Building an 8-core AMD FX system

Summary:What do you need to build an 8-core AMD FX system?

Now that AMD's 8-core FX Bulldozer processors based on the 'Zambezi' 32nm architecture are out, here's a quick run-through of how to build a system around AMD's latest silicon.

RelatedHow to: Stress test your new PC to shake out any faults

Note: As usual, I won't be recommending a case or peripherals ... there are too many possibilities, and personal choice/tastes are varied.

The processors

AMD kicked off the new lineup with a total of six FX processors:

Note: Speeds of the processors given in base/turbo/max turbo.

Additional note: Bold indicates CPUs available at launch.

8-core

  • FX-8150 - 3.6GHz/3.9GHz/4.2GHz - 125W TDP - 8MB L2
  • FX-8120 - 3.1GHz/3.4GHz/4.0GHz - 95W TDP - 8MB L2
  • FX-8100 - 2.8GHz/3.1GHz/3.7GHz - 95W TDP - 8MB L2

6-core

  • FX-6100 - 3.3GHz/3.6GHz/3.9GHz - 95W TDP - 6MB L2

4-core

  • FX-4170 - 4.2GHz/ - /4.3GHz - 125W TDP - 4MB L2
  • FX-4100 - 3.6GHz/3.7GHz/3.8GHz - 95W TDP - 4MB L2

So, if you want an 8-core system, you need either then FX-8150 which has a MSRP of $245, or the FX-8120  which has a MSRP of $205.

The rest of the components -->

The motherboard

To go with your new FX processor, you're also going to need 990-series motherboard.

Here are a selection for you to choose, along with ballpark pricing:

  • MSI 990XA-GD55 - $115
  • GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 - $145
  • MSI 990FXA-GD80 - $175
  • GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD5 - $190
  • ASUS Sabertooth 990FX with UEFI BIOS - $190
  • GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD7 - $235

I like the ASUS Sabretooth, mainly because it features UEFI, but also because it's a solid motherboard.

The RAM

Since RAM is pretty cheap (you can pick up some really good deals if you know where to look) let's pack 16GB into this build.

I've gone with Patriot Extreme Performance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) which you can pick up for around $99 if you shop around.

The Graphics Card

If you're putting together a gaming rig then you're going to need far more GPU horsepower than you would if you were building a general purpose system.

For gaming I'd go with something high-performance like a Radeon HD 6990 at around $700 (heck, stick two in there if you want!) or a HD Radeon 6970 (a more modest $350).

For a more general-purpose system, I'd go with a HD Radeon 6750 (around (100).

The Storage

If you want performance, then SSDs (Solid State Drives) are the way to go. The don't offer anywhere near the $/GB value that hard drives do, but the performance from even the cheapest SSD is spectacular.

A 120GB OCZ Solid 3 will set up back around $185, which is more than a 2TB hard drive would cost, but the performance from this is blazing.

Don't skimp on the storage, get an SSD! Install your OS and programs on this drive. If you want more storage, get a cheap 1TB hard drive like the Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EARX for $140.

The PSU

The FX-8150 packs a lot of punch, so you're going to need a generous PSU (especially if you are pairing it with Radeon HD 6990, but you still don't need a mini nuclear power plant inside your PC.

Here I'm going with a CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W unit which retails for $95. If I was adding two graphics cards, I'd probably up this to the TX750 or even the TX850 just to be on the safe side.

The Total Cost

Let's look at the price list:
  • AMD FX-8150 - $245
  • ASUS Sabertooth 990FX with UEFI BIOS - $190
  • Patriot Extreme Performance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 - $99
  • HD Radeon 6970 - $350 (keeping things modest!)
  • 120GB OCZ Solid 3 - $185
  • Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EARX - $140
  • CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W - $95

TOTAL = $1,304

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Topics: Processors

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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