Intel Core i7-2600K review

Seth Barton
3 Jan 2011
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Intel Core i7-2600K
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An incredibly powerful processor, that’s also power-efficient and easy to overclock. However, most should go with the cheaper i5-2500K.



After months of speculation and rumour, Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors are finally with us. In fact we’ve been testing them since mid-december, but Intel’s strict non-disclosure agreements have silenced us till this morning. Now, though, that Sandy Bridge codename can be thrown off to reveal Intel’s true naming strategy of … 2nd Generation Core i7, i5 and i3.

Hardly thrilling is it. The new processors are hugely improved over the old models, as we’ll explain, with serious architectural changes and a whole new socket and chipset to support them. Despite this, Intel has insisted in keeping the same basic branding, only with the processor model numbers extended to four digits.

Intel Core i7-2600K

Worse still, it now means there are no less than three different processor sockets under the Core i7 brand: LGA1366, LGA1156 and the new LGA1155. Yes, that’s right, the new Core processors require a new socket – meaning you can’t upgrade your current PC. The LGA1155 socket will appear on motherboards with the new P67 and H67 chipsets – see our reviews opposite for more details on the capabilities and limitations of these new chipsets.

Thankfully, Intel can be partly forgiven for all this, as it has produced a corker of a new architecture. This release represents the Tick of Intel’s Tick-Tock strategy. This means that it retains Nehalem’s 32nm production method, but has a revised architecture.

The most obvious feature of the new design is that all the new processors have built-in graphics chips (unlike the mix and match selection of the last generation). These are actually integrated into the processor die too, rather than as a separate piece of silicon sitting alongside the processor in the same package. This may seem like a technicality, but it allows the two to share the processor’s L3 cache, and to balance their power needs and heat output as one – both can be dynamically clocked according to your needs.

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