Enthusiasts looking to build high-end PCs featuring Intel’s beefiest processors have been in a rough spot lately. It’s become the theme that when a top-end part gets released, it’s behind the mainstream parts architecturally. When Sandy Bridge-E came out two years ago, this problem wasn’t too evident – not at least until a couple of months later when Ivy Bridge came out on the mainstream side. At the start of the summer, we saw things get even worse for the high-ender, with the release of Haswell. At that point, the mainstream offerings were 4th-gen Core parts, while the enthusiast offerings were 2nd-gen!
With today’s launch of Ivy Bridge-E, we edge a bit closer to the newer base architecture on the mainstream side – but when you consider that Haswell’s biggest features are power and mobile-related, the sting in knowing that this is a 3rd-gen part is almost non-existent.
Extreme close-up of an Ivy Bridge-E wafer
For reasons I’ll get into in a moment, our review will be coming later – either at the end of this week, or next. That said, Intel has given us some percentages of what we should expect to see when comparing SB-E to IV-E: +7% in 3D gaming, +5% in data / financial analysis and +10% in 3D modeling. Compared to the i7-4770K, the quad-core Haswell-based part,we can expect gains of +36% to 3D gaming, +8% to number crunching and +37% in 3D modeling.
As with the launch of Sandy Bridge-E, three models will be available at launch:
||6 / 12
||6 / 12
||4 / 8
||4 / 8
So what is it about Ivy Bridge-E that might warrant a purchase over Haswell? Namely, the six cores (twelve threads), quad-channel memory controller (it’s up to you to know whether you need this), beefier PCIe lanes for multi-GPU purposes and a fair bit more cache per core.
As the table above states, IV-E will work in the LGA2011 socket, which you might recall launched two years ago. However, in order to actually use these CPUs, your vendor has to release an EFI update for your particular board. Unless you happen to be using a fairly recent one, and it’s nearly top-of-the-ladder, don’t automatically expect that you’ll get one.
While planning for IV-E, I expected that I’d have no problem in getting our chip tested and reviewed – after all, we basically know what to expect. Well, I had also thought that our newly-adopted ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard would have IV-E support added by this point, but alas, it hasn’t happened. This isn’t ASUS’ fault, as the WS boards require much more validation than enthusiast motherboards – if the EFI isn’t ready, it’s simply not ready. But this issue showcases just how oddly rushed the release of Ivy Bridge-E is. Judging by the fact that advertising embargoes are placed a week ahead of review embargoes, I have to imagine that it’s for a reason: Vendors still need to get their products ready before consumers jump all over IV-E.
Go ahead, laugh.
That all said, IV-E looks to be a good follow-up to SB-E, although it does seem to deliver just what we expected, with no surprises (some might call that a good thing). While I got burned in our attempted testing, not everyone did. If you can’t wait for our look, we’d recommend checking out the reviews at HotHardware, PC Perspective and The Tech Report.