Intel Core i7-2600K and i5-2500K Processors Debut - HotHardware

Intel Core i7-2600K and i5-2500K Processors Debut

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Today’s pre-launch of Intel’s Sandy Bridge-based processors should come as no surprise to anyone who even remotely follows the PC tech scene. We, along with Intel and numerous other companies and media outlets, have been slowly leaking Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-related details for many months now. Heck, we’ve even showed off a number of Sandy Bridge compatible motherboards in the past, posted pics of actual processors, and discussed many of the microarchitecture’s features already. We obviously weren’t able to disclose all of the platform’s specifics, however, and boy is there a lot still to cover. That’s what this article is for.

We’ve had a few Core i5 and Core i7 Sandy Bridge based processors kicking around the HotHardware labs for a while now, along with a sampling of 6-series chipset based motherboards to go along with them. We’ve been poking, prodding, and testing them to get a good feel for what Sandy Bridge and 6-Series chipset is all about and we’ve amassed a boatload of data to share with you all here. In addition to putting a couple of Core i5 and Core i7 Sandy Bridge based processors to the test in our usual suite of benchmarks, we’ve also tested their new integrated graphics core and media encoding engine, tested various multi-GPU setups, overclocked Sandy Bridge, and even evaluated a few mainstream and enthusiast-class motherboards.

Our aim was to provide a sort of “one stop shop” for all things Sandy Bridge. Whether we’ve succeeded or not doesn’t really matter, because there’s a ton of info and data to work through regardless! And when you're done here, we've also got the down low on Sandy Bridge mobile offerings as well. So step right up, get your mice warmed up, and strap in as we (finally) give you the full scoop on Sandy Bridge and all of the goodness that’s coming along with it...

 
Intel Socket 1155 Sandy-Bridge Based Core i5 Processor, Click To Enlarge

Intel Core i7-2600K and i5-2500K Processors "Sandy Bridge"
Specifications & Features

Intel Core i7-2600K Processor Key Features:

  • 8-Way Multi-Task Processing: Runs 8 independent processing threads in one physical package.
  • Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 3.80GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.
  • Intel Hyper-Threading Technology: Allows each core of the processor to work on two tasks at the same time providing unprecedented processing capability for better multi-tasking, and for threaded applications.
  • Intel Smart Cache: 8MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000: Significant 3D performance for immersive mainstream gaming on a broad range of titles. The dynamic graphics frequency ranges up to 1350MHz.

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor Key Features:

  • 4-Way Multi-Task Processing: Runs 4 independent processor threads in one physical package.
  • Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 3.7 GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.
  • Intel Smart Cache: 6MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000: Significant 3D performance for immersive mainstream gaming on a broad range of titles. The dynamic graphics frequency ranges up to 1100MHz.

Shared Features:

  • CPU Overclocking Enabled (with Intel P67 Express Chipset): Fully unlocked core multiplier, power, and DDR3 memory ratios enable ultimate flexibility for overclocking.
  • Graphics Overclocking Enabled (with Intel H67 Express Chipset): Unlocked graphics multiplier allows for overclocking to boost the graphics clock speed.
  • Integrated Memory Controller: Supports 2 channels of DDR3-1333 memory with 2 DIMMs per channel. Support for memory based on the Intel Extreme Memory Profile (Intel XMP) specification.
  • Chipset/Motherboard Compatibility: Compatible with all Intel 6 Series Chipsets.
  • AES-NI: Provides 6 processor instructions that help to improve performance for AES encryption and decryption algorithms.
  • Built-in Visuals3: New enhanced built-in visual features deliver a seamless visual PC experience for doing everything from simple e-mail to enjoying the latest 3D and HD entertainment. The built-in visuals suite includes:
  • Intel Quick Sync Video Technology: Media processing for incredibly fast conversion of video files for portable media players or online sharing.
  • IntelInTru3D: Stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray* playback experience in full HD 1080p resolution over HDMI 1.4 with 3D.
  • Intel Clear Video HD Technology: Visual quality and color fidelity enhancements for spectacular HD playback and immersive web browsing.
  • Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel AVX): Increased performance for demanding visual applications like professional video & image editing.


Intel Sandy Bridge Processor Die
 


For those of you not quite familiar with Intel’s codenames, Sandy Bridge is the codename of a brand new microarchitecture that will be foundation of an entire line of desktop and mobile processors in 2011 and beyond. It is a “Tock” in Intel’s CPU release cadence, which means it is almost completely new and not a mild revision of an existing microarchitecture.

Above we have a die shot of a Sandy Bridge processor, along with the features and specifications of the new Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K processors we’ll be showcasing here. Some of the features will sound similar to previous Intel processor offerings, but make no mistake, these are completely new chips. They may borrow some aspects from previous Intel CPU microarchitectures, but with Sandy Bridge, Intel has redesigned virtually all of the execution engines, integrated a relatively powerful graphics core, and implemented a new ring bus to allow core elements to communicate, among many other features and enhancements.

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will this proc work with a p55 chip set or will it be like shooting myself in the foot.  i read that the 67 chip set will be the only one to utilize the full overclocking potential for this chip.

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Sandy Bridge has it's own socket motherboards instead of 1366 or 1156 sockets, they use the new 1155 socket to connect. You have a choice between P67 and H67 chipsets. There are CPU's with normally locked multipliers and others that are "K" series CPU's with unlocked multipliers. The unlocked are able to OC much better, but cost a little more too.

The P67 chipset is the one designated for enthusiasts. I hear that they're getting some of these CPU's up to, and beyond 5.0GHz. on air!  So it seems that the market is going through another upheaval.

