Having tested multiple 3770k Ivy Bridge CPUs now, the one thing we find ourselves worried about is the overclocking side of things. While the 3770k we've got here today didn't run into the same 90c+ heat issues that were present on our other 3770k chips, the bottom line was that overclocking performance was just lower.
Considering when our chips were at 90c+ the overclock then wasn't that strong, to see the performance be slightly worse again is really quite disappointing. It seems like a consistent result among people we have spoken to who have tested the new Ivy Bridge CPUs, though.
What's interesting is that we've seen some amazing results out of the 3770k over the last few weeks when it came to LN2 overclocking. The general coconscious seems to be that under LN2 the new 3770k chip is better than the Sandy Bridge based ones - it doesn't face the same type of "cold bug" at extremely low LN2-level temperatures. Under air and all-in-one water cooling solutions, though, we're seeing overclocking results that aren't as strong and that's a big shame.
Intel's 3770k brings with it some new features to the table alongside the new Z77 platform, but out of the box the performance is similar to the 2600k and 2700k. At the same price point you'd choose the 3770k when it came to out of the box performance and the fact that it's the newest technology.
If you're going to be overclocking, though, then the decision becomes a bit harder. With a more consistent record of higher clocks, we'd opt for the Sandy Bridge 2600k or 2700k most of the time. This is especially in the event that you're looking for some series clocks out of your system. What you would really want is a 2600k or 2700k that has been pre-tested in the second hand market for best value.
Outside of the i7 3770k and moving to the Z77 chipset we've got a minor improvement over the previous generation Z68 chipset, but nothing too major. While you probably wouldn't upgrade from Z68 to Z77, if you're in the market for an LGA 1155 based board now, you'd more than likely opt for the Z77 over the Z68 for the better CPU support and some other nice things such as native USB 3.0 support and Lucid Virtu MVP.
In the end we ultimately feel a little flat with the new 3770k and that's probably got to do with the fact that we've been so spoilt with Intel over recent releases. The 3960X while expensive was an absolute power house. The 3930k on the other hand offered strong overclocking performance without offering the Extreme Edition level price tag.
Then we move to the Sandy Bridge platform we looked at early last year and the 2500k and 2600k bought with it some awesome overclocking potential straight out of the box. For now the 3770k doesn't feel like it's as strong as we'd thought it would be in that department. It's great in a lot of areas, but when it comes to raw performance from overclocking, it's missing the mark slightly and while overclocking isn't for everyone, the ease of it these days makes it that much more attainable for most people.
The 3770k is a good CPU and if you're not going to overclock (or don't know how to overclock or don't want to get into that) or just do some slight overclocking, we'd choose it over the 2600k or 2700k with ease. If you want to really get down and dirty, though, with some overclocking, you'd be better off looking at the 2600k or 2700k new or on the second hand market, especially since the price of these chips will likely drop now that they have been replaced with newer Ivy Bridge parts. Paired with a new Z77 based motherboard, you'd have yourself a really nice system.