|Intel Core i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 05 March 2012|
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Sandy Bridge Extreme Final Thoughts
I have to say that the side by side comparison results of the i7-3820 with the similarly priced but i7-2600K were a little disappointing to me. The individual cores are nearly identical on both processors, although the i7-3820 cores are clocked a little faster than the i7-2600K. Also, while the i7-3820 doesn't have an on-die GPU, it does have a little bigger L3 cache at 10MB rather than 8MB. With a faster clock speed and bigger L3 cache, I would think that the i7-3820 would have outshined the i7-2600K by a larger margin than it did.
That being said, the test beds were close, but not identical. Any number of reasons could have caused the i7-3820 to run as close as it did to the i7-2600K. It still did better than the older CPU in most of the testing, and the two processors are very close in specifications. The real point boils down the usage of the two CPUs. Priced just above the i7-2600K and just below the i7-2700K, the i7-3820 represents the lowest-priced CPU available for the Sandy Bridge Extreme chipset. In the end, if you aren't going to use the other features provided by the Sandy Bridge Extreme chipset, then there is really no need to consider the i7-3820 at all.
There are, however, a lot of reasons you might be considering an i7-3820 and the Sandy Bridge Extreme chipset. A lot of gamers would love to have a full 40 PCIe lanes to play around with, allowing them three GPUs running at x16 and a fourth at x8. We've decisively proven in the past that the GPU is the deciding factor in gameplay anyway. Maybe you like the idea of being prepared for the next generation of GPUs running on PCIe 3.0 lanes, which offer twice the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 lanes. Our memory bandwidth tests certainly showed that quad-channel memory had a dramatic affect on memory bandwidth capabilities as well.The key, it seems, to deciding whether or not you should consider the i7-3820, lies in what you will be using it for. Gamers could certainly see the benefits in the Sandy Bridge Extreme chipset that we just outlined. But even the most intense games available right now can be played with ease on a P67 or Z68 motherboard with the right components. A P67 or Z68 system will also probably end up being less expensive in the long run. Even the i7-3820 is very competitively priced based on its own specifications, you'll need a LGA-2011 motherboard to run it. Even the least expensive of these motherboards start at over $200, and you wouldn't be able to run quad-GPUs with those ones anyway.