Intel's Sandy Bridge Microarchitecture Debuts: Core i5 2500K and Core i7 2600K CPUs Reviewed

By Julio Franco ยท 48 replies
Jan 2, 2011
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  1. Enter the Sandy Bridge 32nm architecture, which marks the introduction of the 2nd generation Intel Core processors. Sandy Bridge is designed to be a two-chip platform consisting of a processor and Platform Controller Hub (PCH). It incorporates an Integrated Display Engine, Processor Graphics, and Integrated Memory Controller.

    Read the full review at:

    Please leave your feedback here.
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    Excellent review.
    Thanks Steve for sacrificing a portion of your seasonal holiday to bring us this review. I, along with a more than a few others I suspect, wasn't expecting reviews for a few days.
  3. ackack47

    ackack47 TS Rookie

    Disappointed not to see the 980x in the comparison.
  4. Lets see if amd side of things keep up with that impressive IGP performance. More since they own ati, radeon, or what ever the name it is.
  5. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,833   +1,948

    Thanks are you are very welcome :)

    Hey we are just as disappointed, Intel let us hold on to our sample just long enough to benchmark it before snatching it back :( Now those results are out dated.
  6. So what processors are not going to have this integrated graphics? Isn't it Sandybridge b2? When are they supposed to launch?
  7. Sarcasm

    Sarcasm TS Guru Posts: 364   +45

    Wow, that Photoshop CS5 test is impressive.

    Gonna have to build a computer around Intel next time, my AMD 965BE is already feeling outdated
  8. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,579   +961

    @Guest, the true high-end replacements without integrated graphics won't come around for a while, but hey, the current Core i7s we just showed you can beat those $999 Extreme Edition processors for less than half the price so it's not all bad :).

    The Sandy Bridge E variants could arrive to market around Q2/11 at the earliest and Q4/11 at the latest.
  9. Intel ***** start your engines . . .
  10. SilverCider

    SilverCider TS Rookie Posts: 71

    Intel have certainly been busy making optimisations/changes to their architecture to create these processors that can beat the previous generation with almost half the power usage!
    Excellent review too! XD
  11. fpsgamerJR62

    fpsgamerJR62 TS Rookie Posts: 489

    Kudos to Steve for this excellent review to usher in the new year. What surprised me wasn't the performance increase and power usage optimizations that Sandy Bridge showed over the previous generation of Core processors which was, of course, to be expected. The big surprise was in the prices of these two K-series CPUs at the $200 and $300 level which effectively makes the previous generation far less attractive for new PC builds and increasing the pressure on AMD to come up with a worthy competitor to Sandy Bridge. I am a big fan of AMD but unless they pull off a miracle with Bulldozer, I don't see how they can continue to compete with Intel in the middle to high-end segment. Thanks, Intel for making a dinosaur of my 6-month old 955BE PC. :(
  12. Thank you intel for another socket change and what makes it worse is that even if you had the old 1155 board you still can't use it.
  13. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Great review, but a clock for clock comparison would have been interesting though, to see how they compare to the older generation.

    Now my i7-920 feels outdated and power hungry!
  14. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    You are confusing lga 1156 with this new 1155. The reason AMD doesn't need a new socket is because they just add more cores and cache to the same architechture.
  15. I'm not confusing it because before 1156 there was 1155.
    from the article 'We hate this on-going trend of complete platform replacements (kudos to AMD for avoiding this), but because the new Sandy Bridge processors use the LGA1155 socket, it means new chipset and new motherboards are required. '
  16. Cueto_99

    Cueto_99 TS Booster Posts: 248   +12

    What a hit to start the year! I feel sad for guise who bought a new PC on christmas eve with core i5 or i7... These new chips blow everything else away... AMD need bulldozer fast, they can't keep lowering prices! If so we will soon find a phenom II x4 955 for 100 bucks...
  17. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,461   +363

    hurr, maybe I'll update my HTPC/NAS and take that motherboard and processor and make a net-appliance that I can keep on 24/7. An e5200 overclocked to 3.5GHz (with a low profile heatsink) paired with onboard Geforce 9300 only goes so far. lol

    My only point of disdain at the moment is that intel processors never seem to drop in price when it is convenient for the consumer and because of the new socket, the motherboard market will be further over-saturated with new boards (which will likewise be expensive as older boards will end up stabilizing higher in the short run).

