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Intel Core i7-2600K review

Intel Core i7-2600K
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £252
inc VAT

An incredibly powerful processor, that’s also power-efficient and easy to overclock. However, most should go with the cheaper i5-2500K.


The graphics hardware has other improvements too. With HDMI 1.4a for stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray playback at 1080p, and output of HD audio bitstreams such as Dolby TrueHD, those with Media Centre PCs will no longer need a low-end graphics card to satisfy their video and audio output needs. We saw stutter-free playback of Blu-ray quality video with almost no processor overhead.

Gaming performance has also improved, though card manufacturers still don’t have a lot to worry about here. The HD 3000 graphics in our Core i7-2600K run at up to 1,350MHz, which sounds very high compared to core speeds on modern graphics cards. Despite this, it only managed a playable 27.2fps in our Call of Duty 4 test once the resolution had been reduced to 1,024×768 and anti-aliasing was disabled. At our usual settings, it produced just 6.0fps. However, it’s a big step forward to say that many games from only a couple of years back will run acceptably on this built-in chip.

The greater processing power of this chip can also be used to accelerate intensive tasks, such as video encoding; with support for hardware encoding of MPEG2, VC1 and AVC video streams up to 1080p. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet had a chance to test this with consumer software, but we will be covering it in upcoming media suite reviews.

Turbo Boost has been improved as well, with version 2.0 – though most of the modifications are more applicable to the upcoming mobile versions of the chip. For example, it can borrow power budget from the graphics segment when that’s not in full use, and even boost beyond the heat-dissipation capabilities of the attached heat sink for short periods of time. Mobile chips will even be able to draw power simultaneously from mains and battery if they require extra wattage.

Looking at the Core i7-2600K in more detail, and its locked sibling the i7-2600, we can see that it benefits from Intel’s HyperThreading Technology. This means that each core is seen by the operating system as two cores, and so two instructions can be prepared for it simultaneously, improving efficiency. It has a massive 8MB of shared L3 cache, so there’s no bottleneck getting instructions to the cores.

Intel lists its base frequency at 3.4GHz, though this is largely meaningless as the multiplier is forever flicking up and down depending on the task at hand. At stock speeds it Turbo Boosts up to 3.8GHz. Even using these settings we saw incredible results from the i7-2600K. It scored 183 in our single-threaded image-editing test, an incredible 204 in our video encoding test and 162 in our multi-tasking test. This amounted to an overall score of 186, actually faster than Intel’s £800, six-core monster – the i7-980X. It’s an incredible result from such a small and power efficient piece of silicon.

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Basic Specifications

Processor coreSandy Bridge
Processor clock speed3.4GHz
Processor socketLGA1155
Processor process32nm
Processor number of coresfour
Processor supported instructionsN/A
Processor multiplierx34
Processor external bus100MHz (20Gbit/s DMI)
Level 1 cache4x 64KB
Level 2 cache4x 256KB
Processor level 3 cache8MB
Supported memory typeDDR3 1066/1333
Processor power rating (TDP)95W


Shopper 2.0 Image-Editing183
Shopper 2.0 Video-Editing204
Shopper 2.0 Multitasking162
Shopper 2.0 Overall186
Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA6.4fps

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