Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E CPU Review
When Intel’s high-end LGA2011 platform was launched in November, we were very impressed with what the company had managed to create. However, we lamented the fact that only the pricey Core i7-3930K and even pricier Core i7-3960X models were scheduled for imminent release. The only information we had regarding the availability of the more budget-friendly Core i7-3820 was sometime in Q1 2012.
Now that launch was a little over 3 months ago, and little did we know at the time but the i7-3930K has had really spotty availability thus far. This lack of affordable processors has obviously hindered the mass market appeal of the platform as a whole. Thankfully, this situation should change shortly. The Core i7-3820 has finally been released, and it is starting to show up in the retail channel...albeit at a glacial pace.
This is good news, because while we are a fan of the two high-end six-core models we always knew that what would make or break the LGA2011 platform is the i7-3820, the spiritual successor to the widely successful i7-920. While both chips share a quad-core/eight-thread design and an attractive sub-$300 price tag, the similarities end there. The i7-3820 is a 32nm part with a 3.6GHz default clock and Turbo capabilities up to 3.9GHz. It features 10MB of L3 cache and a new beefed up quad-channel DDR3-1600 memory interface which is theoretically capable of 51.2GB/s of bandwidth. The integrated PCI-E controller has also been revamped and in coordination with the new X79 Express chipset can supply up to 40 PCI-E 2.0 lanes (with PCI-E 3.0 compatibility) to the PEG slots. While this chip is not fully unlocked like the i7-3930K and i7-3960X are, it offers more potential frequency headroom then you will ever require using air or water-cooling. Furthermore, since this platform was fundamentally designed with overclocking in mind, you will be able to tap into that extra performance easier than ever before.
So if you are in the market for a new brand new system or just a sizeable upgrade, and are willing to give the LGA2011 platform a fresh look, this new processor is definitely a good place to start.
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