The AMD FX 8350 is the company's first eight-core processor is based on its "Piledriver" technology, and it doesn’t set the computer processor world on fire, but it is faster than its previous FX chip, and it cuts execution times by more than a quarter in both multi-threaded and single-threaded bench tests.
Plus, like its predecessor, the AMD FX-8350 is modeled to lessen the CPU's size, production costs, and manufacturing complexities, which the company is happy to pass on to its loyal customer base. While the new design created more space inside of the processor for AMD to stuff its cores into, it also affected each core’s performance.
As a result, AMD and Intel processors, we are told by PC MAG, can no longer be assessed based on a core-to-core comparison. Intel CPUs may contain fewer cores, but each individual core’s performance leans toward being better, so we are no longer talking apples to apples.
Conceptually, though, in terms of raw single-core performance the flagship AMD FX-8350 8-core processor lags at a fair pace behind even Intel's 2 generation-old Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor. Benchscores indicate AMD is approximately 26 percent slower that Intel’s processor of 2 years ago.
AMD FX 8350 Anatomy and History
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However, when it comes to multi-core performance, the roles were reversed and AMD came out on top 36% in terms of raw performance, making it better suited for multi-threaded server indications.
AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) was founded in 1969 by Jerry Sanders and others from Fairchild Semiconductors who had grown disenfranchised with the company. Ironically, just a year earlier, Robert Noyce left the same company for the same reasons and took with him a crew to start his own new company that would soon be named Intel.
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The two semiconductor companies, AMD and Intel have battled for decades over who had the better product, though they signed a “second-source” manufacturer agreement in 1982 - allowing each manufacturer to produce the other’s products - that lasted for over ten years.
Even still AMD has never had the outright experience of victory as the faster processor, and, even now, its top 8-core flagship product can barely keep up with the second tier of Sandy Bridge CPUs by Intel.
Moreover, some tradition caveats start with the chip’s underperformance when it comes to gaming.
Moreover, PC MAF tested some of the more popular games, and the Core i5-3550 produced 102 fps while the FX-8350 eeked out 75 fps, on average. Interestingly, though, on games that taxed the graphics card more, like Battlefield 3, the Core i5-3550 and AMD FX-8350 essentially at around 85 fps.
Power Hungry and Performance Lacking
58W - 126W
74W - 230W
Power consumption, too, is another factor where you can chalk up a win for Intel's Core i5-3550. While idle, we are told by PCMag, the Intel chip has a draw of 58W and the AMD CPU has a 74W (not that different), but, under load, that discrepancy widens to 126W versus 230W, respectively.
While this is not likely to affect your power bill significantly unless you run a design firm or are addicted to gaming, the more power consumption, the more heat, and, essentially, the more taxing it is on other parts.
When AMD was slinging the specs for its first Bulldozer chips, the computer world sat up and took notice. After all, the company had happily gone mute for some time, living in the shadow of Intel. But changes to the Bulldozer microarchitecture looked pretty cool and innovative and gave new life the ever-popular processor wars.
However, AMD’s flagship 8350 processor turned out to be no faster than Intel’s two-year-old technology. And while many AMD fanboys claimed that 4GHz of base clock speed is plenty fast to run most HD PC-based games, they also proclaimed the cheaper processors will allow you to buy other gear, like more memory, bigger SSD’s, and faster, more powerful GPU’s.
To that line of thinking, we did a quick price comparison, and, to our surprise, AMD’s flagship processor can be had for between $95 and $120 bucks online, while Intel’s latest Core i7 3770 still demands about $400 clams. That is a 233% difference.
Always a Bridesmaid Never Bride
AMD’s Bulldozer chip was originally designed to change the focus of processing from single-threaded applications to multithreaded ones, and, in this, it has succeeded, beating Intel’s i5 processor by 36 percent.
However real-world implementations for this technology don’t commonly call upon multi-threaded processing to do the heavy lifting. So, that theory did not work out in AMD’s favor and pretty much limited the chip for use with select PC servers that were built to specifically take advantage of multi-threaded technologies.
