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AMD Vishera FX-6300 & FX-4300 Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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With several new product releases over the last few weeks, AMD has been on a mission to gain back market share. While Trinity targeted the entry level crowd with a well rounded family of APUs, their Vishera FX-series firmly targets an enthusiast niche that doesn’t need or want onboard graphics capabilities. The FX-8350 serves the upper registers of this niche and belies its $199 asking price but the rest of the FX family will allow users to build highly overclockable systems for even less.


The FX-4300 and FX-6300 are being introduced at substantially lower price points than their 8-core brethren. They are supposed to appeal to entry level gamers or anyone that wants to easily tweak their system. Meanwhile, being a simple drop in upgrade for anyone with a 990FX system virtually guarantees that users with older Phenom II processors will be looking on with interest.

AMD’s FX-6300 is considered by many to be the current “sweet spot” of the Vishera lineup since it combines six cores and a cache structure that’s similar to higher end FX-series processors with fair asking price of just $132. Like its siblings the FX-6300 comes with an unlocked multiplier that ensures easy overclocking and supports memory speeds up to 1866MHz. From a pure specifications standpoint this new processor replaces the FX-6100 of yesteryear but can also be considered a spiritual successor to the 6-core Phenom X6 family.

At the bottom of AMD’s current FX-series product stack lies the $122 FX-4300. This unlocked quad core processor still uses the Piledriver architecture and boasts clock speeds that are quite similar to those of the A10-5800K APU. Like the FX-6300 its TDP hovers around the 95W mark since it still uses an eight core design, albeit one with four of those cores disabled. L2 and L3 cache have also taken a significant hit with allotments of 4MB each. Naturally, it is AMD’s intent that the FX-4300 effectively offers an upgrade solution for anyone still holding on to a Phenom II X4 processor. We just have to wonder how it will stand out with the more powerful FX-6300 in such close proximity.


AMD’s sights may be set upon older Sandy Bridge processors for these two lower end FX-series CPUs but that may not go as planned. Granted, the i3 2120 and i5 2300 are still available at retailers, Ivy Bridge replacements are priced quite competitively. Currently the i3 3220 and i3 3225 (which incorporates a higher end integrated GPU) sit at $130 and $145 respectively, possibly spoiling AMD’s party before it has even begun.

Other than core counts and actually frequencies, the main differentiating factor between the FX-6300, FX-4300 and the Intel competition will likely be unlocked nature of AMD’s products. At these lower price points, Intel just doesn’t offer an easy, reliable way to overclock their processors. The FX-series on the other hand just needs a small voltage bump and a multiplier change to really start stretching its legs.

The audacious launch of processors that significantly undercut the competition while also offering more processing threads has many excited about AMD’s products again. However, cutting the 8-core processor down to create the FX-6300 and FX-4300 eliminates part of the FX-8350’s allure and may have some unintended performance consequences.

 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we have prepared a number of different test setups, representing many of the popular platforms at the moment. As much as possible, the test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.


For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates

E) All programs are installed and then updated.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

G) All processors had their energy saving options / c-states enabled
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,857
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Montreal
System Benchmarks: AIDA64 / Cinebench r11.5

System Benchmarks


In this section, we will be using a combination of synthetic benchmarks which stress the CPU and system in a number of different domains. Most of these tests are easy to acquire or are completely free to use so anyone reading this article can easily repeat our tests on their own systems.

To vary the results as much as possible, we have chosen a selection of benchmarks which focus upon varied instruction sets (SSE, SSE3, 3DNow!, AVX, etc.) and different internal CPU components like the floating point units and general processing stages.



AIDA64 Extreme Edition


AIDA64 uses a suite of benchmarks to determine general performance and has quickly become one of the de facto standards among end users for component comparisons. While it may include a great many tests, we used it for general CPU testing (CPU ZLib / CPU Hash) and floating point benchmarks (FPU VP8 / FPU SinJulia).


