Intel Core i7 3770k (LGA 1155) Ivy Bridge CPU Review

Intel's Ivy Bridge platform officially launches today and we check out the brand new Core i7 3770k from Intel in our full review.

Manufacturer: Intel
15 minute read time


Intel Core i7 3770k (LGA 1155) Ivy Bridge CPU Review 02

Intel Ivy Bridge content hasn't just been leaking for weeks, but we've been seeing results come for the past few months including content coming from us. Last month we looked at both the Intel Core i5 3570k and higher end Intel i7 3770k. We then took the time to overclock both models which yielded some interesting results.

If all of that wasn't enough, we then tested the new G.Skill PC3-20800 kit on the platform and dived deeper into the new Lucid Virtu MVP technology that the new platform offers. We also took the time to check out the brand new ASRock Z77 Extreme6 motherboard. Today, though, the new platform becomes official and we offer our full review on the new Intel Core i7 3770k CPU and a closer look at the technology behind it.

The first thing we'll be doing is taking a closer look at the CPU technology and some of the main features behind it. We'll talk about not only the i7 3770k, but some of the other models we'll see while looking at the price they'll come in at.

Before we get into the performance side of things we also want to briefly go over the new Z77 chipset. While it doesn't bring heaps of new technology over the previous LGA 1155 based Z68 chipset, we will just quickly go over it to see if there's anything that grabs our attention.

Once we've done that we'll get into our test system setup and also cover the overclocking side of things to see just how we went with the new i7 3770k. Along with our normal line up of CPU related benchmarks, we'll also be taking a quick look at the new HD 4000 based Intel graphics that's on offer from the 3770k and see what it can do.

That really covers everything we need to for now; let's take a closer look at the i7 3770k and the other Ivy Bridge processors that have launched today to see just what the new platform is all about.

Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs

Like any Intel launch, there's lots of products being introduced today and while it's not quite as aggressive as some of the previous ones because Intel officially launched the Z77 chipset earlier in the month, today is the day we feel that the Z77 chipset really launches as it's part of the Ivy Bridge platform on a whole.

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Looking above you can see we've got a total of 14 processors split amongst a high-end mobile offering, eight i7 processors split into three categories and five new i5 processors split into two categories. Along with that we've also got eight new chipset offerings in two categories and five new wireless options to round out what is essentially the Ivy Bridge launch.

Ignoring the mobile offerings and instead choosing to get straight into what's on offer from the desktop line up, you can see below the new Standard Power 77w TDP chips and Low Power 65w and 45w TDP chips.

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Intel Core i7 3770k (LGA 1155) Ivy Bridge CPU Review 05

Our main focus today is of course the top i7 3770k carrying a $313 MSRP price tag. Looking above you can see it's a 4 Core / 8 Thread CPU with a 77w TDP. Its base clock is 3.5GHz with a Turbo Frequency of 3.9GHz. Like all CPUs here it shares support for 1600MHz DDR memory. On the L3 cache front we've got 8MB on offer with the new HD 4000 graphics.

The chip most similar to the i7 3770k is the non k based 3770. Looking above you can see from the main features stand point the only thing it lacks is a 100MHz lower base clock speed. In the Low Power line up we've got two more i7 CPUs that carry a 4 Core / 8 Thread setup in the 3770T and 3770S. While they still carry the same HD 4000 graphics, 8MB L3 cache, they've got different clock speeds and lower TDPs.

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Moving away from the i7 line up we move to the i5 4 Core / 4 Thread chips and like above you can see the different speeds and offerings. Outside of the thread count difference and 6MB L3 cache versus 8MB setup, the move to the HD 2500 based graphics on all but the i5 3570k is the big stand out.

Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs Continued

Looking below you can see the die of the new quad-core chip with the HD 4000 graphics that takes up a large portion of the chip followed up with the four cores and below that the shared L3 cache which goes across all four cores and the graphics core.

