Ivy Bridge did not create the hoped-for splash on the desktop and achieved a modest increase in performance compared to existing Sandy Bridge processors. In retrospect, however, Intel was only expecting an increase of 10 to 15%, so that many enthusiasts – including us – were probably wrong to have high expectations.
Instead of breaking new ground in performance, Ivy Bridge improves efficiency and marks the launch of Intel's 22nm design process, which uses new 3D transistors. As a result, the flagship quad-core i7-3770K with 3.5 GHz uses less power than the more modest Sandy Bridge i5-2500K.
Admittedly, the 19-watt energy savings we've seen in our tests are unlikely to delight desktop users, but offer a noticeable benefit for battery-bound mobile machines. Ivy Bridge's improved fuel efficiency should bring laptops a little more miles from chargers.
The third-generation Core i7 mobile processors are finally available in a variety of notebooks, including the Asus N56VM Core i7-3720QM package that we're testing today. While we're not sure how much this laptop will be retailing, we estimate that it will cost around $ 1,400 because its sibling, the N56VZ, is available for $ 1,000 and with the slightly slower core i7-3610QM.
In any case, the focus of this review is primarily on the Core i7-3720QM processor.
3rd generation Intel Core Core Lineup
Currently, only mobile Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors are widely used, so buyers will likely have to wait until the end of this year for cheaper versions. Intel has introduced six Mobile Core i7 Ivy Bridge chips that operate from 2.30 GHz to 2.9 GHz with TDPs of 35 W, 45 W and 55 W. Here is a table comparison:
As you may notice, the i7-3920XM and i7-3820QM are virtually identical to the Desktop Core i7-3770 and have a full 8MB L3 cache. The only real differences are the lower operating frequency and TDP of the mobile chip, as well as the higher maximum GPU frequency. Like the Desktop Core i7 processors, Hyper-Threading is enabled on all mobile i7, so they have four cores with eight threads.
Parts i7-3900 and i7-3800 have the full 8 MB cache, while chips i7-3700 and i7-3600 have a smaller 6 MB L3 cache. The difference in cache is the biggest factor for performance, although it is important to consider the operating frequency of both the CPU and the on-die GPU.
These new mobile processors include six 7 series mobile chipsets. The HM77 is the flagship and most sought-after model in the family, as it includes four USB 3.0 ports and Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT), which allows you to use a low-capacity SSD as a cache for your hard drive. This technology dramatically increases overall system performance without sacrificing storage capacity.
Cheaper laptops will likely opt for the cheaper HM75 or HM76 chipsets that lack SRT. However, the HM76 still supports USB 3.0 while the HM75 completely drops it, making it far less attractive.
Intel has introduced a chipset for ultra-portable devices, and Ivy Bridge mobile processors are expected to really drive this segment. The UM77 supports ten USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports and four SATA ports (only one 6 Gbit / s).
In addition to active management technology, there are also two business-oriented Q-series chipsets known as QM77 and QS77 that contain everything that is included in the HM77.
All mobile chipsets of the 7 series have the anti-theft technology from Intel, with which you can lock a laptop remotely in the event of theft, as well as a wireless display (WiDi – requires an adapter for your monitor).