AMD Bulldozer Review: FX-8150 Gets Tested

Benchmark Results: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

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
  • Homeboy2
    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.
    55
  • jdwii
    Been so long and i'm kinda sad.
    52
  • gmcizzle
    What I learned: the 2.5 year old i7-920 is still a beast.
    48
  • Other Comments
  • btto
    yeah finaly, now i'll read it
    -25
  • ghnader hsmithot
    nOT Bad AMd!
    -35
  • jdwii
    Been so long and i'm kinda sad.
    52
  • compton
    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.
    43
  • ghnader hsmithot
    At least its almost as good as Nehalem.
    29
  • gamerk316
    Dissapointing. Predicted it ages ago though. PII X6 is a better value.
    40
  • Anonymous
    As I expected - failure.
    26
  • AbdullahG
    I see the guys from the BD Rumors are here. As many others are, I'm disappointed.
    25
  • iam2thecrowe
    for the gaming community this is a FLOP.
    33
  • phump
    FX-4100 looks like a good alternative to the 955BE. Same price, higher clock, and lower power profile.
    25
  • phatbuddha79
    Why bring back the FX brand for something like this?
    40
  • gmcizzle
    What I learned: the 2.5 year old i7-920 is still a beast.
    48
  • jdwii
    This is sad, I'm still getting it as its my only option i'm getting a 8120 Toms why did you only review a 8150 when they have all of them on other sites?
    -25
  • ern88
    What I've learned is...AMD=FAIL!!!!!
    -31
  • killerclick
    As I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.

    Buh-bye AMD, buh-bye!
    -35
  • Ragnar-Kon
    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
  • Tamz_msc
    So Bulldozer is AMD's version of NetBurst?
    24
  • Homeboy2
    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.
    55
  • killerclick
    homeboy2Everyone 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.


    Intel shouldn't lower prices, they should raise them. I'll gladly pay more to reward competent product development and nothing would please me more than AMD going down in flames for all their flops in the past 5 years. Intel doesn't need AMD to push them forward.
    -35
  • the associate
    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...
    11