The launch of Sandy Bridge processors disturbed the established hierarchy of Intel platforms. Really, try to answer the following question definitively: what platform would be the best fit for those who hunt for maximum performance? It used to be fairly simple when the top processor was the one and only Core i7 Extreme Edition. However, now its positions have been threatened by daring newcomers, such as Core i7-2600K. Of course, we cannot yet state that the top Sandy Bridge processors are indisputably faster than the six-core Gulftown ones. But at the same time, there are serious reasons to believe that in some cases Core i7 Sandy Bridge and LGA1155 platform compatible with it may turn out more appealing than the top LGA1366 CPUs.
The main advantage of the LGA1155 Core i7 processors is the second generation Core microarchitecture they are based on. Numerous tests show that the improvements introduced in Sandy Bridge make these processors more than 30% faster than their LGA1156 predecessors. And therefore, they can easily catch up with the top LGA1366 processors, which will never transition to the new microarchitecture. Moreover, Sandy bridge processors may also satisfy overclockers. The top processors in this family belong to the so-called K-series, which implies that the CPUs feature an unlocked clock frequency multiplier. The contemporary 32 nm process used for LGA1155 CPUs guarantees significant frequency potential. As a result, products like Core i7-2600K may be regarded as equal competitors to LGA1366 processors from the Extreme Edition series, although they cost significantly less.
However, despite their progressive nature, Sandy Bridge processors continue being pushed into the mainstream price segment, which is the primary target destination for the LGA1155 platform. As a result, even the top Core i7 CPUs based on the new microarchitecture have only four computational cores. Moreover, the integrated Intel HD Graphics core is an inalienable part of all Sandy Bridge products. Moreover, the LGA1155 platform also has a lot of limitations: it only supports dual-channel memory mode instead of triple-channel, and multi-GPU SLI and CrossFireX technologies can only work as PCIe 8x+8x.
So, despite its significant age in computer terms, LGA1366 platform is not yet ready to give in. it is free from all these enforced restrictions that spoil the impressions from the new LGA1155 platform. Moreover, the top LGA1366 processors are six-core ones. The only issue is that all of them are Gulftowns, i.e. are based on the previous generation Westmere microarchitecture. However, Intel believes that it is still current enough and even continues to announce new products based on it, like the recently released 1000-dollar flagship LGA1366 solution - Core i7-990X Extreme Edition.
As for us, we decided to disregard all prejudices about the positioning of the LGA1366 and LGA1155 platforms and compare Core i7-2600K against Core i7-990X Extreme Edition directly. Yes, these are very different processors, one of which is more than three times more expensive than the other, but we believe it will make our today’s test session even more interesting. Anyway, computer enthusiasts base their preferences not on the manufacturer’s recommendations, but on their own idea of the product’s consumer qualities. So, today we are going to compare top LGA1155 and LGA1366 processors and will try to determine, which one of them is better suited for today’s realities: fast quad-core newcomer or experienced six-core heavy-weight leader.