CPU ZLib Benchmark

This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions but is nonetheless a good indicator of general system performance.




CPU Hash Benchmark

This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly. More importantly, it uses MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX instruction sets, allowing for increased performance on supporting processors.


RESULTS: In these two benchmarks which use newer instruction sets, the two AMD processors are able to pull ahead of the Intel competition by significant amounts. Here, we actually see the FX-6300 competing against Intel’s 3570K which is a much more expensive processor.



FPU VP8 / SinJulia Benchmarks

AIDA’s FPU VP8 benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 and stresses the floating point unit. The test encodes 1280x720 resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at a bitrate of 8192 kbps with best quality settings. The content of the frames are then generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extensions.

Meanwhile, SinJulia measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and utilizes trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions.



RESULTS: While both processors perform quite well in the standard FPU test, SinJulia’s use of older x87 instructions means their performance lags far behind the competition.



CineBench r11.5 64-bit


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.


RESULTS: The FX-6300’s six threads allow it to pull ahead once again but the FX-4300 lags significantly behind and can’t even best the X4 945.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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System Benchmarks: Civ V / PCMark 7

System Benchmarks (pg.2)



Civilization V: Gods & Kings Unit Benchmark


Civilization V includes a number of benchmarks which run on the CPU, GPU or a combination thereof. The Unit Benchmark simulates thousands of units and actions being generated at the same time, stresses multi core CPUs, system memory and GPU We give the non-rendered score below as it is more pertinent to overall CPU performance within the application.


RESULTS: Combined gaming tests are certainly not Piledriver’s forte but the FX-6300 and FX-4300 are able to put up respectable results.



PCMark 7


PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. We also give the Computation Suite score as it isolates the CPU and memory within a single test, without the influence of other components.



RESULTS: Once again we are seeing very good results from both processors but it does seem like the 990FX platform does give them an advantage in the Overall score. However, even in the computation suite, they are able to hang with or pull ahead of Intel’s i3 competitors.
 
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SKYMTL

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System Benchmarks: 3DMark (CPU) / WPrime

System Benchmarks (pg.3)



3DMark06 CPU


While 3DMark06 may be a slightly older synthetic benchmark, its CPU test still allows for multi threaded performance evaluations within a gaming environment. It effectively removes the CPU from the equation, generating a CPU-centric score.




WPrime


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload. Below are the scores for the 32M and 1024M benchmarks.



RESULTS: Both of these tests show slightly different results. On one hand the 3DMark CPU test shows how the AMD processors can shine in certain situations but the WPrime results tell a different story. While the 6-core FX-6300 can leverage its additional threads to stay ahead of the i3 processors, the FX-4300 gets spanked.
 
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SKYMTL

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System Benchmarks: Single Thread Performance

System Benchmarks: Single Thread Performance


Even though most modern applications have the capability to utilize more than one CPU thread, single threaded performance is still a cornerstone of modern CPU IPC improvements. In this section, we take a number of synthetic applications and run them in single thread mode.




RESULTS: We already knew this was coming but let’s make it official: Piledriver’s single thread performance lags far behind the competition. It even gets beat cleanly by AMD’s older generations architectures.
 
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SKYMTL

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Productivity Benchmarks: 7-Zip / MediaCoder

Productivity Benchmarks


In this section, we will avoid generalized synthetic benchmarks and instead concentrate upon CPU performance within real-world applications and standard usage patterns. Every one of the programs included here has functions that many professionals and everyday users utilize in their day to day computing lives.


7-Zip


At face value, 7-Zip is a simple compression/decompresion tool like popular applications like WinZip and WinRAR but it also has numerous additional functions that can allow encryption, decryption and other options. For this test, we are avoiding its built-in benchmark and once again only focus upon real world testing by compressing a 2.6GB folder of various files and adding an AES-256 encryption layer for good measure. The test is timed until it is complete.


