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AMD FX-8320E CPU & MSI 970 Mobo Review

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Category: Motherboards, CPU's
Price: $140 & $99
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AMD FX-8320E CPU & MSI 970 Mobo Introduction:

This review has been on the backburner for a bit too long, but everyone loves a necro bump to remind them what they passed on the first go round.  Launched about a year ago next month, the FX-8320E came out right beside the FX-8370E based on the older Vishera/Piledriver architecture at a lower wattage of 95W over the 125W predecessors.  At launch it didn't quite break the bank at $150, a mere $50 under the FX-8370E. Tonight it is out of stock at the Egg, but can be found at a variety of other sources for ~$140. This price is extremely low given that you get a full 8 cores of Piledriver at a lower TDP than normal.

The AMD FX-8320E is part of the Vishera series as an 8-core processor clocked at 3.2GHz base and 4.0GHz turbo. Again, I remind you of the 95W TDP, which rolls in nicely for the power bill, stacked on an AM3+ socket, giving you plenty of options for mobo housing. We were lucky to recieve a 970 Gaming board from MSI along with the chip to help get us some results for this review. I can't say I have another AMD board laying around that could support this chip fairly. So, I did grab you a few shots of the board, and we'll talk some specs on it too - perhaps it's also the ideal combo for you!

The FX-8320E is really just the "E" counterpart to big brother FX-8320. The difference is the clock and TDP. Again, 95W. The non-E version will take you up to 4.3GHz on turbo and a solid 4.0GHz base, but it will also cost you an additional 30W for the same price. So, in a way it is a fight for long term cost for a little more clock having been the same price, which could be a nice monthly return on the power bill with all the hours of GTA5 and some good ol' KOTOR2 I've been caught up in lately. An additional benefit to the lower power usage is lower heat output!

AMD specifically made this pair adoptable together. The low 95W TDP was really aimed at the 970 chipset, which may have fewer GPU lanes, but is a bit more affordable than the 990FX monster boards capable of much higher wattage. So, it becomes a win-win situation with both a cheaper upfront overall build cost and a month-to-month cost reduction as well. Naturally this means we get the most popular of the 970 boards from MSI, the MSI 970 Gaming. We'll allow it to shadow this review a bit - so it's almost a two-fer! Let us get on with the review...

 

AMD FX-8320E CPU & MSI 970 Mobo Closer Look:

So beyond the eight cores clocked at 4.0GHz turbo, we've also got the MSI 970 Gaming to take a look at as well. Since the CPU (perhaps a bit cherry picked) came mounted in the board to us, there's not much to see besides a chip in a board. So, I've taken a full range of mobo pics for your picture appetite, because what review is anything without pictures? Whilst I won't go into all the nitty gritty details of the board, we'll talk some of its features so you can get a basic idea on whether this is the next combo to hit your shopping cart or not.

So what I originally thought was just a motherboard review showed up like this. Well it looks like a motherboard doesn't it? It is the typical MSI "JUST GAME!" box we've seen even with the old school Intel designs (GD45 and GD65). I think perhaps MSI is trying for a more reconizable standard packaging - which as most of you wouldn't be surprised to find/assume, I like! It's a real simple box with three main colors - black, red, and white/silver. Dragon, and BAM I know it's MSI; let us see what's inside!!! The back of the box goes on to spout off what we're about to find what is on board, no pun intended. It has the Killer E2200 NIC (which Killer may resonate some pain in some of your ears), the MSI OC Genie 4, Sound Blaster Cinema 2, Multi-GPU support, and Audio Boost 2. Part of the Gaming series, it's designed with gaming in mind and still fancies the old PS/2 port for all of you too good for USB lag. 

 

 

So for obvious reasons, even on box open I wasn't quite aware that there was a CPU sitting in the socket already. At this point of taking pictures I was fully in the mode for mobo review pics. Fortunately for you, you get them. It's pretty standard mobo packaging these days. A nice tray for the board to ride in inside of its static resistant bag and allows for a plethera of accesories to be unwrapped below. With MSI, we usually get a little fun and this time is no differet; another "Sorry I'm Gaming" door hanger for the office door, an SLI bridge (ironically), a badass metal sticker for the case/fridge, a sexy black and red rear panel I/O plate, two SATA cables, the usual manulas, and neato - some cable labels. In the HPC world one can appreciate cable labling, but I think I'll pass on labeling up this one, although I guess I could see where it could be useful if you have a lot of the same type of drive/brand in your chassis. 

