Since testing for this review took place right smack dab in the middle of holiday season, and the release date pulled forward a few days, we are only going to look at CPU performance in this review. We will look at Sandy Bridge’s GPU at a later date, along with more thorough overclocking and chipset testing.
I also wanted to keep this review as tightly focused as possible. So instead of including everything from $50 dual cores to $1000 “Extremes”, we’ll only be including processors that fall within the $200-300 price range of the i5 and i7 Sandy Bridge chips. This will give you a clear view on just how much of a leap Intel is making with this product launch.
Here are the processors we’ll be looking at today. They are ordered in price, from highest to lowest (and they will remain in that order throughout the entire review).
Base Clock Speed
Final Stage Cache
|Core i7 2600||Sandy Bridge||3.4 GHz||3.8 GHz||4/8||8MB||95W||$300|
|Core i7 870||Lynnfield||2.93 GHz||3.6 GHz||4/8||8MB||95W||$280|
|Phenom II X6 1100T||Thuban||3.3 GHz||3.7 GHz||6/6||6MB||125W||$265|
|Phenom II X6 1090T||Thuban||3.2 GHz||3.6 GHz||6/6||6MB||95W||$230|
|Core i5 660||Clarkdale||3.33 GHz||3.6 GHz||2/4||4MB||73W||$208|
|Core i5 2500||Sandy Bridge||3.3 GHz||3.7 GHz||4/4||6MB||95W||$205|
|Phenom II X6 1075T||Thuban||3.0 GHz||3.5 GHz||4/4||6MB||95W||$199|
|Core i5 750||Lynnfield||2.66 GHz||3.20 GHz||4/4||8MB||95W||$199|
|Phenom II X4 970||Deneb||3.50 GHz||4/4||6MB||125W||$186|
|Phenom II X6 1055T||Thuban||2.80 GHz||3.30 GHz||6/6||6MB||125W||$179|
As you can see, Intel never really had much to offer in this $200-300 price range, and AMD took advantage with some very nice offerings such as the $265 Phenom II X6 1100T, and $179 1055T, both of which feature six true cores and very high peak clock speeds.
Core i7, i5 2xxx
Core i7 9xx
Core i5, i7 8xx
Phenom II X4, X6
|Motherboard||Intel DP67BG (Intel P67 Chipset)||Intel DX58SO (Intel X58 Chipset)||Intel DP55KG (Intel P55 Chipset)||Asus Crosshair IV Formula (AMD 890FX Chipset)|
|Memory||4GB Corsair Dominator|
DDR3-1333 @ 7-7-7-20
DDR3-1066 @ 7-7-7-20
|4GB Corsair Dominator|
DDR3-1333 @ 7-7-7-20
|Chipset Driver||188.8.131.529||184.108.40.2065||Catalyst 10.10|
|Video Card, Driver||Radeon HD4890 1GB Catalyst 10.10|
|HDD||Hitachi DeskStar 250GB 7200 RPM SATAII|
|OS||Windows 7 Professional Edition x64 RTM|
SiSoft Sandra 2011
Just in time for this release, SiSoft has come out with a new version of their helpful Sandra suite. We do mostly stick to real-world benchmarks, but this program has its use, and remains our one fully synthetic benchmark. It’s interesting to see where performance gains are found, exactly how each feature affects performance, and so on. It is especially intriguing when huge changes are made, such as more cores or special instruction sets.
If the CPU Arithmetic and Multimedia tests are any indication, we are in for a very interesting set of benchmark results across this review.
Since SiSoft makes use of AES-NI instructions, we won’t get into AES encryption performance here (we will later on though, where it shows up in real-world tests). However I will show the SHA-Hashing results, to show just how far Intel has come in that aspect. Intel has taken this into account when designing Sandy Bridge, and it allows them to scale beyond pure clock speed. However, AMD still performs extremely well in this test.
Now let’s take a look at some more real-world tests to see what Sandy Bridge can really do….