bit-tech.net

bit-tech is testing Sandy Bridge

Posted on 6th Dec 2010 at 12:36 by Paul Goodhead with 60 comments

Paul Goodhead
Yep, forgive us for feeling a little smug but we've been putting a selection of Sandy Bridge chips through their paces over the last few days. Obviously we can’t say anything about the numbers we're seeing but needless to say we'll be well prepared to give a full and comprehensive review when the CPUs launch.

Obviously the fact that we're testing these CPUs must mean we've got some compatible motherboards in the labs too, so you can also expect a veritable bevy of motherboard reviews at launch too.
bit-tech is testing Sandy Bridge  bit-tech is already testing Sandy Bridge
Can you tell which chip is LGA1156 and which is LGA1155?

We're literally just about to start overclocking the chips this afternoon so it'll be interesting to see what sort of numbers we can achieve. Obviously a lot has been written about how well Sandy Bridge chips will or won’t overclock so we’re pretty excited to be finally finding out which side of the internet hyperbole is actually on the mark.

It’s also our first chance to take a look at the EFI BIOSes that are being introduced with all Sandy Bridge motherboards. What we’ve seen so far is interesting - it looks like EFI BIOS design will become a major area that motherboard manufacturers can differentiate themselves in. We’ve got no doubt EFI BIOSes will improve with time but we’ve been pretty impressed with what we’ve seen so far.

bit-tech is testing Sandy Bridge  bit-tech is already testing Sandy Bridge
Our Sandy Bridge test system, not that you'd be able to tell

The good news is that the LGA1155 packaging is very similar to that of LGA1156. This means the chips look very similar (we’ve had to clearly mark our Sandy Bridge chips) but also that the CPU socket is of a very similar size. This is a smart move by Intel as it means that LGA1156 coolers should fit LGA1155 boards; the ones we’ve tried have at least. This should reduce the upgrade cost for anyone looking to go from LGA1156 to LGA1155.

Are you in the market for an upgrade in the New Year and looking forward to seeing what Sandy Bridge can offer? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

60 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Jack_Pepsi 6th December 2010, 12:43 Quote
I look forward to your results (when the chips are released).
Arkanrais 6th December 2010, 12:47 Quote
The Sandy Bridge chip is on the left!
Ljs 6th December 2010, 12:48 Quote
Exciting stuff!

I was actually wondering over the weekend if BT will have any reviews for launch as I'm almost certainly going to be jumping on the boat and it would be a shame if I had to 'buy blind'.

*Edit*

Is there any chance you could tell us which boards you have in the lab?
Bloody_Pete 6th December 2010, 12:52 Quote
When's the launch date?
bowman 6th December 2010, 12:54 Quote
It's obviously on the left - die layout

Actually more interested in how the integrated GPU does. We know the CPU is gonna be fast, and we know we don't actually need more speed for anything.. Meh. Guess I'm jaded.
r3loaded 6th December 2010, 13:00 Quote
Awesome news! Is it possible for you to tell us the date when NDA is lifted or the CPUs are launched?
Deathwalker1701 6th December 2010, 13:00 Quote
Can you say if it uses quad channel memory?
Jamie 6th December 2010, 13:04 Quote
They moved the notch, that's a radical design change.
sixfootsideburns 6th December 2010, 13:07 Quote
I've held out on building a new rig just to see how Sandy Bridge does in testing. Truthfully my AMD still hauls ass but I'll just turn that into my new work station :D So personally I'm real excited for this and will likely be jumping on the wagon for this one
Bindibadgi 6th December 2010, 13:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathwalker1701
Can you say if it uses quad channel memory?

SB is already shown to use a dual-channel design, like current Lynnfield CPUs. If you already own 1.35-1.65V DDR3 memory for Lynnfield or Clarkdale (or even Nehalem), it will be compatible.

Dual-channel is seen as 'consumer' and will remain this way, but densities have recently increased to add progress: now 8GB (4GBx2) kits have come down a lot in price and are much more affordable.

