Intel i7-4930K & i7-4820K Ivy Bridge-E Review
So here we are, about a week after the Ivy Bridge-E launch and a few hours past these new processorsí widespread availability on store shelves and one thing is obvious: while many enthusiasts are excited about the prospect of a 12-thread IVB architecture, few are willing to pay $1000 for that privilege. You see, the i7-4960X we reviewed last week is horribly expensive and offers minimal to no performance improvements over the more affordable Haswell i7-4770K in some key areas. But Intel isnít launching just one CPU here. The i7-4930K and i7-4820K offer similar features at prices that are well within the reach of todayís cost-conscious users.
Intelís direction with Ivy Bridge-E is particularly interesting and it has caused no small amount of controversy. While the processors themselves represent modest improvements over the outgoing Sandy Bridge-E products, theyíre tied at the hip to X79, a platform which is beginning to show its age. X58 users looking for an upgrade will certainly appreciate its feature set but when placed alongside less expensive Z87 offerings, X79 lacks native USB 3.0 support, omits Intelís SSD Caching and makes due with only two native SATA 6Gbps ports. Those are significant shortcomings in a product space than lives and dies by the features offered to end users.
In an effort to mitigate the perceived blow associated with buying an X79 board alongside a new processor, Intelís lower-end IVB-Eís are priced more competitively than their powerful sibling. The i7-4930K is literally a carbon copy of the $1000 4960X aside from its slightly lower Base / Turbo frequencies and a bit less L3 cache. Even with these changes, it still retains a TDP of 130W and a relatively high clock speed but donít expect all that much of a performance difference between these two high end Intel CPUs. That last point is particularly important for would-be buyers since the i7-4930K costs nearly $450 less.
The i7-4820K is the current darling of Intelís Ivy Bridge-E lineup, taking over from the well-received i7-3820. While the i7-3820 had its multiplier capped at 45X, this new CPU has a max multi of 63X so hitting ultra high frequencies wonít require changes to the Base Clock or gear ratio (two items which could hold back overclocks in some instances). It also boasts the highest at Base Clock of the bunch at 3.7GHz but the price is what will likely draw people in. At just $310, you can buy an i7-4820K, a decent motherboard and a high performance graphics card for the price of a single i7-4960X. Sure, youíll have four less threads, a slightly lower Turbo frequency and much less cache but primary X79 features like dual x16 Gen3 PCI-E slots will still be carried over.
Naturally, there will be many parallels drawn between the 4820K and the i7-4770K. Theyíre priced within $10 of one another, but the i7-4820K has an edge in its Base Clock, houses a higher amount of cache and natively supports 1866MHz memory. On the other hand, Haswell incorporates a number of different and potentially game-changing baseline architectural improvements and is part of a more up-to-date platform. This is a battle many have been waiting to see.
With all of that being said, some of you may be wondering what the fundamental difference is between the $1000 X-series processor and K-branded CPUs. Other than clock speeds, cache and core count, there's absolutely nothing to differentiate them other than the 4960X receiving a distinctive ďXĒ moniker and the premium that carries. Every one of Intelís Ivy Bridge-E SKUs boast unlocked multipliers so from an overclocking standpoint, they should be on a level playing field.
The i7-4930K and i7-4820K may not be the highest-end processors in Intelís lineup but their focus is on adding a bit of much-needed value to the Ivy Bridge-E product stack. Considering the criticisms leveled at their more expensive counterpart, one would hope they can offer exactly that, even in the face of Haswell competition.
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