We've already reviewed the top processor of AMD's Vishera family, FX-8350. That was just the beginning of the big refresh for the Socket AM3+ platform. AMD has also rolled out a number of more affordable CPUs. Today we're going to cover them in comparison with the predecessors and competitors.
There are four, not five dual-module processors at AMD's website. FX-4200 is also a dual-module solution, although due to the incorrect leaks and rumors it has been referred to as a quad-module because of its 8MB L3 cache. It's odd that this CPU has the lowest standard clock rate, yielding significantly to the cheaper FX-4170. However, the late release of FX-4200 promises a number of die improvements.
FX-4130 looks interesting as well but has 4, not 8, megabytes of L3 cache. We'll estimate how this affects the performance of low-end 'Bulldozers' and compare it with the similar Vishera-based FX-4300.
There is also one new triple-thread processor in FX-6xxx lineup—FX-6300. Unlike FX-4300, it has "full-size" cache, and therefore looks more interesting. As for the specifications, it fits between FX-6100 and FX-6200 albeit boasting the improved cores and decreased TDP if compared with the latter.
For comparison we added the fastest AMD Trinity CPU, having the same pair of Piledriver modules as FX-4300 but no L3 cache. Nevertheless, it performs almost on a par with FX-4170. Another FM2 processor, Athlon X4 750K, is made for entry-level gaming PCs. In this segment, the new Athlon processors are rather competitive: the much cheaper Athlon X4?40 is generally equal to FX-4100. Can the new FX-4300 make a difference? We'll see.
We'll also take a couple of Phenom II processors tested earlier. Phenom II X4 955 is cheap enough and can still be found in stores. Phenom II X6 1075T will be used to estimate the progress in the AMD FX-6xxx lineup.
Intel Core i3 falls into the same price segment as the FX-4xxx lineup, so we'll add a low-end Sandy Bridge (Core i3-2120) and the top Ivy Bridge (Core i3-3240). Furthermore, we'll throw in the slowest quad-core Core i5 processor, Core i5-2300.
Our test method is briefly described here. The scores on diagrams are relative to that of our reference testbed that always scores 100 points. As of 2011, it's based on the AMD Athlon II X4 620 CPU, 8GB of RAM and . Detailed (absolute) results are traditionally provided in this summary.
This few-threading group of tests fits Core i3 well, not to mention Phenom II. The low-range Piledriver processors outperform the Zambezi lineup, of which only FX-4170 does more or less well. Although, frankly, its price and TDP are too high for a dual-module CPU. From this angle, its scoring between Trinity and Vishera seems inconclusive. As for Vishera, while FX-4300 is equal to FX-4170, the upper-range FX-6300 performs better, even though few-threading tasks aren't its cup of tea.
Final 3D Rendering
It's curious to see that this test group doesn't favor the L3 cache of the new processors: maybe it's too slow, or maybe L2 is enough. In general, the newer CPUs gain just a small advantage over the older ones: FX-4300/6300 perform similarly to FX-4170/6200 with the TDPs of FX-4100/6100. A good advantage for FX-6300. Not so for FX-4300—the cheaper FM2 processors look like a better buy.
Here a decrease in the cache size is appreciably compensated by the microarchitecture progress. While the old FX-4130 yields even to Athlon X4 750K, FX-4300 outperforms most Bulldozer-based FX-4xxx models, all the FM2 CPUs, and the low-range Intel processors. The absolute champion is FX-6300 thanks to its full-size cache. It's 7% faster than FX-6200.
Hexathread AMD processors used to yield to their hexacore predecessors. Today, FX-6300 yields only to the two fastest Phenom II X6 CPUs but manages to outperform 1075T. AMD does know how to squeeze as much as possible out of a new microarchitecture, and FX-6300 proves it. On the other hand, FX-4300 yields even to A10-5800K, which is bewildering.
In this group of tests cache size is more important than cache speed, therefore FX-4130 yields much to FX-4170 and FX-4200, having the same uncore clock. This couple shows the same results as FX-4300 does, in spite of the latter having the lower clock rates and smaller L3 cache size. The microarchitecture has improved and it shows. The Core i3 models fall behind the AMD's trio, and FX-6300 beats i5-2300.
Still, this group of tests is not a moment of glory for AMD's new microarchitecture. Phenom II X6 1075T leaves all the new CPUs far behind. Furthermore, the budget X4 955 stands closer to the triple-module CPUs than to the dual-module ones. Still, for $100-150 AMD FX-6300 is the clear leader, able to compete with the modern low-range Core i5 processors.
Mathematical and Engineering Computations
In this low-threading group of tests the Bulldozer CPUs perform better than Phenom II ones, although they still yield to the Intel processors. Here, FX-6300 is the fastest of all the AMD's models. FX-4300 is just slightly better than the rest of the FX-4xxx and FM2 processors—the results could be better if there was more cache.
