Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Sandy Bridge Processor Overview

Efficiency Comparison: Sandy Bridge Vs. Intel And AMD CPUs
By

This article exclusively deals with desktop processors, as testing the mobile side is a bit more complex and requires more lead time. Since our initial launch article already covered the Sandy Bridge details, allow me to list the essentials that you might want to know more about.

Processors:

So far, there are only a few regular desktop CPUs, which are easy to memorize.

Core i3 is almost entirely out of the picture for most folks. It doesn’t support AES-NI, the encryption acceleration feature, and Core i3 does not support Turbo Boost. It can't be overclocked, and its on-die graphics are the anemic HD Graphics 2000 implementation. The Core i3-2100 runs at 2.93 GHz, and i3-2120 is a 3.3 GHz part. Both are dual-core models with Hyper-Threading, are rated at 65 W, and armed with just 3 MB of shared L3 cache. Core i5 is a much more compelling lineup.

All Core i5 CPUs have four physical cores (except for the poorly-named Core i5-2390T), 6 MB L3 cache, AES-NI, and Turbo Boost, making them the best choice for most users.

  • Core i5-2300: 2.8 GHz (3.1 GHz Turbo Boost), 95 W
  • Core i5-2400: 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo Boost), 95 W
  • Core i5-2500: 3.3 GHz (3.7 GHz Turbo Boost), 95 W
  • Core i5-2500K: same as -2500, but multiplier unlocked for overclocking


Core i7 is very similar to Core i5, but has 8 MB L3 cache and eight threads/four cores.

There is just the Core i7-2600 at 3.4 GHz (3.8 GHz Turbo Boost) with a 95 W TDP. The K-series version is the unlocked one for multiplier-based overclocking.

Our Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K samples.Our Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K samples.

Chipsets:

Intel has five 6-series desktop chipsets, B65, Q65, Q67, H67, and P67. B65 is a feature-limited small business platform, Q65 adds management, Q67 is the fully-featured business version, H67 supports Intel’s integrated HD Graphics core or one x16 PCIe graphics card, and you’ll want P67 for twin x8 PCIe-based dual-card graphics setups. H67 and P67 no longer support 32-bit PCI, though. We will follow up with motherboard roundups very soon.

H67-based solutions like Intel’s DH67BL are sufficient for mainstream users, but inadequate for gamers due to the single x16 PCI Express slot for graphics.

Recommendations:

Gamers are naturally going to be looking at P67 for its ability to support two graphics cards, along with processor overclocking (which isn't supported on H67). If you don’t care much about gaming, modeling, or anything else that is 3D-heavy, then you should stay with H67.

As we discovered yesterday, it's probably not necessary to go all-out on a CPU. Intel's Core i7-2600K is too expensive for what you get in excess of the Core i5-2500K. That's undoubtedly the more attractive option.

Ask a Category Expert

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

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 139 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 5 Hide
    unlicensedhitman , January 4, 2011 5:47 AM
    Very good late night read :p 
  • 8 Hide
    gomi , January 4, 2011 5:51 AM
    AMD has some serious catching up to do! I hope bulldozer can keep it competitive!
  • 4 Hide
    jprahman , January 4, 2011 6:00 AM
    Wow, Sandy Bridge 50% faster on average with 50% less power draw than the Phenom II X4's and X6's. AMD really needs to deliver with BD, offering performance that is close, but at a lower price point.
  • 4 Hide
    joytech22 , January 4, 2011 6:12 AM
    AMD better step up their game because these results are worrying.

    If AMD don't deliver this year I'm straight for Intel.
  • -1 Hide
    fstrthnu , January 4, 2011 6:34 AM
    Looks like AMD better use their last lifeline (Bulldozer) well; otherwise, it's off to the races for Intel. By now, there's no way AMD's ever going to catch up to Intel (since they're already behind now, and Intel's going to be even further ahead by the time Bulldozer's out)
  • 3 Hide
    Reynod , January 4, 2011 6:34 AM
    Bulldozers new cores will not see a significant IPC improvement to allow it to come anywhere near SB, so AMD's major drawcard still remains in the low end of the market with fuzion products delivering a better quality IGP (on die) than SB ... albeit, from the previous article and anandtech's tests, SB has a pretty good alternative with the 3000 series graphics core.

