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Intel Sandy Bridge Takeover – Custom PC Performance Report
In case you haven’t heard, Intel dropped a thermo-nuclear warhead on the CPU industry with their latest “tock” in their “tick tock” strategy. Tock rhymes with “Rock” and that’s what a “Tock” is supposed to be. The last “Toku” was Nahelemi. Their 2nd generation Core i7 technology brings many “firsts” and “new” to both Intel’s lineup and the industry as a whole.
The bottom line is this: Sandy Bridge runs cooler, quieter, and is so loaded with advanced technologies, features, overclocking capabilities, and performance layered up and down the price/performance bracket.
Intel has tried hard to position this product as a replacement for their previous “mainstream” platform, the P55 chipset and its later Socket 1156 processors. Indeed, in the hundreds of slides and white papers I read, none times they didn’t compare it to the X58 platform.
But when I got my hands on the Sandy Bridge and put it up against the best-selling processor, the Core i7 950 – I was amazed.
It runs remarkably cooler and quieter, brings more performance and performance headroom, and is less expensive as a platform and as a processor than the i7 950 (and if you read the reviews, even an i7 975 Extreme Edition). In fact, the one and only reason to buy an X58 platform is if you’re interested in getting a 6-core for some solid core video transcoding/encoding. And in this case, we would keep the X58 platform around.
The fact is, Sandy Bridge is the smart choice for the consumer looking for a great PC, and it doesn’t matter if you’re spending $1,000 or $10,000.
Let me start you off with some performance benchmarks I’ve implemented.
We used the following processors through the comparison range.
Core i7 2600K @ 4.8GHz
Core i5 2500K @ 4.8GHz
Core i7 2600K
Phenom II X6 1090T
Core i7 950
Core i5 2500K
Core i5 2300
Core i3 2120
Core i3 2100
Athlon II X3 445
Below are my impressions of the results of these tests.
Starting with Cinebench, to showcase excellent multi-threaded performance in a content creation environment, you’ll see explosive numbers from the 2600K, with the 2500K just coming out of the i7 950 and X6 1090T.
KINEBENCH SINGLE THREAD LAYOUT
Keeping those processors in their place, let’s move on to the single-threaded performance results in Cinebench R10. Without the brute force of 6 cores behind it, the X6 1090T takes a dive and the Athlon II X3 doesn’t even get off the bench. Additionally, every single Sandy Bridge processor outperforms the Core i7 950 in single-threaded operations.
X264 HD PASS 2 VIDEO ENCODING
Moving on to video encoding, it’s almost a performance mirrored by these processors from our Cinebench R11.5 multi-threaded test, with the 2600K the clear winner.
TOTAL PLATFORM PERFORMANCE WITH PC MARK VANTAGE
This is where it starts to get interesting – when you stop focusing 100% on the multithreaded capabilities of a processor and start considering the entire platform solution. Sandy Bridge is truly in a class of its own for general use – from multitasking to photo manipulation to gaming – all considered in this test – Sandy Bridge simply blows away.
KINEBOLK ENERGY CONSUMPTION
But to put all this into perspective, take a look at how little this performance costs you in terms of power draw. All else being equal, Sandy Bridge’s performance is excellent, but to do so well with such low power consumption and thus lower temperatures and noise is a remarkable achievement.
The 2500K at two thirds the price of the i7 950 is giving the 950 a hard time. The 2600K enjoys a significant lead. The Athlon II X3 can’t even seem to keep up with the low end Core i3 2100, and the big daddy Phenom II X6 1090T is simply outclassed by the 2600K and can’t offer the single-threaded or platform performance of either. 2500K or Core i7 950. It also doesn’t have the total performance package when you stop to focus on its multi-core capability, and the power consumption doesn’t do it any favors either.
It’s one thing to run the numbers, it’s another thing to experience each of these configurations in sequence, feeling the speed, if you will. And when you actually put these setups to the test on custom PCs and hear the fans rev up, feel the heat from the voltage regulators, and see the power consumption, it puts things into perspective. Sandy Bridge put these numbers up there inaudibly, with a cooler that felt almost cold to the touch and close to the idle power numbers of some previous-gen platforms.
Combine that with the price, the platform’s scalability from cheap and built-in to three-way SLI overclocking monstrosities, and you can see why it’s exciting. If you’re in the market for a new custom PC, for whatever reason, get Sandy Bridge.
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