FINAL THOUGHTS (a bunch of them)
When we first began testing with this processor the natural inclination is to do the standard ‘2700K vs. 3820″ review that has been the norm with several reviews already.
To us that just didn’t make sense as we felt that it is truly comparing two different platforms that are designed for different classes of users. It just strikes me as incredibly narrow minded to compare the two platforms to one other. The P67 platform is for the general users, and the X79 is for the power users. This has been stated by Intel since the inception of the platform, and they have delivered on that.
It is easy to make blanket statements such as “If you don’t need 40 PCIe lanes, you don’t need the 3820”, but that doesn’t make sense to the overwhelming majority of users. What about the functionality that those extra PCIe lanes afford the user?
How many P67 chipsets have 12 SATA ports and 12 USB ports? With the X79 Chipset, this is possible. This type of connectivity is the result of the extra PCIe lanes, not to mention that this chipset is PCIe 3.0 out of the box. There are also users who would require the extra lanes for multiple-GPU setups and those who utilize RAID controllers.
In a sense this gives the chipset an ‘on-the-fence’ approach, a blurring of the lines between an enterprise class workstation and a consumer level product. With the newer stepping of X79 motherboards there will be sure to be some great improvements ahead.
The users who need the performance of 32+GB of RAM, the increased memory bandwidth, or the plethora of connections that come with the X79 chipset already know what they need, so the question becomes which processor to buy.
The entry level pricing of the Sandy Bridge Extreme six core chips is very costly, with the cheapest coming in around $600.00 USD. For those users who need the X79 functionality, this can be a tough pill to swallow. The 3820 comes in and fills a nice gap in pricing for Intel with this chipset. At roughly $319.00 this processor does have a lot to offer.
The performance in single threaded applications can be at or above the performance of its six core counterparts. This is very important for users as many would mistakenly think that the 6 core processor is faster or more powerful in all applications. This simply is not the case.
We did a lot of power testing over the course of our testing, and why might not be clear to many readers beyond how it might affect their utility bills.
Power also equals heat. The more power that is consumed generates more heat that must be dealt with. Fans must eventually be used in 99 percent of applications to cool the processor, even when using liquid cooling. Even with water cooling, at the end of the water line there will be a radiator with a fan on it. Fans also tend to be the chief generator of noise in any computer. The less heat that has been generated by the processor means cooler performance and less fan and noise needed to handle that heat output.
Power usage also directly leads to heat dumped into the users case. Extremely hot processors lead to hot cases, and with GPUs becoming larger and hotter there certainly is no lack of heat sources in the computer case.
One key consideration over the years for many to use AMD processors is the fact that they operate with a much lower power threshold, so they operate quietly and efficiently. At the end of the day less power consumption leads to a cooler, quieter computer! It also provides higher headroom for overclocking, and facilitates using smaller, quieter cooling solutions. Intel has really delivered in this respect with the 3820.
A good balance must be struck when it comes to several of these considerations. Price V Power is a huge consideration in terms of sheer performance as well. The 3820 performs very well when compared to the other solutions on the X79 Chipset. It is quite simply amazing to see the 3820 actually outperform the 3930K in several areas of our PCMark Vantage testing.
One big takeaway here is that the performance from 6 cores is seen very sparingly in real life usage for a huge percentage of users. The 3930K is extremely powerful , and for those who need that power, it is a wonderful processor. For gaming and general use computers, one would rarely, if ever, witness a benefit from the extra cores. In situations (the vast majority) where the extra cores are never used, the 3820 will give you equal or faster performance while consuming drastically lower amounts of power, be it overclocked or not.
If you are looking for the X79 Chipset and a good CPU at a reasonable price, the i7-3820 certainly fits the bill!