Sandy Bridge

New for 2011

It seems there is been a large amount of hype surrounding Intel's new CPU line up, code named "Sandy Bridge" over the last few months. Well, the hype is over and Sandy Bridge has now finally been launched!

So, what is it?

In Simple terms its the new range of Processors and Chip sets from Intel. Every few years Processor manufactures, mainly AMD and Intel, launch a new technology that is generally faster and cheaper than the previous technology. This time it is Intel's roll of the dice with the launch of "Sandy Bridge" 

Whats new?

There is a new range of Intel CPUs covered a little further down and two new chipsets to go with them, the H67 and the P67 chipset.

The Processor line up:

Sandy Bridge chip lineup

These chips feature:

Intel Quick Sync - Accelerated Encoding, decoding and transcoding.

Intel HD Graphics - Integrated graphics cards.

Integrated Memory Controller - The memory controller is moved from the motherboard to the CPU. 

Improved Turbo Boost technology - Automatically overclocks your CPU safely when you need it.

That's Lovely, but what does that mean for me?

Performance figures all round are nicely improved. Take a look at the following gaming benchmarks below. Now bear in mind a Intel Core i7 980X processor is £800, and one of the Intel Core i5 2500K processors are around the £175 mark, less than a quarter of the price.....

Sandy Bridge crysis benchmark

wow benchmark sandy bridge

fallout benchmark sandy bridge

There we have it, conclusive evidence that not only are these new chips incredibly fast but represent a real bargain. Its not just games that benefit from this new line up, normal day to day programs also see vast improvements:

photoshop benchmark sandy bridge

A few useful Pointers

There are a few things to look out for when it comes to this new second generation processor;

Overclocking these new chips as we know it is dead. Early rumours suggested that none of these new chips is overclockable and that is it! Well that is only half true. Overclocking is still possible but only with a P67 chipset motherboard (Asus P6P67 series). Normal Sandy bridge CPUs can be made to turbo boost a little higher with decent cooling in place. These chips include;

i3 2100

i3 2120

i5 2300

i5 2400

i5 2500

i7 2600

With the special edition "K" series CPUS the story is entirely different, these can be overclocked up to a whopping 5.7Ghz providing the cooling is up to the job. The magic "K" Series CPUs are limited to just two models, the i5 2500K and i7 2600K. You can you guess what chips we are using lots of!

sandy bridge overclock

Remember these overclocks are only achievable with a P67 chipset like the ones in the Asus P6P67 motherboards. If you get a "K" series chip or even a normal chip you will not be able to do anything with it on a H67 based motherboard.

Another worthy pointer worth pointing out is if you plan on running a powerful dual graphics card setup then the new sandy bridge setup may not be for you. The reason being is the dual PCI-E Slots will only run at dual x8/x8 mode rather than a full dual x16/x16 mode. This causes no problems for lower and mid range graphics cards but will impact the performance of say a couple of GTX 580's! Traditional X58 1366 socket i7 setups still have those extra PCI-E lanes so you will be able to run meaty graphics cards at full dual x16/x16 mode.

Final Words

Intel Continues its reign on the high and mid end CPU market. The performance you get with this new line up is incredibly hard to resist and makes it almost a no brainer when the cost is taken into consideration.

We currently have 8 PCs in our Sandy Bridge range, with the list growing day by day, they include;

Orion - Sandy Bridge i5 PC

Eos - Sandy Bridge i5 Gaming PC

Scout - Sandy Bridge i5 P67 Gaming Computer

Achilles - Sandy Bridge i5 P67 Gaming PC

Aether - Sandy Bridge i7 H67 Custom PC

Chronos - Sandy Bridge i7 Gaming Computer

Hermes - Sandy Bridge i7 Gaming PC

Eliminator - Sandy Bridge Extreme Gaming PC