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Intel Core i7 3820 and ASrock Extreme4-M review

Rating: 8.5.

Intel launched their X79 platform in November and Kitguru was on hand with multiple reviews. Since this launch we have looked at several motherboards primarily targeting the hardcore, high end overclocking audience. There is no doubt the Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition is the processor to rule them all, but at £850 inc vat it is out of reach for 95% of the audience reading this. For those on a more realistic budget, Intel are releasing the the Core i7 3820 for the X79 platform, a new Quad Core design at a much more reasonable price point … around £260.

To make the review more interesting today we decided to build an ultra high end media center using this new processor, The award winning Lian Li PC60 and the new ASRock Extreme4-M motherboard. Is this worth your money?

The Core i7 3820 is based on the Sandy Bridge E design which works on the LGA2011 platform, via motherboards already on the market. It supports Quad channel memory and 40 lanes of PCI Express which are capable of PCIe 3.0 speeds. The processor is also equipped with Hyperthreading, for a total of 4 physical and 8 logical cores.


The other product we are analysing today is the latest Micro ATX board from ASRock … the Extreme4-M based on the LGA2011 socket. This board may be small, but it is feature packed, with support for the latest range of Intel processors and Quad Channel 2400+ (OC) DDR3 memory. It is equipped with 3x PCIe 3.0 x16, SATA 3 and USB 3.0 ports and incorporates an advanced 6+2 Power Phase design with premium gold capacitors for long life and stability under stressful conditions.

We aim to build one of the fastest small form factor systems today, and even try our hand at overclocking.


The Intel Core i7 3820 is aimed at an X79 audience who have a limited budget. Currently we have the 3960X Extreme Edition, which retails for a whopping £850 in the UK, and the 3930k at a more realistic £500. The Core i7 3820 is a more modestly priced Quad Core solution targeted at the sub £300 sector.

The 3820 has 1.27 billion transistors and a die size of 294 mm2 which is smaller than the 3960X EE which has 2.27 billion transistors and a die size of 435mm2. The level 3 cache on the 3820 is 10MB, which is 5MB less than the flagship 3960X EE processor.

How does this compare against the current range of Quad Core processors for the P67 and Z68 platform?

Processor Core i7 2600k Core i7 2700k Core i7 3820
Cores 4 4 4
Base clock 3.4ghz 3.5ghz 3.6ghz
Turbo 3.8ghz 3.9ghz 3.9ghz
Cache 8MB 8MB 10MB
Memory Support Dual Channel Dual Channel Quad Channel

Our sample arrived without retail packaging, in a small black box.

Obviously, the 3820 is the same size as the 3960X EE, to fit into the LGA2011 socket. As expected, we received an engineering sample (ES).

System validation available here.

The Core i7 3820 is not a fully unlocked processor, unlike the 2500k and 2600k. The Core i7 3820 can be set to a maximum multipler that is four steps higher than the top turbo frequency. So we can therefore work out that it can run at 4.3ghz, 400mhz greater than the 3.9ghz top default turbo frequency (single core active). We will look at this more in the overclocking section of the review later.

The ASRock X79 Extreme 4-M arrives in an attractive, dark ‘metallic’ style finished box.

The bundle includes a couple of SATA cables, a comprehensive user manual, driver and software disc, SLI bridge and I/O backplate.

The Extreme4-M may be small, but it is very menacing looking, finished in dark brown with black ports and silver accented heatsinks. It is actively cooled on the Southbridge, like other ‘full sized’ X79 boards we have reviewed recently. It is a Micro ATX board, measuring 9.6-in x 9.6-in, 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm.

There are a total of four DDR3 memory slots, for Quad Channel memory configurations. It supports speeds of 800/1066/1333/1600/1866/2133/2400mhz with a maximum capacity of 32GB. You would need to purchase 8GB DIMMS however, which are still very expensive. There is also full support for XMP 1.2 and 1.3 memory profiles.

The board is populated with Japanese made conductive polymer capacitors, these are premium gold caps. The 8 pin CPU power plug is very close to the memory slots, as shown above. It doesn’t cause any installation problems however.

Despite the small dimensions, the board literally crams in fan headers, seven in total, spread across the four corners of the PCB. This is the same as the Extreme 4 motherboard actually, which is impressive.

The board includes three 16x PCI-E 3.0 slots, two of which are 16x bandwidth rated. The third is limited to 8x. There is also a PCI slot at the bottom which may prove useful for people with older sound cards. It has full support for Quad CrossfireX and Quad Sli configurations.

