AMD’s flagship FX-9590 CPU: expensive inefficiency?

Too big, too power hungry and too expensive. But it is interesting.

July 21, 2013
AMD Hardware

AMD’s Bulldozer processor family is a bit long in the tooth now, launched in 2011 and having no replacement announced so far in 2013.  The chip designer has just launched its latest power-house in the Bulldozer micro-architecture family – the FX-9590.

Reviews for this chip are out and some websites have produced benchmarking test results.

The FX-9590 is an eight-core part clocked at 4.7GHz with a Turbo Boost level of 5.0GHz when four cores are active. The chip has a high 220W TDP (total dissipated power) rating and requires socket AM3+ motherboards with specific features to run properly due to its advanced power requirements.

It’s not going to be available in the retail channels and will only be sold directly to OEMs and boutique desktop resellers. If the retail price of US$800 is too high for you, there is the cheaper FX-9390 for US$323, with a nominal clock speed of 4.4GHz and a top-end of 4.7GHz.

Besides the high clock rate and much higher pricing, these chips come without air coolers and require some high-end kit to run properly. AMD suggests that water-cooling be used for better thermal control and recommend either the Corsair H80i, Antec’s Kuhler 920, or the Coolit ECO II-120FB as a starting point.

While these chips are not as hot as the latest Haswell processors, AMD introduces throttling in around the 65°C to minimise the impact of the Boost frequencies on both temperature and power consumption.

In games and other benchmarks, the AMD FX-9590 pretty much performs exactly like an overclocked AMD FX-8350, just with a tweaked Boost profile and slightly higher thermal limits.

Its immediate competition is the $1,000 Intel Core i7-3970X, and both are more or less on par. The Core i7 wins in a lot of games that Intel has lent a hand in helping developers, while AMD Gaming Evolved titles tend to perform more equally, if not giving AMD a win here and there.

What’s interesting is that in reviews where multiple processors are shown in the same benchmarks, the AMD FX-8350 looks really good in comparison to the Intel Core i7-3970X. In real-world tests, such as Hardware Canuck’s 7-Zip compression and encryption test, its not too far behind. In the games tested it doesn’t lag far behind the Intel Core i5-4670K either. Many games are still single-threaded, which is AMD’s weak point.

Its good to see that AMD has taken the chance to show the world what Bulldozer is capable of when given all the right ingredients. It’s not that exciting because a lot of FX-8350 chips can reach similar levels but require some product binning to find the best performer.

This is more of a time-saver for overclockers owing to the cherry-picked silicon, and its actually quite interesting that while AMD is still capable of reaching the same performance levels as Intel through overclocking, they choose not to in a bid to keep things reasonable.

Reviews: Hardware Canucks, KitGuru

More Hardware news:

Intel Ivy Bridge-E CPU set to disappoint fans

UltraHD 4K benchmarks: the hardware you’ll need

Intel Atom, Celeron, Pentium lineup detailed

Tags: AMD, FX-9590, headline

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