 

 

And what is this in the board? It looks like we've got a CPU review here! Haha. Perhaps it was cherry picked not coming in a standard box, but hey, I guess we'll see when it comes to playing OC. Hopefully if it's true, she'll clock like crazy. If not, we'll get a good look at what this chip can probably do on average.

 

The MSI 970 Gaming is an AM3+ socket supporting the FX series as well as some of the classics: Phenom II, Athlon II, and Sempron. As a full ATX board, it has room for two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, and two PCI slots. We can see here that the power savings is kept suit in this board as well with a little reduction on what you can place in here card wise. Alhough two x16 slots is still great, even if one runs at x8 speeds! The time was still right for release on DDR3 with this board, so you won't have to make the big upgrade to DDR4 just yet. The socket and mounting bumps are your classic AMD style and reminds me of my first build with big old yellow bracktes for the heat sink. The back of the board sports the classic metal rear bracket, leaving you with little fear on strength for whatever behemoth of a heat sink you want to drop on. 

 

 

There are six 6GB/s SATA ports mounted at the right angle off the board. I remember when having them was a "feature." I don't miss plugging cables straight into the board, especially the 24-pin power connector (although we didn't get it this time). I'm glad everyone got on board and started this mounting standard. The I/O panel for all your peripherals sticks with the red and black MSI Gaming theme. Everything is red and black, except for your USB 3.0 ports. You have two red and six black USB 2.0 ports, a red PS/2 port, an optical S/PDIF out port, a red RJ-45 port, and red and black analog audio ports. Thankfully the I/O shileding plate gives you a little help on exactly which port is which - not so easy if you're used to looking for the specific colors! I will say it looks pretty bad ass, even if most people never see the back of your chassis. 

 

 

Looking a little more at the board, you'll begin to notice the PCB is actually black. I've run this pet peeve by all of you in the past; I just can't stand "black" and "blah" schemes when the PCB isn't actually black, but rather brown. This is the real deal, black and red all over, and not the newspaper (wow, what a bad joke). There is a rather large MSI logo on the south bridge heat sink. It looks nice without being too overly tacky, even if I always like to debadge things, cars and computers included. Although I seem to think it is a trend to show off the branding you have in your rig - at least for some people; I digress. 

Back to the board. There are two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots with the first at x16 speed and the second x8 speed. You also pick up two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots for your sound card and two PCI slots for some of your older componets you're still carrying along. Along this edge are all your connections for your chassis front panel connections (will have to grab the manual), audio connection, some system fan cannections, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 connections. You can see the Audio Boost logo up next to the lower PCIe x16 slot, which lights up in red when powered up. 

 

 

Taking a look up near the socket, we find nice red and black heat sinks on both the north bridge and the VRMS. All I ever think of when I see heat sinks on the VRMs is when I temporarily had a Phenom II X6 1090T that my board was supposed to support, but the board didn't have heat sinks on the VRMs and it almost burned. So I'm very appreciative of a heat sink on the VRMs, even if that is almost as standard as having a stock heat sink come with your CPU anymore. We also have 8-pin power up here. The DIMM slots are just on the other side of the socket. The board neatly labels them DIMM1 to DIMM4 with markings to populate the 1 and 3 channels first (if you aren't running a full four sticks). 

 

 

And now, to the moment you've been waiting for, the FX-8320E. It seemed so homely in the AM3+ socket that I just took pictures of it there. No need to risk bending pins when we've all seen the AM3+ socket before. It's a pretty standard looking AMD chip since the form factor really hasn't changed in several years. You still have the inverse of the Intel chips with the pins on the chip and locking pins on the socket. You can argue all day long which way is better and never really agree. But I should remind you again that this is the 95W TDP and with this board as a combo, it was just meant to be. Let's check out the benches to see what the numbers say.

 




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