The first work day of the new year starts pretty hectic due to the launch of Intel's Sandy Bridge platform. Lets take a look at a couple of reviews to see how these new chips perform. Our first stop is AnandTech, this site has written an overview of the new mobile Sandy Bridge lineup over here. The reviewer concludes Intel's high-end Sandy Bridge processors deliver 50 to 100 percent better performance than Intel's previous generation high-end mobile chips, while also doubling the integrated graphics performance, without consuming more power than Arrandale.
Sandy Bridge fixes that problem, and it fixes it in a major way. Not only do we get 50 to 100% better performance than the previous generation high-end Intel mobile chips, but we also get more than double the integrated graphics performance and battery life in most situations should be similar to Arrandale, if not better. And that’s looking at the quad-core offerings!
When dual-core and LV/ULV Sandy Bridge processors start arriving next month, we’ll get all of the benefits of the Sandy Bridge architecture with the potential for even lower power requirements. It’s not too hard to imagine the ULV Sandy Bridge chips reaching Atom levels of battery life under moderate loads, and performance will probably be almost an order of magnitude better than Atom. Sure, you’ll pay $700+ for SNB laptops versus $300 netbooks, but at least you’ll be able to do everything you could want of a modern PC. In summary, then, Sandy Bridge improves laptop and notebook performance to the point where a large number of users could easily forget about desktops altogether; besides, you can always plug your notebook into a keyboard, mouse, and display if needed. About the only thing desktop still do substantially better is gaming, and that’s largely due to the use of 300W GPUs.
AnandTech also tested Intel's Core i7-2600K, Core i5-2500K and Core i3-2100 desktop processors, you can check out this article over here. The conclusion for the desktop market is that you get yesterday's high-end performance at a much more attractive price. Unless you already have a high-end Core i7, this is what you'll want to upgrade to, according to AnandTech.
In all but the heaviest threaded applications, Sandy Bridge is the fastest chip on the block—and you get the performance at a fairly reasonable price. The Core i7-2600K is tempting at $317 but the Core i5-2500K is absolutely a steal at $216. You're getting nearly $999 worth of performance at roughly a quarter of the cost. Compared to a Core i5-750/760, you'll get an additional 10-50% performance across the board in existing applications, and all that from a ~25% increase in clock speed. A big portion of what Sandy Bridge delivers is due to architectural enhancements, the type of thing we've come to expect from an Intel tock. Starting with Conroe, repeating with Nehalem, and going strong once more with Sandy Bridge, Intel makes this all seem so very easy.
Another in-depth review can be found at Legit Reviews, they conclude this "tock" is a major winner that delivers an incredible performance per Watt. Pricing is very attractive and the chips overclock really well:
In my opinion Sandy Bridge takes us back to the days of Core 2 Duo, giving us excellent performance with incredible efficiency. The midrage Core i5 2500K doesn't blow everything else out of the water the way the Core 2 E6600 did in its day but for a 4 core CPU to trade blows with the Core i7 875K..a class leading, year old, 4 core 8 thread CPU is quite an accomplishment. Intel certainly has an architecture that could do it but chose to launch only two "mainstream" SKU's carrying a full Sandy Bridge core.
The really exciting part of Sandy Bridge for enthusiasts is that by increasing efficiency we have the ability to hit incredible clock speeds. Remembering the similarities in power use of the i5 2500K and i5 661, the i5 2500K absolutely destroys it in every performance test. Overclocking is in another world, a Sandy Bridge at even 4.5GHz should be enough to whet just about any gamer's appetite.
For a third opinion we head over to The Tech Report, they write we're truly living in a golden age of processor design. The reviewer notes Sandy Bridge is a substantial improvement in terms of performance and power efficiency over the Lynnfield quad-core chips and that now is a great moment to upgrade.
If you're looking to upgrade—and if you have something like the Core 2 Duo E6400 in your system, our test results suggest you should be—then the only question may be which version of Sandy Bridge you ought to buy. I'm not sure how coldly analytical I can be about this, because the Core i7-2600K with Hyper-Threading is frickin' awesome and you should totally get one, but you're free to spend less if you want to wuss out like that. Surely the Core i5-2500K will be hit with a great many enthusiasts, since it's unlocked and slots in at the popular $200-ish price point. And heck, the gaming performance we saw from the i5-2400 suggests most folks won't need anything more than it for some time to come.