The board has a total of 7 SATA ports. The four black ports are SATA 2 rated (3Gbps – Intel X79 chipset controlled). The three grey ports are SATA 3 rated (6GBps). One of the grey ports is vertically mounted for front panel chassis connection. The 2x grey SATA 3 connectors are controlled by the Intel X79 chipset (Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10 support) and the single connector is powered by the ASMedia ASM1061 processor.

At the bottom of the board is a diagnostic readout, and a power and reset button, for quick, easy access.

I/O Panel has the following ports:

  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
  • 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
  • 1 x Coaxial SPDIF Out Port
  • 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
  • 6 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
  • 1 x eSATA3 Connector
  • 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
  • 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
  • HD Audio Jack: Side Speaker / Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.

ASRock are using a fully featured UEFI style interface for the Extreme4-M, which is intuitive and loaded with plenty of settings for overclocking.

The advanced tab offers many settings to give the user control over the hardware. The hardware monitoring tab shows real time views of voltages, temperatures and fan settings.

The boot menu is easy to navigate and allows for control over the hard drives and SSD drives and the boot priority. The full screen boot logo can be disabled (always a must).

The ASRock board has some very handy pre-built overclocking settings as shown above. Unfortunately as we mentioned earlier the Core i7 3820 is not a fully unlocked processor, unlike the 2500k and 2600k. The Core i7 3820 can be set to a maximum multipler that is four steps higher than the top turbo frequency. So we can therefore work out that it can run at 4.3ghz, 400mhz greater than the 3.9ghz top default turbo frequency (single core active).

This is when the bios gets slightly confusing, because if you use one of the preconfigured bios overclocked settings in the ‘EZ OC’, it will actually show a ratio above 43, such as 46 for 4.6ghz. The bios will even report a successful overclocked speed, after reboot. It unfortunately is limited to 4.3ghz via a 43x ratio as CPU-z in Windows will verify. If the user tries to manually overclock, bypassing the EZ OC menu it is correctly limited to 43.

If you are happy running a beta bios ASrock updated to V1.62 which resolves this particular problem.

Some motherboards have ‘straps’ which act as a multiplier on the base clock (such as 1.25x or 125mhz). This could push the overclocking results even further.

We tested with some Corsair GTX8 2,400mhz rated DDR3 which we used in our launch article for the Asus IV Rampage Extreme Edition.

Sadly we couldn’t get the memory to post at 2,400mhz, regardless of settings. We did get it to run at 2,133mhz without any problems.

The ASRock bios offers many voltage settings which allow the processor to be overclocked further. Using a BCLK setting of 105 at the maximum ratio,

Using modest air cooling with only a very slight core voltage increase we managed to get the system overclocked and stable at 4.5ghz. Validation is available here. We could probably push further with more advanced cooling and higher voltage but these are great results for a Micro ATX board.

Test System

Processor: Intel i7 3820
Motherboard
: ASRock Extreme4-M
Cooler: Intel reference cooler
Memory: 8GB Corsair GTX8 @ 2133mhz
Graphics Card:
AMD HD7970 (x2 for some gaming tests)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: Lian Li PC60
Monitors: Dell U3011/La Cie 730
Boot Drive: Crucial C300
Secondary Drive: Patriot Pyro SE 240GB

Software:
Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit).
FRAPS Professional.
SiSoft Sandra.
Windows Media Player/VLC Player.
CPUz.
GPUz.
CPUID Hardware Monitor.
Cinebench R11.5 (64-bit).
Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 Ultra.
Cyberlink MediaEspresso.
CrystalDiskMark.
3D Mark Vantage.
3DMark 11.
PCMark 7.

Games:
HomeFront
Alien V Predator
Dead Island
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Lost Planet 2
Far Cry 2
F1 2011
Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Comparison Systems:

Intel Core i7 3960X EE
Processor
: Intel i7 3960X EE.
Motherboard
: Sapphire X79N (SAX79077.ROM)
Cooler: Corsair H100 Liquid Cooler
Memory: 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws 1866mhz 10-10-10-28
Graphics Card: Sapphire HD7970
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: Cooler Master Cosmos II
Monitors: Dell U3011
Boot Drive: Crucial C300
Secondary Drive: Patriot Pyro SE 240GB

AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Processor: AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

Intel Core i7 990X
Processor
: Intel Core i7 990x
Cooler: Corsair H100
Motherboard: Gigabyte G1 Assassin
Memory: Kingston HyperX 6GB
Drives: Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Chassis: Antec Twelve Hundred

Intel Core i7 2700k
Processor
: Intel Core i7 2700k
Cooling: ThermalTake Frio OCK
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Chassis: Silverstone Raven 3.
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory
Storage: Intel 80GB SSD (boot) / Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD.

