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AMD FX-8320E AM3+ Processor Performance Review

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CPU Testing Methodology

It’s actually pretty rare that vendors send us anything other than their top-end or near-top-end CPUs, and I’ll admit I was intrigued when AMD asked if we wanted to review this CPU. It came installed in an MSI 970 Gaming motherboard, which was also interesting since the 970 chipset is the bottom of AMD’s 9-series chipsets. In fact, the 970 chipset only supports one PCI-E x16 slot, and specifically is not certified for either AMD’s CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI. Nonetheless, MSI claims that this motherboard can handle both multi-card protocols, supporting two GPUs at PCI-E 2.0 x8 each. (Look for a separate review of this motherboard soon).

Given these interesting products, I decided to review this CPU as the basis for a budget gaming system, so instead of just testing CPU performance, I also tested gaming and graphics performance. Although 1440p and 4K setups are becoming more common, 1080p (1920×1080) is still by far the most common monitor resolution, so that’s what I tested at. All graphics tests were run with DX11, both with minimal and maximum settings– that is, most graphics benchmarks were run twice: once with all the settings configured as low as possible, and once with all the settings configured as high as possible.

Representing the Intel camp is a Core i3-4360 CPU. Fabricated on a 22nm process, this two-core CPU has Hyper-Threading (and thus appears to have four cores to most software), a base clock of 3.7gHz, and a maximum turbo clock of…well, since this CPU lacks Intel Turbo Boost technology, that’s as high as it goes. And since it’s not a “-K” part, it can’t be overclocked.

This might not seem fair– comparing an overclockable, 8-core CPU against a non-overclockable, 2-core CPU. But Intel CPUs historically perform much better on a per-core basis than do AMD CPUs, and both CPUs have an MSRP of $149.99, so they’re both aiming at the same market segment. To keep things as fair as possible, the same memory and video cards were used in both the AMD and Intel test systems.

  • AMD Test System
    • CPU: AMD FX-8320E / AMD FX-9590
    • Motherboard: MSI 970 Gaming
  • Intel Test System
    • CPU: Intel Core i3-4360
    • Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1
  • Video: 2x NVIDIA GTX580 reference
  • RAM: 2x4GB Kingston HyperX Genesis DDR3-2133
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Although the MSI 970 Gaming motherboard uses AMD’s low-end 970 chipset, MSI claims their board fully supports SLI and CrossFireX. If you’re saving money on a CPU and motherboard, you have more to spend on GPUs, so I equipped the test system is equipped with two NVIDIA GTX580s in SLI.

I tested the FX-8320E at its stock clocks, overclocked with the OC Genie feature of the MSI 970 Gaming motherboard, and with the best manual overclock I was able to achieve. I’m using enthusiast-grade DDR3-2133 memory in all tests, except for the OC Genie test, because enabling OC Genie disabled the memory’s XMP profile.

OK, let’s see how this system performs, and how it compares to the high-end FX-9590 and an Intel CPU in the same price range.


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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.

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