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Written by Hank Tolman   
Monday, 05 March 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
Intel Core i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU
Features and Specifications
Sandy Bridge Extreme Architecture
Processor Testing Methodology
SiSoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
PCMark Vantage Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
CPU-Dependent 3D Gaming
PassMark PerformanceTest
Media Encoding Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Blender and POV-Ray
Core i7-3820 Overclocking
Sandy Bridge Extreme Final Thoughts
Intel Core i7-3820 Conclusion

Intel Core i7-3820 Conclusion

As we have explained in the past, it's very hard to isolate a single component within a system. While we try to keep as many of the components static throughout the testing environment, it's impossible to keep everything the same. Any of these other components can cause fluctuations in the performances shown by the benchmarks. With that in mind, the i7-3820 performed pretty much just where it should have in our tests. It topped out the quad-core CPUs in most of the tests and beat out the six-core 980X in many of the tests. Of course, so did the i7-2600K. I would have liked to see a little better performance, but it sits nicely for its price.

intel_core_i7_3960X_back_size.jpg

While the Sandy Bridge Extreme CPUs brought on six-core processors, the i7-3820 isn't one of them. In fact, the i7-3820 resembles a normal Sandy Bridge CPU in architecture more than one of the six-core Extreme CPUs. It trades in the on-die GPU for an extra 2MB of cache. In the end, however, there is nothing new or unexpected about the i7-3820.

Overclocking the i7-3820 turned out to be a real pleasure. I have to give the i7-3820 props. As a CPU without an X or a K attached to the end of it, you really wouldn't expect it to overclock very well. We've become accustomed to the locked Sandy Bridge CPUs only being able to overclock 400MHz higher, and even then only on one core and only when turbo-boost is in use. With the new ability of the Sandy Bridge Extreme platform to overclock the bclk, however, things have change dramatically. Pushing the bclk frequency up will overclock the CPU from the start, regardless of Turbo-Boost or number of cores in use. By increasing the bclk to 125MHz over 100MHz, I was able to give the i7-3820 a 1.15GHz boost in clock speed. That's quite a bit more than the 400MHz we might have expected from a Sandy Bridge locked CPU.

Functionally, the i7-3820 is very similar to top end of the regular Sandy Bridge CPUs, the i7-2700 with a little more cache. Pitting the i7-3820 against the high-end of the regular Sandy Bridge series isn't going to yield much different results. The functionality of the i7-3820 really lies in the Sandy Bridge Extreme chipset and its increased capabilities.

At $319.99 (NewEgg), the i7-3820 is actually less expensive than both the i7-2700K and the i7-2600K. The 3820 also comes stock clocked at 3.6GHz, 100MHz faster than the 2700K and 200MHz faster than the 2600K. It also has 2MB more L3 cache. Just looking at the specs, the i7-3820 is amazingly priced. The difference comes in chipset. You'll have to spend more money on the motherboard, offsetting the few dollars you'd save on the CPU. Depending on what your using it for, however, it's likely worth it.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Best Quad-Core Performance
+ Locked CPU that can still be Overclocked
+ Lots of Overclock Headroom
+ 48 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes
+ Quad-channel memory architecture
+ Better price than Slower CPUs

Cons:

- Can't get this deal without an X79 Motherboard, adding to the overall price
- No CPU Cooler Included

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.50
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Overclock: 9.75
  • Functionality: 8.50
  • Value: 9.50

Final Score: 9.25 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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Comments 

