Intel Core i7-3820 Quad-Core CPU Review – Get Ready for Some Great 5.0 GHz Speeds!

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!

INTEL I7-3820

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 rear of the processor sports 2011 contact points for the pins in the socket of the motherboard, hence the aptly named ‘2011 socket’ on the X79 motherboards.


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.


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    Speed is too far away to reach to it,

    I do just fine in i5 2450

    I’ve yet to experience those numberss

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    Did the article really saw there is a 5.0Ghz Overclock profile in BIOS?

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    125×40 = 5000 = 5Ghz 😉 the chip will do it on any board regardless of “overclocking profile” but I have a feeling that this is a “great” chip and could be a dime a dozen. cant wait to try one myself, I might be buying one soon but would not be pairing it with this board.

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    Yup, there is a 5.2 as well!

    Dont underestimate this board fellas, shes a beauty!

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    Guys, you erroneously marked the i7-3820 as i7-3820K here:

    Just a heads up.

    And thanks for posting this today. Thanks to your post, I am buying this baby tonight! SB-E FTW – thanks to i7-3820. Just don’t have enough cash to throw away for the other SB-E, and not enough patience to wait for IvyB.

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    “5.0 overclock with 1.48 Vcore is rather good”
    I have a 2500k at 4.7 ghz Vcore 1.3. I could get 5 ghz at 1.48, but,
    You DO know that you will be buying a new cpu after a few days
    or months when you fry it. 1.48 volts is way over spec, and will
    definately rapidly degrade your cpu or kill it completely. It’s OK
    for a power benchmarking run, but not 24/7

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      I understand your hesitation, and some heavy OCs arent for everyone. I have seen people run 1.5 for 24.7 for years on the X58 chips!

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    Thanks for the CPU review and benchmark, very good review and insightful test results. One last thing, you guys tested with 1866mhz RAMs, no? The i7-3820 can only support up to 1600mhz, do you guys think this is a bit disheartening for the cost? Anyone got some thoughts? What I have with me is 16gb G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series at 2133mhz (unopened, will be used on LGA2011).

    I’ve been stuck deciding between 3820 and 3930 (budget issue, therefore I’ll never even consider the 3960x). The problem with the 3930k is the unstable demand along with its restocking issue. I can afford the 3820 now, but I really am not sure which CPU to consider. I decided to start building an LGA2011 rig back in December and since then started buying parts.

    I really would just want to start running LGA2011 as soon as possible. People recommend I settle with 3820 and upgrade to the 3930k when I can afford it. If it’s a matter of patience vs. cost, I think patience is starting to dissipate. Help D:

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      even though the chipset only supports 1600 you can easily go to whatever speed yoiu need (within reason). 1866 and 2000 are just a bios change away 🙂
      personally, i wouldnt wait!

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        Hey Paul,

        Thank you! I’m sold, I purchased it after reading your comment. I look forward to using this CPU. Thanks again!

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    Dask I just built a system using the 3930K with 16GB G.Skill RAM at 2133 and made the system blue screen till we clocked it back to 1600MHz

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      Oh, damn. I thought something like that would be happening. Since the RAM’s clock speed should be somewhat in par or in an input that the processor wants to cooperate with, I think. But lucky, you! I’m still waiting for the semester to finish so I can focus on building my LGA2011 rig.

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    Hello, would this processor be viable for streaming? Other technology I have: Evga GeForce GTX 670 4GB, Asus – Sabertooth X79 Desktop Motherboard.

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    I have a 3820 with an ECS board and Mushkin 2133 ram and this will not overclock at all when I try to raise voltage +40, mabey I am not high enough but am afraid to use any higher voltage. I like add a little voltage and get a little o/c. I don’t like, burn up the cpu by not knowing what to do. I am going to buy some PC16000 and hope it works. Then hope I find some recommendations for this board, I have not seen even one yet and ECS, they don’t communicate, except once.

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