There are a few reviews, like the one at Tweaktown, that claim to have actual retail Ivy Bridge chips. There's also a forum post over at TechPowerUp from a user that seems to have bought one of the same chips used in the Tweaktown review.
These chips are shipping out of China, and marked as retail. Are these chips actually the same as the retail chips that we will get in the U.S. in a few weeks, and so are the reviews reliable? I guess it's possible that the Chinese factory has already finished manufacturing the first batches, and "lost" a few shipments to a Chinese retailer who is seeding the market.
Ultimately I just want to know if these two reviews reflect what we can really expect from U.S. Ivy Bridge chips, or if there is going to be a difference with the ones that we get.
Like WR2 stated they maybe real but the most likely answers is that they are ES (engineering samples) that someone is trying to drive business to their sites by claiming they are the one and only source for information before a product is released.
Give it a couple more weeks and Tom's will have a legit review up on these processors that you can take to the bank.
The most realistic answer is that they are ES. Intel tendds to send ES out to people for testing, mainly people who they know or trust. Coolaler, a major player in overclocking, had a very early IB ES early last year, a bit after SB was released.
Tweaktown probably has a ES but wants people to think they have a 100% legit retail chip. Normally Intel will send out kits to the review sites, like AMD and other companies, with a final chip.
As well we have to remmeber that a lot of this has been done on unfinalized BIOSes and such and since thats the case, can easily skew the results.
I bet that around the end of next week, beginning of the following week we will have final reviews. Something is off with the reviews showing extreme high temps with high end coolers.
And it doesn't inspire much faith in Tweaktown if they are willing to sell their samples since its not allowed by Intel. Even when you get a CPU as a employee, you cannot sell the CPU you must use and keep it.