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AMD 2014 FX Refresh- FX-9590, FX-8370, and FX-8370e Review

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Pushing the 8 Cores

It seems like yesterday when I last talked about an AMD refresh!  Oh wait, it almost was.  Some weeks ago I was able to cover the latest AMD APU offerings that helped to flesh out the Kaveri lineup.  We thought AMD was done for a while.  Color us wrong.  AMD pulled out all the stops and set up an AM3+ refresh!  There is a little excitement here, I guess.  I am trying to contain the tongue-in-cheek lines that I am oh-so-tempted to write.

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AMD is refreshing their FX lineup in the waning days of Summer!

Let me explain the situation from my point of view.  The FX lineup for AM3+ has not done a whole lot since the initial release of the Piledriver based FX-8350 and family (Vishera).  Piledriver was a pretty significant update from Bulldozer as it slightly improved IPC and greatly improved power consumption (all the while helping to improve clockspeed by a small degree).  There were two updates before this one, but they did not receive nearly as much coverage.  These updates were the FX-6350 and the FX-9000 series.  The FX-6350 is quite popular with the budget enthusiast crowd who still had not moved over to the Intel side of the equation.  The FX-9000 series were OEM only initially and reaching up to $1000 at the high end.  During that time since the original Vishera chips were released, we have seen the Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell architectures (with a small refresh with Haswell with the 2nd gen products and the latest Socket 2011 units).

Click here to read the rest of the review on AMD's latest FX refresh!

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AMD’s focus has obviously been on their APU offerings and the associated Fusion Control Hubs for them.  While the CPU performance of the latest Kaveri parts has not been anywhere near breathtaking, their acumen in 3D graphics is class leading.  Throw in some pretty modern and competitive chipsets like the A88X and company, the FM2+ products from AMD are very competitive.  AM3+ cannot share that distinction.  The latest 900 series of chipsets were first introduced as the 800 series in 2010.  The SB850 southbridge was rebranded as the SB950 and it continues to be the default southbridge for the latest AM3+ motherboards.  Six SATA 6G ports are not exactly cutting edge, and the lack of features like USB 3.0 support leaves motherboard manufacturers with no choice but to use 3rd party chips to provide that functionality.

The launch of Windows 8 did provide a reason to refresh the AM3+ motherboards with full UEFI support.  Still, there was no work on the chipset side.  The rumored 1090FX chipset which was slated to bring PCI-E 3.0 and USB 3.0 support was scrapped in 2011.  Obviously all focus at AMD was switched to APUs and their ecosystem.  So the AM3+ socket was relegated to an older and mostly outdated chipset.  The motherboard manufacturers have done wonders with these products in adding features all the while keeping the prices low, but there is now a huge feature (and performance) gap between the aged 900 series chipset and the very latest from Intel on the enthusiast side.

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The FX-8370 and FX-8370e are highlighting this particular release.

So what exactly am I getting at?  I think for many of us, we expected the AM3+ socket to be a dead end.  The way AMD was heading, we really did not expect to see any kind of refresh or new product other than the current stack we are faced with.  Well, I was wrong.  AMD does have another refresh for the AM3+ socket.  Along with the refresh come some much needed cuts up and down the board.  AMD also has refocused on where exactly they hope to compete with Intel.  It is good to see AMD move forward, but we have to honestly ask ourselves if this particular refresh was worth the time.

September 2, 2014 | 08:24 AM - Posted by Prodeous

The review it self is top notch, but then its you Josh,so didn't expect anything else :)

As for the processor, I will have to say, that was disappointing. But then a 2 year old architecture.

I wonder who at AMD is the brains behind holding back the Steamroler cores from the AM3+ platform. There are plenty of fans out there, and the Steamroler with the 10%+ improvements in the IPC (on average) would make most AMD fans spend the cash. I do not see many AMD fans spending their cash on either of the new products.

Guess time to start saving for the 2011 platform. (first Intel platform since 486dx2 days.)

September 2, 2014 | 10:15 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

I think it is more of a matter of engineering resources at AMD.  They simply do not have enough to plan their next gen architectures, their low power APUs, and the large monolithic CPUs.  Since their marketshare in server has dropped so far, and these chips are typically aimed at both servers and the high end desktop... they focused on their strengths to rebuild their product foundation around the APUs.

