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Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge CPU E-mail
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Written by Hank Tolman   
Sunday, 02 January 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge CPU
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Core i5-2500K
CPU Testing and Results
AIDA64 Benchmark Tests
Passmark PerformanceTest
PCMark Vantage Benchmark Tests
SiSoftware Sandra Tests
Cinebench R11.5 Benchmarks
Street Fighter IV Benchmark
x264Bench HD 3.0 Test
Sandy Bridge Final Thoughts
Intel Core i5-2500K Conclusion

Sandy Bridge Final Thoughts

The new Sandy Bridge promised increased performance, especially in media processes, due to a new architecture and new design. From our test results, it seems like Intel has pulled through, at least for now. Not too long ago, I was testing Athlon-II X4 processors against the Core i5's of the past, and I found that the much less expensive Athlon CPUs could perform up there with Intel CPUs costing nearly twice as much. With the Core i5-2500K this is not the case.

The i5-2500 relates almost exactly in price to the Phenom-II X4-975BE. The 975BE is set for an MSRP of $195 and the i5-2500 is set to release at $205. The CPU we tested here was the Core i5-2500K, which is set to release at $216. However, since we didn't include any overclocked results (I'll explain why in just a second), the i5-2500K should match these results if used in the same test system. There were only a couple of tests where the Phenom-II X4-975BE was able to outperform the Core i5-2500K, and there were a couple of tests that were close. The i5-2500K, on the other hand, handily beat down the Phenom-II X4-975BE by margins above 35% in many of our tests.


The Sandy Bridge architecture promised increases in processor arithmetic performance and media playback and performance. In our testing, this is exactly what we saw. Arithmetic performance was greatly increased and media transcoding, especially, was a lot faster with the i5-2500K than with the i7-920, not to mention the X4-975BE. Intel has had a hold on performance at the very expensive ($200+) level for a while now, but AMD has held on to the sub-$200 market pretty well. Like I said, Athlon-II's were outperforming much more expensive Core i5 CPUs a few months ago. If the lower end i5 and i3 CPUs maintain the performance/price ratio of the i5-2500K, we may be looking at a whole new marketplace in 2011.

That brings up another point, however. When is AMD going to release their 32nm CPUs? And what about the Fusion processors we have been hearing so much about? These should be some sort of an answer to Intel's Sandy Bridge, with its complete 32nm process and integrated GPU and IMC on the same die as the CPU. Only time will tell, but I am kind of excited to see how AMD answers the Sandy Bridge challenge. I only hope they don't take too long in doing so.


Ok, so I promised to explain why we didn't have overclocking results here. In getting the CPU testing completed for this article, I ran into a snag when overclocking. After completing all the normal testing, I went into the BIOS and increased the CPU multiplier slightly. There has been some changes in the way overclocking is handled with the Sandy Bridge platform, and users are very limited with what they can do. Even so, the i5-2500K is an unlocked CPU, and I should have been able to overclock it relatively easily. I set the CPU multiplier from the standard 33 to 35 (not even as high as the 37 used by turbo boost for a single core). When I saved and exited the BIOS, the computer wouldn't respond.

I tried resetting the BIOS the conventional way, by setting the jumper from the 1,2 pins to the 2,3 pins, waiting a few seconds, and setting back. This didn't work. I moved the jumper again and took out the CMOS battery. Nothing. I replaced the CMOS battery. Still nothing. I systematically removed every piece of hardware one piece at a time and replaced it with other hardware. The PSU, Memory, Video Card, and CMOS battery were all replaced. I removed everything from the motherboard, all the cables the CPU and HSF, air dusted the board (in case of an accidental short), and let it sit for a while. Nothing worked. We heard back from some other reviewers that the Core i5-2500K in the H67 motherboard is commonly experiencing issues such as these and apparently there is a new way to reset the BIOS on the new motherboards. I explain the process in detail in my review of the Intel DH67BL Motherboard.

The bottom line is, Intel doesn't allow CPU tuning on the H67 platform. You should be able to overclock the GPU, but the CPU is set hard and fast. In other words, if you buy the Intel Core i5-2500K or any other Sandy Bridge K series processor, you had better get a P67 motherboard. You could wait for the Z68 chipset to come out sometime during the 2nd quarter of 2011, as it's supposed to allow tuning, but for now, P67 is it folks.



# GamerKyle 2011-01-06 20:39
I agree with the that every new line of processors comes with new motherboards. To me this is quite silly and I wish that they would not do as such. It is also a fault when Intel is placing quite the restriction on overclocking even with the K models.

Either way I am most likely going to get the i5 2500k since it is very strong. Also the price is rather cheap at $211 when currently the i5 750 is $200 and the i5 760 is about $209 dollars. Since I did not upgrade following the first i series I would need to get a new motherboard anyway.Integrated graphics means little to me since as a gamer I would get a higher end GPU regardless. I just have to make sure the motherboard is p67 not H67 for overclocking and such.

Anyway nice read, thanks for the article.
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# MrJMG 2011-02-23 14:57
If the p67 motherboards do not use the GPU on these new chips does that mean the GPU potential goes to waste I.e. If it were to make use of it, then in a standard system would you have, in effect, two graphics cards (with the intel HD GPU plus whatever other dedicated graphics card you use working together)?
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# RE: MrOlin Coles 2011-02-23 15:12
Only H67-Express motherboards can utilize Sandy Bridge integrated graphics, because only those motherboards have the DVI/D-SUB/HDMI output ports built-in. NVIDIA is already working with Intel on this very solution. Using Optimus technology, paired with Lucid Logic 'GPU Virtualization' software (yet unannounced), the Sandy Bridge CPU will be able to enable QuickSync + GPU.
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# mrzikkun 2012-03-24 11:35
nahh. actually h61 also have dvi, hdmi ports, dont know about d-sub(need it?). so actually use h61 and run this cpu is could be cheap, than buy a h67 or whatever that expensive twice
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