Intel Core i7-3770K Review: A Small Step Up From Sandy Bridge

Power Consumption And Efficiency

We now know that, as a host processor, Core i7-3770K really isn’t that much faster than Core i7-2700K. But we also know that Ivy Bridge should be capable of delivering better (or at least similar) performance in a significantly lower thermal envelope. In this case, the -3770K is a 77 W part, whereas Core i7-2700K is a 95 W processor and the Sandy Bridge-E-based chips are rated for 130 W.

Rather than simply letting each chip sit on the Windows desktop and then spin them all up, reporting idle and load consumption figures, we instead created a script using all of the tests in our benchmark suite (aside from the games and the Google Chrome compilation) with short rests in between. The resulting metric is more than an hour long on even the fastest processor in our collection, and it’s truly a real-world mix of idle and load.

It’s frankly pretty difficult to make sense of the raw, logged data, even with our normal chart expanded out to make the hour-plus run more readable. Certain segments make it quite clear, however, that the Core i7-3770K is the lowest-power contender tested, followed by the Core i7-2700K, the Core i7-3930K, the Phenom II X6 1100T, and finally AMD’s FX-8150. What about the -3960X? We have the data for that one as well, but the additional line makes this chart even more of a mess, so I left it off. I also have data for the -2550K, but I’m working on a surprise with that information.

There we go. It’s much easier to average out power consumption during each run and compare the result. As hypothesized using the line graph, we see each CPU land exactly where we expected it to, with the -3960X falling in just behind the -3930K.

It’s pretty darned easy to measure how long each sequence runs, since our logger takes a sample once every two seconds. Not surprisingly, the Core i7-3960X finishes first. It’s more interesting that the Core i7-2700K is just slightly quicker through the benchmarks than Core i7-3770K. Both AMD trail quite a ways behind.

Multiplying average power by the time required to complete the benchmark gives us total energy used in watt-hours, reflecting efficiency.

The Core i7-3770K’s solid performance, coupled with a reduction in power consumption, results in the lowest power use in the course of our suite. The Core i7-2700K follows closely behind, though.

Both of the Sandy Bridge-E chips facilitate impressive performance numbers throughout our testing, excelling particularly in threaded workloads. However, 130 W TDPs penalize the LGA 2011-based CPUs when it comes to power consumption, so they fall into third and fourth place.

The Phenom II X6 and FX bring up the rear, as they both use more power and underperform the Intel competition. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs for AMD, but the Piledriver core is being prepped for operation in the company’s next APU design. Hopefully, changes made to Bulldozer ameliorate some of what we’ve come to dislike about today’s FX.

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  • SSri
    Thanks for the pretty quick review. The HD 4000 may be a tempting factor for many low-end desktop users. High-end users are unlikely to switch to IB. Unless extensive future reviews show a different picture, Sandy Bridge would be the CPU for my high-end new build!
  • HEXiT
    4% on average is a pretty small performance bump from a dye shrink i was hoping that ivy was gonna be in the region of 10% but i guess a small bump is better than none. still not a big enough jump for me to give up my old i7 920... ah well maybe haswell will deliver.
  • damian86
    Well I think this will be improved in no-time, the guys are doing well in their new architecture and finding new ways to make the big jump. This is like testing, their stuff is good enough to get on the market and they can earn a lot of credits that will help them to keep working hard with new stuff.I really liked their quick sync thing.
    I still don't know the negative points in including gpus in cpus.
  • mi1ez
    US comp. You would think they could put that somewhere in the article.
  • kaprikawn
    I'm personally very excited by Ivy Bridge. I'm not planning on replacing the first gen i5 in my gaming rig, I can't see the benefit. But I'm looking at replacing the Sempron 1100LE in my server with one of the low power i3 chips when they come out. For a computer that runs 24/7, power consumption and noise are fairly important to me for that machine. The Sempron and the low end i3 have similar TPD ratings, but there's a gulf of difference in performance.
  • Anonymous
    An unlocked, "K" variant of the i3, or Pentium-G? That might get people excited...
  • K3v1n
    I'm happy with my FX-6100...Even if I had the money, I wouldn't upgrade it, except for maybe a 8150. This CPU is amazing, and no review on here or anywhere really does it justice. It handles every game i throw, I can convert a 6gb HD video to MP4 in 5 mins WHILE photoshop, and a game is running
  • army_ant7
    I still do wish that Intel offered a cheaper or more powerful CPU without the built-in GPU. It seems like a big waste of time, work, and die space (and maybe even money) for, esp. now, such a big GPU portion. But maybe from the business/profit-spending point of view, it really is better for Intel as a company to have GPU's built-in irregardless.

    I'm interested in hearing from anyone else's thoughts on this.
  • AndrewdAzotus
    I see and hear about the reasons for not upgrading from Sandy-bridge to Ivy-bridge, but I would be interested in pointers for someone who has not had a desktop for about 5 years but is now looking for a new architecture which will be as long lasting as possible so I can buy a good ($200-$300) motherboard and a cheaper processor with a view to upgrading all components (memory / graphics etc) on the motherboard as time and money permits. I'm thinking either 1150 or 2011 but would appreciate some general guidance