AMD has been understandably quiet on the CPU front while its engineers have been beavering away on a brand-new architecture called Zen. Just last week, AMD CEO, Lisa Su, reaffirmed commitment to Zen by publicly stating that it will arrive for desktop PCs before the year is out.
Such a situation leaves the embattled FX series, based on the Piledriver architecture, to offer some level of competition to Intel's Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The last update to the FX line occurred in September 2014 with the release of the FX-8310 and FX-8370, alongside a couple of lower-power variants.
Improving PIB cooler performance
Appreciating the focus on Zen and understanding the 5GHz speed already attained on the premier FX processor, there's no fresh news on that front; the line-up remains the same for the foreseeable future. What is new, however, is a revamped processor-in-a-box (PIB) cooler for select FX CPUs.
Debuting today in revised packaging, the Wraith cooler is bundled with the FX-8370 processor in the first instance, though it will cascade down to other FX chips in the near future. AMD says the cooler is included at no extra cost, meaning the FX-8370 will remain at around £160. So why the fuss about an improvement in the PIB cooler?
The hitherto stock cooler hasn't changed much over the years. Offering a reasonable compromise between noise and cooling ability, it was functional but unremarkable. The same adjectives can be applied to Intel PIB coolers, too.
The Wraith, on the other hand, has 24 per cent more surface area and 34 per cent more airflow (55.78 vs. 41.6CFM) than its predecessor. Those numbers pale compared to the next claim, which is 'less than one-tenth' of the noise, falling from 51dB to 39dB, according to AMD.
Using a thick copper base, larger heatpipes and now with backlit illumination on the fan, the cooler resembles, visually at least, an entry-level aftermarket solution. Build quality is good, free of any squeaks and rattles, and AMD continues to employ the easiest and simplest mounting system available. Want to know how it performs? Head on over to bit-tech's testing coverage to find out.
Three new APUs, new cooler for them, too
AMD is quietly slipping in a trio of APUs, as well. The A10-7860K (Godavari core), A6-7470K (Godavari), and Athlon X4 845 (Carrizo) are also coming to the desktop. Filling in minor gaps to the mainstream arsenal, the most interesting APU is the X4 845, which is the first retail desktop chip to use the previously mobile-exclusive Carrizo core.
A10-7860K and Athlon X4 845 are also beneficiaries of another revised cooler that uses much of the cooling technology applied to the Wraith. As you can see, AMD is to roll out this cooler to a further four APUs, offering a quieter computing experience.
Summing it up, AMD is today introducing a trio of new APUs, including the first retail Carrizo model, rolling out a revised, enhanced cooler for six graphics-laden processors, and bringing a high-end PIB cooler to the FX-8370, dubbed Wraith, at no extra cost. What's more, 16 motherboards, split over AM3+ (FX chips) and FM2+ (APUs), are to receive either USB 3.1 or M.2 support via add-in controllers, or both in the case of five models. This much-needed I/O has been sadly lacking due to a lack of chipset evolution over the past few years.
AMD continues to make the case for value-driven PCs in the first half of 2016. New coolers and better I/O aren't the panacea that many were hoping - Zen should have that honour - but there's life in the old dog yet.