Sandy Bridge, Part 4: Core i5-2400, i5-2500K and i7-2600K CPUs

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Sandy Bridge CPUs: Intel Core i5-2400, i5-2500K and i7-2600K

January 24, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Core i5-2400
LGA1155 Processor
Core i5-2500K
LGA1155 Processor
Core i7-2600K
LGA1155 Processor
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$195
US$225
US$330

In previous articles we discussed Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture, the new integrated graphics chip, and the budget H67 and enthusiast P67 chipset/motherboards. Today we take a look at the real stars of the show, the CPUs themselves. We have three quad cores under scrutiny, the Core i5-2400, i5-2500K, and the flagship i7-2600K, with street prices of US$195, US$225, and US$330 respectively. The i7-2600K is a bit of a departure for Intel in that its price isn't ridiculously inflated. In the past when new Intel chips were released, the fastest model would usually be priced two to three times higher than the next chip down the line.

The main differences between the three chips are that the "K" series feature a fully unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking, and the i7 has Hyper-threading (eight threads total rather than four). All of them support Turbo Boost, which by default overclocks by 100 MHz when all four cores are active and 400 MHz when only one core is at work. So none of these CPUs ever actually run at their rated clock speed. AMD has a similar featured called "Turbo Core" on their Phenom II X6 line.

Desktop CPU Comparison (US$160~$350)
Model
Speed
L3
Cache
TDP
Features
Street Price
Phenom II X4
965 BE
3.4 GHz
6MB
125W
UL
$165
Phenom II X6
1055T
2.8 GHz
6MB
125W
TC
$180
Phenom II X4
970 BE
3.5 GHz
6MB
125W
TC,UL
$185
Phenom II X4
975 BE
3.6 GHz
6MB
125W
UL
$195
Phenom II X6
1075T
3.0 GHz
6MB
125W
TC
$200
Phenom II X6
1090T BE
3.2 GHz
6MB
125W
TC,UL
$230
Phenom II X6
1100T BE
3.3 GHz
6MB
125W
TC,UL
$270
Core i5-661
3.33 GHz
4MB
87W
HT,TB
$200
Core i5-660
3.33 GHz
4MB
73W
HT,TB
$220
Core i5-680
3.6 GHz
4MB
73W
HT,TB
$300
Core i5-750
2.66 GHz
8MB
95W
TB
$200
Core i5-760
2.8 GHz
8MB
95W
TB
$205
Core i7-870
2.93 GHz
8MB
95W
HT,TB
$290
Core i5-2300
2.8 GHz
6MB
95W
TB
$185
Core i5-2400
3.1 GHz
6MB
95W
TB
$195
Core i5-2500
3.3 GHz
8MB
95W
TB
$210
Core i5-2500K
3.3 GHz
8MB
95W
TB,UL
$225
Core i5-2600
3.4 GHz
8MB
95W
TB
$300
Core i7-2600K
3.4 GHz
8MB
95W
HT,TB,UL
$330
Core i7-950
3.06 GHz
8MB
130W
HT,TB
$295
Core i7-965 XE
3.2 GHz
8MB
130W
HT,TB
N/A
Tested processors are in bold.
UL = unlocked multiplier, HT = Hyper-threading,
TB = Turbo Boost, TC = Turbo Core

So where do the new processors fall in the big scheme of things? If you take into account CPU pricing alone, it appears that the i5-2400 is destined to do battle with AMD's slower hex cores and fastest quads, and Intel's own Core i5-750/760. The i5-2500K isn't much more expensive, hanging with the same crowd plus the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition, which also has an unlocked multiplier. The i7-2600K is in the same league as LGA1156's i7-870 and the low end offerings for LGA1366.

To give you a better idea of what the different CPUs will actually cost you, we added the prices of a typical motherboard to the processors we're comparing today. The prices were taken from all compatible Intel/Asus/Gigabyte/MSI DDR3 microATX and ATX motherboards at Newegg and averaged out to US$103 for AM3, US$117 for LGA1156, and US$147 for LGA1155. Adding this cost changes things up a bit. For example, as a platform, the X4 975 is actually on average US$44 cheaper than the i5-2400. Keep this in mind later on when we judge the value of each Sandy Bridge CPU.



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