Board room shuffle
With a new processor, you obviously need something to stick it into, and I have here the DZ77GA-70K motherboard, part of the Intel's Extreme series of motherboards. Intel has a wide portfolio of boards - there are seven series that cover the desktop range alone, and there are other product lines for workstation and server use.
At last, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. Hurrah!
There’s nothing eye-opening about the DZ77GA-70K, apart from the Bios, but more on that in a minute. It’s a typically stable high-end Intel board. It’s based around the new Z77 Express chipset which brings native support for USB 3.0 - finally!!! - along with PCI Express 3.0, provided there’s an Ivy Bridge CPU sitting in the socket.
It’s a tidy looking board, well laid out with separate passive coolers on the chipset and the power components with two PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16/x8) slots, single PCIe x4 and x1 slots, and two standard PCI slots for expansion purposes. For storage there are four 6Gb/s and four 3Gb/s Sata ports, which are all mounted at 90° on the edge of the board.
Intel's DZ77GA-70K has no shortage of expansion slots
The new Intel Visual Bios is a revelation and even gives Asus and Gigabyte - which have some of the easiest to access UEFI Bioses around - a good run for their money. UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) has been around for a while. For those not in the know, it uses a GUI instead of the text interface and does way with the need to use the keyboard, instead allowing the use of a mouse, Yes, a mouse. Or a touchscreen even, it'll support that too.
The Ivy Bridge Core i7-3770K doesn't make a giant leap ahead of the previous generation of Core i7 chippery. It’s more of gentle step forward. But the die shrink down to 22nm does make for a far more power efficient chip than the previous generation - good for your leccy bills - and at last Intel’s integrated graphics supports DirectX 11, something it has needed to do for quite some time. ®
Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3770K quad-core CPU
I have to say since the advent of dual cores I've struggled to justify subsequent CPU upgrades.
If I was brutally honest I could still be getting by fine with my old Opteron 180.
My main laptop uses just a CULV Intel 1.3Ghz dual core in it.
I find I go longer and longer between upgrades. I haven't paid more than £100 for a new CPU in years. The last one cost £60.
Unless you are looking for a cure for cancer, transcoding video all day or just love wasting your life with pointless synthetic benchmarks for bragging rights, most folks don't need to either.
When compared to Sandy Bridge, yes. But whilst Intel are unquestionably occupying the top of the performance tower, cheaper apartments further down, are all being sold by AMD. How much of what most people do day to day is CPU bound and how much by disk or graphics? AMD can't compete with Intel in the arena of Who Has The Highest Numbers, but with their new combined GPU-CPUs, they are absolutely taking the crown in the Does What I Want For Significantly Less arena.
I think Intel know this. If AMD foundries could actually keep up with demand, they'd be the default for most of the of new tablet, netbook and laptop designs right now. Low power, built in Radeon graphics and good performance (just not elite performance like Intel's headline grabbers). And their parallisation is good which keeps them in the server market too.
Ivy Bridge does run cooler at stock settings, but I am surprised there was no mention of the heat when over-clocked.
...from a i7 920 to a 3770K and, for my purposes, it a great upgrade. Benchmark rendering in 3dsmax gave me a 388% performance increase. If you're upgrading from Sandy Bridge may it may not be worth it but if you skipped that then I'd recommend.
One thing I wasn't expecting was the power usage. I used to have an "intelligent" powerstrip that would switch off all the peripherals when my machine went to sleep. Now when the machine is idle it doesn't draw enough power to trigger the other sockets.......
Re: MHz madness
I'm not an overclocking fanmyself, but there's no denying that a CPU running at 20% higher MHz can do 20% more calculations in a given time, which is after all the core purpose of a processor.
Whether or not you can actually make use of this depends what you do with your PC. For gaming the bottleneck is almost always the graphics card rather than the CPU, but for more 'workstation' type loads such as rendering or video encoding upping the multiplier will most definitely result in more stuff getting done in the same time.
Not sure what you're on about when you're talking about 'how fast you can feed the CPU', you seem to be suggesting there is some sort of motherboard/bus-related bottleneck which is just plain wrong.