Intel Second Generation Core i7 3820 Reviewccokeman - March 15, 2012
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The Second Generation Core i7 3820 is a small step-up in terms of performance when compared to Intel's Socket 1155 platform. Originally, the release of the X79 platform was limited to 6-core chips that were priced from $550 up to $999; not the easiest cost pill to swallow when the top Sandy Bridge Socket 1155 chip was a mere $330. If a 6-core chip is a requirement for your system build, there is no better option out right now than Sandy Bridge-E. However, most users play at a lower cost point; even those on the "Extreme" side. This is where the cheaper i7 3820 comes in. At its very least, the 40+ PCIe 3.0 lanes should pay dividends for multi-GPU gamers who are looking at the next crop of video cards or to take advantage of the added memory bandwidth from 4 channels of DDR3 memory in excess of 2400 MHz. As a step up from the venerable Socket 1366 Core i7 920, the Core i7 3820 offers a massive leap in performance and is a viable upgrade choice over the Socket 1155 platform. It will cost a little more to transition towards LGA 2011, but with the Core i7 3820 going for $320 and quad-channel kits of DDR3 1600 MHz dropping below $100, the cost concerns are not that great.
When it comes to overclocking, the Second generation Core i7 3820 is a more-than-willing participant; more so than its partially-locked nature suggests. Using the maximum multiplier of 43x and stock bclock, 4300 MHz was easily achieved. Further tuning the bclock, whilst using the 100 MHz Gear Ratio, yielded a bump to 4.6 GHz with some voltage tuning. But wait, there’s more! Changing the Gear Ratio to the 125 MHz strap allowed for a maximum clock speed of up to 5375 MHz using the 43x multiplier. With the cooling I had, however, this was not going to happen for the long term, though just over 5 GHz was easy to reach with the right voltage tuning and cooling. In the end, I was able to pull 5025 MHz from this chip, using a bclock of 125.625 MHz x 40 and the same overclocking tweaks as other Sandy Bridge processors. It really could not be simpler to accomplish with such a willing chip.
Ultimately, the Second Generation Core i7 3820 does what it is supposed to, and offers up a measurable leap in performance over Socket 1366 X58 platform-based processors such as the Core i7 920. As an upgrade over the current crop of Socket 1155 processors, the change is not as great, due to the use of the same architecture. However, in applications where users can utilize large quantities of quad-channel memory and for gamers who can use the additional faster PCIe lanes, stepping up to Sandy Bridge-E is definitely the way to go, especially when the Core i7 3820 offers an excellent price point to jump at.
- Not a huge step over Socket 1155