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Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge LGA1155 Processor Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Z77 Platform and Overclocking Changes

The Z77 Platform

Along with the new Ivy Bridge processor comes a new chipset and a host of motherboards as well.   The Intel Z77 chipset, along with others like the Z75, H77, H75, B75, Q75 and Q77, are meant to be paired with the new allotment of 3rd Generation Core Processors though they honestly don't differ much from the 6-series chipset before them.

We have done several previews of Z77 motherboards including the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H, a roundup of boards from Gigabyte, MSI, ASUS, ECS and Intel as well as a lengthy discussion with ASUS' JJ Guerrero about their entire Z77 lineup

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The Z77 chipset, which we are going to be focusing on for the consumer and enthusiast, still includes key features like Intel's Rapid Storage Technology, a pair of SATA 6G ports and 14 USB channels.  What is new is the inclusion of a USB 3.0 controller supporting up to 4 of those 14 ports and "Thunderbolt support" that simply means the necessary PCI Express channels are available.  

Honestly, even with the welcome addition of the USB 3.0 ports, the lack of updates to the Z77 chipset is kind of worrisome.  AMD pushes forward with 6 or more SATA 6G ports on its chipsets yet Intel seems stuck to the limit of two on its own PCH.  Thunderbolt is "supported" but not included in any chipset variant and will require a separate Intel controller at a very high cost to the consumer.  

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Intel has done the community a good deed this time around by supporting both forward and backward compatibility with the Ivy Bridge / Sandy Bridge CPUs into the 7-series and 6-series chipset motherboards.  If your Z68/P67 motherboard was built correctly, you should only be a BIOS update away from being able to install Ivy Bridge in it and Sandy Bridge processors should be ready to go out-of-the-box for all Z77 motherboards on the market today. 

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The table above really points out the lack of innovation on the chipset side of things.

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One change worth noting that might affect users with Sandy Bridge CPUs and Z77 motherboards - the PCI Express controller on the IVB CPUs will now support three connections - a single x8 PCIe slot and a pair of x4 slots, one of which should be used for a Thunderbolt controller, etc.  If you have a Sandy Bridge processor, they only have the capability to run in a two port mode, meaning you will not be able to run two GPUs (or two physical cards at all) and also run a Thunderbolt add-on card.  We have seen motherboards from MSI and Gigabyte clearly point out via stickers on the slots that one PCIe slot is simply dead and useless with a Sandy Bridge processor installed. 

Be warned!

Some Modest Overclocking Changes

I already mentioned a couple of the overclocking changes on the opening page of the article but I thought this was worth showing on our platform page.

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Intel has increased the maximum multiplier from 57x on Sandy Bridge to 63x for Ivy Bridge - crazy LN2 overclockers rejoice!  Memory speed support has increased but you should note that the very handy base clock "steps" or ratios that Sandy Bridge-E introduced are NOT available with Ivy Bridge and instead we are back to the days of only getting 5-7 MHz changes in the base clock to run stable.  

April 23, 2012 | 09:35 AM - Posted by Wolvenmoon (not verified)

Mind doing some power consumption tests on the overclocking tests you do over the next few days? I'd be interested to see how much more power it uses when OCed with those temperatures!

April 23, 2012 | 09:56 AM - Posted by BugSmashR

Very nice! Answered any question I might have had. Well worth the upgrade for me just in power savings alone for my Folding@Home rigs. And you're right, It is time to retire my P4 rigs/heaters. (Got three to melt down for the metals, not wishing these on anybody!)

See you at QuakeCon!

April 23, 2012 | 10:36 AM - Posted by Buyers

On the HD4000 Graphics page, the picture of the discreet GPU has an "Asus HD 5570 1GB" sticker on it, but all of the graphs state it as being a HD6570. Might wanna clarify that.

April 23, 2012 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Ah yes, will do. It is definitely a 5570.

April 23, 2012 | 10:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

like Sandy Bridge before Intel has screwed up virtualisation features on Ivy-Bridge as well. No Vt-D(or even vPro, TXT, and SIPP) on any of the 'k' wtf intel?

May 18, 2012 | 02:46 PM - Posted by Ben (not verified)

Those features are on the Xeon E3 v2 line, and the prices fit right in with the consumer Ivy Bridge processors.

What's missing is any chip that combines those features with an unlocked multiplier. But there isn't much overlap in customer base between overclockers and virtual machine servers.

April 23, 2012 | 11:31 AM - Posted by Hiwap (not verified)

Hello guys thx for the review!!

I goin to buy a new pc this week i cant deside

is 3930k worth the 200+ USD in performance?

the pc is for gaming and 3d software

April 23, 2012 | 12:25 PM - Posted by Alex Z (not verified)

Under power consumption, both graphs are labelled "Idle" even though the second one was tested under full load, right? Great to see these reviews, and I look forward to hearing about Ivy Bridge in the podcast this week.

April 24, 2012 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Doh, thanks!

April 23, 2012 | 01:04 PM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

Nice review, going to be a good upgrade from my E8400 C2D

@Corrections - "will you please save us all the early death of global warming and upgrade?"

You probably meant ...from global....

As an early death "of" global warming is something we all want.

April 23, 2012 | 12:58 PM - Posted by Zorkwiz

Hey Ryan,
For the idle/load power tests, was a GPU plugged into the board at all or are those numbers simply the MB/DIMMs/CPU power draw? Is your cooling solution factored into the power there as well? Since you seem to have used a couple of memory configurations, 560 Ti for some tests but not others, etc. it's hard for me to tell exactly what was being powered.

