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AMD FX-8320E AM3+ Processor Performance Review

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AMD CPU Final Thoughts

There is no “fastest processor”. When planning your rig, you’ll need to make a choice between core count and clock speed. Up until now, the argument for choosing more cores has boiled down to whether or not you regularly perform tasks that spawn lots of threads, like video and audio transcoding, or perhaps if you just like to keep a whole lot of programs running at the same time. Few games use more than a couple of cores, so performance at high graphics settings devolves to the graphics cards.

CPUs have become fast enough that per-core performance differences are less important than they ever were. Although my benchmarks show that the Core i3-4360 is faster than the FX-8320E in virtually every test on a per-core basis, you’re probably never going to see this differential unless you spend quite a lot of time in benchmark-land. Benchmark-land is fun, kind of like taking your car to the drag strip to see what it will do. But, like your quarter-mile time, it often doesn’t have that much correlation with real-world performance.

So the gaming performance of these two CPUs is virtually identical at the graphics settings enthusiasts will run. But there’s something to consider: DX12. What? Oh, that’s Microsoft’s next iteration of the DX graphics API, and it will be introduced in a few months with the release of Windows 10. The biggest single change in DX12 over DX11? Multi-threading! AMD has already demonstrated the dramatic advantages multi-threaded graphics layers can bring with their Mantle API, and Microsoft isn’t one to be left behind for long. So the expectation if that multi-core CPUs will offer significant performance advantages in DX12-based gaming.

Of course, at this point the performance advantages are just speculation…

The takeaway here is that if you’re planning for the future…make that the near future…you’re going to want a multi-core CPU. The release of DX-12 could really change the way enthusiasts view AMD CPUs.

AMD is promoting the FX-8320E/MSI 970 Gaming combination as a budget gaming system. At a combined MSRP of less than $250, it’s certainly one of the least expensive platforms you can build on, freeing up money for memory and GPUs that will have more of an effect on your gaming performance than a faster processor. And all those cores are about to become a real competitive advantage any day now…

amd_fx-8320e_3

AMD FX-8320E Conclusion

AMD’s cancellation of the Steamroller CPU disappointed enthusiasts who were hoping for them to close the core-performance gap. But AMD’s doing well in the low end, where their CPUs are popular in tablets and other mobile devices, and their GPUs power things like the Xbox One.

As software evolves, having more cores will become more important than just having fast cores. Of course, having both is even better, and if you have deep pockets, feel free to spend $1500 on a Core i7-5960X and high-end X99 motherboard. It won’t play your games much faster than a CPU/motherboard combination that costs 1/6th as much, but you will have bragging rights.

Intel does have another significant advantage with their support chipsets: although AMD’s 9-series chipsets were the first to go “full SATA 6”, they’ve made no progress since then, and the lack of native USB 3.0, PCI-E 3.0, SATA Express, and the like simply look bad, even if right now there’s little real-world impact (USB 3.0 is supplied via third-party controllers; no GPU is saturating PCI-E 2.0 even now, and SATA Express devices are as common as unicorns).

All that said, I do worry about the future of AMD’s desktop CPU line. For the last couple of years, all we’ve seen has been clock- and power-tweaked releases of the original 2011-era FX architecture. Intel’s gone through three major CPU upgrades in the same time period (Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell). AMD’s been driving prices ever downwards with new iterations of the FX line, and that’s good, but I’d hoped for more. If Intel feels threatened enough, all they have to do is drop the prices on their existing quad-core CPUs.

Still, right now, I have to agree with AMD: the combination of the FX-8320E CPU and the MSI 970 Gaming motherboard makes an excellent platform for a budget gaming system. Spending only $139.99 (Amazon | Newegg) to get this kind of multi-core goodness frees up cash for a GPU upgrade and provides performance that punches way about its weight class. And when Windows 10 and DX12 come out? Well…we’ll see.

