Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Hardware Setup

Intel’s Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review
By
Test Hardware


Processors
Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge) 3.4 GHz (34 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge) 3.3 GHz (33 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge) 3.1 GHz (31 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i3-2100 (Sandy Bridge) 3.1 GHz (34 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-875K (Lynnfield) 2.93 GHz (22 * 133 MHz), LGA 1156, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i5-655K (Clarkdale) 3.2 GHz (24 * 133 MHz), LGA 1156, 4 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-950 (Bloomfield) 3.06 GHz (23 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 8 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Turbo Boost enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 (Yorkfield) 2.83 GHz (8.5 * 333 MHz), LGA 775, 12 MB L2, Power-savings enabled

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban) 3.3 GHz (16.5 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo CORE enabled, Power-savings enabled

AMD Phenom II X4 970 (Deneb) 3.5 GHz (17.5 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3, 6 MB Shared L3, Power-savings enabled
Motherboard
Gigabyte P67A-UD7 (LGA 1155) Intel P67 Exrpress, BIOS F6a

Gigabyte H67MA-UD2 (LGA 1155) Intel H67 Express, BIOS F6a

Gigabyte P55A-UD7 (LGA 1156) Intel P55 Express, BIOS F8b

Gigabyte X58A-UD7 (LGA 1366) Intel X58 Express/ICH10R, BIOS FC

Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5 (Socket AM3) AMD 890FX/DB850, BIOS F6

Intel DX48BT2 (LGA 775) Intel X48 Express/ICH10R, BIOS 2006

Asus P7H57D-V EVO (LGA 1156) Intel H57 Express, BIOS 1606
Memory
Kingston 8 GB (4 x 2 GB) DDR3-2133, KHX2133C9AD3W1K2/4GX x 2 @ DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-20 and 1.65 V

Crucial 12 GB (3 x 4 GB) DDR3-1333, MT16JTF51264AZ-1G4D1 @ DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-20 and 1.65 V
Hard Drive
OCZ RevoDrive X2 240 GB PCI Express x4 (Main Test Bed)

Intel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s (Graphics/Quick Sync Test Bed)
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB

AMD Radeon HD 5550 1 GB DDR3

AMD Radeon HD 4550 512 MB DDR3
Power Supply
Cooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX
DirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 263.09 (For GTX 580)

Intel GFX_Vista64_Win7_64_8.15.10.2266_PV (For Sandy Bridge and Clarkdale)

AMD Catalyst 10.12 (For Radeon HD 6870 1 GB)


That's a ton of hardware, right? Well, not all of it was used for all of the tests.

All 10 processors are represented in the bulk of the benchmarks. However, for the entry-level gaming metrics, we used the H67- and H57-based motherboards hosting a Core i7-2600K and Core i5-661 CPU. Onto the H67 platform, we dropped two AMD discrete cards for comparison to Intel's on-die and on-package solutions.

We chose the Radeon HD 6870 1 GB and GeForce GTX 570 1.25 GB as best-case examples of what each respective company's GPGPU technologies could do versus Quick Sync. That platform consisted of Gigabyte's H67 board hosting a Core i7-2600K processor.

OCZ's RevoDrive X2 240 GB was used exclusively on the main test bench, while we leaned on an Intel SSD for the platform that was separately running the gaming/Quick Sync tests.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 192 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    cangelini , January 3, 2011 3:41 AM
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active


    Just this.
  • 10 Hide
    juncture , January 3, 2011 3:35 AM
    "an unlocked Sandy Bridge chip for $11 extra is actually pretty damn sexy."

    i think the author's saying he's a sexually active cyberphile
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    JE_D , January 3, 2011 3:15 AM
    BENCHIES! Thanks Tomshardware!
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 3, 2011 3:21 AM
    Editor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , January 3, 2011 3:25 AM
    MoneyFace pEditor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.


    Fixed, thanks Money!
  • 10 Hide
    juncture , January 3, 2011 3:35 AM
    "an unlocked Sandy Bridge chip for $11 extra is actually pretty damn sexy."

    i think the author's saying he's a sexually active cyberphile
  • 11 Hide
    cangelini , January 3, 2011 3:41 AM
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active


    Just this.
  • 7 Hide
    fakie , January 3, 2011 3:49 AM
    Contest is limited to residents of the USA (excluding Rhode Island) 18 years of age and older.

    Everytime there's a new contest, I see this line. =(
  • 5 Hide
    englandr753 , January 3, 2011 3:51 AM
    Great article guys. Glad to see you got your hands on those beauties. I look forward to you doing the same type of review with bulldozer. =D
  • 5 Hide
    joytech22 , January 3, 2011 3:52 AM
    Wow Intel owns when it came to converting video, beating out much faster dedicated solutions, which was strange but still awesome.

