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