Intel Core i7-3720QM Ivy Bridge Mobile Review

Article Index

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  The Intel Core i7-3720QM is easily the fastest notebook processor we've tested to date. In standard compute workloads like Cinebench and LAME MT, the new Ivy Bridge Core i7 offered performance gains of 12 - 20% over Intel's previous generation Sandy Bridge processors, though it's hard to make direct clock-for-clock comparisons, since Intel Turbo Boost speeds vary significantly between the two architectures.  What's more impressive however, is how far Intel's Ivy Bridge graphics core has come along since Sandy Bridge.  Intel claimed we'd see a 2X performance increase in integrated graphics performance with their HD Graphics 4000 core; and we saw just that in many game tests like Batman: Arkham City, Left 4 Dead 2 and FarCry 2.  Furthermore, Intel's Quick Sync video transcoding engine in Ivy Bridge is also nearly twice as fast as Sandy Bridge's already smoking fast Quick Sync engine.

Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i7 Quad Core Mobile Architecture - Well-Rounded Performance

Asus N56VM 15.6-inch Multimedia Notebook - A Powerhouse with All the Trimmings

In our meetings with Intel's Notebook Marketing team over the years, they've often asked us what we would characterize as "good enough" performance for integrated notebook graphics, at least as far as what we felt an average, mainstream consumer's expectations would be.  And through those discussions, up until now frankly, we've always felt like Intel had their eye on the prize, so to speak, but our continual evaluation and analysis told us we weren't quite there yet. Ivy Bridge, however, changes all of that for Intel.

It appears, with this architecture launch, that Intel has arrived to market with an integrated graphics solution, coupled with core CPU and shared cache memory that offer robust processing resources for virtually any workload that the average consumer could want in a notebook solution--even for gaming.  We'll qualify that and say the hard core performance enthusiasts and gamers are still going to look toward discrete solutions for a true gaming notebook experience.  However, that's a niche' market and not the mainstream requirement.  I'll put it to you this way, since you obviously come here for our personal opinions on products.  Would I personally need anything more in terms of multimedia or graphics horsepower, beyond what the Core i7-3720QM Ivy Bridge CPU offers in a notebook?  Absolutely not.  I tend to game on my desktop machines and not often enough to be honest.  Ivy Bridge is a notebook processor architecture that gives me virtually 100% of the features and performance I'd want in a notebook solution, without compromise.  And since I work a lot with video when I'm on location at events etc., Intel's faster Quick Sync transcoding technology is a major advantage for my particular use case.  Finally, all of this enhanced performance is being delivered with lower power consumption. It's abundantly clear that Intel's bet on 22nm 3D Tri-Gate manufacturing technology has paid off in spades.

Ahh but there's always a "what if," isn't there?  The real question at this point is: What if AMD's upcoming Trinity Fusion APU technology offers a different balance of "good enough" CPU performance coupled with even stronger graphics/gaming and media encoding capabilities?  And what if AMD can pull this off at price points and power consumption lower than their arch rival?  With the performance we've seen from Intel's Ivy Bridge processor today, we'd say that's going to be a mighty tall hurdle for AMD to get over, though we'll tell you that within the next month or so that "what if" will be answered in specific detail.  We've already got Trinity on the bench in house here, so we'd suggest you keep your eyes and ears peeled.  This ought to get interesting pretty quickly.

Ivy is here now however, and she's lookin' pretty <HOT>.

Intel Core i7-3720QM Processor and Asus N56VM Notebook

  • ~ 20% faster CPU performance
  • 2X faster graphics performance
  • 2X faster Quick Sync transcoding
  • Lower power
  • Higher Turbo Boost speeds
  • Pricey high-end quad core models

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