Va, va, voom
The dust has settled, AMD's 'Bulldozer' FX-8150 chip has been stripped bare, and we've passed judgement. Nonplussed by the apparent lethargy of the processor in our suite of benchmarks, AMD sent word that FX was particularly partial to being overclocked. Heck, the chip holds the world frequency record, so it should be rather tasty when pushed - and let's face it, it needs to be.
Revving up the test system and replacing the standard cooler with a high-performance Corsair A70 equipped with two fans, we scaled the frequency ladder. A few pointers on how we overclocked. The chip's APM function was switched off, Turbo CORE and Max CORE functions were disabled, and the chip's voltage was increased to 1.42V in the BIOS. These easy-to-follow steps should enable you to achieve similar speeds.
The unlocked nature of the processor lets us increase the multiplier while leaving everything else at default speeds. Each jump in multiplier was tested within Windows 7 by running the super-stressful Y-cruncher test for five minutes. Doing so doesn't guarantee long-term stability, of course, but it's probing enough to highlight basic flaws.
Armed with these basic tenets of overclocking, we managed to hit a stable speed of 4.7GHz on all eight cores - good enough to complete our battery of benchmarks without failure. 4.8GHz was stable for the most part, though the occasional glitch meant we didn't feel comfortable publishing the numbers.
Uh huh, eight cores running at almost 5GHz. Interestingly, a thread-monitoring tool indicated we couldn't quite force all cores to run at 4.7GHz; a couple topped-out just below. AMD reckons that the Windows 7 scheduler isn't perfect in this regard, pointing to increased performance under the early build of Windows 8. What's relevant here is how it performs on a commercially-available operating system.
The question you've been patiently asking while reading thus far must go something like this: can a near-5GHz FX-8150 do the Bulldozer architecture justice? Here's what we've compared it to, so let's get stuck in.