-6200 by about 1,000 points in each test, while the OC on the FX-8320 then outpaces itself at stock speeds by 1,000 in GeekScore, but 2,000 in the other two tests.
I love CineBench. It’s such a simple concept, rendering the picture, but it still gives you accurate results that scale extremely well. (or poorly in some cases) The scaling here is really nice, and puts the FX-8320 in front of quite a few i7 chips when OC’d.
Another simple benchmark. I love queen for the fact that it compares your score to a large selection of other CPU’s. Just for comparisons sake, I’m throwing in the score from a Core i7 965 Extreme CPU running at 3.2Ghz. These aren’t really comparable, since the i7 is running on triple-channel DDR3-1333Mhz memory, but it still gives you a general idea on how this chip (priced at $180) compares to a chip that, not so long ago, was retailing for over $1,000.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The testing and computations that ScienceMark does are way above my head. Nevertheless, running benchmarks with it can prove extremely handy. These number baffle me. For all intents and purposes, ScienceMark is clearly stating (at least within the parameters of its testing) that the FX-6200 is the better chip when OC’d than the FX-8320 at stock. (and to a lesser extent OC’d as well)
Now this is a benchmark I 100% understand. Zipping a 165Mb file into two different formats (ZIP and RAR) and gathering the times. I also ran it at 700MB to also check the chip’s long distance speed, as opposed to just its short area burst. As you’d expect, at stock speeds the FX-8320 goes back and forth with the FX-6200, since this is mostly a test of clock speed, not the number of cores. Once the FX-8320 is OC’d, it can best anything that the FX-6200 can put on the board.
Far Cry 2 – Max Settings @ 1360×768
As expected the difference between the chips at first is an average of three frames per second. The jump from stock to OC produces yet another five frames per second on average, as well as raising the minimum frames above the golden 60 fps mark. I was surprised to see that the maximum FPS was higher on the FX-6200 as well as the FX-8320 at stock speeds than that of the FX-8320 OC’d.
Far Cry 3 – Max Settings @ 1360×768
The trend is continuing from the Synthetic tests. The pacing is similar, with the FX-6200 pulling up the rear, while the FX-8320 at 4.2Ghz pulls ahead. Obviously none of the numbers gathered here in Far Cry 3 are amazing, but I can say from experience that hitting 15FPS is a very rare occasion while playing this game. Not only are the graphics absolutely amazing, they’re also extremely well optimized.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Max Settings @ 1360×768
I’ve run out of ways to say the same thing… I have to say though that the biggest difference between each score here, is that they each brought the minimum FPS closer to the 30 mark, which is really where you want to be for a minimum frame rate.
Note that these scores are WITH the Hi-Def texture pack that Bethesda put out, as well as a few other graphical enhancing mods. Running the game at the default max settings would net over 100fps easily.
Crysis 2 – Max Settings W/ Hi-Def Textures and DX11 Patch
Finally a test where there is a large difference between the FX-6200 and FX-8320. Though I was disappointed in Crysis 2 as a game (being a HUGE fan of the original), no one can deny the graphics sure are pretty. When the game launched, the DX9 graphics were on par with console games, but with the Hi-Def and DX11 patches, Crytek was really able to make Crysis 2 stand away from the rest of the pack. It’s obvious that Crysis 2 is one of the few games on the market that really found a use for the extra cores available on the eight-core.
All the reboots aside, the FX-8320 is a solid chip when it comes to performance. Now obviously this feels like the chip we should’ve got in the first place, and the improvements wouldn’t warrant the price of picking one up to replace a Bulldozer chip, but, if you are running a Phenom II or anything older, then this is the line of chips that are worth finally picking up an upgrade.
Intel still holds the performance crown, and that’s not going to change. Luckily with this line of chips, AMD has proven that they CAN compete, and can do it at a much lower price-point. Kudos to AMD for owning up to (in so many words) the lackluster performance of the Bulldozer line of chips, and fixing it with the Piledriver chips.
I loved my FX-6200 chip, and under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replaced it with a Piledriver, but as you can see from the tests, if you do decide to take a similar road, you will see performance gains across the board. (some are minimal at best though)
I’m not going to count the reboot problems I am having against the chip, since I have no concrete proof that it’s the chips fault, (at a level where it could affect multiple consumers) and will update this review if testing a different motherboard fixes the issue.
A quick explanation of the award system. We have the main award category with three awards; Bronze (Good Overall Product), Silver (Great Overall Product), and Gold (Excellent/Near Perfect Overall Product) as the highest. Then we have two different Sub-Categories, Internal Hardware Awards for performance; Yellow (Low-End Performer), Orange (Mid-Range Performer), and Red (High-End Performer) as the highest. The third and final Sub-Category is for both Internal Hardware and External Peripherals; Black (Enthusiast/Gamer Qualities), Blue (Exceptional Build and Design), Green (Terrific Dollar To Performance Ratio), White (Innovative But Flawed)
- Finally Performance Comparable To Intel Chips
- Price Point Is Much More Competitive ($180)
- Quite A Few Improvements Over Bulldozer
- Overclocks Extremely Well
- Rebooting Issues (Just Throwing It Out There)
- Temps Run A Bit High
You Can Purchase A Piledriver Chip Here.