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Intel Core i7 2600K and Core i5 2500K review

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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Rating: 9.5.

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