CPU Guide

Intel Core i7-3770K review

Intel Core i7-3770K - A Performance Analysis

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Overall rating 8/10
Performance:
8
Features:
8
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Relatively good performance
Power efficiency has improved
Easier to overclock
Integrated 16-lane PCIe 3.0 controller
THE BAD
No major architectural changes in CPU
Integrated graphics performance could be better


Test Setup

Test Setup

For Intel Core i7-3770K processor, we used the Intel desktop board DZ77GA-70K featuring the new Intel Z77 Express chipset. The default supported memory speed of the new CPU has been increased to 1600MHz in addition to 1333MHz and 1066MHz still being options too. Our memory modules for testing have a rated frequency of 1600MHz and for the initial run of our benchmark suite,  these modules were ran at their rated frequency to see if the increased memory frequency offers any assistance in performance. In another run, we obtained a separate set of results with the memory modules’ clock frequency set lower to 1333MHz - this will better align with findings from some of our older comparisons which have memory set at 1333MHz.

In our Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge test setup, the cooling solution is the provided (measly) stock Intel CPU cooler. For performance comparisons, we first brought out two processors from the Sandy Bridge-E camp; the Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU and Intel Core i7-3820. This will help us gauge just how far or close is the high-end workstation-like platform performing against the mainstream Sandy Bridge successor, Ivy Bridge. All the more since we've been given the top SKU to test ride the new CPU architecture. 

Other more direct comparisons are the Sandy Bridge-based Core i7-2700K, Core i7-2600K, Core i5-2500 and a single contender from AMD, the FX-8150. We ran the older Intel Sandy Bridge processors on an Intel P67 platform using DDR-1333MHz memory while for a closer comparison, we ran similarly clocked Core i7-2700K on the newer Intel Z77 platform with DDR3-1600MHz. With the Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge processor clocked identically to the Core i7-2700K, it would make for an ideal comparison to just how much better has the newcomer progressed, if any.

Our full test setup for all the platforms are as follows:-

Intel Core i7-3770K / Intel Core i7-2700K Test Configuration

  • Intel Desktop Board DZ77GA-70K (Intel Z77 Express chipset), BIOS version 3000
  • 2 x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 (CAS 9-9-9-27) (Also ran at DDR3-1333MHz, CAS 7-7-7-20)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 (ForceWare 197.45)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Intel INF 9.3.0.1020

Intel Core i7-3960X / Intel Core i7-3820 Test Configuration

  • Intel Desktop Board DX79SI (Intel X79 Express chipset), BIOS version 0280
  • 4 x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 (CAS 9-9-9-27)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 (ForceWare 197.45)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Intel INF 9.2.3.1022

Intel Core i7-2600K / Intel Core i5-2500 Test Configuration

  • ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (Intel P67 chipset), BIOS: 0602
  • 2 x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 (CAS 7-7-7-20)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 OC (ForceWare 197.45)
  • WD Caviar Black 1TB, SATA 6G (Intel SATA 6G)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)
  • Intel INF 9.2.0.1015

AMD FX-8150 Test Configuration

  • ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX + SB950, 0813 BIOS)
  • 2 x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 (7-7-7-20)
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 260 OC (ForceWare 197.45)
  • AMD Chipset driver
  • WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6G (AMD SATA 6G)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)

In general, some of the components used in our test beds are due for a timely upgrade. They have been used in-line with our review for past products; however, with the launch of the Intel Z77 Express chipset (mainstream desktop computing chipset) and with its official support for PCIe Gen 3, we will be upgrading these components in the near future for a more accurate comparison.


Benchmarks

The following benchmarks were used to test the CPUs:

CPU Benchmarks

  • BAPCo SYSmark 2007 Preview (ver 1.06)
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage (ver 1.03.1, 64-bit)
  • Futuremark PCMark 7
  • Lightwave 3D 9.0 (64-bit)
  • 3ds Max 8 (SP2)
  • Cinebench 11.5 (64-bit)
  • Handbrake 0.9.4
  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (ver 1.03.1)
  • Far Cry 2
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2

A new additional to our CPU benchmark suite is Futuremark PCMark 7. It is designed to benchmark the performance of computer systems running Windows 7 on various commonly run scenarios. During the execution of this benchmark, our test rig was unable to complete the suite of tests of this software; hence, we had to update the graphics drivers to version 285.62 before we could proceed with testing on PCMark 7.

Integrated graphics testing is covered in a separate article that will be made available soon.