AMD FX “Bulldozer” review

Price when reviewed

On paper, these new cores, running at these high speeds, look like they might just be capable of challenging Intel’s dominance.

To find out, we plugged the top-of-the-range FX-8150 into our test rig – an Asus Crosshair V Formula motherboard, AMD Radeon HD 6870 graphics card, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard disk – and launched our real-world application benchmarks.

The system achieved an overall score of 0.84. That’s the kind of performance we’d expect from a low-end Core i5 chip. A recent PC from Advent with a 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-2310 returned the same 0.84 score in our benchmark, with a stock-speed Core i7-2600 serving as the benchmark at 1.


In our test rig, the idle and maximum power draws hit 91W and 224W, which is nothing out of the ordinary. And the FX chip is certainly cool enough: when idling beneath our Zalman CNPS7X cooler it hit just 22 degrees, rising to 55 degrees when stressed with Prime95.

Theoretically, that suggests AMD’s new chips might have plenty of scope for overclocking, but in our tests we were only able to get the system up to 4.2GHz: not a big enough leap to worry Intel.

That isn’t the end of the bad news. AMD used to be known as the budget choice but the FX-8150 offers poor value compared to Intel. This top-end CPU will sell for £195 inc VAT, £35 more than the faster Core i5-2500K. The situation seemingly improves lower down the range, with the FX-4100 coming in at just £95 inc VAT but, as we haven’t the opportunity to test it yet, we’ll reserve judgement.

AMD made us wait for Bulldozer, but on the evidence of this first outing we can’t say it’s been worth it. It’s not as fast as its direct rivals, yet will cost you more. When it comes to desktop processors, Intel still holds all the cards.

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