The Best AM3+ CPU For Gaming: Find Our Top 7 Choices!

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend an AM3+ CPU for gaming in the current year.

However, I understand that there is a group of people out there who simply don’t have any other option. Whether it be budget-related or a matter of not needing anything better, certain users simply choose to stick with this ancient socket for their gaming needs.

Alright, so you’re stuck with an AM3+ motherboard. In that case, what is the best am3+ cpu for gaming? I’ve got all the answers you want, right here in this article.

Firstly, you need to understand that core counts don’t mean everything. Especially for a low-end gaming build that’s going to play AA or indie games.

Unless you also plan to use the PC for stuff like video editing and streaming, I suggest you go with the cheaper 6-core processors.

With a good overclock, these old workhorses can still pump out some impressive performance numbers. Talking of overclocking, you do need a decent cooler to extract as much speed as possible from these old AMD chips. And by decent, I mean anything that’s better than the default cooler you get with the CPU.

What You Should Look For While Selecting The Best AM3+ CPU For Gaming?

Few people actually know this, but the AMD Bulldozer architecture doesn’t utilize cores in the same way that Intel chips of the same generation did.

In fact, AMD got sued in court for false advertisement and had to pay a settlement fee. Basically, people claimed that AMD inflated core counts for marketing purposes.

An entirely separate discussion is to be had for this controversy. What you need to know is that AMD’s Bulldozer architecture uses core “modules”. Each module contains two cores.

For example, the FX 8350 octacore uses 4 of these modules. However, each of the 2 cores in a single module shares the same FPU, cache, and branch prediction unit meaning they aren’t “true” cores.

Think of it like Intel’s hyperthreading, you get similar performance improvements but it’s executed in a very different way.

So if you saw an FX 8350 “octacore” and immediately thought it’s better than the Intel i5 2500k which is a quad-core, you’d be wrong.

Gaming performance is decided by a lot more than thread counts. IPC and clock speed are more important than raw thread numbers.

With AM3+ CPUs, you want to go with one that has the highest clock speed possible while still retaining a decent core count.

I would say 4 cores is the minimum, don’t drop below that. No matter how strict your budget may be (ideally, you want 8 cores). 

In A Hurry? Here Are My 7 Top Picks

1. AMD FX-8350

Processor ArchitecturePiledriver
Core Count8 (4 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks4Ghz/ 4.2Ghz
Cache8MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


My top choice, this is the best am3+ cpu for gaming. A stock FX-8350 will work with pretty much any AM3+ motherboard since it doesn’t draw too much power.

This also means that you don’t need a beefy 800+ watt power supply.

Any midrange PSU (500 to 650 watts) from a reputable company such as Seasonic or Corsair will easily power a gaming PC that’s running an FX-8350.

And even the default cooler you get with it is sufficient to keep temperatures from soaring too high.

It has a decent 4.2Ghz boost speed, which can easily be taken to 4.5 or 4.6Ghz with some overclocking.

Overall, this is the best performing 8-core AM3+ chip you can buy right now. With a good balance of performance and efficiency. Ideal for multithreaded workloads such as gaming + streaming at the same time.

Things I Like

This CPU offers the best balance of speed and multitasking, for an affordable price
It doesn’t get nearly as hot as the FX 9590
Quite easy to power, even with a 600W PSU

2. AMD FX-8320

Processor ArchitecturePiledriver
Core Count8 (4 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks3.5Ghz/ 4Ghz
Cache8MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


If an FX-8350 is slightly above your budget or not in stock, this is the next best option.

It’s literally just a downclocked FX-8350 and uses the exact same hardware. Same cache, core count, and architecture but with slightly lower base and boost clocks (easily fixed with some overclocking).

For anyone who likes to stream their gameplay on Twitch or YouTube, the FX-8320 is an excellent low-budget processor.

It won’t hold you back too much compared to Intel chips from 5 or 6 years ago.

And those extra threads will come in handy if you have multiple programs running in the background.

Things I Like

A slightly tuned down FX 8350 with all the performance and even less heat
One of the cheapest 8-core processors you can buy
Easy to extract additional performance through overclocking

3. AMD FX-6300

Processor ArchitecturePiledriver
Core Count6 (3 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks3.5Ghz/ 4.1Ghz
Cache6MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


A hexacore chip, meaning it uses 3 Piledriver modules. These clock speeds are nothing to scoff at either, with a base of 3.5Ghz and boosting all the way up to 4.1Ghz.

But you can easily take this chip well into the mid 4Ghz range with a simple air cooler.

That’s because it runs cooler than octacore FX chips, and consumes less power.

Making it the ideal choice for overclocking. And with 6 processor threads, you won’t have any issues, even in modern games.

Things I Like

The ideal hexacore FX chip, unlocked and ready to rock
A good base clock speed of 3.5GHz, and the chip is extremely easy to OC all the way up into the mid 4Ghz range
Very affordable, ideal for a budget gaming build with used parts

4. AMD FX-4350

Processor ArchitecturePiledriver
Core Count4 (2 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks4.2 Ghz/ 4.3Ghz
Cache4MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


The only quad-core chip on this list, I included it solely as the budget choice.

