Setting up the system wasn’t the easiest as the layout of the Intel board is not the most ideal. Tightening the screws of the stock Intel cooler from a 2600K proved to be a bit of a challenge since there’s very little wiggle room around the CPU area, especially near the heatsinks in the VRM area. We also found the locking mechanism of the PCIE slot to be quite stiff. However, even after setting everything up, the chipset and a couple of other peripheral drivers simply refused to install. Luckily we had the MSI Z77A-GD55 board with us which did the trick.
Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K
- Motherboard: MSI Z77A-GD55
- Memory: G.Skill RipjawsX 8GB (4GB x 2 @1600MHz)
- Hard drive: WD Velociraptor 300GB
- GPU: AMD HD 6970
- PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W
The Core i7-3370K is some CPU. It blows past the 2600K and in PCMark 7, even manages to beat the Corei i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E. Order is restored in the rest of the tests but Ivy Bridge chip still holds its own with its performance sitting smack between the i7-2600K and the i7-3960X. The CPU doesn’t run too hot either. Even when stressed at the stock frequency, the temperatures hover around 45-48 degrees Celcius, which is not too bad. This is after a fresh application of CoolerMaster thermal paste.
Very good performance
Overclocking the CPU is as simple as choosing a number from a drop down box. MSI has a very nice utility that gives you full control over the multiplier and voltages right from the OS itself. the cooler used was the same Intel stock air cooler but with the fan set to ‘Performance’ mode, for moving more air. We first started by just increasing the multiplier and nothing else. Voltages were set to auto and all energy saving features like EIST were turned off in the BIOS. With this in place, we managed to push the multiplier till x45 (4.5GHz) and everything was stable, however Prime95 wouldn’t run for more than five minutes.
Good OC potential, even on air cooling
After a bit of trial and error and many crashes later, we settled at a multiplier of x44, base clock of 101MHz and vCore set to ‘Auto’. Here, the CPU was running rock stable at 4.44GHz with Prime95 running. While this is not bad for a stock air cooler, we would not recommend this for prolonged usage since the temperatures were going crazy. With water cooling, I’m sure we could have pushed it further or at the very least, get the temperatures down at these speeds.
As far as pricing goes, it seems Ivy Bridge CPUs and motherboards are going to be priced on the same lines as Sandy Bridge, which it first launched. The Core i7-3770K, which is Intel's highest-end Ivy Bridge desktop CPU at launch, is priced at $313 (approx. Rs.15,337) and motherboards based on the Z77 chipset start at around Rs.9,000 and upwards, which is what Z68 boards cost at the moment. Of course, if you're not going to need all the features of the Z77, you can always opt for the lower-end chipsets like Z75 or H77. Ivy Bridge is a good progression of Sandy Bridge as it carries forward the same DNA as its predecessor but is now more power efficient and best of all, re-uses the same socket. If you are in the market for a new performance rig, then we highly recommend Ivy Bridge and the new 7-series motherboards. If you already have a decent Sandy Bridge setup then we wouldn't recommend upgrading your whole rig as the performance difference won't be that significant.