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Ivy Bridge is Here – An Overview

7093651619 c69ea33e4f o Ivy Bridge is Here   An OverviewThis week brought us the release of Ivy Bridge.  This particular release is especially strange and rather challenging to cover as a lot of the critical parts are spread out over a 3 month period. Earlier this month we saw the release of the Z77 chipset, which is the primary enthusiast chipset to support Ivy Bridge (like the Z68 Chipset).  This week we get the release of the Quad Core CPU versions of Ivy Bridge.

The article below is a great extensive look at the Ivy Bridge release and more specifically, the Core i7-3770K.  I just want to touch on a few key points here which will be important to you.

The number one question I am sure:  ”Is it worth upgrading to Ivy Bridge from Sandy Bridge?”  From a value standpoint my answer is no – UNLESS you want to run PCIe 3.0, or you want to support Thunderbolt technology.

Before I continue, there is a HUGE caveat about Thunderbolt.  If you are wanting to use Thunderbolt devices with your new Ivy Bridge System – DO NOT BUY ANYTHING YET.  The Z77 chipset will be supporting Thunderbolt with an additional controller, but this will not be released until the end of May.  So that means you can’t buy a Z77 motherboard right now, and have it support Thunderbolt.  If you don’t care about using Thunderbolt, then don’t worry about it.

Ivy Bridge CPU Ivy Bridge is Here   An OverviewThe largest benefit for building an Ivy Bridge system is PCIe 3.0 – or it will be eventually.  Currently you can play any game at max settings with PCIe 2.0 cards – though I am interested to see the effect PCIe 3.0 will have on current benchmarks.  There are currently PCIe 3.0 capable cards on Tom’s Benchmarks, but it is difficult to compare the current offerings.  AMD’s 7XXX series cards are PCIe 3.0 capable, and they perform better than the previous generation – but that is to be expected for a new generation video card.  nVidia has released the GTX 680 as their only PCIe 3.0 video card, and it outperforms everything except certain cards with higher memory at higher settings – the Extreme benchmarks are dominated by 3 and 4 GB cards, which is to be expected considering the large resolution (keep this in mind when Retina Displays become mainstream).

My take on this is that if you have a Sandy Bridge system right now, don’t upgrade just yet (unless of course you simply enjoy doing that, then feel free to go nuts :).  There is no value justification in upgrading from a Sandy Bridge / Z68 system to an Ivy Bridge / Z77 system at this time.

Just to wrap up some other notes about this release.  This release is only for the Quad Core Ivy Bridge CPUs.  The i7-3770k reviewed below is the IB version of the i7-2600k/2700k.  The i5-3570k is the IB version of the i5-2500k.  So the mid-range build will likely consist of an i5-3570k on a Z77 chipset board.  As I am writing this, I haven’t actually seen these chips available in retailers, so I am not sure when that will happen.  It’s nice to note that the new versions of these CPUs are actually going to be slightly cheaper than their predecessors – the i7-3770k being $19 cheaper than previous, and the i5-3570k being $13 less.  This says to me that retailers are going to likely drop prices on Sandy Bridge not insignificantly (or at least provide sales).

So again, if you currently have a Sandy Bridge system of at least the mid range build, there’s really no reason to upgrade to Ivy Bridge (other than for the heck of it).

I’ll be building a new Ivy Bridge system in the next couple of months – I’m waiting on Thunderbolt for Z77 as well as the rest of nVidia’s Kepler lineup.

For now, do check out this article for more extensive information on the Ivy Bridge release.

The Intel Ivy Bridge (Core i7 3770K) Review

The times, they are changing. In fact, the times have already changed, we’re just waiting for the results. I remember the first time Intel brought me into a hotel room to show me their answer to AMD’s Athlon 64 FX—the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. Back then the desktop race was hotly contested. Pushing the absolute limits of what could be done without a concern for power consumption was the name of the game. In the mid-2000s, the notebook started to take over. Just like the famous day when Apple announced that it was no longer a manufacturer of personal computers but a manufacturer of mobile devices, Intel came to a similar realization years prior when these slides were first shown at an IDF in 2005:


image from IntelFreePress

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Z77 Chipset – Panther Point

51ro87u2ZkL. SL160  Z77 Chipset   Panther PointWith the release of Ivy Bridge on the horizon (currently April 8 ) we are also anticipating the release of the next series of chipsets to go with it – this time it will be Panther Point or 7-series chipsets. Check out the article on Ivy Bridge for a brief overview. In this article, I’m going to quickly touch on the Z77 chipset.

The Z77 Panther Point chipset is the top of the line chipset complimenting the Intel Ivy Bridge CPU. The Z77 chipset is going to be the most advanced of the chipset options (think an upgraded version of the z68 chipset).

Some of you have asked whether it is worth waiting for the Z77 chipset over building a system right now with Z68 (and then upgrading to Ivy Bridge later). While it has not yet been released – so we don’t know how it will perform – we can look at features that the Z77 chipset will have.

There are two major differences between the Z77 and Z68 chipsets. This is native USB 3.0 and slightly different PCIe configuration. Currently, in order to get USB 3.0 onto a motherboard, manufacturers are using third parties.

The most noticeable effect of using a third party is an increase in price, as the manufacturer has to purchase the chips (ICs) from those third parties. With Intel including USB 3.0 natively (for up to 4 USB 3.0 ports), this should mean that the relative cost will be slightly less (in the neighborhood of $20) – granted, when Panther Point is released, the previous generation will likely drop in price anyways.

One could also surmise that native hardware implementation makes it easier for manufacturer’s to build custom configurations.

This is where the different PCIe configuration will come into play.  The new chipset will provide a more flexible pcie configuration for the manufacturers, making it easier to implement multiple card configurations for PCIe 3.0 – wheras currently it looks like the most you can do on Z68 is two PCIe 3.0 cards (at x8/x8), and then not all Z68 motherboards allow this.

The rest of the Z77 chipset configuration is very similar to Z68. Both Z77 and H77 will include SSD caching – the increase in number of options for SSD caching suggests a trend in that direction, but thats for another article.

In terms of overclocking both Z77 and Z75 will be capable, while H77 will not. Similarly, it looks like there will be K (or similar) versions of the Ivy Bridge processors indicating overclockability.

Unlike the Sandy Bridge release, where the enthusiast chipset (P67) was limited with on board video, all version of Panther Point will include built in video. This is likely due to the utility of Virtu (which again, does not affect gaming performance).


So on the surface, the Z77 chipset appears to be perhaps only a slight upgrade (some might say that about the Ivy Bridge CPU as well). The new platform may prove to be not worth upgrading from Sandy Bridge, but I’m personally trying to wait until April to build a new system – I plan on diving into Ivy Bridge + Z77 with gusto ^_^



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