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AMD FX-8150 review

Chris Finnamore
12 Oct 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
195
inc VAT

An overclockable eight-core processor, but its performance is disappointing

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Specifications

AMD's FX-8150 is the first processor we've seen that uses the new Bulldozer core - the first all-new AMD core since 2007's K10. This top-of-the-range model has a whopping eight cores running at 3.6GHz, and can boost up to 4.2GHz in Turbo mode when lightly-threaded applications aren’t using all the cores.

Like AMD's Llano processors, you'll need a new motherboard to use a Bulldozer chip - it requires a Socket AM3+ motherboard with an AMD 990FX chipset. The cheapest board currently available is Gigabyte's £115 GA-990FXA-UD3, but prices should come down as more boards are launched.

AMD FX-8150 back

The FX-8150's architecture is significantly different from that of its main rival: Intel's Sandy Bridge. Sandy Bridge chips consist of up to four cores, each with their own Level 1 and 2 cache, sharing a pool of Level 3 cache. The FX-8150 has four modules, each of which contains two Bulldozer cores. Each core has its own level 1 cache, and the two cores within each module share 2MB of level 2 cache. In turn, the four modules share an 8MB block of level 3 cache. AMD claims this means that single-threaded applications have access to more resources, as they can access 2MB of level 2 cache and 8MB of level 3 cache even when using just one core; with Sandy Bridge, single threads only have access to 256KB of Level 2 cache and 8MB of level 3.

FX-8150 architecture

The top-of-the-range FX-8150 has eight cores arranged in four sets of two

AMD's FX range also doesn't have built-in graphics, but every processor in the range has an unlocked multiplier for easier overclocking. At launch, there will be three FX models: two eight-core chips running at 3.1GHz and 3.6GHz, and a six-core model running at 3.3GHz (see table below). Later on AMD will launch a four-core version, starting at £100.

FX range

All the above prices are from www.aria.co.uk. Like the cost of the motherboards, this price may well drop through competition when more stock is in the channels, but at the moment it's around £30 more than the Intel Core i5-2500K, which is also unlocked and which we consider the FX-8150's chief rival.

Next page - performance testing

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