System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $1200 Enthusiast PC

FX-6100: A Surprising Processor Bottleneck

We weren't hoping for a miracle in picking AMD's FX-6100 for this quarter's mid-range System Builder Marathon machine. It was almost assured that the Core i5-2500K would beat it (after all, the flagship FX-8150 had a hard enough time with Sandy Bridge at launch).

The real question was whether or not the FX-6100 has what it takes to shift the bottleneck to the dual Radeon HD 6950 CrossFire setup in gaming environments.

The answer, unfortunately, is no. In all but one of the 1920x1080 tests with high detail settings, the stock Core i5-2500K and GeForce GTX 460 SLI combination beats the overclocked FX-6100 with its dual Radeon HD 6950s. In Metro 2033, the one title able to demonstrate an AMD advantage, the result is within 11 FPS.

Perhaps you don't consider our comparison fair because the Core i5 is more expensive. Remember, though, that this configuration costs $200 more than last quarter's, and much of that extra budget went to vastly superior Radeon HD 6950 graphics cards. Even overclocked, the AMD CPU isn't able to match Intel’s stock performance. So, if you want to argue that the $184 Core i5-2300 would make a better comparison, consider that the FX-6100 would still need to be overclocked to 4.5 GHz to match that processor's out-of-box performance. And don’t forget that the Core i5-2300 can be overclocked from its stock 2.8 GHz to 3.5 GHz by forcing the highest single-core Turbo Boost multiplier (it's one of Intel's partially-unlocked chips). Also, think about the FX-6100’s considerable power consumption when it's pushed with all of that voltage.

The landscape isn't entirely bleak for AMD’s mid-range mainstream processor. Load temperatures are quite low, and its overclocking headroom is notable. All of the games we tested were playable, and average frame rates at 1920x1080 never dropped below 36. Really, though, it's hard to come with any reason to recommend AMD's FX over a Core i5 in an affordable build. Certainly, pairing a couple of AMD's very recommendable Radeon HD 6950s with its less-impressive FX-6100 creates platform imbalance.

Still, we’re quite curious to see how this system fares against the rest of the group in our final comparison article at the end of this week. Stay tuned, and remember to enter to win one of our three SBM machines!

  • Zero_
    Something is not right here :pfff: . But awesome review of a bulldozer rig. It fails, big time.

    Bring on $600! FX-4100? :kaola:
  • compton
    I understand that the SBM doesn't have the flexibility to utilize sales or rebates, but seriously, the Vertex Plus is neither a Vertex or a Plus. There are better options for less money even. I just bought several new Vertex and Vertex Turbos for less than a dollar per GB. If you're not dead-set on one particular drive, have flexibility and when and where the drive is purchased, you can do much better for $87. I'd rather take my chances with buying a used drive than purchase a new drive I know is a turkey. There is probably also a reason that Arrowana FW has yet to be released for older Indilinx controlled drives with 3xnm NAND.

  • Dacatak
    Bulldozer is dozing all right.
  • manu 11
    your hd, seagate 1tb is only 130$
    fx 6100, i was surprised that it was such a deep bottlencek.
    biostar ta 990fx?, you can get asrock extreme 4 with sli and xfire support for 110$

    overall, indeed you have taken a chance.

    i was in a mood to buy fx but wow, this changed my ming, i will now surely go with i5.
  • slicedtoad
    I was shocked an disappointed when I saw 'fx' on that first page, but now I've changed my mind.
    It's quantified the exceeding suck of bulldozer far better than the official bulldozer review.

    Maybe win8 will change everything, but I think it dubious.
  • gtx_560tiuser
    lol 2 fps in metro 2033...
  • king_maliken
    Just to point something out, should it not say in the graphs current $1200 PC and not current $1000?

    Also on the article, why try something out on a system builder marathon, the FX should of been tested in an other article, such as a review. It does not really matter that yes in fact the GPUs are much better but the CPU is holding them way back... Why cheap out on a motherboard? that Biostar TA990FXE from what I've read is not great, not good even.

    *Thought this was for people who didn't really know what to build, or how to build a computer? I wouldn't recommend this build.
  • pharoahhalfdead
    Awesome article. Despite people bashing AMD's new BD, this is actually a build that needed to be done. Alot of people are building systems around the new BD, and these benchmarks can be helpful, since just about all of the reviews are centered around the 8100 series. I decided to go with a Phenom 980 instead of the 8150 after reviews, but I never saw anythang about the 6100 series.

    I still want to see how it handles multi-tasking compared to Intel.
  • cleeve
    king_malikenWhy cheap out on a motherboard? that Biostar TA990FXE from what I've read is not great, not good even.
    Based on what? It was a fantastic overclocker and stable as hell.

    What is your beef with the board?
  • pharoahhalfdead
    The vast majority of people who criticize BD does not have a system that is anywhere near as fast a this or as fast as an i5-2500k. They are mainly running slower and ancient dual cores from years ago, with 8600GT video card, yet they judge any new product that comes out.

    Personally, I don't care who has the fastest processor, becuase I don't have the money to purchase every new cpu or video card that come out, but when I do upgrade, I just want it to be significantly faster than my previous build. 80% of the benchmarks posted are not programs that most of us even use in everyday life.