    I don't know how AMD's going to fare but i hope their new architecture will at least compete with these CPU's, because for a few years now AMD has been at least a generation worth of speed behind Intel.

    Also Intel's IGP's are finally gaining some ground in the games department.
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , January 3, 2011 3:58 AM
    fakieContest is limited to residents of the USA (excluding Rhode Island) 18 years of age and older.Everytime there's a new contest, I see this line. =(


    I really wish this weren't the case fakie--and I'm very sorry it is. We're unfortunately subject to the will of the finance folks and the government, who make it hard to give things away without significant tax ramifications. I know that's of little consolation, but that's the reason :( 

    Best,
    Chris
  • 1 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , January 3, 2011 4:07 AM
    "It’s the value-oriented buyers with processor budgets between $100 and $150 (where AMD offers some of its best deals) who get screwed."

    I believe that says it all. Sorry, Intel, your new architecture may be excellent, but unless the i3-2100 series outperforms anything AMD can offer at the same price range WHILE OVERCLOCKED, you will see none of my desktop dollars.

    That is all.
  • 6 Hide
    DjEaZy , January 3, 2011 4:13 AM
    ... will wait til 'buldozer'... and two things may happen... the buldozer at the price point will kick ass... or the sandy bridge parts will get cheaper...
  • 3 Hide
    touchdowntexas13 , January 3, 2011 4:30 AM
    There is some pretty cool stuff going on here. I like the way the article points out the good and the bad. As for me I really am mystified at Intel's decision to only put the higher end graphics in the k-models as most likely anyone buying them will be going for the P67 platform that doesn't even use the integrated graphics. It would have been soooo much better for the HTPC crowd if there were some lower end chips with the better integrated graphics. I guess somehow this is money motivated???

    As for overclocking, well it seems a bit odd in the way it is being implemented. But for $216, I can't complain too much about a quad-core with a base clock of 3.3 GHz. Some enthusiasts won't like the limited overclocking features, but others will welcome the simplified approach.

    I will be building my brother a new gaming computer for graduation this summer and now I have another viable option to look at. I had planned on going with a P55 + i5 760, but now I will need to consider the P67 + i5 2500K.

    Waiting on bulldozer...
  • 7 Hide
    jyar727 , January 3, 2011 4:36 AM
    I mean this looks like a thorough test but its really not. I wanted to see an I7 1:1 clock performance comparisons. Mainly, 3.4GHz I7-950 vs 3.4GHz I7-2600K. Obviously 3.4 GHz new tech would usually beat a 3.0 current tech in benches. UGH. lame lame lame. Really want to see this comparison instead.
  • 7 Hide
    silversurfernhs , January 3, 2011 4:39 AM
    Shouldn't the title be second gen Core i series... because Core 2s were second gen Cores, weren't they?
  • 8 Hide
    Tamz_msc , January 3, 2011 4:57 AM
    Where is the 980x in these benchmarks?
    Other than that its a great article, and I'm drooling over QuickSync!
  • 0 Hide
    Maziar , January 3, 2011 5:30 AM
    Thanks for the review Chris :) 
    QuickSync definitely looks interesting.
  • 1 Hide
    Ramar , January 3, 2011 5:34 AM
    I just bought an i5-760 system on 12/30 from newegg, I guess I wasn't paying attention to when Sandy Bridge would actually be released. It's not here yet, so I could just send the mobo and cpu back when they get here, but I don't see enough justification as a gamer to move to the 2500k. Based on the number of 1.35V 4.7ghz for the 2600k, I would assume that on stock voltage it doesn't get much higher in frequency than my 760 will, and I don't like raising stock voltage.

    This is all very nice, but I'll keep my bclk control for now and maybe move up when I get out of college in seven months and the tech is set in stone and dropping in price a little.

    Not a bad chip, and I'm excited to see where they go with it. =]
  • -1 Hide
    Hellbound , January 3, 2011 5:45 AM
    Is sandy bridge the replacement to the x58 chipset? I thought I read somewhere they were planning on x68 sometime in 2011.
  • 1 Hide
    djdarko321 , January 3, 2011 6:00 AM
    Remember though as this is the lower end Sandy Bridge platform NOT THE MAIN LGA2011 socket. As Intel decided to release for the mainstream first before the enthusiasts this go around.
  • -2 Hide
    Tamz_msc , January 3, 2011 6:08 AM
    Just looked at the AnandTech review and here is their opinion -

    Quote:
    In all but the heaviest threaded applications, Sandy Bridge is the fastest chip on the block—and you get the performance at a fairly reasonable price. The Core i7-2600K is tempting at $317 but the Core i5-2500K is absolutely a steal at $216. You're getting nearly $999 worth of performance at roughly a quarter of the cost.


    These things are as fast as the i7 980X and in some cases they're even faster!
Display more comments