Pros: Fast Speed, Easy Install, Fully Customizable, Can Turn Some Cores Off As Needed, Can Reach 5.0 Ghz Overclock (Hot!), Does Run 4.75 Ghz Stable
Cons: None really. Helps to have experience. You'll need to always keep an eye on the temps, needs a very good cooler. Can be costly and hot.
This is probably the best computer chip in the world right now (in terms of value/performance). Yes you can pay a ton more for the 9590 and get some more speed, but you can save that money and clock this one up, not that you need to. (Update: the 9590 does seem to be overclocking better and more stable, so if you're in want of the bleeding edge, then save up and get the 9590)
I have put this chip through all possible testing scenarios to see what it likes to do. For my personal purposes, real world application testing is what matters, not artificial benchmark scores. I use lots of Photoshop CS6, Dreamweaver, Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite as test games (on Ultra), and I usually have 8+ web tabs open in Chrome, Live Mail loaded, a movie playing in the corner, and tons of desktop apps always loaded (Stardock, ObjectDock, live wallpaper, CoreTemp and CoreTemp gadget, weather widget, news feed widget). Occasional ripping / encoding large video files. Frequent WinRAR, 3D movies/games, crunching data sets.
All testing below is done with an Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro with an extra fan added for a push-pull cooling, Asus M5A97 Evo R1, 8Gb Corsair Vengence, and the already very cold Fractal Design Define R4 case. (Updated to Corsair h100i and G.Skill Ripjaws 2400 RAM, I now recommend against any air cooling for this, and the Vengence 1600 ram is garbage, doesn't overclock at all, and was overpriced, slow, and unstable.)
Of course I initially ran it stock, 8 cores at 4.4, and it performed flawlessly, although it does run warm when loaded. To see overclocks, I took all 8 up to 5.0 and it still performs perfectly,(Update: further testing showed my particular chip to just start becoming unstable at 5.0. I did infact get it into Windows many times at 5.0 and 5.1, but it would crash under benching) although very hot. I found the happy OC medium to be at 4.7 ~ 4.75 Ghz with all 8, running just warm when loaded and still very cool when unloaded and/or throttled down when not in use.
Next I wanted to see various core options and potentials, all done in BIOS and rebooted. I turned core 7+8 off and it runs 6 cores perfectly at any of the aforementioned speeds but not higher, and in all cases it ran a couple C cooler but not a significant difference. In any real world operations, I saw no noticeable reduction in performance with 2 cores disabled.
Going further, I disabled cores 3+4 and 7+8 thus running it on 4 cores. It again performed flawlessly and a bit cooler than 8 cores. It accepted all aforementioned OC speeds and ran cooler as such. Temps at higher overclocks were more acceptable. There was now a noticeable drop in real world applications performance vs 8 cores, but when in the higher overclocks the difference was only slightly noticeable could be very noticeable to users here.
It will of course also run with 6 cores disabled, but this is really only suitable for reaching extreme overclocks for records. Very high overclocks could be reached this way with appropriate liquid or exotic cooling, but I didn't test it out because it didn't apply to my real world pc use.
I am now unboxing my new Corsair h100i, will use with Tuniq TX-4 paste, and I bet temps will go down to cool or cold. (Update, temps did go down to cool when unloaded, but I have seen it spike to 50 when crunching data sets, benching, and hours of hard gaming. Thankfully, liquid is better at spikes than heatpipes.)
Update 2: I have now been able to push it over 60 C. I cannot recommend the h100i if you plan to overclock this above 4.7! You'll need to plan for really serious liquid, like a great custom loop or a bigger closed loop with a copper rad and better pump than the h100i and it's equivalents!
In summary, there is really nothing this chip cannot do. I am very impressed and do not regret spending the money at all. If you have the opportunity to get one, I do highly recommend this chip, but it's going to cost you some money, some heat, and some experience. If you have plenty of all three, and a need to stay at 5.0+ Ghz, then perhaps the 9590 is a better fit for you.
- Jonathan -
Update: My math is probably wayyy off on this, but here's some math anyways hah. I thought it would help the review to add in some info and screenshots about the watts and this 220w TDP that is a common concern. First off let's understand what TDP really is. TDP stands for Thermal Design Power and is the maximum theoretical heat than the CPU could potentially generate. This is not a descriptor of how many watts the CPU "pulls". A CPU only "pulls" as many watts as it needs. The TDP is used as a reference to how many watts any given cooling solution will be required to dissipate at the safe minimum. Modern air coolers are typically rated anywhere from 125w for smaller units to 250+watts of heat dissipation for larger, better units. Modern AIO (all-in-one) liquid coolers are often rated to dissipate over 300w. In other words, you would not be safe using a cooler rated at 125w on a chip with a TDP of 220w. Remember, wattage that is pulled by the CPU is converted to heat at extreme efficiency. The TDP is a number from the design lab. Also remember that any given cooler needs to be able to dissipate the heat effectively and as quickly as the heat is coming in to it. Just because a cheap cooler is rated at 125w does not mean it will dissipate that applied heat effectively and/or as soon as it is applied.
What does the TDP mean for you and me? It means that this CPU has the theoretical potential of generating 220 watts of heat, and you will need a cooler that is rated for (can dissipate) 220 watts of heat. Doesn't this mean that the CPU is using 220w of power? Yes and no, I'll explain.
The formula is P = C * V^2 * f, where P is power, C is capacitance, V is voltage, and f is frequency. The capacitance of any processor can change slightly at varying loads, and it even varies from one chip to another. So you have frequency (in Mhz or Ghz) and voltage (which we know as VID, VDD, or CPU voltage, or core voltage). Voltage matters most in this equation as it is squared. Frequency is multiplied on top of that. Thus, the higher you have your clock frequency and/or the higher you have your CPU voltage, then the more power it consumes and heat it generates.
If you look at this first shot, you see that at idle and when in Max Power Saving mode, my CPU is consuming 55.45 watts, and it will be generating about that much heat which the cooler dissipates. I have all 8 cores on, and even have the bus speed overclocked from 200 to 210Mhz. Prime95 is idle.
Now in this second shot, I switched to High Performance Mode, ran Prime95, and note that the CPU is now consuming 62.14 watts. All 8 cores are at 100% load, 4424Mhz of 6 cores and 4003Mhz on two cores. This is probably because I have CNQ and AMD Overdrive enabled.
So using these numbers and the voltage shown there in CoreTemp, I can calculate the particular C capacitance of my particular chip in this particular state. 62.14w = C * 2.212 * 4424, thus C is .006348, now I didn't design the chip or have the access to the design lab, but we can use this number for our TDP to see what it means for you and me.
So, what would I have to do to get the FX-9350 to use 220 watts? Let's calculate some scenarios. Let's say you set the clock to 9Ghz (9000 Mhz), then
220 = .006348 * V^2 * 9000, works out to 220 = 57.132 * V^2, works out to 3.850 = V^2, works out to 1.962 = V.
So you would have to set the CPU voltage at a killer 1.962 volts, run the clock at 9000Mhz (9Ghz, which is far higher than the world record), to get the CPU to consume 220 watts.
I think that should explain it more than well enough. The chip does run hotter than other chips before it, so yes that means it is using more watts out of the wall socket. But is the chip alone using 220w of electricity? No, it is absolutely not.
Here are some screenshots of the temps I'm getting currently with the h100i and Tuniq TX-4: