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Intel Core i7 3770K Ivy Bridge

Posted May 10, 2012 by James Baranski (Drdeath) in CPU & Motherboards







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by James Baranski (Drdeath)
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Intel’s delay of Ivy Bridge did stir some debate but it made business sense seeing Sandy Bridge rules the roost over their rival AMD’s Bulldozer platform. Most of the time we tend to look at new introductions with hype and look forward to major performance increases as saw with Intel’s Tick Tock strategy in the past, namely Nahalem to Westmere with 45nm to 32nm die shrink. Along with the die shrink, we saw a new set of instructions implemented and major performance increases. Well this is not the case with IvyBridge.

Again, being on a Tick swing with Intel’s development strategy; the major changes in Ivy being the 22nm die shrink and the introduction of Intel’s Tri-Gate 3D transistors along with transistor density. Intel also added instruction sets that dedicate the resources in single and multi-threaded applications more efficiently. The architecture does not change a whole lot but seeing AMD has put the press on Intel in terms of graphics capabilities with their Fusion technology, made Intel re-focus on this area plus the fact that Apple is searching for better graphics in the mainstream area. The 22nm die shrink brings a much larger on die GPU in the form of HD4000 graphics that finally supports DX11.

Comparing the Ivy Bridge 3770K and the Sandy Bridge 2600K was intriguing. As mentioned with all the hype, we thought Ivy Bridge would bring a better performance package to the table and it did, but not with the thump one would think. Some of our benchmarks saw little performance increase, though most saw about a 5% increase on average. The efficiency has drastically increased (with Tri-Gate) but the 3D transistors and the die shrink make Ivy Bridge a heat powerhouse (comparing to Sandy). Your typical cooling solution better be pretty stout to combat the high temps while overclocking, although stock core speeds aren’t a problem with stock air cooling.

Overclocking gave us bittersweet results. Starting out with extreme cooling, the core i7 3770K has some great overclocking potential at 5.8GHz. Our water cooling gave us 4.8GHz rock solid stable but with a caveat of high temps peaking in the mid 80’s. We know Ivy can get some great overclocks but it is more of a heat cap issue with standard or upgraded cooling. Remember, Tri-Gate 3D transistors are in its infancy so the first show may present more heat but with Intel’s Tock cycle next in Haswell, we will look for even better performance with improved efficiency with new architecture (and hopefully cooler temps).

The 3770K starts at about $330 which is not out of the ball park from Sandy Bridge’s intro some time back. The 3550K is $100 less with no hyperthreading mimicking the 2600K/2500 (no hyperthreading) Sandy Bridge strategy. If you’re not looking CPU intensive and perhaps a gaming rig, the 3550 is the obvious choice. Ivy Bridge’s model and introduction pricing structure is similar to Sandy Bridge with the Core i5 series starting out at $184.

If you’re looking for a new platform, Ivy Bridge is a solid choice providing better efficiency than anything we have seen. If you’re looking to upgrade from Sandy Bridge, we would say wait until Haswell, as the performance increase is not cutting edge here. However, Ivy Bridge still represents good value and great performance on the whole, earning Pure Overclock’s Good Hardware Award.

Intel Core i7 3770K



One Comment


    Page 9, on “Overclocking: Water Cooling,” was informative except for one minor issue:

    Nothing at all was written about water cooling!

    Can you please add that information (for example, what water cooling system(s) you used in your tests)?


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