Intel Core i7 3820 review

The four-core version of Intel's extreme CPU lineup

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Product features

  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

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  • Good price
  • Decent performance


  • No improvement over 2700K
  • Still pricey as a whole platform

This is a bit more within the reach of us mere mortals - a Sandy Bridge E CPU that doesn't cost the same amount as some full PCs.

Intel, with even less of a fanfare than it made for the muted launch of the Sandy Bridge E platform, has now unleashed the quad-core iteration of its top-end chips, the Intel Core i7 3820, priced at £260 in the UK and $286 in the US.

But, to be honest, we're not entirely sure why this CPU even exists.

Before this, the cheapest Sandy Bridge E processor was the Intel Core i7 3930K, costing £450-500 in the UK and $650-700 in the US. The crazy expensive £800-900/$1,100-1,200 Intel Core i7 3960X takes its place at the top of the Intel CPU tech tree. Both those CPUs are full-blooded hex-core chips with Hyper-Threading tech enabling twelve threads of processing power.

Except that they're not really hex-core chips at all. The Intel Core i7 3930K and i7 3960X are actually octo-core server chips with a couple of cores disabled to fit into the desktop segment.

This, coupled with the huge price tag, has been our major bugbear with the latest of Intel's top-end chips. We now have eight-core CPUs potentially running in our home rigs, but unfortunately we're not allowed access to the disabled silicon sitting inside our incredibly expensive chips.

A cynic would say Sandy Bridge E represents a great opportunity for Intel to sell broken Xeons to the desktop computing crowd for a tidy profit.

Intel obviously refutes this, making the case that it believes the consumer would rather have higher clockspeeds over those extra cores, and it needed to sacrifice two cores to hit the 3.3GHz speed of the top chip.

Before with the imminent release of its E5 Xeons, Intel has managed to hit 3.1GHz with a Sandy Bridge E-based server chip designed for the LGA 2011 socket.

So what about the Intel Core i7 3820? Is this huge processor the same, is it really carrying around four dead cores in its innards? Little ghoulish really...

Tech Specs

Product TypeProcessor
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Thermal Design Power130 W
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNo
Product FamilyCore i7 i7-3800
L3 Cache10 MB
Clock Speed3.60 GHz
Processor SocketSocket R LGA-2011
Brand NameIntel
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS
64-bit ProcessingYes
Thermal Specification66.8°C
Direct Media Interface5 GT/s
Overclocking Speed3.80 GHz
Width45 mm
Depth52.5 mm
L2 Cache1 MB
Product Seriesi7-3800
ManufacturerIntel Corporation
Product Modeli7-3820
Product NameCore i7 Quad-core i7-3820 3.6GHz Desktop Processor
Package TypeRetail
Product LineCore i7
Input Voltage1.4 V DC
Manufacturer Part NumberBX80619I73820
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Intel Core i7 Processor-Best-in-Class Performance
The Intel Core i7 processor delivers best-in-class performance for the most demanding applications. This quad-core processor features Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, 8-way multitasking capability, and additional L3 cache.

Packaged Quantity1
Process Technology32 nm
Limited Warranty3 Year