Ivy Bridge platform and range
The spring launch only concerns the quad-core Ivy Bridge versions with the dual core models coming out this summer. No fewer than six processors for laptops have been launched with nine desktop models. They came on sale at the end of April. Here's a breakdown of the specs of the releases:
The maximum TDP of the processors has dropped from 95 Watts on Sandy Bridge to 77 Watts on Ivy Bridge, which was expected with the move to 22nm. In passing, it should be noted that these processors come in boxes with 95W written on them. This isn't the TDP of the processor but rather the platform required to support it - only 65W or 95W platforms exist.
However the low energy consumption S versions remain at 65 Watts and the Ts at 45 Watts with an i7 included exclusively in this range. And just to make things more complicated, the Core i7-3770K and 3770 don't have the same base clock, unlike the 2600K and 2600.
Comparing the main specifications of the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Core i7s and i5s, the i7-3770K is priced at the same level as the i7-2700K and the i5-3570K at the same level of the i5-2550K. Unfortunately there aren’t any equivalents to the more affordable i5-2500K and i7-2600K in the new range.
Note that the Turbo on four core with Ivy Bridges is set at up to 200 MHz compared to 100 MHz on Sandy Bridge, which should give the Ivy Bridge models a small additional 2-3% advantage at equivalent base clocks.
The good news on the platform side is that the Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge models will work on any LGA 1155 motherboard that is based on H61, H67, P67 and Z68 type Intel Series 6 chipsets on the condition that the motherboard manufacturer supplies an up to date bios. Only the Q65, Q67 and B75 motherboards aren't compatible. At the time of writing, ASUSTeK and Gigabyte are already offering bios’ for their entire ranges, while updates from ASRock and MSI are gradually filtering through. So as to avoid any nasty surprises, we naturally recommend you to update the bios with a Sandy Bridge processor before installing an Ivy Bridge.
As is its wont, Intel has launched a new chipset lane for the Ivy Bridges, Z77 Express, Z75 Express and H77 Express motherboards on the general consumer ranges. We have already published a Z77 Express motherboard review
, the main addition to the Series 6 being native USB 3.0 support.
Intel’s segmentation means that the processor can only be overclocked on the Z75 and Z77, while only the Z77 gives the option of three PCI-Express 3.0 ports. Only H77 and Z77 motherboards support Smart Response (HDD cache via SSD), Rapid Start (rapid secure standby with hibernation file on the SSD) and Smart Connect (regular exits from standby to retrive emails).
Of course, Z77, Z75 and H77 boards also have the advantage of having a bios that automatically works with Ivy Bridge. These boards also offer PCI Express 3.0 compatibility systematically, (variable on older generation boards). Outside of this, there’s no performance advantage – Ivy Bridge CPU and GPU performance will be equally fast whatever the chipset!