The 7 Series Chipset & USB 3.0

The platform story around Ivy Bridge is far better than it was when Sandy Bridge launched. There are a ton of chipsets, but the delineation makes sense this time. All chipsets support Ivy's processor graphics, however only the Z75/Z77 support CPU overclocking. The good news for current 6-series/Sandy Bridge owners is, with BIOS support, your platforms can support Ivy Bridge as well—making for a better upgrade path down the road.

Intel Z77 PCH

Intel Z68 PCH


The new 7-series platform features PCIe 3.0 support, but only when used with an Ivy Bridge CPU, and only on the lanes that branch off of the CPU itself—the PCH lanes are still PCIe 2.0. Ivy's processor graphics, when combined with a 7-series chipset, also enables support for three independent displays (up from 2 with Sandy Bridge/6-series). Other than those two items, the only remaining feature is USB 3.0 support. Intel's 7-series PCH finally has native support for up to 4 USB 3.0 ports.

Performance of Intel's USB 3.0 controller is very good as you'll see in our upcoming Ivy Bridge motherboard roundup.

Intel's 7-series chipset does support Thunderbolt when paired with an external Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt controller, however the Thunderbolt for PCs launch has been pushed back to late May so we'll have to wait a bit before diving into that.

While most enthusiasts will focus on Z77, you can give up SSD caching, some flexibility on the PCIe side (and Thunderbolt support) and go for Intel's Z75 chipset. The chipset itself isn't much cheaper, but boards built around it will likely target lower price points and be lighter on features.

Overclocking and 22nm The Test & CPU Performance


View All Comments

  • Tujan - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    cause how I see it :
    " If you're constantly transcoding movies to get them onto your smartphone or tablet, you need Ivy Bridge. In less than 7 minutes, and with no impact to CPU usage, I was able to transcode a complete 130 minute 1080p video to an iPad friendly format—that's over 15x real time."

    The majority of trancoding is going the other way- from an ipad friendly format to another friendly type format (device or not). Cell phone to pc,ipad to youtube etc.
    I like the concept of the transcode,encode,but as much as with the bandwidth necesary to utilize them they are as they are 'bandwidth hungry'. And here is the first I have noticed that of telling there is hardware to facilitate the h.264 type encoding. "Hardware" to do this.
    The screens from all of those cell phones in high resolution 'still'require bandwidth to utilize them. .. and so on.

    I dont understand it completely but I'll attempt to stay tuned.
  • androticus - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I find this review enormously confusing. You mix IB and SB parts/sku's throughout, without clearly highlighting which is which. On page 2, at first I thought the chart was of IB CPUs, but then realized it was a mishmash of both. Likewise on all the benchmark charts, and I couldn't even distinguish various SB/IB/core counts apart.

    Was this article written solely for people who have a PhD in Intel sku's ???
  • Dudenell - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Could we actually see comparison with the i7-920 or i7-950 in there? Reply
  • Pjotr - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the Compile test, this is all I look at to decide purchases at work. Reply
  • sld - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    The A8 is conspicuously missing from the 2 charts showing idle and load system consumption. Why is this so? Reply
  • greggm2000 - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link


    According to the article linked below from today, it seems that Intel may be using TIM paste instead of fluxless solder in the IB chips, and if so, does this seem like a reasonable explanation for the high temperatures that people are seeing?

    I'm interested in your thoughts on this... and if it's true, and if the article is correct, then Intel deliberately handicapping their chips (to possibly preserve SB-E sales?) is quite troubling to me.
  • slickr - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Hi, is this good enough of an upgrade over a Pentium 4 for office, internet and movies?

    And will the HD4000 beat a ATI x1650XT?
  • Death666Angel - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Hey guys!
    Good review overall, thanks for that!
    But the Quicksync section was kinda strange. No way that an x86 software solution generates worse IQ than any accelerated stuff. Unless you were comparing IQ with settings that have the x86 do recode the file in the same time it takes the other solutions. Anyway, I don't understand what you did in that section. :-)
  • kevith - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Great review.

    Would it be interesting to see how it fared in a series 6 motherboard, now that it actually is backwards compatible?
  • pwnsweet - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    The only thing I care about is how much faster this new slab of silicon will power though my x264 encoding and that's the one part of the review that was left out!

    Why anand, why!?

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