I'm trying to compare idle power to my current i7-920 + GTX 580 system to see just how much money I'd save per year, powered 24x7 if I upgraded to IVB + 680, as idle power draws are insanely lower these days.

April 24, 2012 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yes, my power numbers were WITH the GTX 560 Ti installed.

April 23, 2012 | 02:19 PM - Posted by AParsh335i (not verified)

For a desktop gamer these numbers really show that the i5-2500k @ $180 (microcenter.com for the past year, price match at your local frys) is a great bang for the buck. Seems that the changes from SNB to IVB shows the most promise for notebook computers, not for desktop gamers/power users (better battery life and better integrated graphics).

April 23, 2012 | 02:39 PM - Posted by Nilbog

Great Review, thanks Ryan.
Glad to see that this new idea worked out. Even though the temps are a bit disappointing, it clearly compensates with power consumption. I'ts also kinda freaky that such a small part with such low power consumption can get so hot.

Due to the high temperatures even with the water cooling, it would be appreciated if you guys did a comparison review of various cooling solutions.
Did this come with the usual stock cooler?

I'm also curious to know how the benchmark automation is going?

April 24, 2012 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Intel did not include a cooler - we used the Corsair H80 for our testing.

Automation is going - but still requires a lot of hands on time.

April 23, 2012 | 02:52 PM - Posted by zakattak (not verified)

overall good review, but why didn't you put the heating problem in note for your conclusion? i would think if you,re going to get a cpu to overclock on air, then the 2600k would be the better route for longevity and performance wise.

April 24, 2012 | 11:46 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Well, I guess we could have, but I think we noted them pretty well in the OC page directly.

I don't think the typical user needs to worry about CPU longevity even with Ivy Bridge.

April 23, 2012 | 04:25 PM - Posted by rgraze

"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."

What about the price difference on a 3930k which could be had for $499? With a Z77 v X79 build difference of $272.

April 24, 2012 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

For me, personally, I lean towards IVB still.

April 23, 2012 | 07:21 PM - Posted by psy2222

Why is the 3930K not part of the charts?

April 23, 2012 | 07:54 PM - Posted by Angryfuture (not verified)

Wow....I did know the 920's idled that high.
I need 1155....NOW.

Awesome review!

April 23, 2012 | 11:14 PM - Posted by cyow

Maybe time My i7 920 became my new sever the Core i7-3700K - $313 is looking real good to me at that price.

just need to work out which what MB too us and just get a load of RAM

April 23, 2012 | 11:41 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

Nothing for the enthusiast to see here, please move along to X79.

April 24, 2012 | 08:18 AM - Posted by Zorkwiz

Is an enthusiast now simply someone who goes for the max overclock possible with every CPU they run? Because if that's the case, I don't think I can call myself an enthusiast any longer.

You can still get a solid 4.5ghz overclock at 1.1V with Ivy and draw less power than SB, plus get the benefits of 5-10% performance per clock with the architecture tweaks, more PCI-E lanes, better quicksync performance etc. I don't see why this isn't an enthusiast part just because its max OC isn't quite as high.

Sure it's not a big leap forward, but it's a solid refresh IMO.

That being said I think I'll probably wait for Haswell to upgrade my 920, simply because I'm waiting for a chipset with thunderbolt standard and more integrated USB3 ports. Maybe with the second wave of 7 series motherboards and some maturity in the 22nm process we'll see some nicer IVB solutions in the 2nd half of the year though.

April 25, 2012 | 06:38 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

It's overclocking capabilities are not the issue.

When Z77 supports 40 PCI-e lanes, quad channel memory, 6 core CPUs and doesn't burn itself to a crisp at medium voltage then you can call it an enthusiast part.

April 24, 2012 | 07:33 AM - Posted by Joe (not verified)

I looked at all these reviews for this chip but non of them say when I can BUY it...

When can I buy a Core i7 3770 ???? The K version may have an unlocked mult but I am not going to overclock anyway. The K version also has lacking features that the non K versions have.. No Vt-D(or even vPro, TXT, and SIPP)

April 24, 2012 | 11:51 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Honestly I thought the answer would be Monday, but Tuesday is here and still no go. I'll check!

April 25, 2012 | 01:30 PM - Posted by Joe (not verified)

From what I just found out as of today. Sunday April 29th these processors will be available.

http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Core_i7/Intel-Core%20i7-3770K.html

April 24, 2012 | 10:56 AM - Posted by Karol (not verified)

Should I be sad, that I recently bought Lenovo X220 with i7-2640M?
Althought 4 Windows Server 2008R2 Virtual Machines can run at the same time without any hiccups, which is still impressive for that small 12" notebook, gaming performance could be much better.
Also note, that even with new Intel HD4000 graphics, their drivers are (gaming wise) are far behind AMD/NVidia ones.

April 24, 2012 | 12:45 PM - Posted by dragosmp (not verified)

Hey, great review. It does look like the CPU portion of IB isn't that much of a speedup over SB, but then again Intel didn't have to try any harder. Hope they manage to get the 22nm leakage issue sorted and cram even more transistors in the next generation! This makes me wonder what power consumption numbers they could achieve on 22nm with a single in-order Atom core.

The HD4000 iGPU seems to be pretty fast, fast enough to be taken seriously. Would it be possible to test the HD4000 like you would test a real GPU: performance, overclocking, image quality, game compatibility, maybe even a closer look at the underlying architecture.

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