There are several reasons, of which I'm not sure if we're allowed to go into yet (I will detail them in a future article), but I would strongly argue that this dual-channel design is certainly "enough" on even a 4C/8T design.

Quad-channel is supposedly due on LGA2011.

@Jamie - actually the whole pin-out has changed entirely :o so if they didn't move the notch it would potentially damage non-SB chips!
guvnar 6th December 2010, 13:16 Quote
I've been waiting to upgrade my E8500 for some time so any news on release date would be appreciated.

Spent a lot of time eyeing up the Core i5 760 so would really like to see what effect Sandy Bridge has on the price of the 760 & 1156 board?
wuyanxu 6th December 2010, 13:20 Quote
hold on a few days, let me count the holes on that image, then i can tell you which is which.

i demand an update on what frequency you managed at what temperature using air cooling with how many cores. surely if you don't say which CPU model, you are not really breaking NDA.
Bindibadgi 6th December 2010, 13:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by guvnar
I've been waiting to upgrade my E8500 for some time so any news on release date would be appreciated.

Spent a lot of time eyeing up the Core i5 760 so would really like to see what effect Sandy Bridge has on the price of the 760 & 1156 board?

Early Jan.

1156 price might go down a little bit but never by a lot, due to high demand/low supply for the new products.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
i demand an update on what frequency you managed at what temperature using air cooling with how many cores. surely if you don't say which CPU model, you are not really breaking NDA.

Yes, we would be.

But I have been torturing mine with re-playing Crysis on Very High, while overclocked. It's a hard life this testing m'larky.
BRAWL 6th December 2010, 13:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
hold on a few days, let me count the holes on that image, then i can tell you which is which.

i demand an update on what frequency you managed at what temperature using air cooling with how many cores. surely if you don't say which CPU model, you are not really breaking NDA.

Yup because it's still refering to an Intel product. I wouldn't want BT to get Intel-assraped legally so shush and wait patiently before I stick my Space Marine Power Armoured foot up ya backside ;) +moral highground+

Looking forrrwarrdss to this!
GravitySmacked 6th December 2010, 13:38 Quote
Looking forward to seeing the final results!
Deathwalker1701 6th December 2010, 13:52 Quote
Do think memory Prices will stay low until realease date if not what type should I go for?
Pete J 6th December 2010, 13:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Quad-channel is supposedly due on LGA2011.
That's what I want to hear about - LGA2011. Mmm...
pingu666 6th December 2010, 13:55 Quote
so if we where looking to purchase/build a new system, the parts we should hold off on are
cpu
motherboard
graphics card (as new ati cards are due soon?)

but we could go ahead and grab these items now
ram
cpu cooler (one which fits all kinds of sockets, most do anyways)
case
psu
soundcard
hard drive
TCoZ 6th December 2010, 13:56 Quote
1155 is clearly the one on the left - if you look at the 'pins', there's one missing underneath the semicircle indent on the right.
wuyanxu 6th December 2010, 13:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi

Yes, we would be.

But I have been torturing mine with re-playing Crysis on Very High, while overclocked. It's a hard life this testing m'larky.

wait, you are overclocking those K chips or normal ones?

LGA2011, sounds suspicious, in 2012, would it be LGA2012?
jrs77 6th December 2010, 14:30 Quote
The CPU isn't the interesting part here... What is of the most interest is the improved IGP.

If the numbers earlier provided by Anandtech stay true, then the IGP will be sufficient enough for what I'm doing on my PC.

mini-ITX-board, Intel Core i5 2400 with Prolimatech Samuel 17, 8GB RAM, 150 Watt picoPSU, 1xSSD for system, 1x 2.5" HDD for storage... powerful and totally silent system in an enclosure with only 4 to 5 liters :D

ASRock SandyBridge mainboards... Look at the miniITX in the last picture!
Bindibadgi 6th December 2010, 14:41 Quote
I'm certain everyone will have a mini-ITX H67 board this time around.
benji2412 6th December 2010, 14:51 Quote
Hmm so i7 now or wait and see what Sandy Bridge is like? I'm so impatient.
Hakuren 6th December 2010, 14:54 Quote
And if I/we pick the right one would you ask me(us): how empty is my(our) life?! *evilgrin*