September 2, 2014 | 01:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Isn't AMD supposed to be reworking their x86 microarchitecture, scheduled to arrive in late 2015. Jim Keller is supposed to develop an AMD x86 with SMT, instead of CMT, but a completely new x86 ISA based microarchitecture, to address the power/performance, and threading differences between AMD and Intel(?). APUs have been a good way for AMD to remain in the CPU business, and the APUs ability to take advantage of HSA, and the GPU for GPGPU tasks will pay off even more once AMD introduces its new x86 microarchitecture, and even libreoffice uses OpenCL to accelerate spreadsheet calculations on the GPU. As far as server SKUs go, Both AMD and Intel will have to deal with the licensed Power8s from openpower, but AMD will be into the ARM based server market, at first with, with ARM reference designs, but soon custom ARMv8 ISA cores. AMD could license Power8, like it has licensed ARM. SeaMicro(owned by AMD) sells Xeon based servers, as well as both AMD ARM, and x86, based server SKUs. CMT appears to work better around RISC based ISA/microarchitectures, than CISC based x86, with x86's higher transistor count.

AMD sure has many irons in the fire, and it really needs to get a Custom ARMv8 ISA based APU to compete with Nvidia's K1, as well as its new x86 microarchitecture rework done ASAP. The custom ARMv8 wide order processors are going to take over the netbook/chromebook market, espically the ARM cores with Nvidia's graphics, and AMD needs that Chromebook/netbook market for revenues, until it can again attempt to compete with Intel's x86 on the PC. Intel does not have the mobile graphics to compete with Nvidia's K1, but once AMD gets a K1 competitor, the profits from Tablets, netbooks, and chromebooks can keep AMD alive to even attempt another crack at Intel's x86.

September 2, 2014 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Antikapitalista (not verified)

Well, basically, AMD does not produce desktop cores. They produce server cores which they adapt to desktop sockets. Besides, they also produce mobile cores, but nothing in-between.

And it may also be a matter of engineering resources. The Steamroller microarchitecture is probably heavily optimized for the HSA. And the gains of adapting it to the traditional AM3+ (AM3b) environment might not outweigh the overall costs of doing so.

On the other hand, releasing a processor like this one is fairly simple. It reaps the benefits of its improved manufacturing process. In fact, if you consider the overclock, it fares no worse than Intel's Haswell with its refresh...

As for the price slashes: obviously, this is a natural result of the improved yield of the manufacturing process. Previously there were not enough of these top-notch processors to satisfy the demand.

That said, I will not exchange my AMD FX-8350 for either of these. My workloads are mostly heavily paralleled (often like "make-j8" or with "MAKEOPTS= -j8"), so the turbo-core speedup would be irrelevant; furthermore, my mainboard (ASRock 990FX Extreme4) could not take more than a 140W processor.

Anyway, it may be a nice option for newcomers to the AM3+ (AM3b) platform.

September 2, 2014 | 08:30 AM - Posted by Prodeous

There seems to be a difference between FX8370E review here and at Techreport. They managed to get significantly lower power consumption numbers.

Could the board have issues with its Bios which is not properly controlling the power usage of the E processor?

http://techreport.com/review/26996/amd-fx-8370e-processor-reviewed/3

September 2, 2014 | 09:34 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

It could be.  There also will be differences between chips.  It certainly deserves a bit more investigation with another motherboard that may be more power efficient than the 970 Gaming board that I used.

September 2, 2014 | 03:49 PM - Posted by arbiter

Sounds like it was how cpu clocked, because according to early cpuz shot the e clocked to about same as non-e which would mean power usage should be in same ballparks. Both have a list boost clock of 4.3ghz so that would probably be why, as e was hitting that boost clock.

http://www.pcper.com/files/review/2014-09-02/8370.png

http://www.pcper.com/files/review/2014-09-02/8370e.png

September 2, 2014 | 08:48 AM - Posted by tbone (not verified)

I think all of us would love an updated FX line, but this is a nice little refresh and price drop. The $1000 9590 at $230... now that's kewl!

I think all of us AMD fans are at least a little excited since they aren't totally squashing the desktop FX line and that maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for an 16nm tri-gate Excavator 12-core FX chip with DDR4 support. lol

September 2, 2014 | 11:26 AM - Posted by niteowler

It's just what we expect from an AMD cpu update over the last few years.....nothing! Some stock mid-level Intel cpu's will out perform any fully overclocked AMD processor while using half the power in a lot of instances. Sadly, this probably means another year without Steamroller. I can't find one reason to update my Phenom 1100T that I bought in 2011. It's hard to be optimistic year after year when all AMD basically does is pre-overclock their cpu's and change prices.

September 2, 2014 | 10:32 AM - Posted by boothman

Not bad all in all, but I really think the key is the MBs offered. The AM3+ mATX is very weak and the ITX is non-existent. If they can get Asus, MSI & Gigabyte to refresh the ATX boards, and get perhaps Sapphire (or others) to release mATX/ITX with updated features, that are on par with their FM2 MBs, they'd really have something.