 
# Sweet spot?realneil 2012-03-06 09:55
I wonder if this will be the affordable sweet spot for many of us? The lower price is compelling and the performance is very good too. I can't see quitting my i7-2600K system for this one yet, but it looks to be a good choice for future consideration.
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# Uhh.. this isn't an Extreme Editionbcmac401 2012-03-06 10:07
That would be the 3960X. This is the baseline LGA2011 Core i7.
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# RE: Uhh.. this isn't an Extreme Editionchristopher hardin 2013-07-02 08:03
oh he means sandy bridge extreme. i was screaming at my screen for a second too...
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# From a Multi-GPU gaming rig builder's perspectiveLuay 2012-03-07 05:18
The difference between the i7 3820 and the i5 2550k in gaming performance is not worth the extra money spent on the CPU, motherboard and quad channel RAM.
For two CF/SLI GPUs we have P67 motherboards in the $120~$180 range.
For tri-fire/SLI or more we have NF200 equipped P8P67 WS Revolution and Rampage boards that sell for the same price of a low-end LGA 2011 motherboard. This is a hard sell either because it's not good enough or LGA 1155 is just too good.
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# Love Mine.Enigma8750 2012-03-20 08:21
Coming from AMD 890 board to this motherboard was like night and day. My Benchmark 06 is 29080 at 4.5 ghz. I know I can get more but I want a nice stable system with no errors. The Performance of the CPU and the Two 5770's Crossfired is amazing. I am only using Corsair 1600 memory but this computer is a F1 Race car. My old 5xxx Video cards have never Breathed so well. I can only imagine what a couple of 7850's would look like. I am amazed at this CHIP and I bought my ASRock Extreme 9 board for this chip at Christmas, knowing that it would be a killer chip at an excellent price. it is. I am very very happy with mine and I love it.
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# Happy to keep what I have!DB62 2012-03-20 21:40
Ya, I know it's way overpriced, but my system, with a 990X, a GTX580 Lightning, 4 raid-0 RE4's, and 1-Intel 510 SSD, serves every need I have, and does it fast, without a problem. Plus, it's an overclocking champ.
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# ewfxcc 2012-03-31 22:28
don't understand what comparision demonstarte when all cpus are running different amount of ram.3xxx with 16gb and few ones only on 4gb.my athlon x2 was doing 44fps on 2gb and 122fps on 4gb on specviewperf maya with all other component same ,resolution, threads etc everything same. as such benchmark is 100% fake to me. yes 3xxx needs 4 ram for quad channel but 4 ram can be used in dual channel too. so why not all cpus running 16gb(for quad and dual both) and 12gb(for triple channel).
simply seems intel sponsered benchmark to fakely demonstrate 3xxx is best processor
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# RE: ewfDavid Ramsey 2012-03-31 23:07
Since none of these benchmarks are memory-constrained, the amount of memory (past 2G or so) is irrelevant.
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# RE: RE: ewfxcc 2012-04-01 06:28
but whats problem installing same amount of ram on all. also speed of ram r different
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# Great investmentGlock10mm 2012-04-14 22:50
Just picked up the 3820 and an X79 SABERTOOTH.Great upgrade from my AMD 980 & ASUS Crosshair board. Using my same 1600 ram(which would never run @ 1600 on my old board) and crossfired 6870's. Works great and and really only cost about $75 more for the setup than the 2600k setup(buying a high end 1155 board). Running @ 4.625 and very stable. If I had already owned an 2600k setup, it would not be worth the money for the minimal gain. Coming from an 2 year old board and going to Intel for the first time in 10 years, it seemed to make sense to purchase the newest socket board.
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# 1.624v ,ReallyJohn Elmore 2012-05-12 06:52
Running a i7-3820 at 4750gigs at a whopping 1.624v on a lower end CPU water cooler Corsair H60,I would like to know what your temperatures were reading.I find it hard to believe that it did not shut down with that kind of voltage running though it ,when intel says the safest voltage is 1.350v and not to run it over 67c.I know with just a Corsair H-60 you would be running way over 67c.Unless it was reading the voltage wrong.I have a i7-3820 on a ASRock X79 ExeTreme 4 and I can run 4750gigs at 1.304v and my tempertures run at 65c-62c-64c-60c running Prime95,on AIR a $35 Coolermaster 212 EVO.If them H-60's run that good I will have to get me one ,but all the reviews I have seen puts them around 3c to 5c cooler then what I am running.I would really like to see your tempertures at 1.624v at 4750gigs.
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# Egg CookerRich 2013-03-15 12:37
He's trying to turn that proc into an egg cooker!!
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# 1.41V @ 45CStick 2013-05-10 23:36
I'm at 5 Ghz with DDR 1600, started at 1333 on MSI Big Bang Xpower II board... But I'm using the Antec 25 (Kuhler H2O cooler).
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