Pros:

Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ 8 cores for not much cash
+ Overclockabilty
+ Strong performance in heavily threaded workloads
+ Potential performance win with DX12
+ No real reason to spend more for an FX-9590

Cons:

– Far behind Intel on a per-core basis
– Power-hungry even at stock clock speeds
– Aggressively throttles when overclocked via turbo multiplier

Ratings:

  • Performance: 8.00
  • Overclock: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 9.25

Final Score: 9.05 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

NewEgg.com

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9 comments

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  1. Roland

    Gaming performance is changing… I picked up a G3258, Great little CPU with performance greater than say the i5 750(ish) overall. So nothing to sneeze at and if you overclock can easily surpass stock i5s. Problem?

    Well, a few of the newest games can’t be run on it (think Dragon Age Inquisition) as they require 4 cores. So what are we left with? On the cheaper side this or say the 860K. Suddenly those cheaper AMD Quads are looking a whole helluva lot more attractive and as you said your not likely to see to much difference. Fast is still fast just not as fast as some. I’ve always maintained though that for “most” your not going to notice much of a difference is most tasks provided other areas are relatively equal.

    1. David Ramsey

      I’ve never heard of a game that requires four cores; generally, a program just spawns threads and lets the OS and CPU sort out which resources will handle them. Windows has dozens of threads running when you’ve just booted and are sitting there (actually, I just checked, and Task Manager says I have 65 processes going in this case). Most of these threads are low priority, and it could certainly be the case that some modern games would run better with four cores, but they should run, if poorly, with dual cores or even a single core.

      So, as you point out, AMD’s lower cost multi-core chips may well be better for some of these games than a “faster” Intel CPU.

      1. Roland

        Hi David, So sorry for the late reply. I never heard of it either till recently.. Kind of floored me actually since I’ve built a few budget machines for others that will certainly complain if they land up buying that game (one other to.. can’t remember it’s name) Basically what happens is both cores go to 100% and just sit there not allowing you to play.

  2. Athlonite

    I would have been more impressed if AMD had die shrunk this CPU to 22nm instead of just reducing the clock speed thus the TDP from 125 to 95 well big whoop AMD as soon as you clock it the same as an FX8320 (3500MHz) it’s using the same 125W

    1. David Ramsey

      Well, it’s up to GlobalFoundries to get their process size down. It’s a non-trivial thing, you know, which is probably why I don’t know of any company other than Intel that’s managed it.

      I agree the “E” thing seems kinda silly.

  3. Meh

    It took 8 cores to do it but they finally beat an i5 whether that’s good or bad I don’t really know, but hey still cheaper than an Intel processor I’m not complaining I bought one as well.

  4. CrabbyR

    Hi, I picked up an interesting but odd 8320E , purchased it for 132 CAD , came sealed in an amd box with fan which is a pretty good price, Everywhere I look on websites
    the base clock is listed as 3.2 ghz , the unit I have is a base clock of 3.5 , I even looked at the chip again to make sure that the E was present on the processor , which it was ,cpu z reports it as 8320 E, So at stock settings it`s 3.5 and 4.0 turbo , I have a ASrock
    970 extreme 3 board so out of curiousity I set the multiplier down to 3.2 and , it didn`t want to go there, still reported 3.5,
    Guess I could force it down , so this begs the question , Is it a 8320 misbranded and 125watts or a flukey 8320e thats running 95 watts at 3.5 . I haven`t seen anything on the web from anyone else about this, Any thoughs or info?

    1. David Ramsey

      That is an excellent question. My first suggestion would be to make sure you’re running the latest BIOS for your ASRock motherboard– the 8320E came out after most 970 motherboards. So update your BIOS if needed and see if that fixes things.

  5. carolinereza.tumblr.com

    Moreover, upgrading the memory, hard drive or the most
    other components of your desktop Pc requires minimal understanding of the way in which the computer works.
    8 GB) 1600 MHz – Cost: $124. Even though the Steam sales are over,
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