Anyway... Not really interested with LGA1155. X58 platform is very price competitive ATM, and much more future proof solution.
mrbens 6th December 2010, 15:06 Quote
Obviously the word obviously is used too much in this article, obviously :)

Looking forward to the published benchmark scores...
Deathwalker1701 6th December 2010, 15:25 Quote
So is it a good idea for me to get memory now or wait for release and if so should I stick to duel channel?.
Deathwalker1701 6th December 2010, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathwalker1701
So is it a good idea for me to get memory now or wait for release and if so should I stick to duel channel?.

Ps could do a article on pre parts buys :D
Xtrafresh 6th December 2010, 15:28 Quote
I have also concluded my first round of sandy bridge benchmarking, though i'm still waiting for a K-model to land on my desk :(

And yes, i'm also under NDA, so no, you will not get the results from me. :D
I can give you this old link though:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-preview-three-wins-in-a-row
Deathwalker1701 6th December 2010, 15:33 Quote
Read that lat night can I have one of yours ks :D
HandMadeAndroid 6th December 2010, 16:04 Quote
any one have any idea on when the 8cores will be released?
Fordy 6th December 2010, 16:09 Quote
I'm totally gonna count pins - just to b certain which.


I'm due an upgrade but I've been holding off for 1155/2011 - although now I think about it, 2011 will probably be too expensive for me.

I think I'd rather have a decent 1155 CPU + high end mobo, than a budget 2011 board.
Aracos 6th December 2010, 16:24 Quote
Can I ask what range of motherboards you're reviewing? In other words will it be from uber cheap to uber expensive? I have a friend that's wanting to build a comp so it'll probably be sandy bridge, I'd just like to know if there's gonna be any cheap boards reviewed ^_^
Dae314 6th December 2010, 19:45 Quote
@storm20200 o.O I've never seen red rep before, what's that supposed to mean???

Anyway, cool!!! I look forward to indepth reviews of SB once it gets released. Also thanks for condensing all the links bindi.
Altron 6th December 2010, 20:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hakuren
Anyway... Not really interested with LGA1155. X58 platform is very price competitive ATM, and much more future proof solution.

How is it more future proof? 1366 is an end-of-life socket due for replacement in six months, and with no new chips coming out. 1155 is just about to arrive and should have several years of life before being discontinued.
Aracos 6th December 2010, 21:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dae314
@storm20200 o.O I've never seen red rep before, what's that supposed to mean???

Anyway, cool!!! I look forward to indepth reviews of SB once it gets released. Also thanks for condensing all the links bindi.

It means I'm that awesome admins know who I am!....not really.

Actually bindi bowed to my awesomeness and gave me all his rep as a gift which he then took back, edited my sig and turned me red ^_^. We have history me and bind :)
duongnt 6th December 2010, 22:07 Quote
I am very much looking forward to this as well, been hoping to replace my aging E6850 rig for quite a while now
l3v1ck 6th December 2010, 23:35 Quote
Maybe I'll get round to replacing my single core Athlon 64 when this comes out.
Magnetar 6th December 2010, 23:38 Quote
Oh Boy!! The 1155 CPU's won't need a new CPU cooler! But they will need a new mother board, now that's economy!
Regarding 1156/1366 CPU prices, in the US, prices of 775 CPU's have still not come down, and while many are still quite nice, they are now two generations old. Oddly, 1156/1366 CPU's have become a bit cheaper, although stock of 1366 CPU's is low. Newegg doesn't even have '930's in stock (I got one elsewhere for $199) and the '950's are now the "lowest" 9xx available for the most part. Check Newegg's price for Core 2 Duo E8500's or E8600's for a surprise, not to mention C2 Quad 95xx's. Great CPU's, but come on!
Bindibadgi 7th December 2010, 01:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altron
How is it more future proof? 1366 is an end-of-life socket due for replacement in six months, and with no new chips coming out. 1155 is just about to arrive and should have several years of life before being discontinued.