Intel Core i7 2600k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600k
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen 3
Cooler: Intel XTS-100H
Memory: ADATA 1600mhz DDR3 8GB (2x4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 850W
Boot Drive: Intel 510 SSD 250GB

Intel Core i5 2500k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2500k
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2 CPU Cooler
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory 8GB (2x4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Boot Drive: Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7.

Good results at default settings, scoring almost 30,000 points in 3dMark Vantage.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

When overclocked to 4.5ghz, the Physics score is increased by well over 1,000 points, from 9491 to 10965. Very healthy overall results.

PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.

The score of 4,964 points is very strong, and this rises to 5,584 points when pushed to 4.5ghz.

Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.

Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:

  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures

We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.

The HD7970 is a powerful video card and the performance is as good as would expect and slightly higher than we achieved with the Sapphire X79 motherboard we tested recently.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.

It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

Great all round performance, at the same level as the 2700k, except in the memory bandwidth test where it is significantly faster, falling in behind the Intel Core i7 3960X system at almost 40 GB/s.

CINEBENCH R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

The Core i7 3820 running on the ASRock Extreme4-M motherboard falls in between the Core i7 2600k and the Core i7 2700k, scoring 7.19 points. When overclocked to 4.5ghz, it scores 8.79 points, falling in behind the reference clocked Intel Core i7 990X Extreme Edition.

Crystalmark is a useful benchmark to measure theoretical performance levels of hard drives and SSD’s. We are using V3.0.1 x64.

Performance figures are as good as we have seen from the Pyro 240GB SE SSD, scoring around 500 MB/s in both the sequential read and write tests. 4K performance is brilliant.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

Strong performance from the ASRock motherboard, scoring 560 MB/S in the sequential read test and around 530 MB/s in the sequential write test. As good as we have seen from this particular drive.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

Read our initial analysis over here

AMD HD7970
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood 5
Ferris Wheel
5
Skin Tones
7
Total 196

A score of 196 points is class leading right now, the ideal solution for high definition media playback.

V2011 is the first release of 3DStudio Max to fully support the Windows 7 operating system. This is a professional level tool that many people use for work purposes and our test will show any possible differences between board design today.

Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 software offers compelling new techniques to help bring designs to life by aggregating data, iterating ideas, and presenting the results.

Streamlined, more intelligent data exchange workflows and innovative new modeling and visualization tools help significantly increase designers’ creativity and productivity, enabling them to better explore, validate, and communicate the stories behind their designs.

Major new features:

  • Slate: A node based material editor.
  • Quicksilver: Hardware renderer with multithreaded rendering engine that utilizes both CPU and GPU.
  • Extended Graphite Modeling Toolset
  • 3ds Max Composite: A HDRI-capable compositor based on Autodesk Toxik.
  • Viewport Canvas toolset for 3D and 2D texture painting directly in the viewport
  • Object Painting: use 3D geometry as ‘brushes’ on other geometry
  • Character Animation Toolkit (CAT): now integrated as part of the base package
  • Autodesk Material Library: Over 1200 new photometrically accurate shaders
  • Additional file format support: includes native support for Sketchup, Inventor
  • FBX file linking
  • Save to Previous Release (2010)

We created a new 8200×3200 scene and recorded the time for the hardware to finalise the render.

The Quad Channel memory architecture shows benefits with this specific test, delivering a time six seconds faster than the Core i7 2700k. When overclocked to 4.5ghz, the time is reduced to 6 minutes and 22 seconds which is around 11 seconds slower than the reference clocked Core i7 990X Extreme Edition.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

New and Improved Features

  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.

For our testing today we are converting a 3.3GB 720p MKV file (2h:12mins) to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power. We are using the newest version which has been optimised for Sandybridge processors.

Again, the Quad Channel memory architecture shows huge benefits with this video encoding software, completing the test in 10 minutes and 15 seconds, around 17 seconds faster than the Core i7 2700k. When we overclock the 3820 to 4.5ghz, the system is actually faster than the last generation flagship Core i7 990X system, and equals the reference clocked 3960X EE system. It is worth pointing out that this particular test doesn’t utilise all cores @ 100%.

