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Intel Core i7-3820 Extreme Edition CPU E-mail
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Written by Hank Tolman   
Tuesday, 06 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

Sandy Bridge Extreme Architecture

In reality, the i7-3820 is very similar in build to the i7-2700K. The cores are nearly identical. The following is a list of the main differences between the two CPUs:

  • 2MB more L3 cache
  • No integrated GPU
  • 40 PCI-E lanes on the CPU as compared with 16 for Sandy Bridge (48 total when combined with 8 from the X79 chipset)
  • Quad-channel memory capability, now with DDR3-1600 officially supported

So Sandy Bridge-E does away with the iGPU. What does that mean exactly? Well, not a whole lot for most gamers and enthusiasts. The 3000 series Intel HD Graphics were good enough to play most games, but certainly not as high quality. The only real advantage of the iGPU is Quick Sync. With a Z68 motherboard, you could use your discrete GPU to power games and graphics and still use the Intel HD Graphics to transcode video as insane speeds. I'll give it up, however, for 22 more PCI-E lanes off the CPU. With only 16 lanes on LGA-1155 systems, even only a dual-GPU system lost efficiency. You had to run at two GPUs at x8/x8. With the Sandy Bridge-E platform, you can run both at x16 and even still run a third at x8. In fact, even in a four-GPU setup, your first GPU is still running at full bandwidth.

Full bandwidth brings me to another feature of the Sandy Bridge-E architecture. The PCIe lanes are actually PCIe 3.0 lanes rather than PCIe 2.0 lanes. That means that the available bandwidth is technically twice that of each of the lanes on a LGA-1155 system. So speaking from a bandwidth perspective, you are looking at the equivalent of 80 PCIe 2.0 lanes compared to just 16 on the LGA-1155 platform. Of course, we don't have GPUs or other peripherals that are built to PCIe 3.0 standards yet, but even running those last GPUs at x8, the bandwidth capability is equivalent to running at x16 on PCIe 2.0 lanes.


Above is an image depicting the die layout for the 6-core LGA-2011 CPUs. The i7-3820 obviously only has 4-cores and a smaller cache, but the concept is the same. I just wanted to point out those two areas below the three cores on either side sure look about the same size as a CPU core. This die layout can certainly support another two cores.


The X79 chipset block diagram above looks very similar to the Z68 diagram, with the differences we have already talked about, of course. Also missing is the Intel Smart Response Technology support. That's unfortunate, since SSD caching has become a much more distinct possibility with falling SSD prices. Fortunately, motherboard manufacturers are starting to implement their own solutions to this dilemma.

The USB ports and SATA ports are identical to the Z68 and P67 chipsets. By that I mean no native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports and only two SATA 6Gb/s ports. The lack of USB 3.0 is unsurprising, but it looks like we are still going to be kept waiting for the Light Peak (Thunderbolt) Intel alternative, as it's not here on the X79 chipset. That's disappointing, but not too terrible, as I am sure almost every X79 motherboard will come equipped with an alternative controller for USB 3.0 ports. Hopefully they also come with a controller for more SATA 6Gb/s ports, as those devices are becoming commonplace.



# 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 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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