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AMD Vishera FX-6300 & FX-4300 Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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720P Gaming: Super Street Fighter IV / Torchlight

720P Gaming Benchmarks (pg.2)


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.


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RESULTS: Street Fighter is totally GPU bottlenecked at these lower resolutions, Torchlight seems to be able to take advantage of multiple CPU cores and the result is better performance for the AMD CPUs.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
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Montreal
1080P Gaming: Deus Ex: HR / Dirt 3 / Skyrim

1080P Gaming Benchmarks


While lower resolution gaming highlights processor bottlenecks, most people use slightly higher resolution monitors and want to play with increased detail settings. In these situations, the CPU tends to take a back seat to the graphics processor but even at 1080P (ie: 1920x1080) a slower CPU can still have a drastic impact upon in-game performance. In order to illustrate this, we have carried over the games from our previous tests, pumped detail levels to their max and used the increasingly popular 1080P resolution standard.

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RESULTS: As the GPU becomes more of a bottleneck, we can see that single thread CPU performance becomes less of a determining factor in overall framerates. While the FX-4300 and FX-6300 may not be able to quite reach the level of Intel’s i3 3225, they put up a pretty good fight.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1080P Gaming: Super Street Fighter IV / Torchlight

1080P Gaming Benchmarks (pg.2)


While lower resolution gaming highlights processor bottlenecks, most people use slightly higher resolution monitors and want to play with increased detail settings. In these situations, the CPU tends to take a back seat to the graphics processor but even at 1080P (ie: 1920x1080) a slower CPU can still have a drastic impact upon in-game performance. In order to illustrate this, we have carried over the games from our previous tests, pumped detail levels to their max and used the increasingly popular 1080P resolution standard.

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RESULTS: As with the results on the previous page, AMD’s two low end processors are nearly able to even the tables with Intel’s processors due to the system’s reliance upon the GPU.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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System Power Consumption

System Power Consumption


Our power consumption numbers are broken down into two categories: one which simply stresses all of the CPU cores with WPrime and another which puts a high amount of load on both the CPU cores and the IGP. The latter will only be included if a given processor includes a dedicated internal graphics sub-processor.

For the CPU power consumption test, we use the standard testing system (with an NVIDIA GTX 670 installed) and wait until the system and discrete GPU are at idle speeds in order to log the idle power consumption. After this, WPrime 1024M is looped for 15 minutes while the power consumption is logged with a calibrated power meter to determine the peak watts.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.


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Until AMD transfers their CPU designs to a different manufacturing process, power consumption will continue to be a challenge. It is however good to see a relatively large efficiency increase between the X6 1100T and the latest 6-core processor.

Unfortunately, the laws of diminishing returns are in full effect with the FX-4300. Its power requirements just go to prove that even though it only has four active cores, it still uses a huge amount of transistors which nonetheless lead to increased consumption numbers. As such, it requires almost as much juice as the FX-6300.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Clock for Clock: Vishera vs Thuban & Deneb

Clock for Clock: Vishera vs Thuban & Deneb


As AMD transitions from one architecture to another, they have augmented a number of aspects within the Bulldozer architecture in order to create Piledriver. As we saw on the previous pages, average clock speeds have been increased somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% which will count for some performance differentiation between the FX-8350 and its predecessor. While we already know how Piledriver compares to Bulldozer, how does it stack up against two previous architectures: Deneb and Thuban? That’s what we want to find out.

In order to level the playing field forefront between the new FX-series and the older architectures, we used a stock clocked FX-4300 and FX-6300 and overclocked X4 980 Black Edition and X6 1100T processors. All processors were set to run at the clock speeds indicated below and AMD’s Turbo Core was turned off in order to ensure speeds weren’t impacted by TDP constraints. All other settings remained identical to our standard testing setup but power saving features were disabled as well. This allowed us to highlight actual architectural improvements rather than let clock speeds get in the way of results.

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Even though we’ve railed against AMD’s apparent lack of single thread performance since Bulldozer came about, these results highlighted what could have been some serious issues with Piledriver when compared against two outdated architectures. The X4 945, which uses the long-removed Deneb core, was released back in 2009 and it runs all over the FX-4300 in our clock for clock tests. Performance comparisons between Thuban and Piledriver didn’t yield any more positive results but there are some reasons behind these discrepancies. Caching structures between Piledriver and Deneb / Thuban are fundamentally different which impacts some results. We may also be seeing the result of Piledriver’s lack of legacy instruction set support. Luckily, it looks like gaming results are a bit closer.

However, these items don’t cover every one of Piledriver’s shortcomings, some of which can be traced back to the module-based design. There are obviously a number of areas where the architecture plainly falls well short of previous generations and AMD desperately needs to fix those issues before their next respin.
 
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SKYMTL

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Clock for Clock: Vishera vs Thurban & Deneb (Single Thread)

Clock for Clock: Vishera vs Thuban & Deneb (Single Thread)


This section closely follows the previous page but we’re now going to take a closer look at single thread performance. This is one of the areas AMD admittedly needed to work on and Piledriver should have given them ample opportunity.