There is no reason to get an FX-4350 if you can afford the FX-6300. This processor isn’t even a “true” quad-core since it uses modules with shared cache, FPU, etc.

However, it does have a couple of redeeming qualities.

It’s clocked really fast out of the box and still has plenty of OC headroom leftover.

And it runs pretty cool under gaming workloads, despite having a default TDP of 125W.

Things I Like

You can still game on this chip even though it has only 4 cores
Good fit for an extremely low budget build, pairs well with an RX 560 or RX 570
Very easy to cool, even the stock cooler does a decent job so you don’t have to spend more money on a new cooler

5. AMD FX-8120

Processor ArchitectureBulldozer
Core Count8 (4 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks3.1 Ghz/ 4 Ghz
Cache8MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


Unlike the other processors on my list, this one is based on the 1st generation Bulldozer architecture.

It has most of the same features as Piledriver but comes with lower clock speeds out of the box. Sure, you can overclock it.

But the OC headroom on these Bulldozer chips isn’t quite as high as Piledriver.

Piledriver also has a tiny IPC advantage over Bulldozer that results in slightly better gaming performance.

That’s because of better branch prediction and more efficient cache, among other things.

Things I Like

The 1st generation Bulldozer architecture still impresses to this day
A solid bump in clock speeds over the FX-8100, at very little additional cost
With some tweaking, you can easily get this chip to perform like a stock FX-8350

6. AMD FX-8370

Processor ArchitecturePiledriver
Core Count8 (4 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks4Ghz/ 4.3Ghz
Cache8MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


It offers a nice middle-ground between the FX-8350 and the FX-9590.

Not pushed beyond the limits of its design like an FX-9590, but slightly overclocked from the factory.

With a boost speed of 4.3Ghz, it won’t deliver a much better experience than the FX-8350.

But FPS should be slightly better, and you can further increase that advantage by overclocking. 

Generally, the FX-8370 chips are also better binned compared to the less expensive FX-8350.

So you should be able to manually overclock it higher even if both chips are using the same voltage. 

Things I Like

If you don’t want to mess around with overclocking, the FX-8370 offers good performance out of the box
Slightly higher boost clock compared to the FX-8350, and with some luck, you can overclock this chip to 4.7Ghz or higher
Despite getting toasty at times, the FX-8370 can be kept under 65°C with a basic 120mm air cooler

7. AMD FX-9590

Processor ArchitecturePiledriver
Core Count8 (4 modules)
Base and Boost Clocks4.7Ghz/ 5Ghz
Cache8MB L2 and 8MB L3 (shared)


An example of what can happen by pushing a piece of hardware beyond its limits. This is the exact same silicon as the FX-8350, with the same cache and core layout.

However, AMD bins FX-9590 processors at the factory to make sure they are using the best silicon.

In a way, they pick silicon lottery winners and then pump them full of power.

With its 225W TDP out of the box, the FX-9590 can hit boost speeds of 5Ghz.

This was back in 2013, several years before Intel released a processor that can boost to 5Ghz in stock configuration.

Things I Like

It is clocked insanely high out of the box, so you don’t have to bother with tuning at all
The fastest FX chip you can buy, but it runs hotter than the depths of hell
With some undervolting, you can bring the power draw below 200 watts without losing performance

The AM3+ Platform Is Old, But Not Obsolete | A Detailed Buying Guide

Before we start, you need to know the difference between AM3+ and AM3.

Both have similar pin layouts (with AM3+ featuring one additional pin), but AM3+ is a slight evolution in terms of power regulation and cooler support.

While AM3 has a 400 kHz serial link with the power controller, AM3+ has a 3400 kHz serial link.

This allows AM3+ to better manage the flow of power, and support higher maximum currents (145 amps vs 110 amps for AM3).

The finer power regulation combined with a higher maximum current draw allows for better clock speeds. It’s essential for Piledriver, which is basically the Bulldozer architecture on steroids.

Coolers that you use on your AM3 motherboards are compatible with the AM3+ socket.

Some manufacturers even released BIOS updates to allow AM3+ processors on their old AM3 motherboards.

This is only possible on high-end AM3 boards, that are capable of supplying the additional current demanded by AM3+.

Most of the time, you can use AM3 processors like the Phenom II X6 1100T on an AM3+ board thanks to backward compatibility.

But the reverse is generally not true, meaning you can’t use an FX chip on your old AM3 board.

There are exceptions to this rule like the Asus Crosshair IV Formula, which is an AM3 motherboard that supports Bulldozer chips with a BIOS upgrade.

What Kind Of System Are You Building?

Will you only play games or also do content creation, such as video encoding and streaming?

If you’re just gaming, a 6-core AMD FX chip (or even a really cheap quad-core) will get the job done. Then, you need to think about which types of games you like to play.

I know people who rarely, if ever, play anything released after the early 2000s. They like to play old PS3 and Xbox 360 games via emulators.

If that’s the kind of gamer you are, you probably want a higher core count to run those emulation programs.

