Intel Core i7 3770K

If you need to update today, then there's no doubt that Intel's third-generation Core products are at the top of the pile. If you're a Sandy Bridge owner, though, there's not much here that will tempt you over.


About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Performance

We tested the Core i7 3770K on Gigabyte's Z77X-UD3H, as the supplied Intel DZ77GA-70K board was pre-production, and often unstable.

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia | Cinebench Multi

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

  • 157
    Intel Core i7 3770K @ 3.5GHz
  • 169
    Intel Core i7 2700K @ 3.5GHz

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


The biggest performance benefits are when all four cores can be put to use, as evidenced by the Handbrake, multimedia multitasking (which includes Handbrake) and Cinebench benchmarks. Otherwise, the 3770K doesn't make much of a dent against the previous king of the hill, the 2700K.

So, what about this claimed doubling of graphics power?

Games performance

First, for reference, let's see how the original HD 3000 inside the 2700K did with our gaming benchmarks.

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
93 70 37
1366x768, 0xAA, Detail level: Low, PhysX off.
Metro 2033
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
51 26 10
1366x768, DirectX9, 0xAA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.
The Witcher 2
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
16 13 11
1366x768, low spec.
Skyrim
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
47 31 24
1366x768, Detail: Low.

Only Batman hobbles across the line with the lowest graphical detail — it's the only game that the HD 3000 is able to get above 30fps at its minimum frame rate. Keep in mind that Metro 2033's benchmark tends to skip at certain points, even with the most powerful hardware, making its minimum frame rates an unreliable indicator of decent gameplay — but even the average frame rate can't hit 30fps.

So what does the HD 4000 do for us?

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
116 83 36
1366x768, 0xAA, Detail level: Low, PhysX off.
Metro 2033
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
55 28 8
1366x768, DirectX9, 0xAA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.
The Witcher 2
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
19 15 13
1366x768, low spec.
Skyrim
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
65 41 32
1366x768, Detail: Low.

Not much. It does manage to bump Skyrim just into view, at least during the recorded intro sequence, anyway. One thing is certain: we're not seeing double improvement here, and it's still very much not a gaming chip.

The graphics still count

HD 4000 is still important, though. The most important thing is what it means to the industry as a whole: Direct X 11 is now entry level, and game developers can target it as a base instead of Direct X 9 or 10, despite the fact that no right-minded gamer would use integrated graphics, anyway.

There's also the matter of QuickSync, Intel's video-encoding accelerator. It has a limited application set, as far as compatibility is concerned, and it smacks of Nvidia's CUDA all over again. The sooner everyone commits to OpenCL, the better.

If you happen to have one of the compliant programs, though, there are real benefits. Converting a 720p XviD file to H.264 on the i7 2700K took one minute and 51 seconds with QuickSync off, and one minute and 15 seconds with it on. Upgrading to the 3770K saw those times drop to one minute and 47 seconds, and 59 seconds total, respectively. Yes, it almost halved our encoding time. We can only hope that it either sees universal adoption, or that all vendors make things easier by adhering to the one standard of video acceleration soon.

Of less virtue is Virtu, LucidLogix's technology that allows a discrete GPU to function through Intel's integrated graphics. While technology like this has existed on laptops for some time from both Nvidia and AMD, what Virtu brings to the table is the potential to give an FPS boost by pairing discrete and integrated. It uses a profile system: identify an exe, and, when it's being run, Virtu will enable itself.

The practicalities are different: all of the games in our test suite performed slightly worse than just our single Radeon HD 7870 with Virtu enabled, with the exception of Skyrim — as at that point, despite Virtu saying it was enabled, it was clear that the Radeon was no longer part of the performance chain. While we did see big performance boosts with a Street Fighter IV benchmark in a closed situation, we'd say that Virtu still has a long way to go before it matures. We're seeing similarities to when SLI and CrossFire first started out, so here's hoping that LucidLogix makes rapid improvements from here.

The verdict

If you need to update today, then there's no doubt that Intel's third-generation Core products are at the top of the pile. The benefits to the previous architecture are minimal, though; so if you're a Sandy Bridge owner, and don't feel the pressing need for Intel native USB 3.0 or SATA 6Gbps, there's not much here that will tempt you over.



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Will1505 posted a comment   

Craig, did you notice any heat issues? Running hotter than the previous processors?

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

I didn't come across anything that impacted performance -- although I had a fairly hefty Coolermaster Hyper 612 strapped to the test bench. At this stage we aren't covering the overclocking aspect which may have brought something up.

On that note, this is our first foray into components -- we're trying to come at it from a more consumer friendly angle, but if the audience wants us to look deeper and in more detail into things like overclocking for future reviews, let us know.

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

Just something i saw a few weeks ago about the processor having slightly cheaper adhesives within it which didn't disperse heat that well.

Someone noticed the chip was running hotter and actually took the chip apart and changed the adhesive and it fixed the problem. (don't ask me how the hell someone was able to take a CPU apart)

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

They popped off the integrated heat spreader (IHS), which is just a cover on top of the CPU that protects the smaller CPU core and allows better distribution of heat via a larger surface area. Looks like a razor blade will do the job for Core gen 3.

There could be a chance that the issue is limited to PC Watch's sample. For every day use the temps it recorded are a non-issue -- but there's potential for those who are overclocking to hit temperature ceilings quicker (which will limit maximum potential clock speed).

For those who are interested in the original article (Japanese):

http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/column/sebuncha/20120511_532119.html




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  • Will1505

    Will1505

    "Craig, did you notice any heat issues? Running hotter than the previous processors?"

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