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New Intel “Sandy Bridge” Processors Debut

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intel_logo.pngNew year, new Intel processors.

Intel’s new set of Core processors are out and they’re mighty impressive. With regards to the architecture, they’ve seen the biggest overhaul since the Core processors initial debut back in 2006.

According to AnandTech, these processors offer “anywhere from 10-50% more performance in existing applications and games from Sandy Bridge”. While a very nice claim, it isn’t necessarily well represented in their own game benchmarks. I’d head over to the Tech Report’s review for some game benchmarks that actually tell you what resolution the games are running at along with the games’ quality settings.

In the end, if your game is something like Metro 2033, you’re not going to see a bump in performance with these new processors; being GPU bound is a bit of a downer considering how cheap these new beastly processors are.

For ~$216, the Core i5 2500K @ 3.3GHz (w/ a max Turbo of 3.7 GHz) looks to be the new Core i5 760. It’s affordable, it features unlocked multiplier for overclocking (which is really important with this platform) and it also features the fastest on-die Intel HD Graphics processor.

Why would you care about the integrated video? Well all these processors features integrated graphics now. You’ll get it whether you want it or not. And maybe people should take notice of these new Intel HD Graphics processors because they enable impressive video transcoding feature known as Quick Sync.

So what do you need to get with this new platform? Everything.

A new motherboard is required because this new platform features another new pin layout (LGA-1155) along with a new chipset. This new 6 series chipset comes in two flavors:

  • P67 – Allows overclocking, but does not feature the ability to use the Intel HD Graphics processors
  • H67 – Allows Intel HD Graphics processors use, but does not feature the ability to overclock the CPU.

So if you want to use every feature Sandy Bridge has to offer, you’re screwed. For now. Wait until Q2 2011 and Intel is releasing a third set of chipsets dubbed the Z68 which will be the P67 with HD Graphics support.

What a crock of poo.

Another sticking point for me is the lack of native USB 3.0 support. Intel says they won’t be including that until 2012.

On the bright side, these new motherboards, manufacturers are finally using UEFI. That super awesome replacement to the BIOS. Apple moved off that ancient POS ages ago and PC motherboard manufacturers are finally catching up. Look for mouse support and the ability to recognize 3+ TB partitions pre-boot as two of the many benefits of this transition.

For me, the most impressive aspect of Sandy Bridge is the fact that Intel managed to increase performance while decreasing power consumption. That’s what I like to see. Oh, I guess the ability to reach 4.4 GHz is nice too.

Will I Upgrade?

No, I won’t be upgrading my rig. I doubt I’ll notice any significant performance increases with this Sandy Bridge with my day-to-day activities. If I wanted to see significant gaming performance improvement, I’d probably get new video card before Sandy Bridge.

If anything, I’ll get a Sandy Bridge for my brother’s aging Core 2 Duo E6400 setup. Or perhaps I’ll just pick up a Core 2 Quad for him. Hopefully this new Intel platform will finally bring clearance sales to that old LGA775 platform’s processors.

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