RESULTS: In a heavily multi threaded benchmark like 7Zip, the FX-6300 and FX-4300 are really able to flex their legs. In both cases, the processors are able to cleanly beat Intel’s i3 3225 and the FX-6300 can even best the 3570K.



MediaCoder x64


Due to the varying compatibility of certain mobile devices, video transcoding performance has become something of a big deal. Transcoding allows one type of video / audio file to be converted into a different format and it typically takes up a huge amount of system resources. The MediaCoder application brings multi format transcoding to an accessible level with numerous options and acceleration for Intel’s QuickSync and NVIDIA’s CUDA technologies. In addition, its CPU support allows for full multi core utilization. In this test, we use the MediaCoder i-devices edition to convert a 600MB AVCHD file to an iPhone 4S friendly MPEG-4 format.


RESULTS: The updated version of MediaCoder is another application that can take advantage of AMD’s architecture and it shows once again with excellent results.
 
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SKYMTL

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Productivity Benchmarks: Photoshop CS6 / POV Ray 3.7

Productivity Benchmarks (pg.2)



Adobe Photoshop CS6


For the image editing portion of this section, we use Photoshop CS6 in coordination with a custom benchmark script. This script automates the application of 20 different image manipulation functions to a 120MB PNG image, acting as an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. For this test, we have disabled GPU acceleration so it won’t play a factor in the areas where it would typically be used. We use Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage.


RESULTS: With a combination of single and multi threaded workloads, Photoshop may not be the FX-series’ shining point, but the results were in-line with expectations. Unfortunately, the FX-6300 and FX-4300 just can’t keep up with Intel’s solutions here.



POV Ray 3.7 RC6


POV Ray is a complex yet simple to use freeware ray tracing program which has the ability to efficiently use multiple CPU cores in order to speed up rendering output. For this test, we use its built-in benchmark feature which renders multiple passes of a high definition scene. In order to get the most accurate results, the second pass of the first test is logged, resulting in a benchmark score showing the average amount of pixels rendered per second.


RESULTS: We’re right back to where AMD wants to be with strong performance in an application that can take full advantage of newer instruction sets and multiple threads. As a result, the lower new FX-series processors easily beat the i3 3225.
 
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SKYMTL

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Productivity Benchmarks: TrueCrypt 7.1 / x264HD

Productivity Benchmarks (pg. 3)



TrueCrypt 7.1


Truecrypt is another freeware gem which allows for on-the-fly disk encryption. More importantly, it fully supports AES-256 encryption methods and multi core processors. For this test, we used the built-in benchmark tool are logged the data throughput for TrueCrypt’s AES-256 encryption method.


RESULTS: TrueCrypt continues to be an application that favors AMD’s current architectures as they all support hardware AES acceleration. Intel’s i3 processors on the other hand do not support the standard.


x264HD Benchmark


x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video. We use the second pass of the first test for this benchmark as it fully loads all multi core processors.


RESULTS: Our productivity benchmarks end on a high note for AMD and the quad and 6-core processors are able to beat the Intel competition by significant amounts.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,857
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Montreal
720P Gaming: Deus Ex: HR / Dirt 3 / Skyrim

720P Gaming Benchmarks


Processors play a huge roll in gameplay performance since they have to process copious amounts of information for the GPU. In the following tests, we use a simple 720P resolution and the lowest possible detail settings in an effort to remove the graphics processor from the equation and place additional pressure on the CPU. 720P was used since it is a resolution that is extensively used by gamers sporting lower end HDTVs and it doesn’t put as much stress upon the GPU as 1080P.

For every one of the following titles, a simple 1 minute gameplay walkthrough was used and the average frames per second was logged via FRAPS.






RESULTS: As usual, AMD’s Piledriver architecture gets brutalized in gaming benchmarks. This all comes down to single thread performance and unfortunately, neither of these two CPUs has that in abundance.
 
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