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Intel Core i7-3720QM - Ivy Bridge For Mobile Review: Monster Kill!

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Intel

Testing, Processor Performance

Testing And Competition

For the most part we will be testing this laptop with the same benchmarks we’d use on any other. There are some exceptions – we’ll be excluding boot time and hard drive benchmarks, for example, because the processor is not a significant contributor to these results.

For comparison we’ll be using the Alienware M14x, the the HP dm4t Beats Edition, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 the ASUS K53T. This gives us a good selection of previous-generation hardware including a Core i7-QM, a Core i5, a Core i5 low-voltage and an AMD A6 quad-core.

Below you will find tables for each system that can be used to reference the full specs.

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Now, let’s get in to the meat of this review and the information you came here to read – how fast is Ivy Bridge?

Processor Performance

We’ll start, as always, with SiSoft Sandra. These two benchmarks give a good indication of a processor’s maximum performance in a synthetic best-case scenario. Let’s see where the new Core i7-3720QM stands.

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In both of these benchmarks we see the new Core i7-3720QM absolutely demolish every competitor. It’s nearly three times as fast as the Core i5 dual-core in the HP dm4t and over six times faster than the AMD-A6 quad-core found in the ASUS K53T. It appears AMD’s already struggling mobile processors have been set up for a wallop – hopefully the upcoming Trinity based systems can close the gap a bit, though it’s hard to see how that could be accomplished.

Now let’s wander into our semi-synthetic benchmarks, 7-Zip and Futuremark.

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7-Zip tells a similar story to SiSoft, though the margins of victory are smaller. The new Ivy Bridge quad is only over three times quicker than both the AMD-A6 in the ASUS K53T and the Core i5 low-voltage dual-core in the Acer Aspire M3. 

Peacekeeper is always interesting because it gains so little benefit from multiple threads. The high Turbo Boost clock of this quad-core still allows it to claim victory even in this scenario, but the margin is much smaller. This is the first time we’ve seen a quad-core processor dominate Peacekeeper. Dual-cores usually win because of their higher clock speed, but the formidable 3.6 GHz maximum clock on the Core i7-3720QM brings home the win.  

Real-World Benchmarks

This is the part of the review where we temper our primary synthetic results with some real-world scenarios. First among these is Windows Live Movie Maker. If you’re going to slap together a YouTube video on a Windows machine this is probably the tool you’ll use for it. Our benchmark records how long it takes to save a standardized high-resolution video clip to 1080p.

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How’s that for a linear graph? Here we can see that once again the new Ivy Bridge quad-core defeats every other contender soundly by saving the clip over a minute more quickly than a previous-gen Core i7-QM. 

Next up we have Sunlit Green BatchBlitz. This is a useful freeware tool for batch photo conversions. It’s simple, light-weight and quick, but it doesn’t always make perfect use of multiple threads. I consider this a plus – many apps have similar issues, so it’s useful to take a look at how multi-core processors perform when their maximum potential is untapped.

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Again we have a serious win for the new quad-core, despite the fact that all available threads weren’t pegged. This result, combined with the high Peacekeeper score, indicates to me that Intel is improving its Turbo Boost feature. It appears that the feature is now able to behave more aggressively. Since Turbo Boost is based off a system’s electrical and thermal limits it make sense that a die shrink would allow Turbo Boost more headroom.

April 23, 2012 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Will Ivy Bridge allow gaming engines to be able to leverage openCl to utilize the intrigrated GPU for compute tasks for games that reguire more cpu/OpenCL compute power intensive processing, while simultaneously using the descrete GPU!

April 23, 2012 | 11:16 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

While OpenCL will allow access for compute tasks, I don't know for certain if it will be possible to use it while simultaneously using a discrete graphics solution. I'm -GUESSING- no, due to how drivers work, but that's a guess. I don't have much knowledge of Open CL.

April 23, 2012 | 01:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

From the information that I received from watching a interview online of Intel's Head of GPU development, Intel not only increased the number of execution units in the HD 4000 GPU to 16, but Intel also tweaked the execution units to allow them to run better than than execution units from the previous Sandy Bridge HD 3000 Graphics?

April 23, 2012 | 03:22 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

Yes this is correct, though I don't think Intel has ever gone into detail about what the tweaks were.

April 23, 2012 | 01:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I know pcper.com Is just starting to review Ivy Bridge laptops, but could you please, If you review a laptop that only has Intel HD graphics, tell the reader if the reviewed laptop uses the stock Intel HD graphics driver software, or if the reviewed laptop is using OEM customized(MODDED) Intel graphics drivers. Some OEM's do not update their customized Intel HD graphics very often, if at all, and, at the Intel driver update website, Intel will not be able to update OEM customized Intel HD graphics! This is a problem for many gamers or other users of graphics software on laptops that utilze Intel integrated GPUs.

May 1, 2012 | 09:20 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

I will look into this when I next review a dedicated HD 4000 laptop.

May 1, 2012 | 12:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you, This could be an article idea in itself, Which laptop OEMs provide the best or worst Updates to their laptop OEM's supplied software! A review of laptop OEM's Graphics Drivers, laptop OEM's supplied update software etc. Someone should contact an Intel representative and ask them why Intel allows laptop OEMs to customize their HD graphics drivers in the first place! A servery should be conducted of readers to allow laptop owners to express their opinions with their laptop OEM's quality of service after the sale, with an emphasis on Laptop owners satisfaction and laptops owners ability to update the graphics drivers, etc, which the laptop OEM's should be regularly updating!

April 24, 2012 | 09:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

yes, then you get stuck with old crusty drivers cause the OEM is lazy.

well all OEM's are right? right.

April 25, 2012 | 03:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This guy Knows how to review a Processor, he talks execution units, pipline stages, the Whole ball of wax!

http://techreport.com/articles.x/22835

April 30, 2012 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Chuck (not verified)

Hey, does anyone know where I can buy a new 3720QM?!

May 1, 2012 | 09:20 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

Just the processor?

May 1, 2012 | 08:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The specs for HD graphics list 2560x1600 as maximum resolution but with the HD3000 that is only for displayport output. DVI is limited to 1920x1200.

Does anyone know if the HD4000 supports the higher resolution via DVI?

May 7, 2012 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"...ASUS N56VM, but this is not a full review...That will be published later..." when... when... WHEN!!!

Please :-)

May 10, 2012 | 02:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just bought a small form desktop sandy bridge quad core and
monitor for much less.
Makes no sense with high spec laptops

December 18, 2012 | 04:43 PM - Posted by Davida Guilbeau (not verified)

Rattling nice pattern and superb subject matter, absolutely nothing else we want :D.

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