Intel is certainly on the right path with Sandy Bridge. They used the information gained from both Lynnfield and Clarksdale to build a much better CPU/GPU combination. We are seeing the advantages of a monolithic die design with the CPU and GPU combined, while we also find some of the limitations from both Lynnfield and Clarksdale resolved.
But even taking the GPU out of the picture, Intel has a pretty awesome CPU to offer to the market. I mean, we saw performance increases across the board. True, this is something you would (and should) expect from a new CPU, but the norm has become to show very minor performance gain and hardly ever across all testing categories like this.
Sandy Bridge is a great step in a new direction and one that does not appear to hinder performance for the enthusiast that might not want to use an IGP. We found no problems with running Sandy Bridge on the P67 chipset and a discrete GPU. We hope to take a close look at the HD 2000/3000 and what it brings to the table on the H67 in the very near future. For now we can say that Intel has dropped a serious bomb on the market and it is one that AMD is ill prepared to defend against. This is even more so true when you consider the pricing range.
The Core i7-2600K will sell at $317 (in 1,000 unit lots), while the Core i5-2500K will run for $205. This should put the retail range at $400 for the 2600K and $300 for the 2500K. Both are excellent value for the performance they show.
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