AMD FX-8150 Bulldozer Gaming Performance Analysis

To help round off our final thoughts on the FX-8150 CPU, we check out the gaming performance and give you a true run down on Bullldozer.

Manufacturer: AMD
11 minutes & 49 seconds read time


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Looking at the performance of the new AMD FX-8150 in our original launch coverage is really important. It's important to cover those synthetic benchmarks as well as those CPU orientated tests like Media Encoding and Image Manipulation. You can't really test a new CPU, nor come to any form of real conclusion without covering those areas.

The problem is, you can't cover a CPU properly without going into detail to see how it performs in games, because we know that a large portion of users who are going to jump on any new platform, be it Bulldozer or the already established Sandy Bridge one, intend to do a lot of gaming.

So what we'll be looking at today is the performance of the new FX-8150 against the much loved i7 2600k. Because both brands have so much focus on the overclocking side of things, that was today our focus as well. If you're going to opt for a high end CPU and video card, you want to make sure that you don't create any kind of bottleneck which is of course another reason why we're overclocking here today.

Because we've already gone into detail on the FX-8150 and the Bulldozer launch in detail, there's not much that has to be covered. Instead we can just get into the testbed side of things to see what exactly our setup has in it while also covering the overclock we're going to be running today.

Once that's done we'll of course get into the benchmark side of things where we're not just looking to see who is the fastest, but to see what setup makes sure we can play our games. The simple fact is if one setup is running at 150 FPS and the other is at 200 FPS, while one is clearly faster, those 50 FPS extra do absolutely nothing for performance. So let's not drag on any longer and just get into the testbed setup before we get into the performance side of things and we can see exactly what's going on with the platform here.

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

Why do you use a Z68 platform with x8 / x8 instead of an X58 one with x16 / x16? Z68 vs X58 - Which is The Better Gaming Platform?

On the testbed side of things you're not going to see anything here that wasn't really seen in our original launch coverage. We've got the i7 2600k on our ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z and our AMD FX-8150 on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula.

Our video card of choice is of course the same MSI GTX 580 and all the other bits and pieces are the same with our Corsair Vengeance RAM, Force GT drive and AX1200 power supply.

Of course, we know the CPUs we're dealing with today, but on the clock speed front we'll have our i7 2600k running at 5.2GHz while the FX-8150 clocks in at a fairly impressive 4.76GHz. These are the same speeds that we saw in our launch coverage.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

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3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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We can see under 3DMark 11 that while the 2600k manages to pull ahead slightly in the Performance preset, when we move to the Extreme one there's nothing between both setups.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

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New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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We can see under Unigine Heaven that both setups sit very close to each other. The Intel setup manages to sneak ahead slightly when comparing the two, but there's really no difference to be seen here.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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We can see under H.A.W.X. 2 the performance indeed favors the Intel option at the lower resolutions. At the highest resolution only 8 FPS separate the two setups. What's probably more important to take out of this, though, is the fact that we're dealing with such high FPS that it wouldn't matter what setup you used - even if you opted for a 120Hz 1920 x 1080 monitor.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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We again see at the lower resolution there's a bit of separation between the two setups, but as we move higher up there's very little difference with only a single FPS being seen between the two setups.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

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Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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When we start to move to something that is really intensive, you can see that there's nothing between the setups with the FX-8150 managing to squeeze a couple of extra FPS at the lowest resolution. At the highest, we see only a single FPS separates the two setups.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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We again see under something that's very intensive that the two setups put out near identical performance with only a single FPS difference being seen at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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We're seeing again under something that is really intensive that performance between both setups is very similar. At 1920 x 1200 we can see we're over that 60 FPS mark on both setups and that's what we really like to see.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Under Dirt 3 we can see that performance between both setups is similar. The 2600k is able to win out at the playable resolutions, but it's only by a few FPS.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

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The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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While the Intel 2600k is again quite dominating at the lower end resolution, we continue to see when we move to the highest resolution how close the performance comes.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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AMD FX-8150 Bulldozer Gaming Performance Analysis 30
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When we turn on AA and we again move to that situation where so much load is placed on the video card, we can see that there's very little difference between the setups.

Final Thoughts

After our first run of Bulldozer through the normal CPU gauntlet of tests, it's clear that at the moment the full potential of Bulldozer just can't be utilized. I think a large problem in regards to the Bulldozer architecture is we just haven't got the applications at the moment that can really make full use of the technology on offer.

Moving away from the "CPU" concentrated tests and instead into the world of gaming, we can see that another picture is painted. Sure, compared to the 2600k, the FX-8150 isn't this beaming light for AMD when we talk about performance. We do never really see the FX-8150 is able to win out.

What we do see is that those numbers which show the i7 2600k running 40% better in a synthetic test mean nothing when it comes to gaming. Sure, there are a few instances where we do see the Intel offering come out ahead in a major way, but 224 FPS against 183 FPS isn't exactly a game changer to anyone. Your gaming experience isn't going to be better on the Intel platform, because at this level, those extra 40 FPS mean nothing.

Before you move into the argument that we're going to see the same thing at the higher resolution, it's completely not true as we see under the same game; when we move to 2560 x 1600, the 2600k comes in at 149 FPS vs. the FX-8150 at 141 FPS.

Moving from a 2600k to a FX-8150 brings with it quite the nice little price reduction; that's money you can either save, or use to purchase a faster video card, more RAM or a larger hard drive. Then don't get us started again on the motherboard side of things which sees quite a large difference.

Bulldozer has got issues, but not all the blame can be put on AMD. There are areas outside of AMDs control that hasn't given them the ability to perform as well as it could. I think as the optimization of Bulldozer is sorted, we'll see more performance on this platform.

For now, though, the FX-8150 isn't a bad chip when you consider the price point. If you're focusing on gaming as well, you can see that we never see the 2600k offer us a playable setup and the FX-8150 offer an unplayable one. Instead, they both offer playable, or they're both unplayable.

Bulldozer as a platform looks to be quite strong, though, and I would've loved to have seen that FX-6100. No doubt we'll get one, but we should've had one at launch. Ultimately I feel the FX-8150 isn't bad, it's a good price and it's got some serious potential. If AMD let more than just one model do the talking for the Bulldozer platform at launch, I think its reception would've been quite different.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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