Intel Core i7-2600K

As a result of the new microarchitecture and features, Sandy Bridge chips have different CPU socket pin counts compared to their predecessors

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Intel Core i7-2600K The Core i7-2600K sports a fully unlocked multiplier
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  May 8, 2011

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Key Specs

Bus speed: 100MHz
Cache memory: 256KB total L1, 1MB total L2, 8MB total L3
Clock speed: 3.4GHz
Number of cores: 4
Power consumption: 95-Watts

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Though Intel has been reigning supreme for the last few years, the chipmaker is maintaining an aggressive launch schedule. The latest microarchitecture is known as Sandy Bridge and it is the successor to the older Nehalem-based ‘Core i’ series.

As a result of their new microarchitecture and features Sandy Bridge chips have different CPU socket pin counts compared to their predecessors. At the time of going to press Intel has only released processors that use the LGA1155 CPU socket (replacing LGA1156).

Intel has also completely changed the way you have to go about overclocking with Sandy Bridge. Whereas in the past pushing the FSB or BCLK on a board from the default of 133MHz to whatever speed you wanted and fiddling with the clock multiplier (on an unlocked chip) gave you an instant performance boost, with Sandy Bridge things aren’t as simple. With Sandy Bridge CPUs and the accompanying 6-series Cougar Point chipsets the BLCK defaults to 100MHz and going to even a frequency of 105MHz on several P67 boards we’ve tested proved tricky. As a result you’ll have to pick your Sandy Bridge chip very carefully because Intel is offering a mix of fully unlocked, limited unlocked and completely locked processors.

Any processor that doesn’t support Turbo mode is fully clock-locked and can’t be overclocked. If however your processor supports Turbo Mode then you have a partially unlocked CPU and can adjust the multiplier slightly. All non ‘K’ suffix Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 processors have limited unlocked multipliers though their memory, power and graphics can be modified and overclocked fully. The fully unlocked processors are Sandy Bridge models with the ‘K’ suffix such as the Core i7-2600K chip on test here. These chips offer a full range of multiplier settings from 16x all the way to 57x meaning you can overclock to your heart’s desire. With our particular Core i7-2600K processor we managed a colossal frequency of 4.2GHz, up from the standard 3.4GHz using the stock Intel cooler.

At standard 3.4GHz the Core i7-2600K blew us away with its amazing results. In our Cinebench 10 multi-CPU test it managed a figure of 26,560. In comparison the older six-core Gulftown Intel Core i7 980X 3.33GHz Extreme Edition CPU managed a result of 25,519. Moving to our multimedia tests, the Core i7-2600K managed to complete our Lame music encode in one minute and 34 seconds whereas the 980X required two minutes to get the job done. Moving to gaming the Core i7-2600K managed figures of 7,110 and 56.2fps in Final Fantasy XIV and Lost Planet 2 respectively. The Core i7 980X on the other hand was slower in Final Fantasy with a score of 7,085 though slightly faster in Lost Planet 2, managing 77.3fps.

For: Extremely fast, 32nm fabrication process means you have loads of overclocking headroom.
Against: Needs a new CPU socket, overclocking is tricky because of new BCLK setup.
Verdict: The Intel Core i7-2600K CPU is a super fast performer which thanks to its unlocked multiplier can also be overclocked like a monster.

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