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Benchmark Results: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

AMD Bulldozer Review: FX-8150 Gets Tested
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When Cataclysm first launched, we wrote a guide on its performance across a wide range of processors, graphics cards, and in-game settings (World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm--Tom's Performance Guide). In that story, we identified some very clear performance trends: mainly, that the then-experimental DirectX 11 code path really helped performance, that Nvidia’s cards ran much faster than AMD’s, and that Intel’s CPUs blew AMD’s out of the water.

Now, DirectX 11 is a supported component of the game (and we’re testing with it today). We’re using GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards, eliminating the graphics variable altogether, and yet we still see the AMD processors struggle.

At 1680x1050, Zambezi runs nearly 40 FPS slower than Core i5-2500K without AA. That hit you see the Intel chips taking? A result of the increased graphics load with 8xAA applied. The Core i7-920 and AMD processors don’t realize the same penalty because they’re what’s limiting performance. Our GeForce GTX 580 still has speed to give down there in the 70-80 FPS range.

Fast-forward to 2560x1600. Increased graphics load with anti-aliasing enabled knocks all six contenders down to about 60 FPS. However, without AA, you still get about 25 FPS more on a Core i5-2500K.

It’s a bummer that the Bulldozer architecture isn’t able to put any distance on AMD’s quad- and hexa-core flagships in this popular, mainstream title. Keep one thing in mind, though: we’re using a GeForce GTX 580, the fastest single-GPU graphics card you can buy. If you’re using a less powerful graphics card, the bar where it’ll emerge as your performance-limiter will drop, making FX-8150 look better. I don’t like the fact that AMD has to rely on other components bottlenecking performance to achieve parity, but that’s how this works.

Make The Right Comparison

This brings us to an important point. In an attempt to discount Intel's top-of-the-line platform, AMD shows what you’d spend on a Core i7-980X-based gaming machine versus its FX-8150. The cost of a triple-channel memory kit, X58-based motherboard, and Extreme Edition processor adds roughly $800 bucks. Crazy, right?

But if AMD’s marketing department read Tom’s Hardware, it’d know that we don’t even recommend Gulftown-based chips for gaming. We’re fans of CPUs that leave more of your budget available for graphics muscle. From my Core i7-990X review:

“Now, in the face of a new flagship processor, we see that there are actually situations where a Core i7-900-series chip still makes sense. Frankly, enthusiasts and gamers need not apply…The $770 you pocket as a result of not buying an Extreme Edition CPU buys a sick set of GeForce GTX 570s in SLI and a couple terabytes of storage.”

Just be careful with the marketing. FX-8150 goes up against Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K—not Core i7-980X. You’ll pay the same for memory, close to the same for a motherboard, and more or less for the processor itself, depending on your decision to use the i5 or i7 as a point of comparison. Some games are graphics-limited, so the FX consequently fares really well. Other titles let the CPU stretch its legs more. And, at least in the games tested here, Sandy Bridge appears to have more “in it.”

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Top Comments
  • 54 Hide
    Homeboy2 , October 12, 2011 4:38 AM
    killerclickAs I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.


    Everyone should cry, even the Intel fanboys, this is bad news for everyone, now Intel has absolutely no incentive to lower prices or accelerate Ivy Bridge.
  • 51 Hide
    jdwii , October 12, 2011 4:14 AM
    Been so long and i'm kinda sad.
  • 47 Hide
    gmcizzle , October 12, 2011 4:25 AM
    What I learned: the 2.5 year old i7-920 is still a beast.
Other Comments
  • 51 Hide
    jdwii , October 12, 2011 4:14 AM
    Been so long and i'm kinda sad.
  • 43 Hide
    compton , October 12, 2011 4:16 AM
    Not many surprises but I've been waiting for a long, long time for this. I hope this is just the first step to a more competitive AMD.
  • 29 Hide
    ghnader hsmithot , October 12, 2011 4:16 AM
    At least its almost as good as Nehalem.
  • 40 Hide
    gamerk316 , October 12, 2011 4:17 AM
    Dissapointing. Predicted it ages ago though. PII X6 is a better value.
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , October 12, 2011 4:18 AM
    As I expected - failure.
  • 25 Hide
    AbdullahG , October 12, 2011 4:18 AM
    I see the guys from the BD Rumors are here. As many others are, I'm disappointed.
  • 33 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , October 12, 2011 4:20 AM
    for the gaming community this is a FLOP.
  • 25 Hide
    phump , October 12, 2011 4:22 AM
    FX-4100 looks like a good alternative to the 955BE. Same price, higher clock, and lower power profile.
  • 40 Hide
    phatbuddha79 , October 12, 2011 4:25 AM
    Why bring back the FX brand for something like this?
  • 47 Hide
    gmcizzle , October 12, 2011 4:25 AM
    What I learned: the 2.5 year old i7-920 is still a beast.
  • 25 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , October 12, 2011 4:36 AM
    Looks like solid chips, but I'll admit that the price point isn't low enough to compete in the gaming world with Intel.

    I am rather curious how the FX-4100 will stack up against the current Phenom II X4 chips.

    And even though the FX is a slight disappointment, I am rather impressed by the Windows 8 benchmarks. Having said that, by the time Windows 8 is ready for release I'm sure Intel will have an even better solution.
  • 25 Hide
    Tamz_msc , October 12, 2011 4:37 AM
    So Bulldozer is AMD's version of NetBurst?
  • 54 Hide
    Homeboy2 , October 12, 2011 4:38 AM
    killerclickAs I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.


    Everyone should cry, even the Intel fanboys, this is bad news for everyone, now Intel has absolutely no incentive to lower prices or accelerate Ivy Bridge.
  • 12 Hide
    the associate , October 12, 2011 4:41 AM
    killerclickAs I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.


    Waaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

    Bah, well, been with AMD since my first pc like 8 years ago...Guess I'll be going intel for the first time ever especially since I can get an overkill cpu for just 300 bucks. Hell that's how much I payed for my phenom II 955...
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