Intel Quad-Core Core i7-3820 Processor Review

Introduction

Just a week ago, Intel officially launched its Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E processor, the processor is the first quad-core model in LGA2011 platform, and it’s priced as low as US$294. We have got the CPU and did a small test. As its specs and pricing are close to that of Core i7-2600K, so we chose the latter for comparison. (All the images could be clicked to large ones.)

Specs Comparison

Core i7-3820 and Core i7-3960X both belong to LGA2011 platform, but the former features quad-core with less transistors and smaller die size. In addition, i7-3820 has L3 cache of 10MB, much lower than that of i7-3960X, but higher than 8MB of i7-2600K.

Moreover, Core i7-3820 features a max multiplier of 45x suggested in official website. It still adheres to most characteristics of LGA2011 platform, such as quad-channel memory, 40 PCI-E lanes, 130W TDP, etc.

CPU-Z Screenshots

CPU-Z screenshot of Core i7-3820 and i7-2600K

The running frequencies shown above was 100MHz higher than default value due to the existence of Turbo technology.

Benchmark Platform & Settings

As i7-3820 was close to i7-2600K in price, and they both featured quad-core and eight-thread design, so we set up Z68+i7-2600K and X79+i7-3820 platform for comparison.

Test Items

The test included two parts——CPU performance and Game performance, the former laid emphasis on CPU theoretical performance, while the latter focused more on gaming scoring.

Test Platform Previewed (一)

Test bed included ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard,i7-3820 processor and G.Skill quad-channel DDR3 1600 memory.

Test Platform Previewed (二)

SuperPi 1.5 1M Test

SuperPi was only able to dig out single-core performance, the gap between single-core Turbo frequencies between i7-3820 and i7-2600K was 100MHz, it took about 9.9s in SuperPi 1.5 1M test. That’s to say, the SuperPi 1M performance of i7-3820 was basic consistence with that of i7-2600K.

wPrime Test

In wPrime test, i7-3820 outperformed i7-2600K by 10% averagely. It took only 7.24s for i7-3820 in 32M operation, faster than 8.003s of i7-2600K.

Fritz Chess Benchmark

In Fritz Chess Benchmark test, i7-3820 had a higher basic frequency, it achieved 14132 kilo nodes per second, 6.7%faster than 13239 kilo nodes per second in i7-2600K.

Sandra 2012 SP2 Memory Bandwidth Test

Compared with i7-2600K, i7-3820 provided support for quad-channel memory mode, theoretically it featured twice of memory bandwidth than the former.

In Sandra 2012 SP2 memory bandwidth test, i7-2600K only came with the float and inter memory bandwidth of about 21GB/s, while i7-3820 reached 37GB/s, improving by over 70% than another.

AIDA64 Memory Bandwidth Test

However, in AIDA64 memory bandwidth test, the quad-channel i7-3820 didn’t perform as well as i7-2600K. Especially in writes, it featured 25% less memory bandwidth than the latter. Additionally i7-3820 had latency of 54.6ns, which was also higher than 45.9ns of i7-2600K.

3DMark Theoretical Performance Test

In 3DMark theoretical performance test, i7-3820 was at an edge, it outperformed i7-2600K by about 3% averagely, after all it was graphics performance had a greater influence on 3DMark scorings.

Game Performance Test

i7-3820 and i7-2600K performed quite close in game performance test, expect that there featured gap of 10fps in Batman and DiRT 2.

Total System Power Consumption

In power consumption test, we conducted the comparison under idle, Orthos loading, 3DMark 11-Physics and 3DMark 11-combined conditions.

i7-2600K performed better with edge of 11W than i7-3820 in idle state. But the gap was much bigger in Orthos loading condition, i7-3820 was 184W which is 31W higher than 153W of i7-2600K. The similar result appeared in 3DMark 11-Physics test, in these two states, CPU was basically 100% full-loaded.

In whole, the full-loaded power consumption of i7-3820 was 20W-30W higher than that of i7-2600K, actually the gap between their TDP was 35W.

Default Voltage Overclocking

Intel has set the limitations for the Core i7-3820 clock frequency multiplier, in ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard, the processor has a max overclock multiplier of 44x in default voltage condition. However, it only displayed max multiplier of 43x at CPU-Z, its frequency reached 4.3GHz, at that time it took only 8.77s for i7-3820 to run 1M SuperPi (8.77s previously).

As there featured limited multiplier adjustment, the overclocking style of i7-3820 was not so flexible as i7-2600K, but it didn’t suggested that i7-3820 had a bad overclocking capability.

Reference Clock Ratio (RCR) Supported

Though i7-3820 had a limited multiplier adjustment range, it still supported unique Clock Ratio (RCR) adjustment, there featured adjustment of 100MHz, 125MHz, 166MHz and 250MHz in Bios. Through proper multiplier combination, the processor still had decent overclocking potential.

Firstly we set the basic clock setting at 125MHz, and overclock multiplier was set from the conservative 36x to 41x, finally the processor entered into system successfully, it reached frequency of 5.125GHz. Additionally it took 7.36s in 1M Super test, BIOS voltage was 1.5V, 1.52V shown in CPU-Z.

In air-cooled overclocking condition, 5.1GHz frequency was a decent performance, in addition, compared with i7-3960X, though the latter could also reach 5G with the same voltage, CPU heat was a big issue. However, in such condition, i7-3820 didn’t’ feel so hot, it seemed that its overclocking potential has yet to be dug out.

Overclocking Capability: As High As 5.28GHz

On the basis of 5.1GHz, if we would like to overclock i7-3820 further, we had to continue improve multiplier or external frequency, but 41x multiplier had been the limit, even we increased the voltage to 1.55V, the processor was unable to enter into system with multiplier of 42x, so we should start from external frequency.

Finally the external frequency could only reached 128.875MHz (128.9MHz shown on CPU-Z), while i7-3960X achieved 133MHz. However, i7-3820 hit as high as 5.8GHz, which overclocking capability was quite awesome just like the high-end i7-3960X.

Final Thoughts

From our test, we could know i7-3820 has a high frequency coming with stronger performance and higher technical specification than i7-2600K, especially it features a decent overclocking capability, in air-cooled overclocking condition, the processor reaches as high as 5.28GHz. The reasonable price has lowered threshold f LGA2011 platform. Except for the higher power consumption, other factors are basically perfect, it seems that there are many reasons for recommendation.

But from a rational standpoint, i7-3820′s position is a little awkward, though it belongs to LGA2011 platform, its specs surely are lower than the six-core model, Intel sets the price lower than i7-2600K, but currently the X79 motherboards are at the high side, so the absolute cost is supposed to be much higher than SNB platform. It’s noteworthy that Ivy Bridge is drawing near, many players may be waiting for its arrival.

5 Responses to “Intel Quad-Core Core i7-3820 Processor Review”

  1. Jenny Says:

    ironically most of my vid cards are nVidia but getting old with nVidia so time for some ATiespecially nVidia sarettd lagging behind in implementing new techs like Directx 10.1 and they’re going to be late with Directx 11! I’m sick of nVidia high prices & troubles with nForce chipset. so next rig will be all AMD built

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