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Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz Quad-Core Desktop Processor

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Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge Quad-Core Processor
Image Courtesy Intel

Jan 4 2011 - Intel's next generation of Core i processors have arrived, and this new crop utilizes the much-anticipated Sandy Bridge architecture. The Intel Core i5-2500K is a 3.3GHz quad-core model that combines the GPU and CPU on one die for a cost-effective solution that is fully unlocked for overclocking. If you're a casual gamer who plays popular titles, such as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm or Starcraft II, you'll find the Intel Core i5-2500K to offer smooth gameplay with decent frame rates at medium settings. The chip is also a good value for video editing and daily work in Office applications.


  • Unlocked for Overclocking
  • GPU and CPU on One Silicon Die
  • Cool Temps


  • Lack of Hyper-Threading (Available with Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K)
  • Need to Purchase LGA-1155 Motherboard


  • 3.3GHz Quad Core Processor (Max Turbo 3.7GHz)
  • 32nm Sandy Bridge Technology
  • Socket LGA-1155
  • 1333MHz DDR3
  • 6MB L3 Cache
  • Intel HD 3000 Graphics with 12 EU and 850MHz Core Clock
  • 95W TDP

Review - Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge Quad-Core Desktop CPU

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge ReviewImage Courtesy Intel

The Intel Core i5-2500K is a 3.3GHz quad-core processor built using Intel's latest Sandy Bridge 32nm architecture. What makes Sandy Bridge processors unique is the fact that the GPU and CPU are on the same silicon die, which is energy efficient and more affordable. MSRP on the Intel Core i5-2500K is $216.

The Core i5-2500K features Intel HD 3000 graphics that's best suited for mainstream gaming. With 12 execution units and a clock speed up to 1100MHz via GPU Turbo Boost, Intel HD 3000 graphics are on par with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 430 or ATI Radeon HD 5450. As you can see, avid gamers will want to use a discrete graphics card for added in-game performance, but casual gamers will have no problem running popular titles, such as World of Warcraft and Far Cry 2 with the Intel Core i5-2500K. You won't want to run games at maxed out settings, but good settings yield playable frame rates, as evidenced below using the FRAPS tool.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Benchmarks

1280x1024 Resolution

  • Low Settings: 176.67 Average FPS
  • Medium Settings: 36.43 Average FPS

Because the Intel Core i5-2500K is built using new Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, you'll have to buy an LGA-1155 motherboard designed for the new chipset. For testing purposes, the Intel Core i5-2500K was used with an Intel DP67BL (Bearup Lake) motherboard. In this scenario, the Intel Core i5-2500K performed well, which can be seen in the AIDA 64 benchmarks below. The DP67BL is a microATX board, which is nice for those with space constraints.

Intel Core i5-2500K (3.3GHz) Sandy Bridge AIDA 64 Benchmarks

  • Memory Read Test: 16098 MB/s
  • Write: 18129 MB/s
  • Copy: 17332 MB/s
  • Memory Latency: 53.7ns
  • CPU Queen: 32101
  • CPU PhotoWorkxx 51676
  • CPU ZLib: 196.9 MB/s
  • CPU AES: 369057
  • CPU Hash: 1946 MB/s
  • FPU VP8: 3218
  • FPU Julia: 10588
  • FPU Mandel: 5663
  • FPU SinJulia: 2986

To compare, the following benchmarks were achieved using the same AIDA utility.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Six-Core (3.7GHz) CPU AIDA Benchmarks

  • Memory Read Test: 8664 MB/s
  • Write: 6847 MB/second
  • Copy: 10590 MB/s
  • Memory Latency: 51.1ns
  • CPU Queen: 36625
  • CPU PhotoWorkxx 29539
  • CPU ZLib: 280.5 MB/s
  • CPU AES: 62137
  • CPU Hash: 3796 MB/s
  • FPU VP8: 3652
  • FPU Julia: 14495
  • FPU Mandel: 7377
  • FPU SinJulia: 3685

Intel Core i7-920 Processor (4.2GHz) AIDA Benchmarks

  • Memory Read Test: 16171 MB/s
  • Write: 14497 MB/second
  • Copy: 19973 MB/s
  • Memory Latency: 51.6ns
  • CPU Queen: 48311
  • CPU PhotoWorkxx 61072
  • CPU ZLib: 269.3 MB/s
  • CPU AES: 51775
  • CPU Hash: 2445 MB/s
  • FPU VP8: 3547
  • FPU Julia: 13932
  • FPU Mandel: 6801
  • FPU SinJulia: 5782

So what makes the 2500K different from other chips? The "K" notation on the model number means it is fully unlocked for advanced overclocking. But beware, you must have a motherboard that supports overclocking. Along with overclocking and gaming, the Intel Core i5-2500K is also good for video editing. It scored an average of 69.4 FPS when decoding a video in HandBrake. While this score isn't superior mainly due to the lack of Hyper Threading (in comparison, an Intel Core i7-920 system running at 4.2GHz scored 120 FPS), it is more than adequate for mainstream users. As mentioned above, the Core i5-2500K lacks Hyper Threading, which is the main difference between it and the slightly faster, yet more expensive, Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge chip.

Overall, the Intel Core i5-2500K is a great option for budget-conscious consumers that game casually. With playable frame rates even in moderately intensive games and the ability to overclock the chip substantially, the Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge CPU is a worthwhile buy. However, for $100 more, you can gain better performance with the Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge chip that offers Hyper-Threading and 8MB of L3 cache.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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