Several?

We're only guaranteed one. Beyond that is anyones guess. :( There's no such thing as upgrade-proof anymore.
thehippoz 7th December 2010, 03:14 Quote
be nice if you could get 5ghz on air
wbdog206 7th December 2010, 04:22 Quote
I can't wait for sandy bridge to be released.
Poor me is still running an old socket 939 setup LOL.
ColdMist 7th December 2010, 06:36 Quote
I'm running Win7 home pro on a socket 775 e8400 on a X38 mboard.

If I swap my motherboard/cpu/ram out for a 1155 2600k, and with UEFI in the mix, will I have to reinstall windows?

If you have a sandy bridge system for testing, can you try taking a hard drive with win7 already on it from an older cpu (like a 775) and see if windows will crap out or switch over ok?

It takes me weeks and even months to get windows back to the way I like it, and just want to know how painful the transition will be.

Thx.
Altron 7th December 2010, 06:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Several?

We're only guaranteed one. Beyond that is anyones guess. :( There's no such thing as upgrade-proof anymore.

Right, but 1366 is guaranteed for 0.5 and not any longer. It's pretty much dead now, as IMO the only 1366 processor that's not yet available is a 985x or 995x (forget which), which is just a 980x with a small clockspeed bump.

That's not to say that the 1155 will be completely future-proof, but it's a significantly newer socket and architecture and will be mainstream for the near future, whereas 1366 is an older architecture that's being discontinued very soon.

Unless you plan on getting the 995x or whatever the overclocked 980x will be called, 1366 has no future upgrade options beyond what there is now. With 1155, you have the higher IPC and higher-clocked Sandy Bridge chips, and the ability to move to 22nm Ivy Bridge in 2012 on the same motherboard.
ColdMist 7th December 2010, 07:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Several?

We're only guaranteed one. Beyond that is anyones guess. :( There's no such thing as upgrade-proof anymore.
Intel has said that Ivy Bridge will use the same socket as Sandy Bridge. So, that gives us at least 2 years, if not 3 on the 1155/2011 sockets.
Bindibadgi 7th December 2010, 07:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdMist
Intel has said that Ivy Bridge will use the same socket as Sandy Bridge. So, that gives us at least 2 years, if not 3 on the 1155/2011 sockets.

Intel alluded to the same with 1156 tbh. They can drop sockets at the drop of a hat and people will still buy their hardware these days. Also, no new socket means no new PCH and new features (since there's no competition these days and look at X58: a good 3 year lifespan but only one chipset with a southbridge that was even older??) and motherboard companies will want Intel to give them something new so they can continue their revenue stream. I expect Ivy Bridge will come with a Lightpeak and PCI-E 3.0 option, and, we don't yet know if it'll be low/high end or both: Intel never re-launched Lynnfield on 32nm remember :(

To be honest, as long as the heatsink holes remain the same - as they have between 1156 and 55 - I don't see that much issue :)

EDIT: WRT PCI-E 3.0: I'll commit to an educated guess that 1155 mobos launched this year won't be PCI-E 3.0 'compatible' - they'll only run at PCI-E 2.0 speeds even if an Ivy Peak is used in it. I expect you'll need a different grade of motherboard design/PCB material to achieve PCI-E 3.0 reliably, which will be 2012 hardware. Of course it'll be a marketable feature, but more bandwidth than we'll actually need.
wuyanxu 7th December 2010, 09:20 Quote
i don't see any reason people would stick with one motherboard while upgrading their CPU. in the olden days, CPU were soldiered on the board anyway.

with LGA775, how many of you stayed with 975 for new core2? p35/x38 is clearly a more suitable and problem free combination with core2 chips.