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Unfortunately, single thread performance doesn’t really help either of these processors along against older architectures. The only test which is relatively close is Cinebench. As a side note, none of these tests take advantage of newer instruction sets which is why Piledriver may be suffering here.
 
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SKYMTL

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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


Our experience overclocking the FX-6300 and FX-4300 can be distilled down to one word: easy. By increasing the voltage, disabling Turbo Core and upping the multiplier, we were able to add more than 1GHz to the clock speed of both processors. This is a massive departure from the abilities of similarly priced Intel CPUs which only allow for minor modifications that don’t amount to much. All of the results below were achieved using air cooling via a Thermalright TRUE Black. They have been tested via a 12 hour run of Prime95’s Small FTT test and are considered 24/7 stable.

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Our FX-4300 came tantalizingly close to the 5GHz mark but even after some judicious bus speed adjustments, we were only able to hit the 4.966GHz mark. Make no mistake about it, such a massive clock speed increase is impressive and the resulting performance allowed the FX-4300 to play with some of the industry’s big boys.

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Overclocking the FX-6300 yielded slightly lower clock speeds than our attempts with other Vishera processors but a final result of 4.864GHz was still quite respectful even though our sample refused to boot after increasing the bus frequency past the 203MHz mark. Unfortunately, it seemed like we were held back by the processor itself rather than heat since temperatures never went above the 76°C mark throughout our testing. Once again the end results were extremely impressive from a performance standpoint.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Conclusion

Conclusion


Vishera represents a new hope for AMD and their lineup’s flagship part, the FX-8350, can be considered a game changer. However, success on one front doesn’t necessarily mean the FX-series’ remaining offerings will receive such a warm reception. Unlike the $200 FX-8350, lower level CPUs like the FX-6300 and FX-4300 have a daunting hill to climb since they tend to fall within a cluttered market segment. AMD’s goal here was truly multi faceted as they had to offer adequate alternatives to strong Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge competition while also differentiating these lower end FX-series processors from Trinity APUs. For the most part the FX-6300 and FX-4300 are well positioned, inexpensive and (almost) perfectly executed but the separation between products isn’t quite as clearly defined as before.

The FX-6300 is the current darling of AMD’s Vishera lineup since it retains a good portion of the FX-8350’s multi threaded performance while allowing purchasers to save over $60. Due to a significantly lower Base Clock, there is still a good amount of daylight between this six-thread variant and more expensive octo-core models so the FX-8350 certainly won’t lose any market share. Intel on the other hand does have something to worry about since the FX-6300 demolishes the similarly priced i3 3225 / 3220 in every test except our gaming benchmarks. Granted, the 32nm architecture used in the FX-6300 isn’t particularly efficient when compared against Intel’s 22nm technology but from a value standpoint, AMD is light years ahead.

Our opinion of the FX-4300 differs somewhat from that of its sibling. Synthetic benchmarks show it competing well against the $8 more expensive i3 3220 (its performance is identical to the i3 3225 in our charts) but like every Piledriver-based CPU it falls behind a bit in gaming tests. All in all, we’d call that a great result, so where does our apprehension come into the equation? There’s just too much of a performance difference between the four and six core Vishera products to justify the mere $10 price difference. Either the FX-4300 is too expensive or the FX-6300 is too affordable and as you may have expected, we come down on the former side of that equation. Simply put, the FX-4300’s $122 price smells of protectionism in an effort to insulate the A10-5800K’s sales from internal competition. AMD may have been worried that a lower cost would have cut into their APU sales and shuffled things around accordingly. This “robbing from Peter to pay Paul” mentality means the FX-series’ quad core lines up very close to the excellent $132 FX-6300 and that’s a fight it will never win.

While these new processors can’t compete against Intel in every domain and lag far behind in the performance per watt category, from a features perspective they’re a step ahead. The inclusion of hardware-based AES acceleration is something the i3-series lacks and AMD’s FX-series tends to offer more processing threads at a given price point. More importantly for enthusiasts and even novices, the FX-6300 and FX-4300 offer an amount of clock speed overhead that just can’t be found on any sub-$230 Intel CPUs. Being able to hit nearly 5GHz with little effort or experience adds a massive amount of residual value to both processors. Naturally, Intel could rain on AMD’s one-man parade by introducing unlocked K-series SKUs at lower prices but we don’t see that happening just yet.

This conclusion has boiled down to a study in contrasts. While the FX-6300 is a phenomenal value, performs well against Intel’s closest Ivy Bridge competitors and represents a great upgrade solution for most AM3+ users, we’d be hard pressed to recommend the FX-4300 in its present condition. In most respects it is a highly capable processor which –more often than not- beats the i3-series processors clean. However, its price is unjustifiable considering the FX-6300 is only $10 more.

For the time being, AMD is done with the Vishera CPU lineup and everyone should be happy with the results. They’ve increased performance across the board, are competing with or beat Intel's similarly priced solutions on many fronts and have proven that affordability doesn’t have to come with a reduced feature set. While the FX-4300 didn’t quite meet our expectations due to its desperate need for a price reduction, the six-core FX-6300 is currently one of the best bang-for-buck CPUs on the market and it is poised to blaze a new trail for Vishera.

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Awarded to the FX-6300
 
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