Today’s review will be just a bit different as we transition from the typical SSD review to that of CPU as Intel was nice enough to send along a newly released Sandy Bridge E i7-3820 for us to take a look at.
The timing of this review couldn’t be more appropriate as many will be looking for that ‘last minute’ confirmation before purchase, and, as luck may have it, our test motherboard also has had a recent UEFI revision that reveals much better auto-overclocking profiles for the 3820.
That extra few weeks of maturity has helped us achieve some great overclocking results to demonstrate the performance of the overclocked processor and we were able to attain a great 5.0 GHz overclock for testing!
The Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E Quad Core CPU is actually a completely different die than the other SNB-E processors, weighing in with 1.27 billion 32nm transistors. With a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz the 3820 is actually faster at stock speeds than its six-core brethren. The maximum turbo also matches that of the 3960X, but is slightly higher than the 3930K.
The i7-3820 is a welcome addition to the X79 desktop space as the Extreme series of processors have a pricing structure that can be a bit too ‘extreme’ for some. With the completely unlocked 6-core 3960X retailing for $1049.00 USD at the time of this writing, and the 3930K coming in at $599.00 USD, there is definitely room for a value processor for these motherboards. The i7-3820 is priced at $319.00. This is reasonable pricing considering that the only competition that it really has is Intels’ own 2700K, which comes in at $369.00.
One of the major differences among the Sandy Bridge E (SNB-E) processors is that the 3820 is a quad core part, while the 3930K and the 3960X are both six core processors. These two six-core processors are also entirely unlocked, which enables easier overclocking. The users of the 3820 will still be able to achieve great overclocking results, albeit by ‘taking the long way around’. The fact that it is only a ‘partially unlocked’ processor doesn’t incur any limitations on how aggressively it can be overclocked in the end, it just alters the means of getting there…
The L3 cache is also smaller on the 3820, weighing in at 10MB. While this may be lower than the amount of L3 used with the other SNB-E processors, it is more than is included with the primary competitor for the 3820. The 2700K only has 8MB of L3 cache.
What this all boils down to is that the casual user who is not using heavily multithreaded applications will not notice much difference between the 3820 and the six-core SNB-E processors, especially if using them at stock speeds.
We will be testing the Intel i7-3820 in comparison to the 3930K. When looking around at other website reviews of this CPU, the overall consensus seems to be to test against the 2700K. The X79 Patsburg Chipset is one of the greatest reasons alone to purchase the 3820. Comparing the 3820 processor to another processor and platform, which is not nearly as robust in functionality as the X79, is actually a bit of a misnomer.
The question doesn’t lie with whether or not to purchase one processor vs the other in our opinion, but consists more of the question of what features each platform brings with it. The Socket 2011 brings some wonderful features to the table that we will be exploring in the next pages.
Unfortunately as we can see from pricing, the price of admission with a 6 core can be very expensive. Intel has allowed those users with the desire to upgrade to the Socket 2011 platform a more budget minded route in the 3820.
The users who need the functionality of the X79 chipset already know their needs, so we are framing the evaluation based on the performance differences of the 3820 compared to its six core counterpart the 3930K.