AMD has gone back to the drawing board to make its FX series of desktop processors more competitive with Intel's chips, and the result is the new "Vishera" series of CPUs. The first four have just been released, comprising quad-core, six-core, and two eight-core options.
The company promises that the new Piledriver processor architecture boosts performance 15 percent over the previous generation of FX chips, at a lower price. The new flagship FX-8350, for example, offers eight cores for just $195. All of the new FX CPUs are unlocked, making it easier to overclock them. AMD, in fact, has been touting the FX-8350's ability to reach 5GHz when overclocked.
The FX-8350's eight cores start at 4GHz and can jump to 4.2GHz in Turbo mode, while the $169 FX-8320's eight cores start at 3.5GHz and max out at 4GHz (without overclocking). The $132 FX-6300 has six cores running at 3.5GHz (4.1GHz in Turbo mode), whereas the $122 quad-core FX-4300 starts at 3.8GHz and can hit 4GHz in Turbo.
AMD's press materials point to the equivalent Intel processor each new FX CPU is competing against. For instance, the FX-8350 is about $40 cheaper than the Core i5-3570K, and the FX-4300 is roughly the same price as the Core i3-2120. The FX series no longer competes against Intel at the extreme high end, but Hot Hardware found that overclocking the FX-8350 to 4.7GHz provided performance equivalent to Core i7-3770K. The rub is that the Vishera CPUs are not nearly as power efficient as Intel's Ivy Bridge lineup.
Reviewers like Tom's Hardware, Anandtech, and Extreme Tech give the new FX chips mildly positive notices, pointing to improved performance over the previous generation of "Bulldozer" FX processors, though noting that the AMD CPUs still generally trail Intel on single-core and lightly threaded benchmarks and on power consumption (though better than their Bulldozer predecessors).
While not a slam dunk, the Vishera lineup should please AMD devotees who've been waiting to build a new desktop. Are you one of them? Let us know in the Talkback section below.