Raster Graphics Processing
This group of tests prefers a few fast threads to lots of slower ones. This is confirmed by the results of the Intel CPUs. The older Core i5 fails to outperform even its mid-range Core i3 contemporary. AMD FX-6300 scores as much as the aforementioned Core i3/i5. In turn, FX-4300, which scores 10% less, doesn't look so great. It's only a bit faster than the top A series and even Athlon CPUs which look much better in terms of price.
As for the microarchitecture, Piledriver really deserves a compliment, both Trinity and Vishera are the fastest AMD's solutions in certain fields. Even the modest FX-4300 performs on a par with FX-6200, which features increased TPD to work at the clock rates highest for Zambezi CPUs. Though the budget Athlon X4 750K yields to FX-6200—another point for the new microarchitecture.
Vector Graphics Processing
This group of tests prefers Piledriver to Bulldozer. Indeed, two years ago, not a single Bulldozer was able to catch up with the old Phenom II X4 955. Today, even FX-4300 can do it. However, the difference between FX-4300 and FX-4170 is smaller than between FX-6300 and FX-6200. The things were different with the FX-4100/4170 and FX-6100/6200 couples.
In this group of tests FX-4300 and FX-6300 fall behind their predecessors with the increased TDP and clock rates. However, the latter CPU manages to handle the 10% difference, and the former also makes nice progress. The stumbling block is XviD, which prefers Bulldozer to Piledriver. At the same time FX-4300 and FX-6300 are more power-efficient. Furthermore, today FX-6300 is in the price range of Core i3, not that of Core i5 or old AMD hexacore CPUs.
The new generation of AMD CPUs demonstrates higher single-thread performance, so they manage to outperform the predecessors but not the Intel counterparts. Still, FX-6300 beats the two-year-old low-end Core i5 processors.
SPECjvm2008 boasts supports multiple threads well, so it can load up any modern CPU. Though it prefers physical cores, extra threads will also do, therefore FX-6200 outperforms Core i5. FX-6300 can do just the same at the lower TDP.
This group of tests is not cache-hungry, so the slow 4 megabytes of FX-4300's L3 cache don't let it noticeably outperform A10-5800K with no L3 cache at all. Furthermore, the new dual-module CPU yields to FX-4170, boasting higher clock rates. Anyway, the new Core i3 leaves the FX-4xxx lineup behind. Of course, AMD's new CPU can beat the previous-generation Core i3, but this is something even the high-range FM2 processors can do.
Again, F1 2010 dislikes AMD's hexathread processors. This problem, to a smaller degree, also shows in Aliens vs. Predator but doesn't for the older AMD's triple cores and Intel's hexacore i7 models.
On the whole, FX-6300 beats any Phenom II X6, and performs at least 5% faster than any of its predecessors. FX-4300 is the best dual-module AMD processor, but due to the small and slow cache it's just one point faster than FX-4170 and two points faster than A10-5800K. Finally, FX-4300 is equal to Core i3-2120, but the latter is cheaper.
The new processors outperform most of their AMD's counterparts, except for the natively overclocked models. FX-4300 is nice, and FX-6300 deserves even better words: it yields to the more expensive X6 1075T but outperforms Core i5-2330. As for the similarly priced processors, the Core i3 CPUs are left far, far behind.
Overall Score and Final Thoughts
The new FX-4300 is just a bit faster than its FX-4170 predecessor, and the whole FX-4xxx family looks pallid in comparison with the cheaper FM2-based CPUs, especially if we take into account that A10-5800K includes a nice GPU! Its performance and TDP are similar, its multiplier also is unlocked, so why pay more?
AMD FX-4300 was made just to nominally represent the new AMD's microarchitecture in the CPU field. A temporary solution before you move to an FX-8xxx model. Hence the smaller cache, decreased clock rate (4GHz max. in the single-thread mode, like Athlon X4 750K; compare it to the 4.1 GHz of FX-6300 and 4.2 GHz of A10-5800K). From this angle, AMD FX-4300 is similar to Intel i7-3820, which was made to be the basic solution for the LGA 2011 platform and was considerably outperformed by Core i7-3770, belonging to the more mainstream LGA 1155 platform.
AMD has led the AM3+ platform out of the budget segment but is still keeping it on the mass market. If you need more than a couple of FM2 modules, AM3+ is the only choice. With this in mind, AMD offers FX-6300 for an excellent price. It's just a little more expensive than FX-4300 but has three modules instead of two, higher maximum clock rates and twice as much cache at the same TDP.
Thanks to its moderate TDP, FX-6300 can really keep pace with the Core i5 low-range old-timers, middle-range Phenom X6 processors and top-range Core i3 CPUs. And when it comes to the price, its only competitor is Core i3. However, the poor multi-threading performance of Core i3 makes FX-6300 a better buy, offering the best price/performance ratio under mixed load on all our testbeds.
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