Intel Core i5-2500 And DQ67SW: The Sandy Bridge Generation
Our third and final example platform is based on the most current iteration of Intel's vPro technology, based on its Sandy Bridge microarchitecture and Cougar Point chipset. The DQ67SW is a microATX motherboard with pretty much every subsystem a business user might want built-in.
Probably the biggest upgrade introduced by the Sandy Bridge design relates to processor and graphics performance. In the Wolfdale-based Core 2 Duo, you had a couple of execution cores at your disposal, augmented by chipset graphics that relied on a chipset-based memory controller for precious bandwidth. Eventually, that topology was succeeded by Clarkdale's two Hyper-Threading-enhanced cores and an on-package graphics engine. While it still wasn't considered ideal, since it still wasn't integrated onto the processor itself, performance rose noticeably over the prior generation. Sandy Bridge tied those two die together, enabling quad-core CPUs with HD Graphics 2000 built right onto the same piece of silicon (notably sharing lots of last-level cache and a much more responsive memory controller).
Although most business users care very little about the 3D performance of their workstation, HD Graphics 2000 is significantly faster than the two preceding platforms. More notably, it's a necessary part of enabling the highest resolutions and color depths while using KVM Remote Control.
The DQ67SW adds a second-gen PCIe x4 slot, replacing the PCIe x1 slots found on previous-generation boards. If we were going to make a suggestion to Intel's motherboard team here, it'd be to make that x4 slot open-ended. Doing so would free up room for an eight-lane peripheral, like a higher-end storage controller. PCIe x4 is not the most widely-used connection, after all.
Overall, Intel's Core i5-2500 and DQ67SW show the heritage of the DQ45CB and DQ57TM combinations, but add a lot of performance. The DQ67SW natively supports AMT 7.0, allowing for KVM resolutions of up to 1920x1200 using RealVNC Viewer Plus.