Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge LGA1155 Processor Review
Conclusions and Final Thoughts
When talking with Intel about the release of the new Ivy Bridge processor, they really didn't try to sell us on any kind of dramatic increase in performance on the x86 side of the equation but I think that perhaps they were underselling their own product. The Ivy Bridge architecture really only has minor IPC improvements but the clock speeds are just high enough to give us a reasonable speed boost coming from the Core i7-2600K and 2700K processors. In a general sense, I would give the new Core i7-3770K a 10-15% performance advantage over the Sandy Bridge designs available in any given CPU workload. That wasn't the case 100% of the time, but I think it was common enough to see it in benchmarks like TrueCrypt, Cinebench and Basemark CL to come to the conclusion.
The updated processor graphics on Ivy Bridge impressed us as well as far as integrated graphics go - the HD 4000 saw as much as a 45% performance advantage compared to the HD 3000 on Sandy Bridge in real-world gaming tests like Left 4 Dead 2 and DiRT 3. I think Ivy Bridge now presents itself as a perfectly viable gaming solution for resolutions of 1366x768 and below with modest quality settings but if you are looking to fill your 1080p monitor with graphical goodness you can still benefit from even an inexpensive discrete graphics card as our results with the $60 Radeon HD 6570/5570 clearly show.
Adding in support for three displays through the processor graphics and the nearly 2x speed up we saw in our Quick Sync testing and you have a dramatic improvement in the GPU portion of Ivy Bridge that COULD compel some desktop users to adopt but will likely have a much larger influence on the mobile roadmaps.
With the release of the Radeon HD 7900 cards and then the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680, we have seen an increase in the awareness of power efficiency being vital not only to mobile and small form factor users but for the enthusiast crowd as well. Ivy Bridge and the Core i7-3770K are clearly the most efficient processors on the market while also providing nearly the best performance available, period. Our result on the power consumption page should really put the AMD Bulldozer processor to bed as we see no real reason for a gamer to choose that route.
And if you happen to be one of those poor fools still using a Pentium 4 processor - will you please save us all the early death of global warming and upgrade?
There isn't really much to say about the Z77 chipset - it is the new, best chipset for your Intel processor but other than the upgrade to integrated USB 3.0, there isn't much to get excited about. Motherboard vendors like MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS are using this opportunity to introduce new features of their own including Thunderbolt so there is still some excitement in the motherboard market but it truly is not the work of Intel's chipset division.
Expect quite a few motherboard reviews coming up from PC Perspective!!
Pricing and Availability
The Core i7-3770K is set to check in at $313 but how does that compare to the other Sandy Bridge offerings available today?
- Core i7-3700K - $313
- Core i7-2700K - $339
- Core i7-2600K - $309
- Core i7-3960X - $1039
- Core i7-3820 - $309
Clearly this is one of those "duh" moments - if the 3770K is available for the $313 price tag it is obviously the best choice of those listed above. It only falls behind the 3960X in raw performance but we would only recommend paying that price difference if you simply MUST have that added boost or have money falling out of your pockets. In which case, email me first.
While Ivy Bridge isn't blowing away the performance of Sandy Bridge, Intel continues to hit on all cylinders delivering a fantastic processor with a 10-15% performance advantage over the previous generation and a clear power consumption edge as well. The new Core i7-3770K will quickly find its way into the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard and will probably be my pick for any enthusiast looking to build a new gaming rig in the next 6 months. Though there are some potential temperature concerns with the new 22nm process at voltages over 1.3v, only those of you looking to really overclock the CPU need worry about that. The rest of you will find Ivy Bridge to be the best desktop processor on the market.