|Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 03 January 2011|
Page 12 of 13
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.