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

Hardware Setup

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel 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
MotherboardGigabyte 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
MemoryKingston 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 DriveOCZ RevoDrive X2 240 GB PCI Express x4 (Main Test Bed)
Intel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s (Graphics/Quick Sync Test Bed)
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
AMD Radeon HD 5550 1 GB DDR3
AMD Radeon HD 4550 512 MB DDR3
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 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.

  • JE_D
    BENCHIES! Thanks Tomshardware!
    Reply
  • Editor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    MoneyFace pEditor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
    Fixed, thanks Money!
    Reply
  • juncture
    "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
    Reply
  • cangelini
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active
    Just this.
    Reply
  • fakie
    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. =(
    Reply
  • englandr753
    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
    Reply
  • joytech22
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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
    Reply
  • LuckyDucky7
    "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.
    Reply