AMD FX-8350 Review – Piledriver Comes to Socket AM3+

Introduction:

AMD’s FX-series Zambezi processors (based on Bulldozer cores) were highly anticipated back in 2011 and people actually had some hopes from them. AMD’s advertisement was also top notch but once finally out after a long wait, they failed to impress most people. Obviously, AMD brought something new like 8-core consumer CPU to the market for a reasonable price but when it came to performance, the Bulldozer based Zambezi processors didn’t do anything special. The single-threaded performance was considerable lower than Intel’s offering and there weren’t many applications to fully utilize 8-core. All in all, the Zambezi was a disappointment.

Fast forward to October 23, 2012 and AMD launches second instalment of FX-series; the Piledriver based Vishera processors. These chips are based on same 32nm manufacturing process from GlobalFoundries as the previous generation Zambezi chips which means that there isn’t much room for new architecture or considerable improvements. Explaining it briefly, one can say that Vishera and Zambezi are same chips; AMD just swapped the old Bulldozer cores with the new Piledriver cores. These are the same cores used in recently launched Trinity APUs but the integrated graphics are missing and in Vishera the cores are optimized solely for performance.

AMD restructured the cores internally which makes the Piledriver a bit more power efficient as compared to the Bulldozer. This let the company bump up the base clocks to achieve higher performance without going out of the specified power envelope. All the Vishera chips possess same TDP and cache sizes as compared to their Zambezi counterparts but base clock and turbo speeds have been bumped up (apart from the 8-core chips).

AMD’s second generation FX-series Vishera line-up includes four processors – for now; two octa-cores, one hexa-core and one quad-core.

The AMD Vishera Lineup
FX-8350 FX-8320 FX-6300 FX-4300
Cores 8 8 6 4
Base Clock 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.8 GHz
Max turbo Clock 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 4.1 GHz 4.0 GHz
L3 Cache 8MB 8MB 6MB 4MB
TDP 125W 125W 95W 95W
Price $195 $169 $132 $122
Unlocked Yes Yes Yes Yes

Another thing that is notable about the Vishera line-up is the prices. AMD FX-8150, the flagship of Zambezi line-up, was launched at $245 which was quite high considering its performance and competing processors from Intel. With Vishera, the similarly spec’d FX-8350 is for $195 only. In terms of competitive product placement, AMD puts the FX-8350 directly against the Ivy Bridge based Intel Core i5-3570K which costs around $225 and according to their internal testing, it performs almost identically to its Intel counterpart.

Fortunately, today we’ve the AMD FX-8350 and we’ll put it up against several processors including the Core i5-3570K to see how it fairs up against them. Let’s have a quick look at its market placement before we jump into a thorough analysis.

Market Placement
Intel Core i5-3330 AMD FX-8150 AMD FX-8320 Intel Core i5-3450 AMD FX-8350 Intel Core i5-3570K
Cores 4 8 8 4 8 4
Base Clock 3.0 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.1 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.4 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 3.2 GHz 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.2 GHz 3.8 GHz
L3 Cache  6MB 8MB 8MB  6MB 8MB  6MB
TDP 77W 125W 125W 77W 125W 77W
Price $187 $189 $169 $195 $195 $225
Unlocked  No Yes Yes No Yes Yes