AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws?

Power Consumption And Efficiency

It’s always interesting to do a full analysis of performance before taking a look at the power consumption log files I generate while the benchmarks run.

It's a little unexpected to see the Piledriver-based FX-8350 (the blue line) clearly using less power over the course of our benchmark suite than the Bulldozer-based FX-8150 (the green line), even though the previous-gen part operates at a base frequency 400 MHz lower.

Before I get into the specifics, I want to point out a small change I’m making in this review. Normally, I cut the power log off as soon as the last test finishes. This fails to account for idle power use, though, as the script is constantly starting and stopping benchmarks. Today, I’m giving each system exactly 600 seconds (10 minutes) to idle at the end of the run. As a result, average power use is brought down and energy consumption increases (due to the longer measurement period), but we do get a more realistic look at how these systems do when they’re allowed to rest.

I don’t have a chart for each machine’s idle power consumption. Looking over each log, however, tells us that the Core i5 and Core i7 idle the lowest (roughly 79 and 80 W, respectively). The Phenom II X6-based system pulls about 102 W from the wall when it’s not doing anything. And the machine with an FX-8150 draws 92 W. FX-8350 fares no better, idling at 92 W as well. But it finishes the whole suite so much faster that efficiency almost certainly improves.

Average power consumption and the time taken to finish all of our benchmarks will shed some light on Vishera’s efficiency. 

Across our benchmark suite, the FX-8350-based system used 10 W less than the same machine with FX-8150, despite its higher clock rate and better performance.

We have a pretty good idea that the FX-8350 is quicker than AMD’s old Phenom II X6 1100T. But the six-core chip’s lower power consumption could translate to better efficiency if it isn’t significantly slower. That’d be a disaster for AMD.

The fact that both chips from Intel average dramatically lower power use across the run makes it almost impossible for the Piledriver-based Vishera platform to catch up.

This is something for AMD to be proud of. Its FX-8350 finishes in second place (of the CPUs I charted—I tried to pick and choose carefully to keep the graph from getting too hectic). For the record, though, I also had to know how FX-8350 did against Core i5-3570K, and it finished 12 seconds before the pricier Intel chip.

Even though it wraps up the total workload less than 10 minutes sooner than the FX-8150, the fact that AMD is charging less than $200 for its desktop flagship completely changes the processor’s value proposition. How efficient is it, though?

FX-8350 is almost 13% more efficient than its predecessor. Perhaps more important, it proves to be more efficient than Phenom II X6 1100T.

One year ago, the Phenom was a more power-friendly choice than the Bulldozer-based FX. There was no way to escape the fact that AMD had put out a CPU that used more power and performed worse in a number of key applications. Now we’re at least able to acknowledge better performance, better efficiency, and a more attractive price. Is all of that enough to garner a recommendation?

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • amuffin
    Looks like AMD did pretty well with the 8350.

    I now really don't see people purchasing it though....people will be buying the 8320.
  • kracker
    Interesting, nice improvement over BD, it spars very closely or beats the i5-3570K sometimes, It really can't compete with intel's high end, but nevertheless good job AMD!
  • sixdegree
    AMD is doing good with the pricing this time. This is what AMD should be: aggressively priced CPU with added features.
  • esrever
    The price is actually nice this time. Hopefully AMD sticks around and gives good deals like this for years to come.
  • Nice job AMD. It just kept itself afloat! Not performance killer, but good enough to get a chunk of desktop sales just in time for the holiday season. Probably wouldn't buy it over an Intel system because most apps are still quite single threaded, but I would certainly consider it. Welcome back to the race AMD. Keep up the good work!
  • najirion
    so... amd will still keep my local electric provider happy. Good job AMD but I think FM2 APUs are more promising. The fact that APUs alone can win against intel processors if discrete graphics is not involved. Perhaps AMD should focus in their APU line like integrating better gpus in those apus that will allow dual 7xxx graphics and not just dual 6xxx hybrid graphics. The entire FX architecture seems to have the issue with its high power consumption and poor single-thread performance. Better move on AMD...
  • dscudella
    I would have liked to see more Intel offerings in the Benchmarks. Say an i3-2120 & i3-3220 for comparisons sake as they'll be cheaper than the new Piledrivers.

    If more games / daily use apps start using more cores these new AMD's could really take off.
  • EzioAs
    Interesting. Probably not a gamers first choice but for users who regularly use multi-threaded programs, the 8350 should be very compelling. About $30 cheaper than a 3570K and can be overclock as well, video/photo editors should really consider this. It doesn't beat current Intel CPUs in power efficiency but at least it's significantly more efficient than Bulldozer.

    Thanks for the review.
    Btw Chris, how many cups of joe did you had to take for the overclocking testing? ;)
  • sorry just not overly impressed.
    5-12% performance increase 12% less power - sound familiar?
    the only difference this time was less hype before the release. (lesson well learned AMD!)
  • gorz
    I think the fx-4300 is going to be the new recommended budget gaming processor. Good price that is only going to get lower, and it has overclocking.