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Home » CPU
Core i5-2500K vs. Phenom II X4 975 BE CPU Review
Author: Gabriel Torres 213,230 views
Type: Reviews Last Updated: January 4, 2011
Page: 1 of 16
Introduction

Intel is launching this month their new CPUs based on the “Sandy Bridge” architecture. Let’s check the performance of the new Core i5-2500K (3.3 GHz) and compare it to its main competitor from AMD, the new Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition (3.6 GHz) that is being released today. We also added the Core i5-661 in the mix.

For a detailed explanation of what is new in the Sandy Bridge architecture, please read our Inside the Intel Sandy Bridge Microarchitecture tutorial.

The new Core i5 2500K (3.3 GHz) is a quad-core CPU, coming in two flavors: with its clock multiplier unlocked (“K,” being the equivalent to the “Extreme Edition” CPUs Intel used to carry and to the “Black Edition” CPUs from AMD), giving you an extra way to overclock the CPU, and the standard model with a locked clock multiplier. The “K” model comes with a price tag of USD 216, while the standard model comes priced at USD 205.

The new quad-core Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition comes with a price tag of USD 195.99, being the main competitor to the Core i5-2500, and in this review we will be able to answer the most basic question of all: which one is the fastest?

We also included in our review the Core i5-661, which runs at almost the same clock rate (3.33 GHz) and same price tag as the Core i5-2500. Keep in mind that the Core i5-661 is a dual-core CPU with Hyper-Threading technology, while the Core i5-2500K is a quad-core CPU without Hyper-Threading technology. While both are recognized by the operating system as having “four” cores, on the Core i5-2500K these cores are real, while on the Core i5-661 two are real and two are “simulated.”

We also added the Phenom II X4 970 to our mix, because until yesterday it was the CPU from AMD with the highest clock rate (3.5 GHz), and although it is a little bit cheaper (USD 185.99) than the other CPUs we included, we think users are also curious to see how is the new Phenom II X4 975 compared to the  “old” Phenom II X4 970.

In the tables below you can see a brief comparison between the CPUs we included in our review. AMD CPUs do not support SSE4 instructions (they have a proprietary instruction set called SSE4a, which is not the same thing as SSE4).

CPU

Cores

HT

IGP

Internal Clock

Turbo Clock

Base Clock

Core

Technology

TDP

Socket

Price

Core i5-2500K

4

No

Yes

3.30 GHz

3.7 GHz

100 MHz

Sandy Bridge

32 nm

95 W

1155

USD 216

Core i5-661

2

Yes

Yes

3.33 GHz

3.6 GHz

133 MHz

Clarkdale

32 nm

87 W

1156

USD 210

Phenom II X4 975

4

No

No

3.6 GHz

200 MHz

Deneb

45 nm

125 W

AM3

USD 196

Phenom II X4 970

4

No

No

3.5 GHz

200 MHz

Deneb

45 nm

125 W

AM3

USD 186

TDP stands for Thermal Design Power which advises the user of the maximum amount of heat the CPU can dissipate. The CPU cooler must be capable of dissipating at least this amount of heat.

CPU

L1 Cache

L2 Cache

L3 Cache

Memory Support

Memory Channels

Core i5-2500K

32 KB + 32 KB per core

256 KB per core

6 MB total

DDR3 up to 1333 MHz

Two

Core i5-661

32 KB + 32 KB per core

256 KB per core

4 MB total

DDR3 up to 1333 MHz

Two

Phenom II X4 975

64 KB + 64 KB per core

512 KB per core

6 MB total

DDR3 up to 1333 MHz

Two

Phenom II X4 970

64 KB + 64 KB per core

512 KB per core

6 MB total

DDR3 up to 1333 MHz

Two

While all CPUs listed above have an integrated memory controller, only the two Intel CPUs listed have an integrated graphics processor (IGP) and an integrated PCI Express 2.0 controller, handling 16 PCI Express lanes, allowing those CPUs to drive one PCI Express slot at x16 or two PCI Express slots at x8.

Since the Intel CPUs included in our review have an integrated graphics controller, we had to test this aspect of the CPU. We installed the Core i5-661 on an Intel DH55TC motherboard (Intel H55 chipset, USD 90) and the Core i5-2500K on an Intel DH67BL motherboard (Intel H67 chipset, USD 107). Because of that, we installed the AMD CPUs on a motherboard with integrated video on the same price range that we had handy (ASRock 880GXH/USB3, AMD 880G chipset, USD 115).

AMD CPUs talk to the external world (i.e. the chipset) thru a bus called HyperTransport. For a detailed explanation how this bus works, please read our The HyperTransport Bus Used by AMD Processors tutorial.

Socket LGA1156 and 1155 CPUs use the DMI (Digital Media Interface) bus to talk to the chipset, which is the interface previously used to make the connection between the north bridge and the south bridge chips on Intel chipsets.

One final note. The Core i5-2500K has a base clock of 100 MHz instead of using a 133 MHz base clock as the previous Core i5 generation. This means that it has to multiply 100 MHz by 33 to get to its internal 3.30 GHz. The Core i5-661, on the other hand, has to multiply 133 MHz by 25 to get to its internal 3.33 GHz.

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