An FX 6300 is great for budget gamers who want the ability to game and multitask on a basic level. If you want the best, there’s the FX 8350 which is an octa-core.

For the truly insane people, I recommend an FX 9590 (basically an FX 8350 that’s overclocked from the factory).

Be warned, an FX 8350 delivers around 90 to 95% of the performance you get from the FX 9590. But at significantly lower power levels, and that means much less heat.

Less heat means you don’t need a super expensive cooler.

Plus, it can be hard to source motherboards for these old FX chips. If you’re buying used, you may not always get your hands on top-tier gaming motherboards of that era.

And only the best motherboards are capable of handling the enormous power draw generated by an FX 9590. 

If you try using that chip on “lesser” motherboards, VRM temperatures will be hotter than the Earth’s core and you might melt all the ice caps.

No seriously, the FX 9590 became a meme because of how hot and power-hungry it was. So unless you really want one, stick to the much more efficient FX 8350 which delivers similar performance at lower prices (and lower temperatures).

The Resolution You’re Using

This one matters more than you think because at higher resolutions more load is shifted away from the processor and towards the graphics card.

In theory, an old FX 8350 can get pretty close to modern Intel i5 chips like the 6600k at 4k resolutions. But it depends on the game. 

Open-world games tend to favor core counts, simply because there is so much activity going on in the environment.

Especially open-world PvE MMORPG games with tons of enemies, NPCs, bosses, etc. running around. In those situations, you’d rather have an FX 8350 instead of the FX 6300.

Used vs New

Since we’re talking about FX processors that were originally released in 2012, you pretty much have to go with used/ renewed.

Or maybe you get a combo deal from some local guy who is giving away his motherboard, CPU, and ddr3 RAM at a really cheap price. No matter where you get your used CPU from, always look at the condition before buying.

Is it running too hot? Are the frequencies stable? Ask the seller to provide you with screenshots of MSI Afterburner and HWMonitor data while the CPU is under load (like running a game).

Ideally, you want to be there and see for yourself how the CPU runs.

But if you’re buying online from sites like Amazon, read the customer reviews and look at seller ratings.

Amazon has an extremely robust return policy. And their renewed products are also covered by a 90-day return guarantee in case you aren’t satisfied.

Overclocking Used CPUs

With these processors that are nearly a decade old, you have to be very careful regarding OC.

Some of them are newer units, made late into the production run (back when AMD was still making new FX chips). But a lot of the used CPUs aren’t just old, they are also heavily used. 

Meaning someone was using these things day in and day out, for several years before putting them up for sale.

Microprocessors don’t degrade like mechanical objects, but lose their ability to hold overclocks if you crank up the voltage too high.

Heat and current gradually break down the chip on a molecular level, meaning that frequencies it could once hold at X volts require X+ an extra 5% voltage to be stable today. 

If the chip you’re buying was already overclocked while the original owner was using it, it’s a good idea to run it at stock speeds. Or with extremely conservative OCs.

If the chip has never been overclocked and was cooled properly, you can get a bit more adventurous with your own OC.

Overclocking these old FX chips can yield some really nice performance gains. But you need to have a good motherboard with some high-quality VRMs. And a good cooler on top of it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does an AMD FX processor (Bulldozer or Piledriver) compared to Intel chips of the same era (like Sandy Bridge)?

A: Intel chips have superior IPC and will always outperform these hotter AMD chips in games. But the additional cores allow FX CPUs to multitask better.

Q: Is it worth building a new system today with an AM3+ motherboard?

A: If you already have the parts lying around (DDR3 RAM, FX processor, etc.), you can turn it into a PC.

But if you’re building new, definitely don’t go searching for FX parts. Unless you have no other choice due to budget constraints or happen to be a collector/ enthusiast making retro PCs.

Q: How much performance improvement can be made with overclocking these old AM3+ processors?

A: It depends on the amount of OC you get (silicon lottery is hard to predict) and the game you’re playing. Even a simple 200 MHz bump to clock speeds can give you around 5 percent extra performance in some games.

That’s literally free performance, provided you have a good enough cooler to handle the heat.

Q: Do all AMD FX chips run hot?

A: No, most of them are quite efficient considering how old they are and the 32nm process used by AMD. The stereotypes mostly come from flagship units like the AMD FX 9590.

These chips offer minimal performance gains over lower-tier chips with the same core count, at the expense of much higher heat and power consumption.

Q: Do AM3+ processors have integrated graphics?

A: No, you’ll need socket FM2/ FM2+ for that. The FX series of chips have no integrated graphics. However, the “A” series of chips from AMD does have integrated graphics (A4-6300, A8-6600K, etc.).


I hope this article provided you with all the information needed for selecting the best am3+ cpu.

Is there a definitive “best am3+ cpu”? I guess that would be the FX 8350 since it offers the best performance to price ratio.

For those who want the absolute best FPS numbers possible on an AM3+ socket, there’s the FX 9590 with its insane 5 Ghz boost clock.

But in order to hit that speed, it requires the most premium AM3+ motherboards along with a giant cooler (like the Noctua NH-D15).

And it consumes well over 200 watts trying to hit those ludicrous speeds.