AMD Refreshes Its FX CPU Lineup

Company: AMD
Author: Pete "Kombatant" Vagiakos
Editor: Sean Ridgeley
Date: September 2nd, 2014

New Toys for Autumn

A few days after Intel unleashed its 8-core $999 monster to the world, AMD refreshes its CPU lineup by launching a few parts and repositioning some others. Its message though is far more interesting that Intel's, and it requires you to change the way you think about CPU purchases.

Above is the AMD slide containing all the important information about this launch, in which we can see three new processors, and another one at a lower price range. We also have a new FX line, the FX E series, which will be explained in a short while. First thing that is blatantly obvious here is the pricing. AMD is launching a full-scale attack: you can get an 8-core processor for as little as $146, which is incredible in its own right. Let's look at the lineup with a little more detail.

The 9000/8000 series: New price, new positioning

There are no newcomers in the 9000 FX series, but we do have an important change: its crown jewel, the 9590, has had its price changed to $229.99. The interesting part here is not the price change itself, but its positioning: AMD pits the FX 9590 against the i5-4690K and not against the i7 line of processors. I can already listen to fanboys crying "AMD is admitting defeat, that its processors are not as good as Intel's" but as always, things are not as black and white as they seem. AMD's reasoning is simple, and can be explained easily if you compare graphics cards for instance. Would you ever consider comparing a $1000 graphics card from vendor A with a $230 card from vendor B? The thought would be absurd, but it's not deemed so when processors are concerned, just because they are the top offerings from both companies. AMD knows it can't beat Intel on pure performance at the moment, so what they are saying is this: when you go out to buy a new processor, for a certain budget, you will receive better performance than Intel's processors in that price range. And from the looks of it, they have the numbers to back that claim up.

The new entry here is the FX-8370 processor, which is simply an FX-8350 with its maximum clock upped by 100MHz, and designed to fill the $199 price range. Bear in mind that we will have some FX chips soon in our lab, at which point we will be able to investigate AMD's claims. Please also note the 9590 FX processor is sold without a fan/heatsink combo, since all enthusiasts tend to choose their own cooling solution anyway; we doubt anyone buying Intel's top of the line processors for instance keeps the stock cooling.

The new E Series FX processors: a much-needed 8-core upgrade path for AMD users

One of AMD's strengths all these years is that it consistently provides an upgrade path for its existing users. When you buy AMD, you know that you will be able to upgrade your processor at some point, because the platform stays (mostly) the same and doesn't require you to change your motherboard as well. There were many motherboards released by AIB partners that had a limit of 95W TDP for processors, which hindered their users from upgrading to the latest and greatest. So AMD today introduces the E line, which is a 95W TDP version of its 8000 line of processors, especially for those who wish to make the jump to 8 cores and already have such a motherboard.

Conclusion: AMD plays its strengths

AMD's current line of processors has its own strengths and weaknesses: they overclock pretty well and they are unlocked as all FX processors are. For their cost, AMD argues they are the best thing you can buy, and you can hardly blame them for saying that. All the major sites covered the Core i7 5960X launch the other day, and benchmarks showed a performance delta from 30-100% between Intel's and AMD's top offerings (with those differences dropping significantly in gaming benchmarks, where the graphics card plays a big role in HD+ resolutions). But the price difference between the two is more like 430% - so you do have to wonder which company gives you the best value for your hard-earned. And AMD gets top marks for that, even though at some point we would really like to see it winning in both performance and price per performance categories, so that the stagnant CPU market can get a boost due to increased competition, just like the old times.