    SB also has a ULP version which will compete with Fuzion, a faster cpu and a comparable GPU solution, so Intel are not leaving the portable end of the market to AMD either.

    AMD's focus on real cores whilst commendable, isn't a serious competitor to Intel now they have a much faster, wider executing processor, running on a smaller, cooler, more cost effective process.

    AMD would have to pull three cats of of the bag to come near to catching up ... I don't see that happening.

    I mentioned previously about AMD's ability to make better use of the GPU ondie, to do things like encoding and decoding, and Intels fast response hase been the Quick synch engine. Note this only works if you have the IGP enabled, but it delivers. AMD has not been able to respond again ... when this is an area they have expertise.

    I see AMD's stock starting to plummet one these start volume production, as they have no real market niche to retreat to ... other than "value" ... at the very real loss of profits as a consequence.

    Where is NVidia in all of this?

    Quite frankly they are gone ... unless the company shrinks to "boutique" level, trying to compete with AMD on high end discrete graphics. No chipset market, and Tegra2 chews too much power.

    Intel will rise now to the point where all opposition is likely to be crushed into oblivion.

    That's not a nice place to be when your a consumer.

    Ask the electronics and car industries what it is like to be held to ransom by the Chinese rare earth mines ...
  • 4 Hide
    mosox , January 4, 2011 6:39 AM
    Nice but why the i5-750 and not the 760?

    I'd rather want to see the $100-$150 chips. For a regular user on a budget those are much more interesting -> cheaper CPU = more $$ for a better video card. Who cares about 10 seconds/minute, when encoding or archiving, really? Not me.

    Cheap quads and cheap good mobos, that's what we need, Intel. Also the ability to replace our dual/quad with a 6 or 8 core CPU on the same mobo.
  • 1 Hide
    andrewcutter , January 4, 2011 6:39 AM
    in the test system page, the lga 1155 platform has lga 1156 processor :D 
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 4, 2011 7:33 AM
    There should be a comparison between Intel Sandy Bridge vs AMD Fusion.
  • 1 Hide
    chovav , January 4, 2011 7:48 AM
    Was that the standard Intel cooler you were using on the SB platform? and if you'll use a (good) after-market cooler , will the turbo boost stay on continually? Did you check what clock rates the cores were at with the multi-threaded applications?

    ...and what about overclocking SB? why haven't we seen anything about that?


    great article for the rest, its amazing to see that Intel has twice the efficiency score of AMD..
  • 1 Hide
    Tamz_msc , January 4, 2011 9:11 AM
    Eagerly awaiting some overclocking articles!
  • 3 Hide
    JimmiG , January 4, 2011 9:20 AM
    AMD's current architecture isn't really bad, it's just outdated. They just haven't done enough from K7 (1999) to K10.5. So BD really needs to be quite radical.

    I'm still hoping BD will be competitive. If not, CPUs that cost "only" $999 will be considered cheap, while performance of low-end and mid-range CPUs would stagnate at current levels. No need to lower your profit margins and bring out something faster when there's no competition. Maybe a small speed bump every couple of years to make people upgrade, but they'd essentially only be competing against themselves.
  • 1 Hide
    vaughn2k , January 4, 2011 9:44 AM
    Waiting for 'Zacate' Bench... before I decide...
  • 0 Hide
    christop , January 4, 2011 10:36 AM
    nice..
  • -1 Hide
    jasonpwns , January 4, 2011 11:04 AM
    reynodBulldozers new cores will not see a significant IPC improvement to allow it to come anywhere near SB, so AMD's major drawcard still remains in the low end of the market with fuzion products delivering a better quality IGP (on die) than SB ... albeit, from the previous article and anandtech's tests, SB has a pretty good alternative with the 3000 series graphics core.SB also has a ULP version which will compete with Fuzion, a faster cpu and a comparable GPU solution, so Intel are not leaving the portable end of the market to AMD either.AMD's focus on real cores whilst commendable, isn't a serious competitor to Intel now they have a much faster, wider executing processor, running on a smaller, cooler, more cost effective process.AMD would have to pull three cats of of the bag to come near to catching up ... I don't see that happening.I mentioned previously about AMD's ability to make better use of the GPU ondie, to do things like encoding and decoding, and Intels fast response hase been the Quick synch engine. Note this only works if you have the IGP enabled, but it delivers. AMD has not been able to respond again ... when this is an area they have expertise.I see AMD's stock starting to plummet one these start volume production, as they have no real market niche to retreat to ... other than "value" ... at the very real loss of profits as a consequence.Where is NVidia in all of this?Quite frankly they are gone ... unless the company shrinks to "boutique" level, trying to compete with AMD on high end discrete graphics. No chipset market, and Tegra2 chews too much power.Intel will rise now to the point where all opposition is likely to be crushed into oblivion.That's not a nice place to be when your a consumer.Ask the electronics and car industries what it is like to be held to ransom by the Chinese rare earth mines ...


