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Well big buzz from CES for Intel's next generation "Sandy Bridge" Core processors.

We have 3 computers in the house. The third crapped out recently so computer #2 gets moved to position #3 and computer #1 goes to position #2 so I am currently looking for a new computer.

Obviously its early for the new processors. I'm wondering if its worth going for the new technology (i5 2500, or i7 2600) or maybe looking for a deal on an older i7 based machine.

I figure the new processor will be faster but its also needs a new motherboard which could cause issues vs. older gear which has had the bugs worked out.

Thoughts?
 

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I'm always a "leading edge" minus two steps guy when it comes the PC stuff.

The newest stuff is always buggier when it comes to driver support, MBs, etc. whereas the one or two previous models have usually had enough soak time to iron out the wrinkles.

Added bonus is that they are usually quite a bit cheaper and often not that much slower.
 

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I hope the answer is no, because I just built a new computer based on the Intel i5 760. The interesting thing is that the Gen 1 processors did not drop much, if at all, in price with the availability of the Gen 2.

I'm confused.
 

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I never buy new model Intel processors. The prices are just too outrageous. That goes for the motherboards they require as well. For price vs performance, new whiz bang components just are not worth it. Last year's (or last month's in some cases) models provide up to 90% of the performance at half the price. It's better to spread the budget across all components to achieve a well balanced system. Putting a super fast processor with a slow motherboard, video card, disk and memory will just bottleneck the processor. The only good thing about new models from Intel is the price cuts the previous versions get about the same time.

FWIW, I have a Q6600 processor which is ancient by Intel standards. It runs well O/C'd to 2.8 GHz and I've yet to see it pinned at anywhere close to 100% CPU load.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Putting a super fast processor with a slow motherboard
Well you can't. The new processors need new Motherboards. Please lets stick to the topic at hand which are the new processors from Intel.


The interesting thing is that the Gen 1 processors did not drop much, if at all, in price with the availability of the Gen 2.
Yeah, I really don't understand why the older CPU's haven't dropped in price either.

The pricing on the Sandy Bridge processors is pretty much the same as the older Core i5 and i7

i7 860 is $310 and the i7 2600K is $329
i5 760 is $210 and i5 2500 is $209

FWIW, the new processors have got great reviews regarding video conversion and transcoding. In my last PC, I bought the i7 over i5 because it was so superior for video conversions so the Sandy Bridge would be nice when deal with all the conversions for getting movies to the big screen!
 

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Those prices actually look reasonable for a change. Wonder why Intel is not charging $1000 like before? :confused:
 

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Are the new CPU models at a new process node?

That might explain the price being the same. If the new CPUs don't have a significant increase in functionality then the actual die may be smaller than the previous generation which is manufactured on the older (and larger) process.

Depending on the yields, it is not inconceivable that the new parts end up being cheaper than the old parts because they get enough more die per wafer to offset the additional cost of the new process.
 

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The new Sandy Bridge CPU's look great, and I'm very tempted to bite the bullet and upgrade from my comparatively ancient Core 2 Duo E6600 to the i5-2500K.

But while the CPU's look great, the motherboard chipsets present a bit of a problem. One of the key Sandy Bridge features is the fact that the CPU now includes GPU functionality, and for a change the on-board GPU performance is not completely embarrassing for Intel. The Sandy Bridge GPU performance isn't outstanding, but for many users that aren't into the latest games the performance should be more than sufficient.

However, that leads to a significant issue with the chipsets that are available: to get hardware transcoding, you must be using the on-board graphics. And to use the on-board graphics, you have to use a motherboard with the H67 chipset. Which means that if you want to use a discrete graphics card, you can't use hardware transcoding.

That in itself isn't too much of a problem, but H67 does not support any overclocking at all. In the past, I wouldn't have cared much, but the Sandy Bridge CPU's are very easy to overclock: most reviews show the i5-2500K easily overclockable to 4.4 or 4.5Ghz.

To get overclocking, you have to use a motherboard based on the P67 chipset, but that chipset doesn't support the on-board GPU...which also means no hardware transcoding. The upcoming Z68 chipset will support both overclocking and the on-board GPU, but that won't appear until Q2 or Q3.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
However, that leads to a significant issue with the chipsets that are available: to get hardware transcoding, you must be using the on-board graphics. And to use the on-board graphics, you have to use a motherboard with the H67 chipset. Which means that if you want to use a discrete graphics card, you can't use hardware transcoding.
Yeah this was really disappointing to hear.

