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Intel Core i7 2600K and Core i5 2500K review

Rating: 9.5.

The release of Intel’s second generation of Core Processors has been a hot topic of conversion among the enthusiast audience now for many months. They have a total of twenty nine new chips reaching retail and today KitGuru will be looking at the i5-2500k and the i7-2600k, both of which have fully unlocked cores.

The new Sandybridge architecture is a ‘tock’ in the tick-tock cycle and its based on the 32nm microarchitecture, new highlights include improved energy efficiency and a new set of Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) for enhanced floating point intensive application performance. With claims of over 30% performance improvements compared to the last generation, there certainly seems to be a lot on offer.

Today, our coverage is slightly condensed, due to the fact that at the last moment Intel brought the NDA forward, a time period we had originally planned to use for overclocking and power analysis. We therefore plan to follow this article up in the future with a more indepth look at certain aspects of the technology, as well as an analysis of the overclocking capabilities (we have a few hours before launch time, so we might get something done in another article before then).

New Intel 2nd Generation Core Processor Range (LGA 1155):

Core i7 Extreme Edition Processor
Mobile: i7-2920XM

Core i7 Processors
Mobile: i7-2820QM, i7-2720QM, i7-2630QM, 2635QM, i7-2620M, i7-2649M, i7-2629M (aka LV) , i7-2657M, i7-2617M (aka ULV)
Desktop: i7-2600K, i7-2600S, i7-2600

Core i5 Processors
Mobile: i5-2540M, i5-2520M, i5-2410M, i5-2537M (aka ULV)
Desktop: i5-2500K, i5-2500S, i5-2500T, i5-2500, i5-2400, i5-2400S, i5-2390T, i5-2300

Core i3 Processors
Mobile: i3-2310M
Desktop: i3-2120, i3-2100, i3-2100T

The second generation Core Processor has a new architecture design which features a shared L3 cache. This new design also means that lighter, thinner form factors can be used with lower levels of power consumption. The dedicated media processing is also certain to enhance overall system performance.

The new chip design delivers more performance and higher levels of energy efficiency. Adaptable performance with the second edition of Intel Turbo Boost Technology with Hyper Threading ensures that the new design will deliver superior performance.

Additionally Intel HD Graphics with dynamic frequency delivers graphics performance boosts to graphics intensive applications. The Front End Thread Dispatch Management has support for mixed kernels, thread spawn threads and a Scoreboard controls thread execution order. The Media Optimised Execution Units are a zero overhead thread switching design with Native media ISA. They specialise in Vector/Matric oriented calculations and have 2D and RF addressing with a large register file of 4kb per thread. Media Accelerators deal with Video and colour processing and video encoding. The Multi Format Codec is a high performance parallel engine design with HW Video decode and encode.

The Video decoder can decode two real time high definition streams and it supports multi stream with frame based context switching. The low bandwidth architecture uses an inline loop filter to reduce memory transaction and has tiled memory to improve bandwidth efficiency, utilising the processor LLC to save row store bandwidth.

When we look at Sandybridge and compare it directly against the Clarksale/Arrandale platform, the most obvious improvement is that preprocessing and encoding is now performed in hardware, rather than in a software environment. Intel InTru 3D allows Stereoscopic 3D via BluRay playback at 1080p over HDMI 1.4. Intel are also keen to point out that with Intel HD graphics, titles such as World Of Warcraft are perfectly playable at 720p with high levels of IQ. We plan on having a look at this in a later article.

The second generation of Intel Core processors used in conjunction with the Intel 6 Series Chipset deliver new Video Hardware Acceleration capabilities for H.264 and MPEG2 Encoding.

Post Processing is expanded with support for Total Colour Control, Auto Contrast Enhancement and Skin Tone Detection and Correction. Skin tone pixels are enhanced across a 3 plane axis which basically improves the saturation and hue of skin related pixel content.

The DH67BL supports the second generation Intel Core processors in the LGA1155 package. It is based around the Intel H67 Express Chipset and supports 2nd generation Intel Core processors, including the Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors.

The Intel DH67BL delivers support for DDR3 1333mhz with up to 32GB installed across the 4 slots (between 1.2v and 1.8v). It is a MicroATX form factor design.

