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

  • wingless - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I'll keep my 2600K

    .....just kidding
  • formulav8 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I hope you give AMD even more praise when Trinity is released Anand. IMO you way overblew how great Intels igp stuff. Its their 4th gen that can't even beat AMDs first gen.

    Just my opinion :p
  • Zstream - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I agree.. Reply
  • dananski - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    As much as I like the idea of decent Skyrim framerates on every laptop, and even though I find the HD4000 graphics an interesting read, I couldn't care less about it in my desktop. Gamers will not put up with integrated graphics - even this good - unless they're on a tight budget, in which case they'll just get Llano anyway, or wait for Trinity. As for IVB, why can't we have a Pentium III sized option without IGP, or get 6 cores and no IGP? Reply
  • Kjella - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Strategy, they're using their lead in CPUs to bundle it with a GPU whether you want it or not. When you take your gamer card out of your gamer machine it'll still have an Intel IGP for all your other uses (or for your family or the second-hand market or whatever), that's one sale they "stole" from AMD/nVidia's low end. Having a separate graphics card is becoming a niche market for gamers. That's better for Intel than lowering the expectation that a "premium" CPU costs $300, if you bring the price down it's always much harder to raise it again... Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    As amazing this CPU is, and how much I'd love it (considering I play BF3 and need a GTX560+ anyway) I have to agree the GPU improvement is pretty disappointing...

    After all that work, Intel still can't even come close to AMD's integrated graphics. It's 75% of AMD's performance at best.
  • Cogman - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    There is actually a good reason for both AMD and Intel to keep a GPU on their CPUs no matter what. That reason is OpenCV. This move makes the assumption that OpenCV or programming languages like it will eventually become mainstream. With a GPU coupled to every CPU, it saves developers from writing two sets of code to deal with different platforms. Reply
  • froggr - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    OpenCV is Open Computer Vision and runs either way. I think you're talking about OpenCL (Open Compute Language). and even that runs fine without a GPU. OpenCL can use all cores CPU + GPU and does not require separate code bases.

    OpenCL runs faster with a GPU because it's better parallellized.
  • frozentundra123456 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Maybe we could actually see some hard numbers before heaping so much praise on Trinity??

    I will be convinced about the claims of 50% IGP improvements when I see them, and also they need to make a lot of improvements to Bulldozer, especially in power consumption, before it is a competitive CPU. I hope it turns out to be all the AMD fans are claiming, but we will see.
  • SpyCrab - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Sure, Llano gives good gaming performance. But it's pretty much at Athlon II X4 CPU performance. Reply

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