To try to amend this, AMD later tweaked the Bulldozer modules via their Piledriver update, which revealed a slight single-thread CPU jump, but that spike was not enough to match even Intel’s Core i5 in any performance bench tests.
Still, multithreaded applications can, reportedly, put the AMD FX 8350 8-core processor at clock-speeds as high as 4.8 GHz, which faster than even Intel's mighty Core i7-3770. The trouble is that most consumer computer apps like iTunes and PC games will never actually access that power because they are, by and far, single-threaded applications.
Still, despite this, AMD continues to foster a cult-like following by those who know how to use their proprietary software to manipulate CPU configuration settings in the system BIOS or using real-time Windows apps to unlocked ratio multipliers, manage PCI Express connectivity, and overclock the chip.
AMD FX 8350 CPU Rendering Performance
This kind of processor manipulation can potentially improve the AMD FX 8350 chip’s performance if you know what you are doing, and it is a practice that AMD has even supported in their products over the year’s - options not so accessible in the competition’s chipset.
Moreover, when you consider the power generated from the eight-module FX-8350 processor combined with the newly updated Bulldozer (2012) technology, you're getting some good power (almost Corei7 worthy) for the 233% less cost, and out of the box (around $120) you are talking about speeds of 4 - 4.3GHz.
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And, while Intel is still the gamer’s go-to for raw power an core performance, the following bench test results from our friends at Tom’s HARDWARE show the AMD FX 8350 chip isn’t that far behind after all:
Rendering performance (single-thread)
Rendering performance (multi-thread)
Intel Core i7 3770K
Intel Core i5 3570K
Practical Applications for the AMD FX 8350
Don’t get us wrong, we are not saying gaming laptop makers MSI and ASUS are suddenly going to drop Intel in favor of AMD any time soon. We are just suggesting that you can get a pretty darn good processor at around 233% less than what Intel charges and still get 4GHz performance out of the box.
So, while AMD may never be the belle of the ball in terms of winning the CPU speed wars, there is always a chance that the computer industry might wake up someday with coders writing operating systems and apps to better take advantage of multi-threaded processors. Until that day comes, just consider what a 233% better graphics card will look like in your machine.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a machine built with Intel/Nvidia parts versus one build with AMD/Radeon parts and try to discern value and cost. We are comparing similarly performing parts here from both manufacturers, and, as time has moved on, each has made arguably faster, more powerful products, however, we have attempted to show a slice in time (app. 2012) for purposes of comparison below.
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So, what does all of this tell us? Well, it tells us that AMD technology in a desktop build is almost always going to be cheaper than a similarly powered Intel/Nvidia technology, although not by as much as we originally anticipated.
Further, it also tells us that the flagship video cards for both graphics companies - the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 and the ATI Radeon RX Vega 64 - benchmarked very similarly and can be found online at a very similar price point (again, somewhat of a surprise).
AMD FX 8350 Wrap-Up
It really all circles back to AMD (who owns ATI) making similarly performing products at more affordable prices, and while Intel has no trouble demanding $900 for their new Core i9 technology, it is part of AMD’s business approach to keep their technology as affordable as possible. Does that mean you are going to save a ton of money by choosing to build a machine with AMD/ATI technology?
The bottom line is that the AMD FX-8350 is a decent chip for users who are in the market for a midrange CPU for use with certain productivity tasks, or who are aware of software that can make use of the chip's eight cores. It's a better CPU than the FX-8150 by far, and AMD has done a lot to fix some of the problems of past. Its inexpensive price point should help end-users purchase higher end graphics card, and the combination of the two is more than capable of handling basic gaming and other tasks.
Well, as out comparison notes, not really. But you will save a couple of hundred bucks, and you get a processor and graphics card that you can overclock and manipulate to your heart’s content. AMD may not be as fast as Intel or score as well on all of the bench tests, but maybe someday all computer systems will run with multi-threaded technology.