The hardware transcoding is what Intel is calling QuickSync. If you get the i5 2500 or i7 2600K, it has the higher end graphics and seems great for HTPC where you don't need discrete graphics but want the transcoding and video conversion boost.

So at this point, there is no way invoke QuickSync with discrete graphics? Anandtech was saying something about single monitor setup which suggested to me that you could have dual monitors and have Intel GPU drive one monitor with the quick sync abilities and a second monitor driven by your discrete graphics card. Is that crazy?
 

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Apparently a company has come up with a solution that allows a discrete graphics card to be used while still enabling QuickSync on Sandy Bridge--more info available at Anandtech.

However, it doesn't look like this is a shipping solution yet, and you still would have to use the H67 chipset--so no overclocking.
 

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Since Intel and nVidia just signed a sharing agreement, it might be worth it to wait to see what happens on that front. Personally, I usually make my builds 2 or 3 generations behind just from a price/performance standpoint.
 

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Don't forget audio capabilities.

The hardware transcoding is what Intel is calling QuickSync.
Hugh from my point of view (as I am a bit of a musician) the part of the equation in transcoding video streams that seems to be forgotten is audio.

If you are using codecs like ffmpeg or even other proprietary stuff the audio stream might cause trouble. I would wait to see how well the motherboards do audio.

Knowing the companies that produce the boards will have a tendancy to only use cheap audio chipsets, these new boards might not do audio hardware transcoding very well through the onboard or the bus to add ons.

So if there is no possibility of using a dedicated audio chip or an add on card to do the audio part of transcoding you might just be very disappointed with your hardware!

Remember that streaming a transcoded file to a player is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Software usually being the weakest link if you are using good hardware devices.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the latest MS/Intel audio api, and if you use software and hardware that is not asio audio capable then expect that there will be software glitches and hardware bottlenecks (at least at first).

Perhaps this is why Intel has caved into the law suits from NVidia and is paying them api patent protection money. NVidia with deep roots in the gamer market got the bus designs right for combining audio and video capabilities and other people proceeded to copy them.

It is an absolute shame that very soon there might be no choice other than Intel based products for HTPC hardware.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have had my next PC all scoped out since last October but wanted to wait until the New Year for better deals. I expected price decreases in the older CPU's when Sandy Bridge CPU's hit the market.

Since the new CPU's are no more expensive than the old ones, I think its worth considering.
 

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I am considering the same thing (i7 950 vs. i7 2600K) for a upgrade of my gaming PC, and based on Tom's Hardware previews, it does seem like the new 2600K does offer minor advantages (for the games they tested), but bigger advantages for transcoding. However the prices seem higher for the X58 MBs compared to the new P67 MBs (based on NCIX, both ASUS MBs), so I might as well go with the slightly cheaper i7 2600K + P67 MB + DDR3 RAM upgrade for $700-800.
 

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Personally, I'm more interested in AMD's fusion offerings.

Or is this intel's answer to that?
They're not very clear in their page, lol.
 

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Fusion is low end stuff. Comparable to an Atom Processor with Nvidia Ion.

Regardless can we please keep to the subject at hand which is the 2nd gen Intel stuff vs first gen.
 

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Unless you plan on building your new rig months from now does it matter what Intel announced at CES. You might be able to get the new chip's soon but the motherboards that will support them will not hit the market immediately and the choice will be limited and very expensive at first. Personally I would rather go with a AMD Phenom II X6 and save the money for more Ram but that just me.
 

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The new CPUs and motherboards are already available from several vendors (with prices ranging from affordable to extreme prices.

I've been toying with the idea of building an HTPC for a while now, and the i5 2500 is looking like a good option. Of course, if you already have one of last-year's processors, there isn't much reason to upgrade. I'd even say if you had an i7 920 (Nehalem-based) system, there wouldn't be a tremendous reason to upgrade.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Everything I read suggests an i7 2600K is a much better deal than an older i7. Even the i5 2500K seems like a great deal. The i5 2500K seems as good as anything from AMD and its cheaper.
 

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I would agree that if you are buying/building a new system now, going with the i7 2600K would be worth it. For most people, buying an older i7 CPU doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I did end up looking at a few more benchmarks, and could see where even an i7 920 user would upgrade. I find it hard to believe that in terms of Intel's high-end, we've seen very little progress since the Nehalem i7 CPUs, but their mainstream CPUs are doing so well.

Overall I'm not going to complain though since it's great to see such impressive performance in the $200-$300 price range.
 
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