Our good friends at Cyberlink kindly supplied the software for our BluRay and conversion tests.

Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 is one of the finest solutions for the BluRay experience on Windows and we found this software to work perfectly with this chipset. We tested with the new Bluray Disc of ‘The Road’.

These results are roughly equivalent to the 2600k, demanding 0.2% less CPU time.

Many people using this system will be enjoying Flash related content so we feel it is important to test with some of the more demanding material available freely online.

Close to the 2600k again, averaging 7.2% this time.

Handbrake is a fantastic free program which we wanted to include to confirm findings with Media Espresso, earlier in the review. HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.

We used the latest V 0.9.5 for testing today across all platforms. We encoded an DVD.MPG file.

The memory bandwidth reaps rewards with this specific test. The 3820 is around 7 seconds faster than the 2700k at default clocks and is only 8 seconds slower than the reference 990X EE when overclocked to 4.5ghz.

F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.

The system averages just under 80 fps at these settings, which is an excellent result.

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. We don’t really enjoy playing this game, but the engine is a great Direct X 11 test of modern hardware.

Another great set of results, averaging 66 fps at these high settings, while maintaining frame rates above 40 at all times.

Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.

To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.

No problems powering through this title, averaging 180 fps in Crossfire.

Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.

Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.

Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.

Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).

A demanding title, but no problems for this system, averaging around 185 fps.

We are measuring power drain at the wall, excluding the monitor and focusing just on the system. For load tests, we run Cinebench R11.5 64 bit.

Power efficiency is good, but slightly worse than the Core i7 2600k, both when idle and when at full load. The FX8150 leads the pack here, in the test it actually won’t want to lead!

The Intel Core i7 3820 is launched to target the audience who want the benefits of the X79 platform without having to spend £850 for a Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition, or £500 for a Core i7 3930. We haven’t been given official prices yet, but insiders have told us that the 3820 will cost around £260 when it hits the United Kingdom, and should be released shortly.

We have been extremely impressed with the performance from Intel’s 3820 and the system felt just as fast as the last 3960X EE system we built for general duties and even gaming. The performance is enhanced by the Quad Channel memory architecture, which is a significant improvement when compared against the P67 and Z68 platform’s dual channel configuration.

For gaming duties, we didn’t notice much in the way of a tangible difference between the Core i7 3820 system and the Core i7 2600k/2700k rigs, but if you also encode video or render 3D scenes on a regular basis, then the new architecture has benefits as shown with some of the results today. Improvements were easily noticeable with 3D Studio Max 2011, Media Espresso and Handbrake.

Overclocking proved a positive experience, and the ASrock Extreme4-M is a fully loaded loaded Micro ATX board which suffers very few compromises. Achieving 4.5ghz required minimal work and more should be possible with better cooling than we used in our Lian LI PC60 chassis. That said, the hardcore overclocking audience will be slightly disappointed to see that unlike the 2500k, 2600k and 2700k the new chip is partially locked, limited to a ratio of x43. QuickSync and integrated graphics are not supported, which may prove a problem for a small portion of the audience.

For those people who already own a high performance 2700k, 2600k or 2500k system, the move to a 3830 X79 system will be expensive. Unless you really need Quad Channel memory, and the benefits of improved future proofing it may be a hard sell.

If you are in the market for a new system build and want to move to the X79 platform, then the 3820 is a fairly cost effective solution. The biggest issue would be the price of the motherboards, which are often in the region of £250, around the same price as the processor itself. The ASrock Extreme4-M we reviewed today is cheaper than most, being sold on Scan for £170 inc vat, offering good value for money. It also means you can look at a variety of Micro ATX cases, if you fancy downsizing without compromising. We have no hesitations recommending the Extreme4-M, it didn’t cause us a problem over a week of stress testing and delivers fantastic discrete graphics performance, as highlighted with our HD7970 and HD7970 Crossfire results today.

Both Intel Core i7 3820 and Asrock Extreme4-M earn our ‘WORTH BUYING’ award, scoring 8.5/10. The Core i7 3820 may not be an ideal investment for gamers who already own a high performance 2600k or 2700k system, but for those building a new system from scratch and who want access to the X79 architecture then the system we built today is very stable, overclocks well and more importantly doesn’t cost a fortune.

Kitguru says: We managed to build an ultra high performance system in a small form factor Lian Li case today. A 3820 and ASRock Extreme4-M is a powerful foundation for a system that doesn’t cost the earth.

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