Not the fastest, but certainly some of the most reliable processors, that most gamers love to tinker with, AMD processors still hold their line with decent performance and budget price tags. Here is a brief review, of the best chips that AMD has to offer, in 2014.
The Cost Advantage
AMD has always competed with Intel on the basis of the cost factor, offering almost the same performance, at lesser price. Currently, the AMD FX series and A10 APUs are the best chips to watch out for.
AMD chips are not the speediest or the most powerful chips on the planet, but they are certainly the most budget-friendly and very effective, if precisely chosen to meet specific work requirements. Of course, when you need raw scorching computing power, the pricey Intel core i7 line is almost the default choice.
If money is not an issue and you need a chip for the most mission-critical tasks, with the focus being on speed, you should be shopping in the Intel department, as the company practically owns the high-end computing market right now.
However, for most of us mortals, the cash to burn, is usually limited and we have got to spread it over, in the most optimized way. For all such folks, the AMD section offers a lot of budget-friendly goodies, that can give most Intel chips a run for their money and even beat them in some isolated cases. We review the latest FX and APU processors offered by AMD, that have been ratified by benchmark tests, to deliver real value for money.
The AMD Offering: A Bird’s-eye View
AMD is betting big on two prime processor lines, one is the standard or conventional CPU, in the form of the FX line for desktops (along with the older Phenom, A-series, Athlon, and Sempron series) and the APU line (subdivided into E2, A4, A6, A8, A10), which is a CPU+GPU combination, for desktop and laptop computers.
The latest FX line, built on AMD’s new Piledriver architecture, is designed to offer robust desktop performance. Gamers planning to opt for this line, will have to arrange for a separate discrete GPU, to derive maximum performance out of it. Though the line scores poorly in terms of power efficiency and single thread performance, when compared with the latest Intel i7 counterparts, it fares moderately well on most types of high-end workloads. The price tag makes up for most of the shortcomings. Continuing with the tradition, through the FX line, AMD again offers more bang for lesser bucks.
Teaming up with a decent discrete GPU, FX processors will outperform mid-level Intel core i5 and high-end i7 lines, in terms of graphics performance. You can choose from among the FX 4000, FX 6000, FX 8000, or the latest FX 9000 lines, that offer progressively higher number of cores and higher clocking frequencies. The earlier versions like Phenom, Athlon, and Sempron lines still find takers, due to their low costs and robust performance, that is on par with the expectations of most users.
The idea behind the APUs (Accelerated Processing units) is integrated on-chip graphic processing and the A10 line is the best of the lot. The E-series is designed to serve budget users, with very low computing requirements, while the A10 lies at the other end, offering the best performance. The prime advantage of these chips is the AMD Radeon graphics core, working in tandem with the CPU cores, offering multiple features like Face Login, Gesture Control, Quick stream, Turbo Core, and Perfect Picture HD technologies. All these features are offered on desktop and laptop APUs.
Now that you are familiar with the AMD territory, we are ready to dive into reviews of the best processors offered by the company, in the desktop department.
The Best Desktop Processors
AMD FX 9590 Eight-core Processor
The world’s first processor to reach the 5 GHz milestone with Turbo Core technology, this is an octa-core beast, with a base clocking frequency of 4.7 GHz and 8 MB L3 cache. In the benchmark CPU Mark test scores, maintained by PassMark, the processor scores 10354 and is ranked 31st among all high-end processors. This Vishera chip is almost on-par with the Haswell Intel core i7-4770K, in terms of performance.
Though overheating has been reported to be a problem with this chip due to the 220 W TDP, it can be easily taken care of, with a liquid coolant system. Based on the 32 nm Piledriver architecture, this unlocked processor scores high on all counts in benchmark tests, including combined CPU and memory subsystem performance, video compression, 3D graphics rendering, and 3D gaming. The FX series comes with a multitude of innovations, including Turbo Core, new instruction capabilities (AES, AVX, FMA4 and XOP), integrated DRAM controller, HyperTransport, and a shared L3 cache.
This processor ranks right up there, with the Intel i7 Ivy Bridge and Haswell heavyweights. This substantial amount of computing muscle, can be yours for a price of USD 342.71. Gamers and video editing professionals would definitely love this one.
AMD FX 9370 Eight-core Processor
A cheaper variant of the flagship FX 9590, the FX 9370 scores 9709 on the CPU Mark test, conducted by PassMark, which sets it on the same level as Intel Core i7-3770K, as well as Intel Core i7-4770. With a base clocking frequency of 4.4 GHz and a Turbo frequency of 4.7 GHz, this is another octa-core processor, with an 8 MB L3 cache, and a TDP of 220 W. The chip has a PassMark rank of 46, among all current high-end chips.
Priced at around USD 249, this chip is only slightly lower in performance, compared to FX 9590. With high scores in all departments, including video compression and graphics rendering, this incredible chip should serve gamers and video editors well, when coupled with a decent Radeon graphics card.
AMD FX 8350 Eight-core Processor
The former flagship, that was superseded by FX 9590, the FX 8350, another 8-core processor, has 8 MB L3 cache and a base clocking frequency of 4 GHz, which can be boosted to 4.2 GHz. Ranked 67th among high-end chips, it earned a PassMark score of 9051. This makes it on par, in terms of performance, with the Intel Core i7-3770 and the Intel Core i7-3820. In terms of computing power offered per dollar, this is the best chip in the market. At a price point of USD 199.99, this is the best octa-core offering by AMD, that you can trust upon, to deliver high-end computing performance.
AMD A10-7850K APU with Radeon R7 Graphics
Dubbed by the company as its most advanced APU and based on the new 28 nm Kaveri architecture, this is actually a new kind of computer chip, with 12 operational cores, which include 4 CPU and 8 GPU cores. Equipped with HSA-enabled Radeon R7 graphics, a base clocking frequency of 3.7 GHz for the Steamroller cores, maximum boosted frequency of 4 GHz, 720 MHz GPU frequency, and a TDP of 95 W, this processor scores 5640 on PassMark’s CPU Mark test. It has an overall ranking of 208, among the high-end processors. It matches in performance with the mid-range quad-core Intel Core i5 4670K. A processor meant for casual gaming and mid-range computing tasks, it is priced at USD 184.
AMD A10-7700K APU with Radeon R7 Graphics
Another Kaveri APU, the 7700K is ranked 211th among the top processors, with a PassMark CPU Mark score of 5583. This one has a TDP of 95 W, with 12 operational cores (4 CPU+8 GPU), with base clocking frequency of 3.5 GHz, which can be boosted to 3.8 GHz.
Another mid-range chip, it competes with the likes of Intel Xeon X3470. The lowered TDP, with high clocking frequency and the graphics edge provided by Radeon R7, makes it another great offering for mid-range users, who need moderate computing power at their disposal. With these features, the chip costs around USD 159.99.
As AMD continues to innovate, to survive in the Intel-dominated market, consumers can benefit from the high-end computing power, that the company has always brought to the masses, at low costs. Opt for the FX 8000 or 9000 line, if you are looking for the most cost-effective high-end desktop chips, or go for the A10 APU line, if you are looking for graphic-intensive applications on desktop computers. Combined with an AMD Radeon graphics card, these chips will serve most of your basic to moderate level computing tasks, while performing selective high-end tasks including video editing and graphics rendering, quite well.
Nevertheless, at the risk of being labeled as an Intel sycophant, I reiterate that if you need the very best in business and have no budget constraints, the Intel i7 line is the no-brainer choice.