• Intel's New Ivy Bridge CPUs Released and Reviewed

    Intel has started shipping the long-awaited Ivy-Bridge processors to manufacturers while retailers will begin receiving the processors later this week.

    Intel officially announced 14 different i5 and i7 processors all freaturing their new 22nm chip architecture compared to the last generations 32nm architecture. The smaller architecture means faster clock speeds and lower power consumption, which is incredibly beneficial to mobile users.

    Laptopmagís tested the new ASUS N56V powered by the new 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-3720QM processor and 8GB or RAM beats the Sandy Bridge competition handily in both the PCMark07 and Geekbench benchmarks. However, new integrated graphics solutions Intel touts still pale in comparison to discrete graphics solutions. Battery life with the new Ivy Bridge processors will likely increase across the board as a result of the lower power consumption. Intel is hoping this selling point will help find their processors powering the wave of Ultrabooks that are supposed to come out in the latter half of the year.

    However, the increase in performance for desktop users is negligible. Toms Hardware ran the new Ivy Bridge Core i7 3770k through a gauntlet of tests and comparisons to the older Sandy Bridge processors. Their tests comparing LAME, iTunes AAC Encoding, and Adobe Acrobat Professional performance show a three-second advantage for the new Ivy Bridge processor compared to the Sandy Bridge i7-2700k.

    The 3D benchmark tests donít go far in supporting Intelís claims of a greatly improved or rather useful integrated graphics solution. Utilizing the i7-3770kís integrated graphics alone attained a 3DMark 11 performance score of 769. Pair a Radeon HD 6570 ($60) with the new Ivy Bridge cpu and that score doubles to 1560.

    Tom's Hardware's realworld graphics tests show that the new integrated HD Grpahics 4000 in the Ivy Bridge processors can only obtain passable frame rates at a laughable resolution of 1280x720 with the lowest possible detail settings while playing Arkham City, and Skyrim . It seems Intel put a lot of time and energy into improved integrated graphics with little to show for it on the gaming side. Although, most gamers would never dream of depending on integrated graphics anyway.

    Still, the new i7-3770k Ivy Bridge processor is between 2% and 8% faster than its i7-2600k Sandy Bridge processor depending on the benchmark. However, those modest gains are erased as soon as power users are factored into the mix. Those who like to overclock their systems will be rather perturbed to know the new Ivy Bridge i7-3770k is not as friendly to overclocking as the Sandy Bridge i7 2600k. With the 2600k i7 (3.6GHz native) or 2500k i5 (3.3GHz native) a simple increase in voltage let users reach clock speeds of up to 4.6GHz with no problems. Push it a little more and add a decent aftermarket air cooling system and 5GHz was easily attainable. Subzero or water cool the processors and speeds of 5.5GHz to 5.9GHz could be reached .

    Sadly according to extensive tests by Toms Hardware and AnandTech the new Ivy Bridge processors exceed die temperatures of 90C at voltages between 1.2 and 1.3. The previous Sandy Bridge processors were stable at voltages near 1.4. Oddly enough the Ivy Bridge i7 stock speed listed at 3.9GHz appears to be under-clocked. The stock voltage is 1.05 and results in a clock speed of 4.4GHz. Why Intel doesnít market this as a 4.4GHz cpu is beyond me.

    The upside to all this is Intelís pricing structure for the new cpuís refelects their incremental upgrades with the new i7 3770k costing $313, which is cheaper than the Sandy Bridge i7 2700k was yesterday. Bottom line, mobile users will be happy with the increased performance and battery life, and desktop power users will find little reason to upgrade over their Sandy Bridge systems. Expect Apple's updated MacBook Pros to utilize the new Ivy Bridge processors.

    Sources: Toms Hardware, AnandTech, LaptopMag
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