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AMD FX-4300 Vishera Quad-core Processor Model FD4300WMHKBOX – PC

AMD FX-4300 Vishera Quad-core Processor Model FD4300WMHKBOX – PC

Developer: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

Release Date: October 23, 2012

Features:

  • 3.8GHz, 4.0GHz Turbo clock speed, unlocked for overclocking

  • Two “Piledriver” ALU/FPU modules

  • 2 X 64KB instruction, 4 X 16KB data L1 Cache, 2 X 2MB Shared L2 Cache, 4MB L3 Cache

  • 32nm Manufacturing process

  • 95W TDP

  • Four power-saving modes

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Malefico

When I first started looking for components as a basis for Project Old School, I had a feeling I was going to run an AMD platform. In my experience, AMD has proven to be relatively inexpensive, virtually bulletproof and reliable for productivity and gaming tasks.

I read many hardware reviews online, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Socket AM3+ platform. Having quite a bit of experience with the Athlon II and Phenom II processors (AM3), I liked the fact that this platform could socket a staggering number of processors, and I always have at least one functional AMD chip laying around (usually more) so I appreciated the flexibility of knowing I can get the system back up and running (or maybe limping) in fifteen minutes. In addition, there are large numbers of used Socket AM3+ CPUs available used through eBay or Craigslist so the platform is a good choice for someone who needs to put together a system on the cheap. Watch out for OC chips that have been flogged to near-death.

amd_fx_series_fx_4300_3_8ghz_4x

The Basics

Although AMD markets the FX-4300 as a quad-core processor, it might be better to think of the unit as containing two “super” cores, the Piledriver modules that consist of two ALUs and a shared FPU. Although the FX-4300 does benefit from its higher clock speed, the IPC difference between it and the older Athlons and Phenoms is not that great. The Athlon II X2 250 that resided in the old POS had a clock speed of 3GHz, with a multiplier maxed at 15 IPC. The FX-4300 runs at 3.8GHz (4GHz Turbo) and processes a maximum of 20 IPC. So, while it does have substantially more power than the Athlon (2(cores) X 3GHZ X 15(IPC) VS. 4(cores) X 3.8GHz X 20(IPC)), it falls far behind Intel’s Core processor capabilities.

Piledriver Architecture

Installation

As with any new CPU, which should have thermal compound applied to the heat sink from the factory, installation was a snap. In this situation, it shouldn’t take any more than 60 seconds to socket the CPU and lock the heat sink / fan into place. No surprises in this area, though I will say AMD included the absolute bare minimum cooling solution with the processor. The OEM heat sink / fan that came with the Athlon II is superior in every way, beefier heath sink and a larger fan, even though the Athlon TDP is substantially lower., so I’ll no doubt invest in an inexpensive aftermarket solution shortly.

OS and Applications

Windows 7 installed quickly, with the only hitch due to the UEFI BIOS used by the board. One of the most noticeable differences with the new system is the time to boot to desktop. The old POS took a full two minutes before it was really useable, whereas the new tower is ready in less than half that time. Note that the processor cannot be held up alone for this achievement. Old School uses a faster board as well, and the 64-bit OS itself is responsible for a meaningful portion of the improved boot time. Microsoft ( A.K.A. The Dark Masters or just Evil) have made noticeable and welcome improvements in the way Windows prioritizes and loads startup programs.

FX-4300 CPU-Z One

Applications also launch and update much more quickly than on the old POS. With respect to gaming, the most noticeable improvements come from games that tax the system. Rage, Left4Dead, Secrets of Rætikon, and Sins of a Solar Empire as examples all load to a playable state in a fraction of the time I’m used to, so I’m happy with that aspect of the build. I still miss my Intel system, but we work with what we got now, right?

Other Stuff

Although the FX-4300 can provide the chops I need given how I utilize the system, it’s fairly thrifty with power under low-load conditions. As I write this, it’s cruising along at 1.4GHz and using .84V. This represents a decent improvement over full-speed operation, which would be 4GHz and 1.4125V. Note that the progression is not linear; this chip is less efficient during low-power operation, i.e. it’s operating at 35% max speed but using 59% max power.

Heat generation is as expected, and will no doubt be much improved when I switch to an aftermarket cooler. Temperatures range from about 35 Celsius at startup to 38 Celsius during light use and all the way up to 49 Celsius, or about 120 Fahrenheit, under heavy load for a prolonged (30 minutes) period. Not dangerous, but much hotter than I like my systems to run. So again, especially for anyone who’s going to overclock an FX chip, an aftermarket cooler is a must, and a good idea if you’re just like me and want a wide margin of safety.

FX-4300 Temp Reading


The Verdict

The FX-4300 represents a sweet spot in price and performance for those who want an inexpensive, unlocked CPU. Capable enough to handle most tasks, gaming and otherwise relatively quickly, it performs substantially as well as its big brothers in many situations. Given that most games and other software is still optimized for dual-core processors, its third and fourth cores spend a substantial portion of their time idle or nearly so. Still, it will be able to keep up with the times for several years and hopefully those mostly vestigial cores will get to see some serious use.

If you’re looking to build a budget gaming system, you could do worse than the FX-4300. Mainly due to theso-so performance gains vs. the older chips, the embarrassing (for AMD) cooling solution provided, and the FX series’ performance against its primary competitor, Intel, I can’t give this product an absolutely sterling rating. Only time will tell if it holds up like its forebears, but for now it’s worth 7 out of 10 strips of the bacony goodness. It’s not bad bacon, just not prime pork either.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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