No doubt, the new Ivy Bridge is an evolutionary step forward. Although no one promised any significant performance differences from the predecessors, Intel engineers managed to ensure a pretty significant, almost 10% performance gain compared with the previous-generation CPUs. Of course, it is achieved not only with microarchitectural improvements, but also with higher clock frequencies. But it is not a big deal, since the new third-generation Core processors aren’t any pricier than the Sandy Bridge products, which the new processors came to replace.
Moreover, Ivy Bridge offer substantially improved electrical and thermal parameters. Their energy-efficiency has got to a completely new level and allows lowering the power consumption of fully loaded contemporary LGA 1155 systems by about 20 W.
It is particularly nice that all these extras do not require any platform refresh, as the new processors can work just fine in old LGA 1155 mainboards purchased over a year ago. So, they will definitely make a great upgrade option. Moreover, by replacing just the CPU, the LGA 1155 platform will also acquire support for faster PCI Express 3.0 bus and extended DDR3 SDRAM frequency range.
I think all that should be enough to name Ivy Bridge a very successful update to the Intel processor family. Not to mention that they also offer new Intel HD 4000 graphics core. Unlike the graphics core integrated into the Sandy Bridge CPUs, this one supports DirectX 11, has GPGPU functionality and delivers good entry-level graphics performance.
It seems that Ivy Bridge should first of all become a great choice for mobile systems, as it was designed with them in mind in the first place. Therefore, most of its advantages may seem very niche from the desktop users’ perspective. However, even the desktop users will not find any serious reasons for complaining in this case.
The only user group who may be somewhat disappointed with the new Ivy Bridge is overclockers. The frequency potential of the new processors manufactured with the latest 22 nm process has suddenly turned out a little lower than that of the predecessors. That is why the third-generation Core CPU may not be a good fit for overclocked systems just yet. However, we expect things to get better. The improvement of the production process and release of the new processor steppings should push back the maximum frequencies for Ivy Bridge and make it enthusiast-friendly.