Overclocking Core i7-3770K: Learning To Live With Compromise

Test System And Benchmarks

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LGA 1155 Platform
LGA 1155 PlatformIntel DZ77GA-70K, Chipset: Intel Z77 Express, BIOS: 3254
LGA 1155 ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3770K (22 nm, Ivy Bridge, D2), 4C/8T, 3.5 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB L3 Cache w/ HD Graphics 4000, 77 W TDP, 3.9 GHz max. Turbo BoostIntel Core i7-2600K (32 nm, Sandy Bridge, D2), 4C/8T, 3.4 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 8 MB L3 Cache, w/ HD Graphics 3000, 95 W TDP, 3.8 GHz max. Turbo Boost
Memory2 x 4 GB DDR3-1600, Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX
LGA 2011 Platform
LGA 2011 PlatformIntel DX79SI, Chipset: Intel X79 Express, BIOS: 280B
LGA 2011 ProcessorIntel Core i7-3960X (32 nm, Sandy Bridge-E), 6C/12T, 3.3 GHz, 6 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 15 MB L3 Cache, 130 W TDP, 3.9 GHz max. Turbo Boost
Memory4 x 4 GB DDR3-1600, Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX
CPU CoolerArctic Cooler Freezer 13
Platform Components
Discrete GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 6850, GPU: Cypress (775 MHz), Graphics RAM: 1024 MB GDDR5 (2000 MHz), Stream Processors: 960
System DriveSamsung PM810, 256 GB, SATA 3 Gb/s
Power SupplySeasonic X-760, SS-760KM Aktive PFC F3
System Software & Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
Drivers and Settings
AMD Radeon DriversAMD Catalyst 12.3 Suite for Windows 7
Intel Chipset DriversChipset Installation Utility Ver.
Intel Rapid StorageVer:

For our test, we tuned each system to the maximum clock frequency it'd support without sacrificing stability. We used a Freezer 13 air cooler from Arctic Cooling. For the sake of a fair comparison, we used DDR3-1600 memory for all systems. While faster RAM could have resulted in a percentage point gain here and there, it does not change the relative performance of overclocked CPUs that much.

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Audio Benchmarks and Settings
iTunesVersion:, Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Convert to AAC audio format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3, Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, Convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.6, Video: THG Video (1920x1080, 25 frames, Canon EOS 7D) 1 min 23 s, Audio: PCM, 48 000 Hz, Two-Channel, English, to Video: AVC1 Audio1: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2Version:, MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Application Benchmarks and Settings
7-ZipVersion 9.22, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinRARVersion 4.0, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version: 10 x64, Rendering Space Flyby Mentalray (SPECapc_3dsmax9), Frame: 248, Resolution: 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.62, Syntax blender -b Helicopter-2.6.1-toms.blend -f 1, Helicopter-2.6.1 (scene-Helicopter-2.6.1.blend) Frame: 1, Resolution: 1280x720, Threads: Auto-Detect
Cinebench 11.5Version 11.5 Build CB25720DEMO, CPU Test single- and multi-threaded
Adobe After Effects CS5.5Create Video which includes three Streams, Frames: 210, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5Video length 2 min 21s, Export to H.264 Blu-ray, Source 960x720, Output 1280x720
Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1 (64-Bit)Version: 11, Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15000x7266), Filters: Radial Blur (Amount: 10; Method: zoom; Quality: good) Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark symbol), Median (Radius: 1px), Polar Coordinates, (Rectangular to Polar)
Adobe Acrobat X ProfessionalVersion: 10.0.0 Pro, == Printing Preferences Menu ==, Default Settings: Standard, == Adobe PDF Security - Edit Menu ==, Encrypt all documents (128-bit RC4), Open Password: 123, Permissions Password: 321
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010Version: 14.0.4734.1000 (32-bit), PPT to PDF, PowerPoint Document (115 Pages), Adobe PDF-Printer
Abbyy FineReaderVersion: 10 Professional Build (, Read PDF save to Doc, Source:Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
MatlabR2011a, Internal Benchmark: 10 runs
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.03
PCMark 7Version:
Achim Roos
  • mayankleoboy1
    Nice review!

    1. Are there plans to release any K CPU's without the HD4000? will they OC higher?

    2. Any chance of intel releasing a second stepping of K-series IB chips?
  • mayankleoboy1
    i agree that SB chips spoiled the OC world by making OC so easy and fruitful. IB has nothing to compare it to except SB.
  • vilenjan
    Good old Intel. No competition and look what happens, the new generation is barely an upgrade over the previous. Anyone remember Intel PII 450s and the PIII 450s?
  • ta152h
    I'm not sure why the reviewers spent so much time figuring out the shrink made the core more dense, and somehow thought this was significant. I mean, really, this happens virtually every shrink, and this time the power dropped more than normal. Common sense should be telling people this is not the cause, but somehow people aren't understanding this.

    It's very interesting that replacing the paste makes so much difference. This is obviously something Intel is aware of, since they do plenty of testing, and obviously chose anyway. Would a few pennies be worth it for a processor that is clearly on the higher end of the scale? Probably not.

    Most likely, they want to keep selling their real high end processors, and it just won't do to have the 3770K beating their 2011 processors, or being very competitive with the successors to that line when they come out. It makes perfect sense. The 3770K is still a great processor, but if you're really looking for the best, it simply will not do. You're forced to buy the more expensive 3960X, and later the even better IB successor to it, which you can bet will have far better paste, and so will overclock significantly better.

    It's genius. A great product for the vast majority, while leaving more expensive products as the best option for that elite that will actually spend $600 to $1000 for a processor.

    Well done, Intel. It's not like AMD has anything to say about it.
  • Without the baseline clock for clock comparison (4.5 sandy vs 4.5 ivy), i'm afraid these results are pretty much useless. It's like doing an uncontrolled experiment and passing it off as real science.
  • digiex
    as the manufacturing process gets smaller = Smaller die size, supposed to be cooler temperature,

    but, with small die size = small area for heat dissipation,

    ...an irony that needs to be solved.
  • slicedtoad
    Recommending a closed loop liquid cooler? really?

    They perform worse than decent air coolers. The lower end ones (think corsair's h60) perform like mid-low range air coolers and cost more. The better ones (h100 or antec's 920) perform on par or worse and with more noise than a similarly priced noctua. If noctuas looks too ugly for you, phantek and several others offer similar performing models.

    The only reason to get closed loop lc is for looks. I admit they do give your build a nice clean look. That doesn't warrant "So, we're recommending a closed-loop liquid cooling setup, at least" though. If you'd changed that to "We're recommending higher end aftermarket coolers for a decent oc", it would've made more sense.

    Anyway, I'm just nit-picking a single line from the article. All in all, it was a good read. It just makes me upset to hear wrong advice.
  • _Pez_
    there is no performance advantage over the i7 2600k except for power consumption. I better buy an i7-3930k.
  • mesab66
    Absolutely true, digiex.......not far off the animal world parallel - check out the different temperature regulation methods here between large and small animals, particularly how difficult it is to regulate as the size becomes smaller.
  • I would like claims that Ivy Bridge procesor is overheating considerably more then Sandy Bridge addressed. And I thin k Intel really should make a better overall product and not cheat us like this.