The Intel Core i5-2500k and i7-2600k processors were revolutionary when they launched. Offering amazing value for both mid-range and high end PC’s, these parts overclocked so easily on air you’d be crazy not to. Recently Sandy Bridge-E has moved in to draw away the attention of the high end enthusiasts, while those on a budget of $300 or less for a CPU have been more or less stuck with the 2500k. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to upsell you to the latest and greatest, Intel is preparing to launch the Core i5-2550k for those who want something slightly better than the 2500k, but can’t quite scrape together enough coin for the 2600k/2700k.
Intel is shaking up its CPU lineup a bit, and while some of the older parts on the chopping block make sense, even some newer Sandy Bridge chips are getting the axe. A total of 19 CPU’s from Clarkdale, Lynnfield, and Sandy Bridge are being phased out effective immediately, and any new orders from OEM’s will only be filled while supply lasts.
Ivy Bridge has been on our radar for almost a year now, but with the 2012 release date fast approaching, leaks from the partner channel were inevitable. According to documents obtained by X-bit labs, Intel’s new Ivy Bridge chips will be shipping in Q2 2012, and eighteen parts are listed. Of these only eight are standard desktop flavors, with the remaining ten all falling under the ultra-low voltage banner. All of the new chips are based on Intel’s new 22nm process technology.
While all the attention is on Sandy Bridge-E and, looking down the line, Ivy Bridge (and Ivy Bridge-E), Intel went and quietly rolled out a Pentium 350 processor based on the chip maker's Sandy Bridge architecture. The Pentium 350 is a dual-core processor built on a 32nm manufacturing process and clocked at 1.2GHz. It also has 3MB of L3 cache.
We wouldn't be terribly upset if Intel up and decided to retire its Celeron brand, as has been rumored on occasion. In fact, notebook players at one point were supposedly told Intel would gradually reduce production of Celeron chips in 2011 and replace them with Pentium and dual-core Atom N series processors. Based on Intel's latest roadmap, it doesn't appear the Celeron brand is going anywhere.
You want to know a secret? Building a high-end PC on an unlimited budget ain’t that hard. You just click the "Bestest" button and add to cart. What’s hard is building a PC on a strict budget. Do you sacrifice CPU, GPU, or storage? Do you cheap out on the case or the PSU?
So when WarFactory decided to ship us its Immortal budget box instead of the usual shoot-for-the-moon rigs we test, we thought it would be interesting to see how the more modest PC would measure up.
We rarely advocate playing the waiting game when it come to upgrading hardware. The simple reason is that there's always something newer, better, bigger, faster, and just plain more awesome right around the corner, regardless of when you buy. All that said, should you wait for Sandy Bridge-E? That depends on if you have $294 to plunk down on a processor.
Sorry folks, as much as we dislike being the bearer of bad news, sometimes it's inevitable. This is one of those cases. though it's not the end of the world. It appears as though Intel's upcoming Core i7 2700K processor isn't going to shove aside the Core i7 2600K at the $317 price point as previously rumored, and could cost as much as $350 at launch.
Intel has made available an updated graphics driver for Sandy Bridge processors capable of delivering up to 37 percent better performance on Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) platforms, providing you're rocking Intel's integrated HD graphics instead of a dedicated videocard.
Any other 33-year-old who noticed a sudden growth spurt would run to a doctor, but it seems that Intel’s x86 architecture will never stop growing. New extensions appeared this year in Sandy Bridge processors, more are coming in next year’s Ivy Bridge, and still more will come in 2013 with a processor code-named Haswell. Is the x86 growing stronger or fatter? Stronger!