Usually when we review new CPUs, it’s the top model, and sometimes the one right below it. Not often do manufacturers send out low-end or mid-range models. If you were wondering why most hardware sites’ last CPU review was probably the FX-8350 launch last October, this is why.
There is a big CPU launch coming our way in the next few months, but before that we’re going to focus on a different price range. Say you’re building a gaming system on a strict budget. If so, you will want to put as much of that budget as possible on the video card. Or if you’re building an entry level system for a family member who may not need high end computation power, but still want to give them something that will be pretty quick when they need to do some heavy lifting. In scenarios like these, $120-130 is about what you’d want to spend on a CPU. Much less, and you are getting into CPUs that are quite crippled – Intel’s Pentium line, or AMD’s older Athlon II Llano CPUs.
Today’s review is of the AMD FX 4300, which sells for around $120 online right now. We will be putting it up against Intel’s Core i3 3220, which is not much more, at $120-130 or so. We will also be including AMD’s Trinity A10 5800K.
AMD FX vs Trinity – Piledriver vs Piledriver
Both the AMD FX 4300 and A10 5800K feature two Piledriver cores, with the A10 adding integrated graphics. Both run at 3.8 GHz, with turbo mode of the A10 reaching 4.2 GHz, and the FX 4300 reaching 4.0 GHz. They both have 4 MB of L2 cache, but the FX 4300 adds another 4 MB of L3. These two CPUs are similar enough that the performance results will be very interesting to look at, comparing increased turbo boost peak to extra cache. Considering that they are roughly the same price, it’s a bit of a tough sell for the FX 4300. Even if you don’t use the integrated graphics on the A10 APU, if you don’t lose much performance, it still might be the one to consider.
On the other hand, we already know that Ivy Bridge is a beast of a chip and uses very little power, so both these chips have their work cut out for them to be considered over the Core i3 3220.
Core i3 3220
AMD 990FX Chipset
|MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 |
AMD A85X Chipset (Review)
Intel Z77 Chipset
|Memory||8GB (2x4GB) G.Skill RipjawsX 1833 MHz 9-10-9-28|
|Hard Drive||OCZ Vector 256GB|
|Video Card||Gigabyte Radeon 7870 GV-R787OC-2GD|
(AMD vs Nvidia – Radeon 7870 vs GeForce 660 – Best GPU For $200-250?)
|Motherboard Drivers||Catalyst 13.1 Chipset|
Catalyst 13.1 AHCI
|Video Drivers||Catalyst 13.1|
|Operating System||Windows 8 Professional x64 Edition RTM|
We’ll kick things off as usual with SiSoft Sandra’s CPU benchmarks. These synthetic tests give us an idea of the raw performance of each CPU.
First up are the pure synthetic arithmetic tests, using classic Dhrystone and Whetstone benchmarks:
Trinity’s increase turbo clock speed makes an impact right away in these synthetic tests.
Next we’ll look at Sandra’s Multimedia benchmarks, which are more real-world based (but not doing any actual tasks you’d do in real life), allowing the CPU’s architecture to work to improve scores:
These tests perfectly demonstrate the weakness of the Piledriver architecture. While it’s true that the FX 4300 and A10 5800K have two Piledriver modules each, and are advertised as having “four cores”. However, this only refers to the two integer schedulers that are in each module. There is only one FPU scheduler, meaning weak floating point performance. Obviously this synthetic test will exaggerate this weakness, but it is still interesting to point out that Piledriver has really weak FPU performance, but strong Int performance compared to the dual core Core i3.
Starting with the next page, we’ll look at performance results using actual tasks you’d do with a PC at home.