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Can AMD's FX Keep Up With Its Radeon HD 7970?

FX Vs. Core i7: Exploring CPU Bottlenecks And AMD CrossFire
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When we talk about affordable hardware that performs well, we like to use phrases like "80% the performance for 60% the price." Those are always very honest numbers, since we make it a habit to measure performance, power, and efficiency. But they only capture the value of a single component, and components cannot operate on their own. 

After adding up the parts used in today's benchmark analysis, the Intel-based system crested $1,900, while the AMD platform ran us $1,724, both without cases, peripherals, or operating systems. If we wanted to call both setups "complete" solutions, we could add an $80 chassis to give us $1,984 and $1,804 machines, respectively. Since we're adding cost to both boxes, AMD's overall $180 cost savings becomes a smaller percentage of the total price tag. In other words, the other pieces that go into a nice high-end PC serve to diminish AMD's value leadership.

That leaves us with two completely biased ways to compare price to performance. We can only hope that pointing this out upfront keeps us transparent as we present the numbers.

An AMD bias would only include the price of the motherboard and CPU, maximizing value, like so:

A third alternative would allow us to talk about the motherboards and CPUs as upgrades, assuming you already have cases, power supplies, memory, and storage lying around. Of course, you probably don't have a pair of Radeon HD 7970s left over from some old machine, so the most balanced approach we can take at least takes processors, platforms, and graphics into consideration. Therefore, we're adding the $800 Tahiti-based duo to our shopping list.

The only way we can make AMD's FX-8350 look like a better gaming value than Intel's Core i7-3770K (specifically in the games and at the settings we used to test) is if the rest of the system is free. Because the rest of the system is never free, the FX-8350 never serves up better high-end gaming value.

From now on, we'll need to limit the use of AMD's flagship to systems already bottlenecked by their graphics cards. A less expensive CPU is more attractive when it isn't affecting performance negatively.

Intel Bias is in the (AMD) Cards?

Our benchmark results have long shown that ATI's graphics architectures are more dependent on a strong processor than Nvidia's. As a result, we usually arm our test beds with high-end Intel CPUs when it comes time to benchmark high-end GPUs, sidestepping platform issues that might adversely affect results designed to isolate graphics performance.

We were hoping that AMD's Piledriver update would break that trend, but even a handful of impressive advancements aren't enough to match the effectiveness of AMD's graphics team. Might Steamroller be the evolutionary step forward needed to unleash the GCN architecture's peak performance?

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  • 49 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 24, 2013 3:24 AM
    Quote:
    We were hoping that AMD's Piledriver update would break that trend, but even a handful of impressive advancements aren't enough to match the effectiveness of AMD's graphics team. Might Steamroller be the evolutionary step forward needed to unleash the GCN architecture's peak performance?


    I disagree. What's needed is even stronger push on the developers to use more than four cores, effectively, not some 100% load on one core and 10% on the other five cores.
  • 34 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , January 24, 2013 4:03 AM
    Personally I'd like to see the i5-3570K included in here. It's closer in price to the 8350, but should perform more like the 3770K (as the games are unlikely to use more than 4 threads).
  • 26 Hide
    esrever , January 24, 2013 4:09 AM
    There should be an i5 included just so you can have a middle ground.
Other Comments
  • 49 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 24, 2013 3:24 AM
    Quote:
    We were hoping that AMD's Piledriver update would break that trend, but even a handful of impressive advancements aren't enough to match the effectiveness of AMD's graphics team. Might Steamroller be the evolutionary step forward needed to unleash the GCN architecture's peak performance?


    I disagree. What's needed is even stronger push on the developers to use more than four cores, effectively, not some 100% load on one core and 10% on the other five cores.
  • 1 Hide
    acktionhank , January 24, 2013 3:50 AM
    Great article and very informative. The FX-8350 really held it's own until it came down to Skyrim.

    A Bad DayI disagree. What's needed is even stronger push on the developers to use more than four cores, effectively, not some 100% load on one core and 10% on the other five cores.


    I thought more cores were for multi-tasking, as in having multiple programs running simultaneously. It would suck to turn on BF3 and everything else running on my PC simply shut down because the CPU is under 100% utilization. How would i be able to play BF3 while streaming/playing some HD content on my TV that's hooked up to my same computer.