my point is, you should always buy a new CPU with its pairing motherboard chipset to get most out of it anyway, so why care so much about whether you can upgrade it?
kosch 7th December 2010, 12:28 Quote
I'm very excied to see what its going to be like but I'm also secretectly hoping it wont be quite as good as the I7 950 + mobo + mem I just spent all my monies on :D
Cyberpower-UK 7th December 2010, 14:52 Quote
Gits, I have boards but no CPUs yet.
Bungletron 7th December 2010, 17:45 Quote
Interesting HSF configuration in the picture there. Would you always recommend blowing air through the cpu heatsink and bouncing it off the back the graphics card like that (doubt it), or is this purely recommended for an open to air test bed config thats laid out horizontal (still dubious)?
Sloth 7th December 2010, 18:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
i don't see any reason people would stick with one motherboard while upgrading their CPU. in the olden days, CPU were soldiered on the board anyway.

with LGA775, how many of you stayed with 975 for new core2? p35/x38 is clearly a more suitable and problem free combination with core2 chips.

my point is, you should always buy a new CPU with its pairing motherboard chipset to get most out of it anyway, so why care so much about whether you can upgrade it?
My 775 experience has been one CPU and two motherboards :) CPU was still fast enough for my needs with a moderate overclock whereas a new motherboard provided a better chipset and PCIe 2.0 support.

Normally I try not to swap out major components on my PCs, opting instead to save that money for buying a brand new system.
Bungletron 7th December 2010, 18:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
My 775 experience has been one CPU and two motherboards :) CPU was still fast enough for my needs with a moderate overclock whereas a new motherboard provided a better chipset and PCIe 2.0 support.

Normally I try not to swap out major components on my PCs, opting instead to save that money for buying a brand new system.

Agreed, I still have a 965 board although I have upgraded more or less every other part. If sandy bridge is any good, like you say I will probably build a new system.
FelixTech 8th December 2010, 12:26 Quote
Quote:
We're literately just about to start overclocking
Either you mean literally, or this is a new manner of speaking only to be used by journalists come overclockers :P

Can't wait!!
okenobi 9th December 2010, 08:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
I'm certain everyone will have a mini-ITX H67 board this time around.

Oooh! What makes you say that??
Forceman 10th December 2010, 21:47 Quote
Can you confirm that existing 1.5-1.65V DDR3 will work with these? Would like to grab some RAM at a pre-Chrsitmas sale but don't want to get burned.
Bindibadgi 11th December 2010, 05:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Forceman
Can you confirm that existing 1.5-1.65V DDR3 will work with these? Would like to grab some RAM at a pre-Chrsitmas sale but don't want to get burned.

Yes it does, although sometimes the XMPs do not (so far in testing) if they are designed for X58 or Lynnfield.

okenobi - Given the increasing popularity mini-ITX and success of Gigabyte's H55N I suspect.
Splynncryth 13th December 2010, 06:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdMist
I'm running Win7 home pro on a socket 775 e8400 on a X38 mboard.

If I swap my motherboard/cpu/ram out for a 1155 2600k, and with UEFI in the mix, will I have to reinstall windows?

If you have a sandy bridge system for testing, can you try taking a hard drive with win7 already on it from an older cpu (like a 775) and see if windows will crap out or switch over ok?

It takes me weeks and even months to get windows back to the way I like it, and just want to know how painful the transition will be.

Thx.

They would have to ship a system without something called a compatibility support module. That would be an insane thing to do as not only does it allow an OS that is not UEFI aware to boot just like it is on a legacy BIOS system, it is also needed for PCI and PCIe cards that do not have a UEFI compatible BIOS on the card to run.

Based on what I know, only the 64 bit version of Windows 7 will have a UEFI boot option. I don't know if the drive had to be partitioned as GPT or if Windows could set up a small FAT partition for their UEFI boot loader and leave your install intact. I never got to play with it much.
pjl321 13th December 2010, 19:51 Quote
Could upi Paul or anyone let me know about Intel's new 'media acceleration chip' inside the CPU. I am looking from a transcoding point of view, is it going to be like using your CUDA GPU? My problem with this is that when i compare image quality with and without using CUDA there is a big drop in quality then the transcode is sped up using my GPU.

Will this be the same with Intel's solution or is it totally different?
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