Intel Next Generation Core i5-2500K and i7-2600K "Sandy Bridge" Processors Reviewed

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Sandy Bridge 3D Performance

Everyone knows any Intel (or AMD) processor since Conroe coupled with any performance video card is more than capable with games. That's why video games are the secondary focus even though a few are industry standard benchmarks. Keep in mind this is using Sandy's integrated GPU which isn't intended to replace a discrete graphics card so much as enhance the CPU beyond last generation.

Games represented in our 3D performance testing include:

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Farcry 2

These three titles represent all the DirectX flavours and are still games that are both demanding and a lot of fun to play even today. All games were tested in both two popular resolutions for entry level graphics: 1680x1050 and 1280x720. The former represents most 22 inch LCDs while the latter is the standard for HD resolution. We included high and medium settings at 720p and ran only medium at 1680x1050 which we refer to in the graphs as "1050".

Batman: Arkham Asylum (DX9)

Sandy Bridge leaves Clarkdale in the dust thanks to the internal graphics architecture improvements. Even if you overclock the Clarkdale 655K, it still won't quite match Sandy Bridge. Let's check the next one out.

Resident Evil 5 (DX10)

Sandy Bridge, of course, wins the day again. She's tuned better for both DX9 and DX10. The frame rates again are nearly playable. Clarkdale is still much more capable than the old school HD 3500 and 4500 GPUs but it's nowhere near the new hotness.

Farcry 2

You would think Farcry's expansive mapping would cripple integrated graphics or GPUs that share memory. The short answer is no. Sandy Bridge can keep up to some degree while besting the Clarkdale again. Remember, Sandy is able to utilize the LLC cache very efficiently. That in turn helps cut down on the hunger for memory resources.

Platform IO, Audio, and Power Consumption

Measuring the motherboard's expansion features are often uneventful. But, we have to make sure there's on surprises or glitches in the chipset matrix. We also like to keep track of the integrated audio codecs and vendors who do a good or bad job of implementing them. Power consumption is often important to those who are green conscious such as home theater users and system integrators.

DP67BG and DH67BL IO Performance

As far as the PCI-Express bus is concerned, Sandy Bridge's chipset no longer suffers from having to share bandwidth with any other subsystem which was an issue brought up with earlier Core platform designs. There's plenty of bandwidth for all devices. The one thing I would like to note is that any real world SATA3 benefits for the desktop user are somewhere between "meh" and none at the moment with conventional hardware. At least the price of SSDs continue to come down which transforms SATA2 into a technology that is finally coming into its own for mainstream users.

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As our Senior PC Hardware Editor, Eric has been working with tech since before serving in the military where he really got to play with some very cool hardware. As for his prowess on the virtual battlefield, don't let the teddy bear exterior fool you. He can frag and pwn with the best in just about any first person shooter. You may run in to him at LANs, tech shows, and gaming shows, so do say hello.

  • Ericgaray

    Thank you mister Bogmali. Agreed on the 1366 replacements. I got a Core i7-3820 I've been toying around with to see how well it does against the 2600K. In some tests, there's very little difference. In media encoding, there's an improvement as well as big data file compiling. Otherwise, smaller programs don't seem to be large enough to make much a difference.

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