The board is equipped with DVI-I and HDMI ports and is a flexable dual independent display for processors with Intel HD graphics. It also supports Intel HD graphics with frequency tuning. 2 USB 3.0 ports can be seen at the rear, with another 6 USB 2.0 ports offering high levels of connectivity (it can support up to 14 USB 2.0 devices via internal headers). There is also an eSATA port and an Integrated 10/100/1000 Intel network connection. Ten Channel Intel high definition audio with multi streaming capability features on the right. There are five stack analog audio ports, one optical S/PDIF out, internal S/PDIF header and front panel audio header.

The Intel DH67BL features Intel Rapid Storage Technology and supports Raid 0,1,5 and 10. There are also two onboard Sata Revision 3.0 ports with a 6.0 GB/s link speed between storage devices and the host.

There is a single PCI Express 2.0 x16 connector onboard, with two PCI Express 2.0 x1 connectors.

The DP67BG is the new Intel ‘gamers board’ with support for both ATI CrossFire and nVidia SLI configurations. The DP67BG is built around the new Intel P67 Express Chipset which supports both Core i5 and i7 processors in the LGA1155 package. This is an ATX board design.

With Intel Extreme Memory Profiles, DDR3 speeds of 1600mhz or higher are achievable.

2 USB 3.0 ports can be seen at the rear, with another 8 USB 2.0 ports offering high levels of connectivity (it can support up to 14 USB 2.0 devices via internal headers). There is also an eSATA port and an Integrated 10/100/1000 Intel network connection. Ten Channel Intel high definition audio with multi streaming capability features on the right. Five stack analog audio ports, one optical S/PDIF out, internal S/PDIF header and front panel audio header.

There is a single 16x PCI Express 2.0 connector onboard with the ability to scale to dual 8x graphics supporting both ATI and nVidia CFx and SLI configurations. The board is equipped with two Sata 6.0 GB/s ports (blue) with four Sata 3.0 GB/s ports (black). Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology is utilised, offering Raid 0,1,5 and 10 support. Both voltage regulator and ePower voltage regulator are passive cooled to allow for improved power and voltage delivery. A handy post code decoder is offered to troubleshoot potential problems.

ASRock sent us their P67 Extreme4 motherboard, and we used it for a substantial portion of our 2500k testing today, it proved to be both stable and feature packed. A new beta bios was sent to us a short while before the review.

The bundle is fully loaded with four high quality SATA cables, SLI connector, USB 3.0 front mounted header. Literature, manual and software/driver disc.

The board is populated with DuraCap and 1005 Japan made high quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors which give up to a 2.5 longer life – it is also a V8+2 Power Phase Design. The board also fully supports the unlocked K series processors. The Extreme4 delivers support for memory up to DDR3-2133mhz via overclocking profiles and a Debug LED is included on the board for diagnosis support.

There is full support for ATI CrossfireX, up to a Quad configuration. nVidia SLI is also supported, up to a Quad configuration.

The board supports dual USB 3.0 both front and rear with four Sata 3 connectors and 1 eSATA 3 connector, with 2 x IEEE 1394 ports.

7.1 CH HD audio with Content Protection is offered via the RealTek ALC892 Audio Codec with full THX TruStudio Pro also available. Board design is very good with 90 degree mounted SATA cables and nothing blocking any of the PCI slots. We were also able to fit the oversized Noctua NH D14 cooler without any issues around the CPU socket.

The ASRock P67 Fatal1ty Professional Series Motherboard is the hottest and latest product from ASRock which will be looking at in a more detailed manner later this month. We used this board for all our Core i7-2600k testing today. The board remained rock solid and delivered high levels of performance, even with an early bios.

The board is populated with Gold Capacitors which offer 2.5 longer life time and 100% Japanese made high quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors. As expected it fully supports the new K series of processors and delivers an advanced V16+2 power phase design. Included in the bundle is a front mounted USB 3.0 panel, a rear USB 3.0 bracket, a plethora of cables including an SLI Bridge 2S card and software disc with detailed literature on the product and bios. Cyberlink DVD Suite is also included with the package.

The board can handle memory up to DDR3-2133mhz via OC profiles. Quad CrossfireX and 3 way SLI configurations are supported. It really is a stunning design, in menacing red and black. The heatsinks which help improve heat dissipation, do not interfere with any coolers we have tried, including the Noctua NH D14.

If you need maximum connectivity, then this is the board to deliver the goods. Dual gigabit, Six Sata 3 connectors, Four Rear USB 3.0 ports, a single eSATA3 connector and two IEEE 1394 ports are included. Additionally there is 7.1 CH high definition with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec), with THX TruStudio Pro and Premium Bluray audio support.