September 2, 2014 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A Giant flying saucer piloted by Elvis and Steve Jobs' Head(That's a Mac Pro torso, with attached arms and legs for Steve, and not some cheep bending units parts) has just abducted Anand Lal Shimpi. Now how are we supposed to learn about execution units, and pipeline depths, on any upcoming processors!

When queried about this Apple spokesbeing Lrr, stated that Apple needed some help in the Off world office.

In other news, Is Apple's new headquarters actually an alien landing concourse? We'll ask Morbo at 11:00.

September 2, 2014 | 02:10 PM - Posted by PhoneyVirus

When looking at AMD's FX-8350 and the newer FX-8370 you can clearly see they mean business, wait I mean failure. Why even bother launching such a chip if there's little to benefit from such a upgrade. Guess you can thank the consoles for saving their behind, because the mount of articles I read over the course of three years made believe they were heading to a dead end.

Yes Their APU's are amazing, but c'mon how long do they think they can keep this up, before they lose what made them, what they are today.

I would love to upgrade my Network Attached Storage - Media Stream Server etc with one of their chips, just can't think about going with a four year old chipset and crazy insane wattage that's carry with their processors.

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September 2, 2014 | 05:12 PM - Posted by ScubaDynamo (not verified)

This is it for me and AMD. Im currently rocking an overclocked FX 6300 and its dire. I hugely regret buying it. I game mostly and reaching 60fps is a tough ask for this chip. Despite owning 2 AMD Radeon R9 280x's.

AMD have disappointed me for too long. I will probably upgrade to an Intel 4690k before the year is out.

Anyone want to buy an FX6300 and an Asrock Fatal1ty Killer motherboard?

September 2, 2014 | 05:28 PM - Posted by derz

YES! yessssssssssssss /twiddles fingers

September 2, 2014 | 07:12 PM - Posted by abundantcores

Well, there is the spanner in the works, 5 tests found significant power consumption improvements, so along comes one and says there is no power improvement at all, even running 700Mhz lower clock rates.
which suggests that they are LESS power efficient than the old ones.

Don't you just love reviewers? after reading a bunch of them there is always one that stands out from the rest and makes you go WTF?!?!?!

September 2, 2014 | 07:49 PM - Posted by arbiter

even with how annoy refreshs are, one that is only a re badge's are even worse. 100mhz over old one is kinda dumb. That is what 2.5% boost even if it is cheaper, still built on 2 year old cpu arc.

September 2, 2014 | 11:31 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Every chip is slightly different.  Mine might be at the higher end of power consumption.  The MSI 970 Gaming may not have tuned the firmware for the 8370e.  The firmware for that board is dated from May 14 and is the latest version that MSI offers.  It certainly is something that I am interested to see if it changes with a different board like the Asus Crosshair V FZ or the ASRock 990FX Killer (both have newer firmware).

Something to understand about this chip is that it may not necessarily jump back to the base clock when all modules are under load.  Quite a bit of transistor budget has been dedicated to monitoring the chip at a very low level and it will adjust clockspeed on the fly to keep in what it considers a 95 watt TDP range.  When testing all 4 modules under load I saw clockspeed fluctuate from 3.8 GHz to 4.0 pretty regularly.  I hardly saw it hit the 3.3 in the testing situations it was in.  So for chips like the 8370 which has a base clock of 4 GHz and does not go lower, we can see that the 8370e is lowering the clockspeed and saving some power/keeping the thermals in check.  Certainly this does deserve some more study with a different motherboard.

September 2, 2014 | 09:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Considering/anticipating the FX-8350 price drop... would anyone suggest the 8370 or the 8370E? I've been saving up but I want something with good performance but not something than a degraded 8350.

September 2, 2014 | 09:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Considering/anticipating the FX-8350 price drop... would anyone suggest the 8370 or the 8370E? I've been saving up but I want something with good performance but not something than a degraded 8350.

September 3, 2014 | 01:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Seriously, the top review site on the web (imho) dosn't have access to an i7-4770K I find this hard to believe, seriously Ryan, you could have come up with a better excuse.

September 3, 2014 | 01:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

err, Josh

September 3, 2014 | 01:35 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Ryan is in Kentucky with the 4770K.  I live in Wyoming.  Intel is pretty notorious for being stingy with samples.  Unfortunately, I am not in a situation where I can buy a bunch of different processors, so I end up using what I have access to.  Believe me, reviewers (for the most part) are not rolling in the dough.  I work for Ryan plus I have a full time job.  I simply don't have the budget to purchase more computer parts.  Also, coordinating getting results from different sites on tests that they may/may not be familiar with is a lot harder than you think.  Results can get wonky fast.  Anyway, how the 4770K performs against the 3770K is a pretty well known value.  It is faster, and it pulls more power.  It would have been nice to have the i5 4690K though, but again we are running into the sampling issue with Intel and these tests.

