Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2500K & Core i7-2600K Processors Review

Author: MAC
Date: January 2, 2011
Product Name: Intel Core i5-2500K & Core i7-2600K
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With 2011 upon us, many in the tech industry are gearing up for what looks like one of the most interesting years in terms of new product launches and emerging technologies finally coming into their own. Stereoscopic 3D content will continue to be shoved down our throats, AMD’s Fusion architecture should finally be revealed, tablets are quickly becoming the must-have devices and HDTVs could go beyond the mythical 1080P “barrier”. But before all of that happens, Intel has decided to upstage everything else by officially introducing their brand new Sandy Bridge micro-architecture just a few short days after the clock struck midnight, ushering in 2011.

Sandy Bridge represents a continuation of Intel’s legendary tick / tock release pattern whereby a refined design – in this case Nehalem and its Westmere derivatives – are gradually phased out in favor of a new architecture. This will be the first step towards replacing the entire Nehalem lineup from Bloomfield to Lynnfield to Clarkdale but for the time being Sandy Bridge processors will play second fiddle to higher-end i7 Bloomfields. All of the current Clarkdale processors will move towards EOL status beginning immediately and the new processors will also take a large chunk out of Intel’s Lynnfield lineup as well.

As you may have guessed by now, the Sandy Bridge launch is a massive undertaking which bridges the mobile and desktop markets at the same time. For the purposes of this review, we will only be taking a look at the desktop parts i7-2600K and i5-2500K CPUs but even these two products only scrape the tip of a massive iceberg. A total of eight desktop CPUs will be launching today which range in price from $117 to $320 according to Intel but we expect street prices to be straddling the $125 to $350 brackets. All of these processors will also feature an onboard GPU-much like Clarkdale did.

Between the release of the last generation Clarkdale CPUs and Sandy Bridge, the market has continued to move towards high definition content and highly demanding online content. Believe it or not, the PC gaming market is also predicted to expand exponentially within the next three years. These trends along with AMD’s upcoming APUs have forced Intel to rethink their approach when it comes to graphics processing. Sandy Bridge is the first product generation to incorporate the byproducts of these realizations in the form of a thoroughly revised graphics controller layout dubbed the 2000 and 3000-series.

Intel’s timing of this launch is seemingly perfect since for the time being, the competition has absolutely nothing that can compete with this new Sandy Bridge product family. Desktop Fusion APUs are still a long ways off and the entry level i3-2100 ($117) and i3-2120 ($140) and quite obviously priced to cut the heart out of AMD’s current lineup. However, will the hoped-for performance line up with the premium being charged for some of these new chips? Let’s find out.


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