Intel’s high-end LGA2011 platform has been out for a number of months now and since the platform’s introduction there have only been two SNB-E processor choices available, the six-core Intel Core i7-3960X (review) and Core i7-3930K. These hexa-core processors are costly, though, as the Intel Core i7-3930K runs $683.40 and the Core i7-3960X Black Edition is $1049.99! In years past the most popular desktop processor for the flagship platforms have always been around $300. An example of this on the previous generation LGA1366 platform would have been the Intel Core i7-920 processor and then the Core i7-930 when it came out. Both of these processors were hands down the best sellers for the LGA1366 platform and you can argue that it was due to price and overclockability. Intel launched LGA2011 without a value minded processor and that caused many of our readers to put off buying this platform and we don’t blame them. Later this month Intel plans on solving this issue with the introduction of a quad-core processor called the Intel Core i7-3820 for a mere $285. We are hearing that the Core i7-3820 should be made available the week of February 12, 2012.
A quick look at the specifications of the Intel Core i7-3820 LGA2011 processor and it looks like it should be a contender. It uses the same 32nm manufacturing process as the Intel Core i7-3960X, supports Hyper-Threading, has an integrated quad-channel memory controller, 40 integrated PCI-E lanes, support for PCI-E 3.0 graphics cards and Intel Turbo Boost Technology that maxes out at the same 3.9 GHz clock speed. The main difference with the Intel Core i7-3820 is that it has two less cores, making it just a quad-core processor. The Core i7-3820 has 10MB of L3 shared cache, so you are losing more than just the physical cores. Intel tries to make up for this by setting the base clock speed of the processor at 3.60 GHz, which is 300 MHz faster than the Intel Core i7-3960X. This might prove to be interesting as the Core i7-3820 may end up beating the flagship desktop processor on certain workloads that aren’t threaded for high-end processors that have up to 12 threads available.
Intel Core i7-3820 Processor Specifications:
As you can see, the Intel Core i7-3820 ‘Sandy Bridge-E’ chip that we were sent for review is an Engineering Sample (ES) processor with a batch number of L139B866. You can also see the S-Spec number QBM0 on the integrated heat spreader (IHS) and that it was made in the country of Malaysia.
Flipping the processor over we can see the capacitor arrangement and thousands of pins. We will be taking Intel’s word that all are present!
Now that we know a little bit about the Intel Core i7-3820 processor we can move on to the test system and then the performance benchmarks!