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thank you very much Neil for the information and i am amazed at how fast you respond to people comments on here.  Man i love this place, big up to life skills for showing me this site.

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sKrappy:
i am amazed at how fast you respond to people comments on here

I'm retired and have some time on my hands. I like helping out when I can.

Sandy bridge is going to be worth the money I think. I see it as a game changer.

('cmon AMD!)

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Ya know Neil I have been thinking about this especially while watching or reading CES coverage. It seems odd to me fore one reason especially related to a graphics capability. Intel has nowhere near the graphics capabilities of AMD/ATI. From what I have seen benchmark wise the AMD/ATI APU beats Intel as well as many of there own benchmarks for previous processors for the APU. However; you see almost no coverage of this fact, which seems at least odd to me.

Also this is a new production unit of an Intel device. I personally would want to wait for the tock (IE: updated version), if it were my money. I also as I am sure you have heard that AMD's CEO is gone or will be shortly. So someone new will be coming in, whom I hope will be someone who is more aggressive in development. Especially on Bulldozer, which I look forward to seeing, but it has been out there (in development) for quite some time.

One thing that has really frustrated me watching that development is that it has already fallen behind Intel's development cycle 3 or 4 times now since it started being worked on. So I would hope an aggressive would not only step it up, but insist on it being updated and or adapted even further. While this may not really seem to apply in some ways, I think it would, and would wait a minute. The technology clock now moves very fast, and within 6 months we should be where both sides of this go retrospectively.

Another thing to compare this to something like the iPhone 4 announcement today. This event will lead to changes market wide in many things. Not only will At&t probably have to consider speeding up the LTE adaptation, but they also have direct competition now. The smaller players also have to come up with or add something as well, which will lead to better more competitive pricing as well as hopefully larger device availability market wide.

The main thing here is I know Intel GPU development is far behind both AMD and Nvidia so I personally would not really be excited about getting something of the same caliber from them as any solution to any thing. I am excited about the Tegra chips as well as the APU chips, but not really about SandyBridge for these reasons. I also personally do not like the Chipset choices Intel made for SandyBridge because I think that in today's media driven world a 1366 chipset with advanced, and enhanced graphic and PCI-X bandwidth as well as memory capabilities makes considerably more sense. On top of that many serious users will have a separate and singular or multiple GPU's as is so there is no point for them (which I assume many forum members here would be a member of this picture).

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Intel has never really tried to enter the high-end graphics market. Sure, there was  some rumblings about a year ago that they were gonna do it, but then they put the skids to the work, and haven't started again. NVIDIA and AMD/ATI have a niche market providing vastly superior graphics to enthusiasts at differing levels for varying prices. Although these cards sell for every conceivable price, the total market share for graphics in the PC market is firmly dominated by Intel and their on-board graphics chip-sets.

So yes, Intel isn't as fast in an enthusiasts way of looking at the situation. But they aren't trying to be either.

One aspect of Sandy Bridge reviews that I've seen over and over is that the on-board video on Sandy Bridge H67mainboards encode video much faster than almost any other high end cards you can buy. Also, if you add an aftermarket PCI-E graphics card to the system, the on-board solution shuts down and you lose all of that bitchin' encoding power.

How did Intel figure out video encoding to such an advanced degree?

As for waiting, I like the idea of a CPU and Mainboard that can overclock to over 5.0GHz. on air. I like it enough to buy it now.

I'm a slave to technology I guess,.......

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Yeah a few vendors are selling liquid cooled units clocked at 5.2Ghz from what I saw after writing what I did. Of course these are top dollar units, but wow 5.2 Ghz warranted. I was really talking bout the quality of the internal GPU, whereas I see the AMD APU doing a better job as from what I understand it is a 6000 radeon internal GPU. The one thing that gets me on either is a GPU generates heat, so does a CPU so these integrated units from anyone must make some serious heat. If they can clock them stable at 5.2 Ghz there must be some serious work in the body of a SandyBridge!

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Sandy Bridge uses little power compared to conventional CPU's. They're running cool and fast. (so I hear)

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realneil:

Sandy Bridge has it's own socket motherboards instead of 1366 or 1156 sockets, they use the new 1155 socket to connect. You have a choice between P67 and H67 chipsets. There are CPU's with normally locked multipliers and others that are "K" series CPU's with unlocked multipliers. The unlocked are able to OC much better, but cost a little more too.

The P67 chipset is the one designated for enthusiasts. I hear that they're getting some of these CPU's up to, and beyond 5.0GHz. on air!  So it seems that the market is going through another upheaval.

 

I think I head on the Maximum PC podcast last week [#164 I think] that the Sandy Bridge CPUs easily overclock to around 5ghz but seems to be locked from getting much higher than that. They mentioned someone having done testing with no voltage restrictions and liquid nitrogen.

 

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From what I have seen (custom built PC's on a few custom manufacturers site, with 3 year warranty), clocked at 5.2 Ghz I would say that 5.0Ghz limit is false, plus the fact that liquid cooling is rather cheap now. From what I remember though these were clocked at 5.2Ghz cooled with air, but only in certain cases/setups. While I may be incorrect on the amount of these to see them anywhere at all clocked that high and warranted would mean to me that at the least the unlocked K processors are both some hardy cpu's, and that internally they cool really well. I know I was saying at first that I would wait till the tock before I would consider one of these, but from what I have seen that interpretation has changed. While of course buying one of these would not be uber cheap drop in upgrading, as you would need the MB, and most likely Memory as well if you wanted to grab one, they seem to be pretty darn good investments if your running an old PC, your PC blows up, or you just had the money to spare for it.

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