|Intel Core i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 05 March 2012|
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Intel Core i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU Review
Manufacturer: Intel Corporation
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Intel.
For most people, the Sandy Bridge LGA-1155 carries enough power for everything they need. This includes most gamers and many enthusiasts wanting to overclock and push their systems up as high as they can. Certainly for mainstream users, media users, and light gamers, the Sandy Bridge platform offers more than enough flexibility and features. Even with all that, it seemed like Sandy Bridge was lacking. For many of us, the Sandy Bridge-E LGA-2011 release brought a flood of appealing features that the LGA-1155 platform left out. For extreme gamers and enthusiasts, the number of PCI-E lanes on the Sandy Bridge platform fell short. With the release of the LGA-2011 platform, Intel fixed this. They also added Quad-channel memory support, PCIe 3.0 support, and the option for CPUs with up to six cores.
The first two processors released with the new Sandy Bridge-E platform were both 6-core CPUs; the i7-3960X and the i7-3930K. The problem with these CPUs is that they cost a lot. The i73960X released at $999 and i7-3930K released at $555. These were definitely both extreme CPUs for extreme users, but what about those of us who want enough PCIe lanes to use three or four GPUs, quad-channel memory, and a system that will support PCIe 3.0 without having to upgrade again within the year or the need for a $1000 CPU? For us, Intel released the Core i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU.
The Core i7-3820 is quite a different beast than the other two Sandy Bridge-E CPUs. In fact, it's even built on its own die, smaller than the other Sandy Bridge-E processors, but bigger than the Sandy Bridge CPUs. The first difference, of course, is the 4-cores/8-threads of the i7-3820 compared to the 6-cores/12-threads of the other two CPUs. Next comes the smaller cache. The i7-3960X has a 15MB L3 cache, the i7-3930K has a 12MB L3 cache, and the i7-3820 has the smallest L3 cache at 10MB. That's still larger, however, than the largest LGA-1155 CPU, which has an 8MB L3 cache. The i7-3820 also clocks in a tiny bit faster than the fastest LGA-1155 CPU, the i7-2700K, at 3.6GHz compared to 3.5GHz. Basically, what all that means is that the i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU should be ever so slightly faster than then top-end Sandy Bridge LGA-1155 CPU. The nice part is that the i7-3820 also costs less than the i7-2700K. Of course, that cost will be offset by the more expensive motherboards.