September 7, 2014 | 03:48 PM - Posted by Kentucky1965

Josh, Ryan seems to always have plenty of motherboards, and processors; I think he should send you an updated motherboard like the ASUS CROSSHAIR V FORMULA-Z.

Thanks for your articles.

September 3, 2014 | 01:54 AM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Other than the usual joke of a release this is for AMD (100mhz faster than the old one, WOOOHOOO) the thing that really made me laugh is the $146.99 price AMD still thinks the ancient 8320 is worth! I bought one of those at MicroCenter 6 months ago and spent only $99 on it. That was my limit for such a hot running, power guzzling cpu then, I wouldn't pay even that much for it today.

AMD needs to just stop the embarrassment now and quit with the AM3+ "updates." They should concentrate only on FM2 and their graphics division and let Intel provide gamers and power users with higher end cpus. The "A" series cpus from AMD coupled with a nice M-Itx board and case make for a really nice office/HTPC.

To be blunt, my cheapo 8320 based office system sucks, and the fact that I actually had to put a huge 120mm HSF on it just to be able to watch an HD YT video without getting flashbacks to the days of T-Birds and loud Delta's is criminal. I do however love my HTPC and it's A8-6600. That cpu runs more than fast enough, and is quiet as can be while watching HD video and transferring large video files at the same time.

September 3, 2014 | 05:38 PM - Posted by arbiter

their A series APU's even top end one is quad core, with console being 8 core, well 6ish useable which is debatable. Games will push to need more and more cores to run properly and in some games a10's struggle some bit vs compared to intel parts. Doubt that struggle will get better over coming years as games get more complex.

September 3, 2014 | 09:49 AM - Posted by Devious (not verified)

Your review stands out as extremely bias and incorrect, you start the article stating you're already holding your tongue in cheek comments before you even run any test. When i visit a hardware review site what I want to see is unbiased performance numbers not your petty comments about X,Y,Z.

This is also the only review site that seems to think power consumption has not improved, this doesn't make any sense from a business perspective, why would AMD release a refresh if it's worse than the last one? The answer is they wouldn't, you don't have a newer i7 to test against yet sites who have compared it to the i5 haswell's are seeing pretty decent results, I will not be returning to this site for hardware reviews since you cannot be taken legitimately.

September 3, 2014 | 01:30 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Nah, not biased.  Have you actually read the entire article from start to finish?  I think I mentioned how this matches up with the i5 4690K and how it actually beats it in multi-threaded performance as well as being cheaper.  Also mentioned how in apps like games the strong single threaded perf of the Intel parts make it a better option.  I would like to think that those are objective statements.

My samples did not show the power consumption improvements that others did.  I don't know why that is the case.  It could be the motherboard I used, or it could be that my particular sample does not show the same efficiency gains as those others.  All I can do is report my findings as I see them.  There will be variance between processors and motherboards.  Guess that I am the outlier then, which is why you should often read multiple reviews from other sites to see if they agree with each other or not.

We know the performance of the i7 4770K vs. the previous i7 3770K.  It is faster, though pulls more power (88 watts TDP vs. 77 watts TDP).  Using a bit of imagination, you can add a few % performance on the 3770K results, and add another 10 to 11 watts to the power consumption.  

My tongue in cheek comment was the result of some 30 hours of testing these parts and seeing results that really did not shine.  The 8370e is slower than the 8350 in nearly every test, and only showed about a 10 watt improvement in power at the wall.  The 8370 is only slightly faster in some tests, but matched performance almost evenly in everything else.  I would have had a few nicer things to say about it if they had at least raised the base clock to 4.1 GHz rather than leave it at 4.0 (the same base clock of the 8350).

Edit: Also, we are recording our podcast live tonight at 10pm ET!  You should join the IRC chat at irc.pcper.com using your favorite client, or the client on the http://pcper.com/live page.  Ask questions and comment, and we usually can address specific things there.

September 3, 2014 | 11:56 AM - Posted by Peter Anfindsen (not verified)

great article..amd has some well priced processors

September 3, 2014 | 11:07 PM - Posted by praack

sigh - point release- no new chipset - so still running a 2011 machine .....

September 7, 2014 | 09:00 PM - Posted by Ben (not verified)

Why no 6 core and 8 core Steamroller FM2+ CPUs?

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