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I decided this month that it was time to look at replacing my AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE chip with something that could transcode high-definition video faster. Sure enough, I chose the AMD FX-9590 CPU. Arguments against the AMD FX-9590 on forums such as Tom’s Hardware and AnandTech include “power efficiency is too low/TDP is too high” and “Intel has higher/better instructions per clock (IPC)” and “Intel’s i7 performs so much better.” Notably, the price to obtain the superior Intel performance was almost completely ignored in these discussions. Consider that the AMD FX-9590 retails for around $260 and the Intel Core i7-4770K it is often compared to costs $335; that $75 difference is enough cash to buy a cheap motherboard or a 120GB SSD, and also represents a 29% price increase over the FX-9590. Does the i7-4770K really perform 29% better than the FX-9590? The short answer is “no.” The long exception to that otherwise straightforward answer is “unless you spend all of your time calculating Julia mandelbrot sets and the digits of pi.”

Over two years ago, I wrote an article about how AMD CPUs beat Intel CPUs hands down when you factor in the price you pay compared to the performance you get. Most of the arguments I received against my assertion were against the single-figure synthetic benchmark (PassMark) I used to establish a value for CPU performance. This is understandable; synthetic benchmarks that boil down to “One Number To Rule Them All” don’t help you decide if a CPU is good for your specific computer workload. This time, I’ve sought out a more in-depth benchmark data set which can be seen here. I compiled some the relevant figures (excluding most of the gaming benchmarks) into a spreadsheet along with the Newegg retail price of each CPU as of 2014-10-23, used a dash of math to convert “lower is better” scores into an arbitrary “higher is better” value and some fixed multipliers per benchmark to make them all fit into one huge graph which can be downloaded here: cpu_performance_comparison.xls

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for: a graph of a wide variety of CPU benchmarks, scaled by the price you pay for each CPU (click to expand the image.)

amd_fx-9590_vs_intel_core_i7CPUs in each bar series are ordered by retail price in ascending order. The FX-9590 is in yellow on the left of each series and Intel only has a CPU that beats the AMD offering in 4 out of 17 price-scaled benchmarks, most of which are synthetic and don’t represent any typical real-world workloads.

AMD wins again.

THREATEN TO CONTACT A LAWYER.

You should know that I am not a lawyer; however, I find that when a large company seems to not care, the possibility of getting a lawyer involved when you have been genuinely wronged by them gets you the attention needed to resolve the situation.

For a couple of years now, Newegg has been rejecting RMAs on motherboards with LGA-style CPU sockets and they always say that “item was received with apparent end-user caused physical damage to the CPU socket contact pins.” There are plenty of stories about this bad behavior all over the Internet. In fact, I have experienced this problem personally and written about it from the persepctive of boycotting the people who engineered the socket that allows for such easy breakage and is exploited by Newegg for RMA rejection.

If you receive a notice that your RMA was rejected for this reason, talk to customer service and tell them that you believe that their RMA technicians caused the damage to void the RMA. If they refuse to process the RMA, don’t waste time asking for a supervisor; instead, tell them that your lawyer will be very interested in this situation and ask them for the contact information for Newegg’s legal department. Also ask for the customer service agent’s name and their internal company identification number so they can be subpoenaed to testify if a lawsuit against Newegg is filed.

This communicates a few things that may magically get your RMA problems solved. One, it tells customer service that you are someone who will not let this issue go and will fight it in the legal arena if needed, a situation that no company wants (especially considering the widespread accounts of Newegg’s behavior). Two, it gives the company an added incentive to not screw you over and could cause a “good faith exception” to the policy be granted to you.

Another excellent outlet for getting your problems resolved is to email the VP of customer relations (or public relations)  or someone relevant under the “Investor Relations” section of the website. These people have a very strong interest in the company’s success. Don’t email the legal department. If you need to get your lawyer involved, your lawyer can do that.

If you buy a new motherboard and want to “cover your ass…”

  1. When the package arrives, DO NOT OPEN IT YET!
  2. Get something that takes decent quality video. Most phones will take excellent video if you don’t use an “MMS compatible” recording mode which records terrible quality video.
  3. Record a video of the entire unboxing process, from cutting the packing tape to removing the motherboard box to opening the board to inspecting the CPU socket closely for damage.
  4. That part is important: inspect the CPU socket for damage with the camera. If there is anything wrong, put it all back together on camera, seal the motherboard box with tape, and RMA it immediately.
  5. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES attempt to use a board that appears to have socket pin damage. This could blow up your CPU and could cause your RMA to have other reasons to be rejected.

I helped a customer with a Windows XP computer who purchased a brand new HP Deskjet 2542 to get his printer (which says on the box that it supports XP!) to work. The first printer I had him take back due to it not printing any documents at all and the alignment page missing many lines of information. The second printer would print an alignment page but would not print ANY documents, not even a printer test page. Here’s what I initially tried to get it to work:

  1. Updating the printer firmware
  2. Changing the USB cable
  3. Changing from USB to wireless connectivity
  4. Changing the network connectivity from JetDirect RAW on port 9100 to IPP
  5. Updating the driver from the provided CD to the latest driver from HP
  6. Changing the print processor from “XPS_EP -> RAW” to “WinPrint -> RAW”
  7. Trying random HP printer drivers that come with Windows XP
  8. An uneventful exorcism

Nothing worked until I tried the HP PSC 950 driver. After installing the printer, I brought up its properties, then used the “New Driver” button on the Advanced tab to switch the printer driver. The HP management software works regardless of the actual printer driver selected and the HP PSC 950 driver prints consistently. It’s sad that HP’s own drivers don’t work but a random old HP printer driver that probably shouldn’t work does the job.

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