The Core i5-2500k system in this review is based around the ASRock P67 Extreme4 motherboard, highlighted earlier.

While Intel’s reference heatsinks are more than adequate for many users, Noctua sent us several of their NH D14 coolers for this review. This is the best air cooler on the market, bar none. It can cause some issues with the fitting of oversized memory modules however.

No problems mounting on the ASRock P67 Extreme4 motherboard, with enough clearance on the CPU socket for a perfect fitting. I generally mount this cooler in a vertical position to suit a more natural airflow. This obviously depends on the chassis, because if it doesn’t have a top mounted fan then this isn’t ideal.

Corsair sent us an 8GB kit of their new Vengeance memory which runs at 1600mhz at 9-9-9-24 timings. It remained rock solid throughout our testing, helped in part by the radical heatspreader. It fits under the Noctua NH D14, if used in the outer two channel slots.

System validation is available over here.

Throughout testing, the 2500K temperatures never exceeded 40c under load.

The Core i5-2600k system in this review is based around the ASRock P67 Fatal1ty Pro Motherboard, highlighted earlier.

Intel supplied their new cooler for us to take a look at … the XTS100H, which actually is a really good design. However …

… as Noctua sent us several of their NH D14 coolers we decided to use one of them.

GSkill sent us a 4GB kit of their new RIPJAWS 2133mhz DDR3 designed specifically for this platform. This memory ships with extremely tight timings of 7-10-7-27 at 1.65v.

System validation is available over here.

Throughout testing, the 2600K temperatures never exceeded 40c under load.

As detailed on previous pages, we built two new systems for 2500k and 2600k testing today. Both of these systems are powered by Antec High Current Pro 850W power supplies, kindly donated by Antec themselves. We have reviewed this power supply before and you can read more about it over here.

Intel Core i5-2500k System:
Processor: Core i5-2500k
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600mhz
Power Supply: Antec High Current Pro 850W
Motherboard: ASRock P67 Extreme4
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Thermal Paste: Noctua NT H1
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10
Graphics: Gigabyte GTX460 OC
Drive: Intel X25-M SSD (160GB)
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit

Intel Core i7-2600k System:
Processor: Core i7-2600k
Memory: GSkill Ripjaws 4GB 2133mhz
Power Supply: Antec High Current Pro 850W
Motherboard: ASRock P67 Fatal1ty Pro
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Thermal Paste: Noctua NT H1
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10
Graphics: Inno3D GTX570
Drive: Intel X25-M SSD (160GB)
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit

Comparison systems

Intel Core i5-655k System:
Processor: Intel Core i5 655k
Memory: Kingston 4GB DDR3 1600mhz
Motherboard: AsRock P55 Deluxe 3
Graphics Card: Sapphire HD6850
Power Supply: Thermaltake ToughPower Grand 750W
Chassis: Antec Dark Fleet DF-85
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Drive: Kingston 128GB SSD

Intel Core i5-760 System:
Processor: Intel Core i5 760
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tracer 4GB 1600mhz
Motherboard: AsRock P55 Extreme4
Graphics Card: AMD HD6870
Power Supply: Thermaltake ToughPower Grand 750W
Chassis: Antec Dark Fleet DF-85
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Drive: Kingston 128GB SSD

Intel Core i7 950 System
Processor: Intel Core i7 950
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tracer 6GB 1600mhz
Motherboard: AsRock X58 Extreme6
Graphics Card: AMD HD6850
Power Supply: Thermaltake ToughPower Grand 750W
Chassis: Antec Dark Fleet DF-85
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Drive: Kingston 128GB SSD

Intel Core i7 875K System
Processor: Intel Core i7 875k
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tracer 4GB 1600mhz
Motherboard: Intel DP55KG
Graphics Card: AMD HD6850
Power Supply: Thermaltake ToughPower Grand 750W
Chassis: Antec Dark Fleet DF-85
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Drive: Kingston 128GB SSD

Software:
Aida 64
Super Pi 1.5 Mod
SiSoft Sandra
Cinebench R11.5 64 bit
Cyberlink Media Espresso
Adobe Photoshop Elements V8
Adobe Premier Pro CS5
3DMark Vantage
PCMark Vantage

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

Sandra is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.

It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

Later we will look at comparisons against various processors, but immediately we can notice huge gains in specific areas, especially when we look at tests such as AES256-ECB Cryptography.

CINEBENCH R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

Again the new architecture is showing excellent performance increases with the Cinema4D engine, we will compare against other processors later in the review.