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Intel Core i7 3770k (LGA 1155) Ivy Bridge CPU Review 11

On the far right there is the SA and memory controller while across the bottom we have the memory controller I/O. The big thing for the new processor, though, is the introduction of a 22nm manufacturing process. In the second image above we also get a really good break down of what each area does and the benefits it brings to the table.

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Looking above you can see the "Tick Tock" strategy that Intel has been using. The next piece to the puzzle is of course the 22nm based "Ivy Bridge-E" chips which are rumored to be released in Q1 of 2013. It will replace the Sandy Bridge-E.

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Looking above you can see some of the main features that are bought to the table with the new 22nm Ivy Bridge chip with one of the biggest being that new 22nm process. We've of course got leading performance thanks to Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading and improved overclocking features with higher CPU multiplier limits, more DDR frequency control and support for new XMP 1.3 RAM.

Expanding on the overclocking features you can see above some of the main advantages that are on offer from the new IVB platform with an increased multiplier, real-time core ratio change and higher DDR ratio to name just a few of the features.

Intel Ivy Bridge Chipsets

As we mentioned on the second page we've got a number of new chipsets bought to the table and below you can see the main chipset SKUs with the Z77 being the Full Featured Performance version. Below that we've got the Z75 which is the Mainstream Performance offering and below that the H77 which is the Mainstream Consumer chipset.

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Moving to the right side of the table we've got the Small / Medium Business chipset, the B75 and more corporate chipsets sitting above that in the Q75 and Q77. Some of the main differences are the PCIe configuration, legacy PCI support and the amount of SATA III ports.

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Looking above we can see the main difference between the new 7 series chipset and older 6 series one. There's not a huge difference between them, but there are a few changes to note. Four native USB 3.0 ports is one, more display ports along with upgraded manageability, FW and iRST support.

Below we've got the extended block diagram for the Z77 chipset which gives us a good run-down of what's on offer from both the CPU itself and motherboard GPU. The CPU gives us PCIe 3.0 support, Thunderbolt on select motherboards and dual channel DDR3 up to 1600MHz DDR.

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As for the chipset we've got a lot of the features that we've just mentioned including three independent display support, four USB 3.0, 10 USB 2.0, gigabit networking, eight PCIe 2.0 and six SATA ports to name some of the main features.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, Gigabyte, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

Before we get into the performance side of things we need to quickly cover the overclocking side of things. Something we've experienced so far with our Ivy Bridge testing is that overclocking hasn't been the best mainly due to the high heat levels attained.

To date we've tested three 3770k processors and a single 3570k and when overclocking we found they had all hit over 100c and in some cases hit the 105c limit that was forcing them to throttle back in speed. Heading into the BIOS on our ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe we spent the time trying to find the sweet spot for our 3770k.

We ended up running at a 46x multiplier with the BCLK running at 99.77 which resulted in a final clock speed of 4.59GHz. This isn't the best overclock we've seen by any stretch of the indignation. Unfortunately we're continuing to see that the current crop of Ivy Bridge processors aren't overclocking as strong as the older Sandy Bridge counterpart.

None the less we'll see just what kind of performance we're able to get out of the Core i7 3770k against a number of other CPUs that are also tested and overclocked today.

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Let's get started!

Benchmarks - PCMark 7 and HyperPi

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

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PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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Comparing the i7 3770k and i7 2600k we can see that performance is very close to each other with little difference being seen. Of course overclocking helps boost overall performance, but due to the stronger overclock on the Sandy Bridge based 2600k, the older CPU comes out ahead.

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

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HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Hyper Pi performance is stronger than the 2600k here at stock and while it falls behind when overclocked, it's only by a little. Considering the 600MHz gap in speed we get a good idea of the efficiency here.

Benchmarks - AIDA64


Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

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Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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AIDA64 performance sees both the 2600k and 3770k are again very close to each other with L3 performance looking stronger on the new i7 3770k. Overclocked we again see a nice boost in performance, but due to that 2600k just being a stronger overclocking CPU, it comes out ahead here.

