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Closer Look at Core i5-2500, Core i5-2400 and Core i5-2300

We will be estimating the practical advantages of Sandy Bridge microarchitecture with the help of the most popular mainstream processors – Core i5-2500, Core i5-2400 and Core i5-2300.

These are “true” quad-core LGA1155 processors that do not support Hyper-Threading. Note that besides the transition to the new platform, Core i5 CPU family no longer has dual-core processor models (like Core i5-600) with four virtual cores.

Since the price of Core i5-2000 lies within $170-$220 interval, this is where the peak sales of Sandy Bridge processors are going to hit. However, it is important to remember that this processor family doesn’t have all the functions. More expensive Core i7-2000 CPU modifications not only work at higher clock frequency and support Hyper-Threading, but also have a large L3 cache.

The CPU-Z screenshots will remind you the specifications of the three first Sandy Bridge processors we tested in our lab:

Intel Core i5-2300

Intel Core i5-2400

Intel Core i5-2500

The operational voltage for the tested Core i5 CPUs equaled 1.185 V, 1.167 V and 1.2 V accordingly, which indicated that there were no significant differences from LGA1156 processors here. The default Vcore of the system agent equaled 0.925 V for all processor samples, and Vtt voltage was at 1.05 V.

However, there are obvious improvements in the memory controller. Core i5 processors didn’t allow setting the memory frequency beyond DDR3-1333, while the new Core i5 modifications support a wider range of multipliers for this frequency, so that you can use even DDR3-2133 SDRAM or even faster memory without any problems.

The Uncore frequency has lost its significance. The L3 cache now works in sync with the computational cores and you can’t vary its frequency much.

Just like with Lynnfield and Clarkdale processors, the nominal clock frequency as stated in the specifications and screenshots above doesn’t mean much. The second version of Turbo Boost technology and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep constantly vary the operational processor frequency. As a result, it is jumping a lot and depends significantly on the number of active cores and the type of load.

In Turbo Mode Sandy Bridge processors gain frequency with more caution than Lynnfield. The 300-400 MHz we see is not quite what we would expect from Turbo Boost 2.0, especially against the background of Lynnfield CPUs that have no problem raising their clock speed by 533-667 MHz. The only comforting thing at this point is the fact that Sandy Bridge processors switch to Turbo Mode more frequently than their predecessors.

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