Although Intel's Sandy Bridge-E silicon has eight CPU cores, we've yet to see a desktop chip take advantage of all of 'em. The top-of-the-line Core i7-3960X sports only six cores, as does the 3830K. Only 100MHz and a few MB of cache separate those two chips otherwise—well, that and about $450. The 3960X runs at 3.3GHz, sports 15MB of last-level cache, and costs $1050. Meanwhile, the 3930K is clocked at 3.2GHz with 12MB of cache and a $600 price tag.
When those two chips launched late last year, Intel promised another addition to the family: a quad-core Core i7-3820 due in early 2012. With a 3.6GHz base clock speed, the 3820's cores run a little faster than those of its siblings. However, the chip's Turbo peak is capped at 3.8GHz, which is the same ceiling as the Core i7-3830K. The quad-core model is also limited to 10MB of cache, and it lacks a fully unlocked upper multiplier. Despite having fewer active cores, the 3820 still has a 130W TDP.
How much will this neutered version of Sandy Bridge-E cost? $294, according to Intel's freshly updated official price list. That's half the price of the next rung up the LGA2011 ladder and slightly less than the cost of not only the Core i7-2700K, but also the 2600K. Those last two CPUs slip into cheaper LGA1155 motherboards, of course.
I'm curious to see whether the Core i7-3820 catches on in the enthusiast community. The chip seems designed for gamers who want a taste of Sandy Bridge-E's quad-channel memory controller and ample PCIe 3.0 connectivity. Those folks may prefer having four faster cores to six slightly slower ones, especially if it saves $300. I can't help but wish Intel had rolled out an eight-core addition to the desktop SB-E lineup, though. Xeons shouldn't have all the fun. Thanks to CPU World for the tip.