Before you get too excited, though, we should warn you that AMD — as usual, when it comes to performance — isn’t being entirely honest about the FX-9590’s 5GHz claim to fame. 5GHz is the chip’s Turbo Core speed, not the base clock. AMD hasn’t even announced the base clock speed, leaving us to guess (it’s probably around 4.3GHz). In reality, 5GHz will probably only be obtainable when there’s plenty of thermal overhead, and not for extended periods of time; if you were hoping to build a render farm out of eight-core monsters that are stuck at 5GHz, you will be disappointed.
AMD, which announced the FX-9590 and 9370 at E3, is framing these two chips as the ultimate gaming companion. “At E3 this week, AMD demonstrated why it is at the core of gaming,” says AMD vice president Bernd Lienhard. “The new FX 5 GHz processor is an emphatic performance statement to the most demanding gamers seeking ultra-high resolution experiences.” In reality, of course, the single-threaded (and multi-threaded) performance of Ivy Bridge and Haswell make Intel a better choice for gaming. (See our Haswell review.) The one exception, as always, is if you’re trying to build a rig on a budget — we don’t have a price yet, but it’ll probably be around $300, or a little less than the top-of-the-range Core i7-4770K.
The bigger story here is that AMD has released the first commercial CPU to hit 5GHz, with a standard heatsink and fan (fun fact: AMD also produced the first 1GHz chip, way back in 2000). Piledriver was always built with high clock speeds in mind (See: AMD’s FX-8350 analyzed: Does Piledriver deliver where Bulldozer fell short?), but 5GHz is still rather impressive. AMD may have made some tweaks to the architecture reach 5GHz, but in all likelihood this is probably just the result of improved yields from GlobalFoundries’ 32nm SoI process, which is finally reaching maturity. This correlates nicely with AMD’s recently released Richland APUs, which feature Piledriver-based CPUs capable of 5GHz overclocks.
The FX-9590 and FX-9370, both of which are Socket AM3+ Vishera CPUs, will be released “this summer.” No word on pricing yet, but they will probably be priced just below Intel’s chips. It’s also worth noting that process maturity doesn’t override physics: At 5GHz, the FX-9590 will have an utterly monstrous TDP, probably in the 200W region.