AMD’s FX-8150 vs. Core i7 & Phenom II – Bulldozer Arrives!
The new “Bulldozer” FX-series CPUs released today from AMD, and ABT has been evaluating the “Zambezi” 8-core flagship FX-8150 for the past 5 days. We naturally want to know if it is a good upgrade from AMD’s aging Phenom II architecture and we will be comparing its performance to our overclocked 980 Black Edition also on the AM3+ platform and also to our overclocked Intel Core i7-920 LGA-1366 platform.
We will briefly introduce the new FX Bulldozer architecture and then head right into our evaluation which will highlight performance in 20 modern games at 1920×1200 and 2560×1600. We will also run synthetic and real world benchmarks on our stock-clocked and overclocked FX-8150. We will work to establish its performance in games when paired with a single HD 6970 and also with HD 6970 CrossFire-X2. In this way, we will see if the FX-8150 is worth the $245 that AMD is asking for it.
We notice that FX 8150 is positioned against Intel’s enthusiast CPU line-up and directly against the upper-midrange Core i5 2500K. Considering that AMD is introducing their new flagship processor at $245, we can expect that its performance should be between the 2500K and 2600K.
Here is how AMD visualizes their line-up. Although they say it is not indicative of performance positioning, it generally is. You may also notice that AMD does not include Intel’s highest end LGA 1366 platform and that Intel will again lock down the high end when Sandy Bridge-E launches later on this month.
AMD is releasing seven CPUs simultaneously and they are available globally later on today in quantity – from the lowest-priced 4-core FX 4100 for $115, to the the 6-core FX 6100 for $165; as well as the flagship 8-core FX 8150 for $245 and the FX 8120 which is also 8-core for $205 as shown in the table below:
Below is the Bulldozer family without the pricing but with more details of their differences. As you can see, the L3 cache remains the same as well as 1866MHz DDR support and all FX processors will use the AM3+ motherboard platform. It is likely that older AM3 motherboards will support these new FX CPUs with a BIOS update, so it is an upgrade path for older Phenom IIs.
The Bulldozer Architecture
AMD has been working on new CPU architecture since long before Phenom II. Phenom II reached its performance peak in gaming with the 980 Black Edition (BE) which we reviewed here a few months ago. It is AMD’s fastest 4-core processor and it sports a stock CPU speed of 3.7GHz. We were able to overclock ours to 4.3GHz and that is the speed that we shall test it at; very nearly at the current limit of the Phenom II architecture on air-cooling.
The stock speed of the FX-8150 is 3.6GHz; however, Turbo Core mode allows 4 cores to reach 3.9GHz on all 8-cores and 4.2GHz with 4-cores if there is sufficient thermal headroom. So basically we are putting up a 4.2GHz Bulldozer against a Phenom II clocked at 4.3GHz. And we also able to give our FX-8150 an overclocked boost of all 8 cores to 4.4GHz, to give you an idea of its scaling in games.
AMD’s Bulldozer versus Intel’s Sandy Bridge
AMD is positioning their top FX-8150 CPU against Intel’s upper midrange – specifically against the i5 2500K. Our test CPU is the older “Bloomfield” Core i7-920 which we can stably clock past 3.8GHz (with turbo on a single core to 4.0GHz). Overclocked, it should offer similar performance to the stock-clocked i5 2500K (3.4/3.8GHz) in gaming with a single powerful video card like HD 6970 or the GTX 580 at resolutions at or above 1080p. Here is AMD’s chart which shows AMD’s FX on-paper advantages over Intel’s competing CPUs.
The FX-8150 looks great on paper. The Phenom II’s tradition “weakness” against Intel’s Core2 processors have always been their single- and lightly-threaded performance. And with the recent release of Intel’s Sandy Bridge i5 2500K and i5 2600K, the performance gap has widened in Intel’s favor. We are going to be looking to see what AMD has done to close the gap with the new Bulldozer architecture.
Head over to the next page and we’ll find more out about Bulldozer architecture