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Sandybridge i5 vs. Bloomfield i7 for platform refresh

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November 15, 2011 5:47:58 PM

I'm looking to do a platform refresh for my main box (specs in sig) to have me set for another 2.5 -3 years. I just recently got a pretty decent deal on the 6870 1GB that replaced 2 4850s but it seems like I'm pretty significantly CPU bound in games and video encoding. I could potentially see adding a second 6870 in Crossfire (assuming my PSU will handle it w/ the new CPU and RAM) or replacing my current 6870 w/ a 6970 or one of the 7000 series cards at some point in the not too distant future.

I sometimes like to play around w/ overclocking, but generally run my primary box at stock clocks/multipliers/voltages for stability and longevity.

Approximate Purchase Date: Sometime between December '11 and January '12
Budget Range: ? most likely want to keep it under/around $600 for mobo/CPU/RAM
System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, HD video editing/encoding, 3D modeling/animation/rendering, web browsing, total world domination, etc.
Parts Not Required: Basically just looking at upgrading mobo/CPU/RAM (and heatsink if necessary). PSU is a Corsair TX750
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: mostly newegg in the past
Country: US
Parts Preferences: Intel/Asus/Corsair
Overclocking: Maybe
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200

I really haven't been keeping all that up on desktop hardware since I built out my current rig 3 years ago, but from initial recon of the current offerings I've been looking at the following potential setups:

Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601960
ASUS Rampage III Formula LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
CORSAIR Vengeance 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ12GX3M3A1600C9

or

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K
ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B

As far as I can see the big advantages of the Bloomfield i7 for me would be PCIe x16/x16 mode for Crossfire/SLI, triple channel memory controller, and more L3 cache. Disadvantages: significantly high power draw/thermal disapation, no Turbo Boost, slightly lower default clock speed

Advantages for the Sandy Bridge: significantly lower power draw/heat production, Turbo Boost for the non-multicore optimized apps, slightly lower price and higher clock speed, maybe more future proof (???). Disadvantages: only 8x/8x for Crossfire/SLI from the mobos I've seen, 1 less DDR3 channel, less L3 cache.

I guess my questions are as follows:

What is it that seems to make the Sandy Bridge so much more popular than Bloomfield for most of the high end configs I see? Cost? Overclock headroom? Turbo Boost? Power/Heat?

Is it worth the extra cash and power/heat to go for the Bloomfield for my purposes or would I be shooting myself in the foot because of some here to for undiscovered magic in the Sandy Bridge architecture?

Any clue if my current heatsink is compatible w/ LGA 1155 and/or LGA 1366?

Any other general comments/feedback/guidance on any of these components would be appreciated as well.

Thanks!
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