The Intel Core i7-3820 quad-core processor might be just partially unlocked, but it was a blast to use and overclock. By reaching 4.5 GHz with minimal effort and with only aftermarket air cooling how can you not have fun with the Core i7-3820? This processor is going to sell extremely well and that is due to the low $285 price tag that it will be launched with. Most consumers and enthusiasts are okay with spending ~$300 on a desktop processor and for this platform there is only one Sandy Bridge-E processor close to that price.
The performance of the Core i7-3820 processor was right where we expected it to be. The Core i7-3820 easily fell behind the Core i7-3960X, but remember it has 50% fewer cores and that does matter in threaded applications. That said, the Core i7-3820 still did well and the 3.6 GHz base clock means that this processor has the fastest base clock of any of the three SNB-E processors available for the LGA2011 platform. That said, we would be lying if we didn’t say that we wish it performed a little bit faster as it was too close to the Core i7-2700K for our liking. Since the Core i7-3820 and the Core i7-2700K perform so closely to one another it will most certainly cause some confusion as to what platform people should invest in. Now the question becomes, “Should I build an LGA1155 system or an LGA2011 system?” Newegg currently offers 223 motherboards for socket LGA1155 and they start at just $49.99 plus shipping. If you look at Intel socket LGA2011 boards, Newegg offers 42 boards with prices starting at $209.99 plus shipping. Looking at just the motherboards you have more options and lower costs with LGA1155. Not to mention you need just a dual-channel memory kit and not a quad-channel memory kit. When it comes to processor pricing the Intel Core i7-2700K costs $356.35 shipped, which is obviously more than the Intel Core i7-3820 at $285. Which to pick it a tough call and ultimately up to you.
If we were building a high-end desktop system today and wanted to do so on a budget we would go with LGA2011 and the Intel core i7-3820. For starters you have Ivy Bridge processors coming out in the months to come along with the new Z77 chipset. Motherboard makers tell us that Z68 boards should be able to support Ivy Bridge processors when they are released, but they aren’t certain that 100% of the boards will. We don’t like uncertainty and since Intel X79 boards just came out, you are getting the latest and greatest platform out there. Gamers and enthusiasts that need more than the 16 lanes of PCI-Express that Sandy Bridge processors offer should also look to LGA2011 as it has 40 integrated PCI-E lanes along with native PCI-E 3.0 support. This is something that those running NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire need to take note of. If you don’t need PCI-E 3.0 or that many PCI-E lanes then a lower cost LGA1155 platform is the better choice. Either way, Intel has you covered!
We did check with Intel and the Core i7-3820 will be part of the Performance Tuning Protection Plan (PTPP) for those that were curious. Intel told us the cost will be $25 and with that you are in the hassle-free replacement program. Not a bad idea for those that have a tendency for blowing up processors when overclocking.
Legit Bottom Line: The Intel LGA2011 platform finally has an affordable processor with solid performance numbers and a great overclocking potential!