Intel Sandy Bridge CPU In-Depth Look at Overclocking, Memory Timings and More

CPU by leeghoofd @ 2011-02-01

First introduced at the CES, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge CPU architecture is here to flood the mainstream market with over 25 CPUs. Don't panic, most are foreseen for the mobile market and only 9 new models will be introduced for the desktop segment. Coinciding with this new release is also a new socket design. 1155 pins will be the new standard for Intel’s mainstream lineup. Yes you guessed it, Sandy bridge is here to replace socket 1156. Slowly but steadily Clarkdale and Lynnfield will become End Of Life and will be phased out. At the Sandy Bridge Tech conference the representatives of Intel said that the current S1366 i7 lineup (Bloomfield and Gulftown) will remain their high end platform. Time to explore Sandy Bridge...

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P67&H67 Chipset and Test Setup

With every new socket, there is a new chipset design too. Initially the end user will only have the choice between the P67 and H67 chipset. To cut a long story short here is the diagram which clearly shows the main differences.

H67 uses the CPU integrated HD2000 or HD3000 GPU as main display. Another GPU can be added for higher graphics performance into the PCIe 16x slot. But a H67 board does not allow any CPU overclocking via the multiplier. So buying a K CPU is worthless if ever you are gonna hook it up with a H67 board (unless you want the HD3000 GPU performance). Same for the RAM multipliers. The chipset supports up to max 1333Mhz ram speeds. While this might sound like more than enough , further tests will put another spotlight on this matter.

P67 is more versatile. Of course not taking any use of the CPUs Intel HD. But sporting multiple GPU solutions. Multiple ram dividers (800/1066/1333/1600/1866 and even 2400mhz )and best of all it allows CPU multiplier overclocking. 

Later this year the Z68 will be on the shelves, sporting CPU and IGPU overclocking. If it will be the next big thing is doubtful. Also other low end chipsets will pop up in the upcoming quarters, but not very interesting if you are gamer or bencher.

Okay that was a brief summation of the new features of this CPU and chipset, but there's more. New instructions boost the CPUs encoding performance. Intel's AVX, which requires Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, will give a very nice performance boost if the application supports it.

Here's what a 2500K retail sample looks like:




Before we start to look into the benches here's a quick rundown on the test setup :

Asus P8P67 Dlx motherboard (Bios 1053)
Intel i5 2500K and i7 2600K CPU
4Gb Corsair Dominator 1600Mhz ram CL8-8-8-24 1T
Nvidia GTX 285/480 GPU : 260.99 WHQL drivers used
Enermax Galaxy 1Kw DXX PSU
Windows 7 Professional 64Bit



Synthetic tests used:

3dmark01 and 06
SuperPi 1M and 32M
Wprime 32M and 1024M
AIDA 64 Memory benchmark ( replaced the phased out Everest Ultimate edition )
Cinebench R10 64 Bit
X264HD encoding test

For games we use :

Far Cry 2
Mafia II
Alien vs Predator DirectX11 benchmark
Dirt 2

For easier performance detection we limited the gaming resolutions to 1280 x 1024. This to keep the GPU sort of out of the equation.


What have we tested : Stock clock performance, ,all CPU's run with 1600Mhz ram speed, only the i760s rams run at 1333Mhz. (This as it would require to OC the CPU's Bclock to get 1600mhz ram speed )

Due to a multitude of RAM dividers it might be interesting to find the sweet-spot for your needs, so we tested almost each one of them. Then we go a bit deeper and investigate the main RAM timings.

Then a 4ghz show down to show you how efficient or performant the new platform might be compared to your current setup.

Last but not least some overclocking results of OC team BE for the HWbot Country Cup We tested several CPU's and found a one that did 5.4Ghz! Not bad but there are far better ones out there too.

Let's get cracking and see if all these tech innovations pay off.

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Comment from Teemto @ 2011/02/02
52x102 here with flares at 2176-6/9/6/24
SuperPi and Pifast stable.
Comment from leeghoofd @ 2011/02/02
So use these clocks too then for 3D Pascal
Comment from Teemto @ 2011/02/02
Yes my master.
Comment from thorgal @ 2011/02/03
So which settings did you use for 5Ghz It's those "just a few settings" that interest me

I always want to learn from a master
Comment from Stefan Mileschin @ 2011/02/04
Originally Posted by Teemto View Post
Yes my master.
Is the system stable in 3DMark 2005 CPU test too at those frequencies?
Comment from Teemto @ 2011/02/04
Nope. That's realy the max I could go.
Haven't played around with the other voltages though.
Maybe Albrecht can shed some light if this could improve stability/OC'ability?