    Quite frankly I will be buying a bulldozer chip. My athlon ii x4 has done what it needed to and I am a gamer so therefore AMD still has me as a customer. I am also a Nvidia customer (so basically I get screwed in terms f sli) If you think Nvidia is close to dead then you really are ignorant. Also bulldozer low wattage chips consume very little power consumption same with the gaming chips. All I am going to say wait for bulldozer before you speak.
  • 1 Hide
    hannibal , January 4, 2011 11:12 AM
    AMD don't have enough money to compete in production technology...
    If AMD would make SP "copy" with their factories in 45nm production technology, it would not be so good CPU, because Intel has better production technology at this moment.

    Hard situation for customers indeed... I still remember time when Intel CPU's were very expensive because of no/little competition...
    AMD needs to have good 32nm transition and good architecture upgrade (bulldoser) at the same time. Hard trick to do (Intell do it one step at time / tick tock...), but I really hope that AMD can do it. In gpu part there should not be problem. SB GPU is not so impressive, but if Intel production technology allow faster clockspeed in smaller space, even superior GPU technology would in trouble.
    I will kept my fingers crossed that AMD pulls the rabbit out of the hat and bulldoser cause some sweat to Intel. It would be more than healthy!
  • -1 Hide
    Wheat_Thins , January 4, 2011 11:20 AM
    jasonpwnsQuite frankly I will be buying a bulldozer chip. My athlon ii x4 has done what it needed to and I am a gamer so therefore AMD still has me as a customer. I am also a Nvidia customer (so basically I get screwed in terms f sli) If you think Nvidia is close to dead then you really are ignorant. Also bulldozer low wattage chips consume very little power consumption same with the gaming chips. All I am going to say wait for bulldozer before you speak.


    So you're going to buy a bulldozer regardless even if Intel wipes the floor with it? Fanboy to the core?
  • 3 Hide
    johntmosher , January 4, 2011 11:34 AM
    Why don't you include the i7 980x in the benchmarks?
  • 1 Hide
    gamerk316 , January 4, 2011 11:38 AM
    Ouch. The trashing continues...
  • -1 Hide
    jasonpwns , January 4, 2011 11:41 AM
    hannibalAMD don't have enough money to compete in production technology...If AMD would make SP "copy" with their factories in 45nm production technology, it would not be so good CPU.Hard situration for customers indeed... I still remember time when Intel CPU's were very expensive because of no/little competition... AMD needs to have good 32nm transition and good architecture upgrade (bulldoser) at the same time. Hard trick to do (Intell do it one step at time tick tock...), but I really hope that AMD can do it. In gpu part there should not be problem. SB GPU is not so impressive, but if Intel production technology allow faster clockspeed in smaller space, even superior GPU technology would in trouble.I will kept my fingers crossed that AMD pulls the rabbit out of the hat and bulldoser cause some sweat to Intel. It would be more than healthy!


    The reason for this is everyone even gamers (sheesh) think that 3 frames is going to make such a big difference. My athlon ii x4 paired with a gtx260 runs all the games I want on High/Max with 4x AA with a resolution of 1366x768. I am sure it could take on higher ones. In games there is little to no difference in frames between AMD/Intel CPU's only a bigger price tag.
Display more comments