  • 17 Hide
    alidan , January 24, 2013 3:58 AM
    acktionhankGreat article and very informative. The FX-8350 really held it's own until it came down to Skyrim.I thought more cores were for multi-tasking, as in having multiple programs running simultaneously. It would suck to turn on BF3 and everything else running on my PC simply shut down because the CPU is under 100% utilization. How would i be able to play BF3 while streaming/playing some HD content on my TV that's hooked up to my same computer.


    single core performance... look up some other benchmarks, where they use itunes to encode things, or when i believe winzip went from single core to multicore, it shows a GREAT difference more cores can do to performance.

    the problem is that few games and few programs really scale, sure, pro applications almost always take advantage of whatever you put in them, but consumer, different story.

    more cores can offer more multitasking, but they also allow the load to be shifted from one core to all 4 cores and get over all more performance when properly coded.
  • 34 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , January 24, 2013 4:03 AM
    Personally I'd like to see the i5-3570K included in here. It's closer in price to the 8350, but should perform more like the 3770K (as the games are unlikely to use more than 4 threads).
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , January 24, 2013 4:06 AM
    A Bad DayI disagree. What's needed is even stronger push on the developers to use more than four cores, effectively, not some 100% load on one core and 10% on the other five cores.
    I'm calling BS on this one because AMD's "eight cores" are actually four modules, on four front ends, with four FP units. Games have historically been limited by FP units specifically and front ends in general, no? What I'm seeing is that Intel's per-core IPC appears to be a little higher, when two different FOUR "full" CORE processors are compared.
  • 26 Hide
    esrever , January 24, 2013 4:09 AM
    There should be an i5 included just so you can have a middle ground.
  • 1 Hide
    amuffin , January 24, 2013 4:09 AM
    I'm really liking the new logo!
  • 21 Hide
    de5_Roy , January 24, 2013 4:44 AM
    like the article.
    woulda liked to see how a 3570k does against the fx8350 running the same cfx setup. impo, the price/perf woulda tipped further in favor of intel in configs like this.
    lastly, woulda liked some newer games like sleeping dogs, far cry3, max payne 3 in the benches instead of the ol' bf3 single player. i hear bf3 sp doesn't stress cpus that much. may be bf3 skewed the benches in favor of amd as much as skyrim favored intel. :whistle: 
  • 6 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 24, 2013 5:47 AM
    It would be nice to see prices for components similar the SMB. Not because I can't look them up, but because the article is very price/performance oriented
  • 17 Hide
    Crashman , January 24, 2013 6:52 AM
    The_TrutherizerThe final (biased/unbiased) comparisons are the oddest thing I've ever seen. You practically have to have a degree in statistics to understand them, since for us mere mortals the maximum value is 100%. How the *** you got 115% of max performance I really do not know. What is your 100%??? In any case. On the value thing I also have to add that saying that the value of the whole system is the most balanced approach is nonsense. You compare individual parts with individual parts. If you care about value then you will hardly get the most expensive case,kbd,mouse,etc... You'll buy the best CPU and gfx card and memory you can afford and stick it in any damned old chassis that you can keep cool. Your "most balanced" approach is a crock. It's like saying that two people have close as the same test scores because the average of the test scores of their respective classes are just about the same. LOL So much of that comparison was meaningless to me. Sorry...
    OK, for mere mortals: When you make this type of calculation, the average is 100%. You have to subtract 100% in order to get a 0% average. In this case, the average was "average of all systems". Think of it like IQ (where the average also happens to be 100).

    If you could buy $4 RAM instead of $40 RAM, but the $4 RAM made your system 50% slower, would you buy it? No, because it would make your $1000 PC perform like a $500 PC.

    You can only do per-component value when you're only comparing one component. In this case, the graphics cards and CPUs were being tested as a pairing (just like the title says).
  • 8 Hide
    belardo , January 24, 2013 8:15 AM
    The i5-3570 is about $100 cheaper and would play those benchmarked games pretty much just as fast as the i7-3770...
  • 13 Hide
    m32 , January 24, 2013 8:26 AM
    Thanks for the article! I just wished all games took advantage of AMD CPU(s) threads. Hopefully AMD will get better with SteamRoller and improve it's power consumption and IPC.

    Again, I enjoy reading the article. Get ready for b!tching by fanboies.... Tom. ;) 
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 24, 2013 8:31 AM
    If the AMD FX 8350 isn't fully loaded for games ... why do you use them to compare? Because it's the top CPU in AMD's portfolio?
    Why don't use AMD FX 6x00? They are cheaper, almost 60€ in my country. You have compared AMD FX 4x00 already, but i don't see any review or article using a FX6x00 and i think it's the sweet spot for an all-in-one PC (game and work, with 8GB at least of RAM).

    Sorry for my english.
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , January 24, 2013 8:32 AM
    You must remember Guys that the Tech in AMD's now processors don't support the Old Optimisations 3DNOW! ETC so with certain coding techniques that still use the older stuff AMD suffers. Note that with Newer Applications, AMD Especially with OPENCL can simply whoop Intel out of the Park.

    Your processor is only as good as the Programming that supports it, and Intel pays developers to use code that supports it and that is missing on AMD's architecture.
  • 17 Hide
    Outlander_04 , January 24, 2013 9:27 AM
    Compare a $200 AMD processor with a $330 Intel processor ?

    Can you run the whole test again with a $200 intel quadcore

    and ditch the old DX 9 game engines , too?
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