    It's always a love-hate thing for me when a new architecture/socket comes out.
  18. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 839   +29

    Well I am certainly glad I plan to build a new system this spring instead of a last fall like I was originally going to do.
  19. grvalderrama

    grvalderrama TS Enthusiast Posts: 194

    Price comparisons with older models are just as amazing as the new CPUs themselves...Hats off to Intel and Steve, for bringing this great review!
  20. blimp01

    blimp01 TS Enthusiast Posts: 144

    i might consider upgrading my q9550 but i still dont have $600 for everything. I'm thinking my overclocked Q9550 at 3.4 can still match these beasts in most games
  21. TeamworkGuy2

    TeamworkGuy2 TS Enthusiast Posts: 191

    Thanks Steven and TS!
    Wow, these are some impressive numbers, the Core i5 2500K looks really good, now the i5-750 looks old... Power consumption is amazing.
    The only major draw back is the platform change, I just built my first computer and I went with AMD because I know I have half a dozen processors better than the one I got (Athlon II X4 640), so there is no need to worry about my motherboard getting outdated. But these intel processors are still tempting, AMD has nothing to compare to these.
  22. Apologies if I'm just overlooking the obvious, but doesn't it seem a bit strange that for this new release of ~14 SKUs, there isn't a single one that doesn't include an in-built GPU, when presumably a significant number of users would be wanting to use their own GFX card - and as such have paid for an in-built GPU that will never be used?

    I realise that the mainstream consumer market is inevitably heading in the direction of on-CPU graphics (not that it's a bad thing, given the gaming performance improvements in this review), but seeing as the 2600K and 2500K units beat most other currently available i7 chips other than the i7 975 EE variant in certain tests (unless I've misinterpreted the review results) - even enthusiasts are going to be interested in these new units over the current i7 chips.

    However for these enthusiasts, they will either be stuck between the choice of paying for a 2600K/2500K that includes a redundant GPU, buying a current gen i7 using a now outdated socket or else having to wait 6-12 months (according to Julio's comment above) for the Sandy Bridge E parts that don't have in-built GPU.

    I realise that price/performance is excellent for the 2600K/2500K and so the whole "I'm paying for something I'm never going to use" argument is slightly less valid, but there's a part of me that just thinks it's a bit of a waste / doesn't like the principal! ;-)

    As an example:
    I currently have an ancient C2D E6600 and have been wanting to upgrade it for a while. I'm about to buy an ATI 69xx or similar (current card is a GeForce 6200 and yes I know!) so would be slightly miffed at having to buy an Intel CPU that includes an inbuilt GPU that I would never use, but the alternative is either wait 6-9 months for Sandy Bridge E or else buy an outdated i7/socket 1156 combo, which would be a bit daft.

    Also, is there any indication what type of units/what price-point the Sandy Bridge E units would be targeted at? ie: There's no point me waiting 6-12 months for it if it turns out they are all $700-$1000 units out of my requirements/price range.

    Anyway, interested in what other people think - thanks!
  23. Where are the socket 1156 i7's in the comparison? This review seems to be rigged to show that SB is more efficient than socket 1366. Bad form. The omission of the i7 860 is egregious.
  24. I wonder how this CPU scores with SwiftShader. The CPU part actually has more computing power than the GPU part. All that's lacking to really make it efficient at graphics is support for gather/scatter instructions. We could then have CPUs with more generic cores instead.
  25. I didn't find any info on what type of cooling was used to overclock to 4.4GHz. Was this done on air or liquid cooling? If it was done on air, any special cooling device used? What about temps after overclocking?

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