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Looking at memory performance under AIDA64 we can see the same trends as we've seen all along for the most part. We've got performance that lines up with the 2600k at stock and we're a little behind when overclocked due to the lower overclock. Compared to the Sandy Bridge quad channel benchmarks, though, we see that the dual channel benchmarks are stronger.

Benchmarks - PassMark PerformanceTest

PassMark PerformanceTest

Version and / or Patch Used: 7.0.1021

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Fast, easy to use, PC speed testing and benchmarking. PassMark PerformanceTest allows you to objectively benchmark a PC using a variety of different speed tests and compare the results to other computers. Twenty-eight standard benchmark tests are available in six test suites plus there are seven advanced testing windows for custom benchmarking.

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Looking at Performance Test we can see that the new 3770k is performing very strong against the 2600k in the Physics and Floating Point tests. Integer and CPU Mark are also very strong, but don't shine as strong as the other two tests.

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Memory performance shows very good looking write numbers for the 3770k. Apart from that we see performance between the 2600k and 3770k is very close at stock. Moving to the overclocked performance we again see it's not as strong due to the fact again our overclocking performance on the 3770k just isn't as strong.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH, Adobe Lightroom and MediaEspresso


Version and / or Patch Used: R11.5

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CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It's completely free.

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At stock we can see CINEBENCH performance is just ahead of the 2600k and overclocking brings with it a really nice performance boost. We continue to see it's not as strong as we'd hope, though, because overclocking performance just isn't as strong.

Adobe Lightroom

Version and / or Patch Used: v3.4

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 software helps you bring out the best in your photographs, whether you're perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands.

Create incredible images that move your audience. Experiment fearlessly with state-of-the-art nondestructive editing tools. Easily manage all your images. And showcase your work in elegant print layouts, slide shows, and web galleries, as well as on popular photo-sharing sites. All from within one fast, intuitive application.

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Lightroom sees the 3770k perform a bit stronger against the 2600k when it comes at stock, it again only falls behind when overclocked due to the 600MHz discrepancy.


Version and / or Patch Used: v6.5

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MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheaterâ„¢ video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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We continue to see some strong performance with the 3770k coming out ahead of the 2600k at stock. While we're behind it when overclocked, we're not far behind at all considering the 600MHz difference in CPU speed.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11 and Aliens vs. Predator

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

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3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Looking at 3D performance there's not much difference between the Intel setups for the most part. Overclocked we see a bit of a jump when it comes to the performance test under 3DMark 11, but there is no real change under any of the other tests here.

Power and Temperature Tests

Power Draw Tests

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Looking at power draw we can see the new Ivy Bridge platform does extremely well.

We're under 100 watt at load when at stock and overclocked we see that power draw lines up with the 2600k when it's running at stock.

As for load draw that looks very impressive coming in lower than any of our other setups here.

Temperature Tests

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The temperature side of things is something that hasn't done well when it comes to the Ivy Bridge platform on a whole.

At stock we can see the idle clocks aren't too bad, but the overall load clocks sit quite high. Overclocked we see our idle clocks sky rocket and our load temperature jumps to over 70c.

What's interesting is that we didn't get the rocketing 90c+ that we've seen out of our other Ivy Bridge CPUs we have tested in the past, which is a good thing. The problem is that this 3770k didn't overclock as strong as the others we've tested.

Intel HD 4000 Graphics Testing

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We're hearing a lot about the improved video performance on the Intel HD 4000 series integrated graphics and while above we've got some pretty good numbers on offer, they're ultimately all still below that 60 FPS average that we expect to see - even on older games like Far Cry 2 and Street Fighter IV.

Gaming on the integrated graphics isn't impossible, but you're going to have to drop the detail down at 1680 x 1050 and possible even drop down the resolution. While improved, the onboard graphics still isn't at a level for serious gamers.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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