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

An interesting first set of results for the i5-2500k processor, showing incredible performance specifically in the AES test, which is a similar structure to the Cryptography test in SiSoft Sandra.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favorite movies, songs and photos not just on your on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

We are using a 3.3gb MKV file today at 2 hours and 12 minutes in length. We are converting to a final output for an Apple Media Player, a real world situation facing many people. Graphics card acceleration is disabled, so we are solely weighing in processor performance. We are using the latest beta which has optimisations for the Sandybridge architecture.

Very good results ‘out of the box’ and noticeably quicker than the last generation. We will see just how much shortly.

Super Pi is software that was designed for overclocking performance testing, it allows to test floating decimal point and mathematics performances of a processor. The test consists in calculating the part PI value with the CPU, the number being infinite.

We can select several lengths of calculations, from 16 KB to 32 MB.

We don’t normally include this software in processor reviews, but we have had a lot of requests from our audience to cover it. We are using the modified 1.5 version and are running an 8M calculation.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 photo-editing software delivers powerful options that make it easy to create extraordinary photos, quickly share your memories in Online Albums and unique print creations, and automatically organize and help protect all your photos and video clips.

We are using a custom script generated to measure CPU performance. The quicker the time, the better the result.

As a method of comparison, the Core i5 655k gives a result of around 83.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 software offers breakthrough performance for video production, enabling you to work dramatically faster thanks to the revolutionary native 64-bit, GPU-accelerated Adobe Mercury Playback Engine. Work natively with the video formats you want and accelerate production from scriptwriting to editing, encoding, and final delivery.

We are using a custom script to perform specific tasks. The quicker the time, the better the result.

As a method of comparison, the Core i5 655k gives a result of around 202.

Now we have seen the basic performance of the Core i5-2500k processor, we wanted to compare it against the 2.8ghz Core i5 760 processor. This is a similar four core design and has been a big seller for Intel in the past, thanks to the excellent overclocking capabilities. This page concentrates on both processors at ‘out of the box’ settings.

Huge gains all round, especially with the AES256 Crytography test.

A time saving of 27% is not to be sniffed at, shortly we will overclock the Core i5 760 to match the clock speed of the i5-2500k.

Another very impressive result for the i5 2500k processor, with 36% of the overall time saved.

Now we have seen the basic performance of the Core i5-2500k processor, we wanted to compare it against the 3.2ghz Core i5 655k processor. This processor is a 2 physical and 2 logical core design and has recently been discontinued, it was the previous generation ‘k’ 4 core design. This page concentrates on both processors at ‘out of the box’ settings.

Huge performance increases for the Core i5-2500k when compared to the last generation 655K.

With the Cinema4D engine, the i5-2500k delivers double the performance. Staggering.

In a similar fashion, video encoding times are significantly reduced when compared to the last generation processors.

Earlier we compared the Intel Core i5-2500k against the Core i5 760. On this page we overclocked the 760 to match the 3.3ghz clock speed of the 2500k – giving it a 500mhz clock boost from the reference figure of 2.8ghz.

At the same clocks, the AES256 Cryptography performance is substantially improved although SAH256 is slightly lower.

The figures speak for themselves, 21.3% faster at the same clocks.

Almost 2 minutes faster at the same clocks, thats a huge time saving, especially if this one of your primary tasks.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

Sandra is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.

It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

A great set of first results for the i7-2600K processor, especially in the Cryptography AES256 test.

CINEBENCH R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

The extra 4 virtual cores help enhance the performance, with a final score of 6.87.

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

AES performance, in line with the SiSoft Sandra testing, is staggering. Significantly improved over the last generation of processors.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favorite movies, songs and photos not just on your on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

We are using a 3.3gb MKV file today at 2 hours and 12 minutes in length. We are converting to a final output for an Apple Media Player, a real world situation facing many people. Graphics card acceleration is disabled, so we are solely weighing in processor performance. We are using the latest beta which has optimisations for the Sandybridge architecture.

The final time taken was 11 minutes and 17 seconds, a very quick result for an ‘out of the box’ processor setting.

Super Pi is software that was designed for overclocking performance testing, it allows to test floating decimal point and mathematics performances of a processor. The test consists in calculating the part PI value with the CPU, the number being infinite.

We can select several lengths of calculations, from 16 KB to 32 MB.

We don’t normally include this software in processor reviews, but we have had a lot of requests from our audience to cover it. We are using the modified 1.5 version and are running an 8M calculation.

