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AMD FX-9370 and FX-9590 in Detail

Although their model names start with the number 9, the FX-9370 and FX-9590 are not fundamentally different from their predecessors. They are based on the same Vishera design as the models we are already familiar with such as the FX-8350. Each has eight cores with Piledriver microarchitecture combined into dual-core modules. Manufactured on 32nm tech process, they have a shared 8MB L3 cache and are compatible with the Socket AM3+ platform. The higher clock rates are just a kind of official overclocking. Even the core stepping hasn't changed since the FX-8350: the FX-9370 and FX-9590 are based on the well-known OR-C0 core.

Thus, the higher clock rates are in fact the main difference of the new processors from the earlier Socket AM3+ products. The frequency growth is quite substantial: the FX-9370 and FX-9590 are 10% and 17.5% faster than the FX-8350 in terms of clock rate. That’s why AMD touts the FX-9590 as the first processor capable of working at 5 GHz. That’s true: it can indeed reach that clock rate in the turbo mode.

This substantial overclocking – without any deep technical improvements – has called for some additional tweaking. We mean the higher voltage, which is increased by 0.1 volts compared to the earlier FX series processors. It is no wonder then that the FX-9370 and FX-9590 dissipate more heat. Their peak heat dissipation is specified at 220 watts, which is 95 watts higher compared to any earlier Socket AM3+ processor.

The following table helps compare the FX 9000 series products with the ex-flagship FX-8350:

Besides that, the new FX-9370 and FX-9590 differ in how their Turbo Core technology works. Considering that these CPUs dissipate quite a lot of heat even without any overclocking, they are not eager to switch to the higher-frequency modes. FX series CPUs used to work in Turbo mode for long periods of time when fewer than half of their x86 cores were loaded, but the FX-9370 and FX-9590 only increase their clock rate occasionally and at low loads. It is safe to assume that the standard clock rate of the FX-9370 and FX-9590 is indeed their main operating clock rate.

The new processors from AMD generating much more heat than any other, some users might be wary of installing them into their desktop computers. There’s nothing to worry about, actually. First of all, today’s top-end graphics cards may dissipate even more heat without any problems for the computer. And secondly, many modern mainboards and coolers are designed for overclockers and have a large safety margin. In fact, if your Socket AM3+ platform can work with regular CPUs overclocked to 5 GHz, it will also be compatible with AMD’s 220W products.

Anyway, mainboard makers have not adapted all of their products to support the FX-9370 and FX-9590. The resulting compatibility list is rather short, including eight products from three brands:

  • ASRock 990FX Extreme9
  • ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional
  • ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z
  • ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0
  • ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0
  • Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 Rev4.0
  • Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5 Rev3.0
  • Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 Rev3.0

However, if an overclocker-friendly mainboard lacks official support for the FX-9370 and FX-9590, it might still be compatible with them. It just won’t support Turbo Core technology with these CPUs.

It is even simpler with coolers. AMD says that the FX-9370 and FX-9590 call for water cooling and sells them without any coolers at all. However, ordinary air coolers seem to be quite enough to handle the 220W models of the FX series. For example, we tried to cool our FX-9590 with a Noctua NH-U14S, a regular single-section tower-design cooler for a 140mm fan, and had no problems at all. The CPU didn’t overheat and even had a comfortable temperature at high multithreaded loads. According to the mainboard’s sensor, the peak temperature of the CPU was 70°C.

As we’ve noted above, AMD doesn’t position its FX-9370 and FX-9590 as special or elite products anymore. That’s why their prices are quite affordable now. According to the official price list, the FX-9590 costs $306 whereas the FX-9370 costs $224. AMD clearly wants to pit the FX-9590 against the Core i7-4770K and the FX-9370 against the Core i5-4670K. AMD’s products are somewhat cheaper but have higher heat dissipation. AMD thinks that this positioning is correct in terms of performance, suggesting that the Socket AM3+ platform remains quite competitive today.

Still, if you choose the Socket AM3+ platform, you should be aware of its downsides which are not CPU-related. First of all, the platform lacks modern chipsets. It means it doesn’t support PCI Express 3.0 while the mainboards have to be equipped with lots of additional controllers, USB 3.0 in the first place, and cost a lot as the consequence. Secondly, the Socket AM3+ ecosystem has no clear perspectives right now. It is very likely that there will be no more CPUs for that socket. The FX-9370 and FX-9590 are the ceiling that’s not going to be lifted up.

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