Intel Core i7-2820QM Mobile Sandy Bridge Processor Reviewed

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News Posted: Mon, Jan 3 2011 12:10 AM
About this time last year, Intel offered us a complete processor revamp and architecture update for both the desktop and mobile markets.  Intel called it their evolutionary "tick" step in their manufacturing process migration from 45 to 32nm.  The "tock," as it were, follows along in cadence offering refinement and feature enhancement that completes the product evolution.  So here we are, about 12 months or so later, and the "tock" cometh.

Intel's Core i7-2820QM processor is the vehicle that we'll be using as a means of evaluating Intel's new architecture.  It's not the highest-end SKU in the line-up but it has all the bells and whistles enabled and about 90% of top-end clock speed that Intel will offer in their "Extreme" version mobile chip.  In a 45 Watt power envelope, this is the Sandy Bridge chip you'll likely see in some of the more capable multimedia targeted notebooks coming to market in 2011.  And we'd dare say, at this early juncture, it packs a healthy serving of beef-cake computing muscle for just about anything you could throw at it.

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Holy Cow!! Wow, this chip is just freaking amazing!! I knew I had to stay awake a little longer tonight!

Amazing performance for this particular model over the last generation extreme mobile processor, plus better price, this just smokes everything else from the past generation.

WOW, 3.1 GHz on full load on all cores, 3.3 and two cores, 800ghz on Idle, incredible.

Quick Sync....Geezus!!

Edit: Excellent Review Dave!!

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Xylem replied on Mon, Jan 3 2011 4:48 AM

Nice Review Dave!! Cant wait for these things to come out!! I am in the market for a HP TM2T type device and it would be a great match for it!!

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Jan 3 2011 9:35 AM

Thanks folks! Yeah, these are impressive chips to be sure!

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realneil replied on Mon, Jan 3 2011 10:04 AM

Looks like another pacesetter from Intel. I would love to be in the market for a new Laptop, and have the cash to get one of them, but it would have to have discrete graphics on it .

Sandy Bridge is impressive.

AMD, it's your turn,............

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rapid1 replied on Mon, Jan 3 2011 11:08 AM

Hmm; I would say yes and no for me personally, because of a couple of factors. Personally I do not forgive the SATA, and USB3 exclusion.  This is for a specific reason though as well as because they are missing. I am not saying I do not appreciate the chip, and capabilities of it. I am just saying on a personal level because I know in 6 months those will be included as well as more functionality. The more functionality also includes there new comm interface software/hardware as I think it is scheduled to be out in 6 as well on there boards, as is there new BIOS scheme on the PC side of things I think. With that in mind I could comfortably say I won't be buying an Intel processor for at least a year or on the next tock, not tick:)

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Very nice review Dave, these are really interesting chips.  These will really make a big improvement over the 720 in my current laptop when I’m looking at upgrading later this year. 

However, the use of the phrase "Orders of magnitude" within the review makes no sense.  Orders would imply at least two, which would come out to a x100 increase in performance.  In the test that the phrase was used, not even a single order of magnitude (x10) was reached.  Maybe it is just the engineer in me, but that one phrase just seems to torque me the wrong way.  Great review otherwise.

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Jan 3 2011 3:57 PM

>> AMD, it's your turn,............

Exactly what I was thinking, RealNeil.

I do expect the AMD solution to perform better graphically. But, as both are still significantly behind an actual video card, I think I'd prefer the Intel solution for the desktop (and maybe the AMD in a laptop - if the hype doesn't turn out to be overinflated).

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3vi1:
as both are still significantly behind an actual video card
  Good Point!

There is a lot to be said for a discrete Video Card. Swapping them as we see fit, and upgrading them when we can afford to, (without replacing major components like your CPU and MainBoard) is a huge plus for gamers. For me, it's a concept that will probably live on forever.

It seems as though Sandy's brought some improved performance to the table that will please more of the masses. The video trans-coding capability must have been a target for Intel to go after this time around and they seem to have it nailed. All in all I think that they'll sell well, but I'm hoping that AMD throws down the gauntlet soon and gets a larger piece of the pie. We really need them around to help keep prices under control.

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