A final time of 1 minutes and 52 seconds, around 4 seconds faster than the i5-2500k.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 photo-editing software delivers powerful options that make it easy to create extraordinary photos, quickly share your memories in Online Albums and unique print creations, and automatically organize and help protect all your photos and video clips.

We are using a custom script generated to measure CPU performance. The quicker the time, the better the result.

As a method of comparison, the Core i7 875k gives a result of around 63.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 software offers breakthrough performance for video production, enabling you to work dramatically faster thanks to the revolutionary native 64-bit, GPU-accelerated Adobe Mercury Playback Engine. Work natively with the video formats you want and accelerate production from scriptwriting to editing, encoding, and final delivery.

We are using a custom script to perform specific tasks. The quicker the time, the better the result.

As a method of comparison, the Core i7 875k gives a result of around 106.

Now we have seen the basic performance of the Core i7-2600k processor, we wanted to compare it against the 3.06ghz Intel i7 950 processor. This is a similar four core design (with HT) and has been a big seller for Intel in the past, thanks to the excellent overclocking capabilities. This page concentrates on both processors at ‘out of the box’ settings.

The new i7 technology is certainly showing benefits. Later we will overclock the 950 to match the 3.4ghz clock speeds of the 2600k.

28% more rendering performance from the new 2600k when compared to the Core i7 950 of the last generation. Significant improvements.

Over 26 percent faster when encoding video, saving around 3 minutes time.

On this page, we overclock the Core i7 950 to 3.4ghz, matching the speed of the 2600k. This is a good way to measure the architectural improvements between the new generation and the last generation.

A similar set of scaling improvements which we noted earlier during the 2500k element of the review. Again, we see a very slight reduction in performance from the SHA256 Cryptography test when both processors are at the same clock speeds.

Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.

We are testing 2500k and 2600k systems with the onboard HD3000 Graphics solutions at Entry Level settings. We are using the Intel DH67BL motherboard for this specific test.

PCMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed for Windows Vista offering one-click simplicity for casual users and detailed, professional grade testing for industry, press and enthusiasts.

A PCMark score is a measure of your computer’s performance across a variety of common tasks such as viewing and editing photos, video, music and other media, gaming, communications, productivity and security.

From desktops and laptops to workstations and gaming rigs, by comparing your PCMark Vantage score with other similar systems you can find the hardware and software bottlenecks that stop you getting more from your PC.

We are testing i5-2500k and i7-2600k systems with the onboard HD3000 Graphics solutions. We are using the Intel DH67BL motherboard for this specific test.

Intel is a fearsome beast and its Tick-Tock approach to product development must sound like the sands of time running out for its enemies.

While one team focuses on creating a brand new architecture – with new features and clock speeds available, another army of experts works feverishly to reduce the size of each chip – combining speed bump with cost reduction. At the same time, Intel seems to be able to open $5 Billion fabrication plants like McDonalds opens burger bars.

With an R&D budget that’s probably bigger than the turnover of nVidia and AMD combined, this monolithic giant has some of the most talented scientists who’ve ever lived, working 365 days a year on intriguing problems like “How can I make this game faster?”, “Can’t we process this family video a little quicker?” and “Can we create and crack advanced cyphers faster than a kid cracking an egg?”.

When you do a simple clock-to-clock comparison of Sandybridge against the present processors, you can easily find cases where the Core i5 2500k and 2600k soar to as much as 30% faster than the last generation.

This is particularly bad news for AMD. While KitGuru is very fond of the latest Phenom II X6 processors, these new Intel chips do far more than turn the page or write a new chapter. The old book has indeed been thrown out and the market is being shown a completely new script.

Everything is faster. Noticeably so. Rendering, gaming, encoding, transcoding are all deeply affected. With any decent air cooler, at stock clocks, you’re unlikely to see the core temperatures rise much above 40 degrees.

We’ll touch on the overclocking dynamics for Sandybridge in a separate article (see front page) but, needless to say, these chips don’t really break sweat no matter what you ask them to do.

OK, so that brings us to the KitGuru value judgement. With the second generation Core i5 2500k selling over the counter in London’s YOYOTech showroom at £173 and the full blown Core i7 2600k at £252, neither of these processors is going to break the bank. However, if the old adage about ‘time being money’ is true then the +20% rendering advantage that the 2500k registers over the old i5 760 when they’re both running at 3.3Ghz is going to make you rich.

KitGuru says: Performance Personified. A stunning new design.


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