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Testbed Configuration and Methodology

Now it is time to check out the performance of the new Core i5-2500, Core i5-2400 and Core i5-2300 processors. We were going to compare them against previous generation Core i5 CPUs, represented in our test session by Core i5-660 and Core i5-760, which cost about the same as the newcomers. However, it turned out later on that the junior Core i5 with Sandy Bridge microarchitecture worked much faster than the top quad-core Core i5 for LGA1156. Therefore, we also added a few Core i7 models in LGA1156 and LGA1366 form-factor: Core i7-870 and Core i7-950. As for the competition from AMD, we didn’t have much of a choice. We simply tested the fastest Phenom II CPUs available today: Phenom II X4 975 and Phenom II X6 1100T.

As a result, we used the following hardware and software components in our testbeds:

  • CPUs:
    • AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban, 6 cores, 3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3);
    • AMD Phenom II X4 975 (Deneb, 4 cores, 3.6 GHz, 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-2300 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 2.8 GHz, 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-2500 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-660 (Clarkdale, 2 cores, 3.33 GHz, 4 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-760 (Lynnfiled, 4 cores, 2.8 GHz, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-870 (Lynnfiled, 4 cores, 2.93 GHz, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-950 (Bloomfiled, 4 cores, 3.06 GHz, 8 MB L3).
  • CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme with Enermax Everest fan;
  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS Crosshair IV Formula (Socket AM3, AMD 890FX + SB850, DDR3 SDRAM);
    • ASUS P7P55D Premium (LGA1156, Intel P55 Express);
    • ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel P67 Express);
    • Gigabyte X58A-UD5 (LGA1366, Intel X58 Express).
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM (Kingston KHX1600C8D3K2/4GX):
      • DDR3-1333 9-9-9-27 with Core i5-660 and Core i5-760 processors;
      • DDR3-1600 9-9-9-27 with Phenom II X6 1100T, Phenom II X4 975, Core i7-870, Core i5-2300, Core i5-2400 and Core i5-2500 processors;
    • 3 x 2 GB, DDR3 SDRAM (Crucial BL3KIT25664TG1608):
      • DDR3-1600 9-9-9-27 with a Core i7-950 processor.
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
  • Hard drive: Kingston SNVP325-S2/128GB.
  • Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64.
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver 9.2.0.1019;
    • ATI Catalyst 10.12 Display Driver.

Performance

General Performance

As usual, we use SYSmark 2007 suite to estimate the processor performance in general-purpose tasks. It emulates the usage models in popular office and digital content creation and processing applications. The idea behind this test is fairly simple: it produces a single score characterizing the average computer performance.

Judging by the results obtained in SYSmark 2007, all promises about Sandy Bridge performance seem to have come true.  When we compare performance of Core i5-2500 and Core i5-760, which official price point is the same and equals $205, the new CU appears 20% faster than the old one. Overall, everything looks like the new Core i5-2000 processors are intending to replace Core i7, as they cave the muscle to compete with them easily. In this case, we feel real bad for AMD: Phenom II processors look like outsiders rather than fully-fledged competitors in this diagram.

We would like to add a table with detailed results in SYSmark 2007 to the diagram above. All scores are sorted according to the application type:

 
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