Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge CPU
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Zahn Funk
Date: 01-03-2011
Provided by: Intel
Chipsets / OverClocking

Intel launched consumer level 6 Series Chipsets alongside Sandy Bridge, P67 and H67. Much like the current generation chipsets, P67 is for the performance segment and requires a discrete video card. If you want to use the integrated graphics, you will need an H67 board with onboard video-out options.

As you can see in the chart above, there isn't much difference between the P and H series chipsets aside from the GPU support… or so it seems. If you are planning to purchase a “K” series processor for overclocking, you will need a P series board.

Speaking of overclocking, Intel has really mixed things up with the 2nd Generation Core Family. Gone are the days of FSB / BCLK overclocking as multiplier-only overclocking returns once again.

As we mentioned earlier, Intel is offering overclocking friendly “K” series processors that feature fully unlocked multipliers all the way up to 57x. Bus speeds will essentially be locked at 100 MHz, although there is a tiny bit of flexibility here (just a few extra MHz in our experience).

Since you are given hardly any flexibility in the bus speed, Intel allows for separate adjustment in the memory frequency all the way up to 2133 MHz to accommodate increased CPU speeds when overclocking.

Intel will be launching two “K” series CPUs initially, the i5-2500K (3.3 GHz base frequency, four cores / four threads) that we have on hand here today and the i7-2600K (3.4 GHz base frequency, four cores / eight threads). Although these are the only two fully unlocked chips, Intel allows for limited overclocking on their other CPUs.

With “Limited” Unlocked CPUs, Intel allows you to clock up to 4 CPU bins above the highest turbo frequency when overclocking. One CPU bin equals 100 MHz. Rather than break it down further and make things more complicated, the graphic below gives a much better representation of how this works.

All non-”K” versions of 2nd Generation i7 and i5 chips have a limited unlocked multiplier. Memory, power and graphics remain fully unlocked, however.

So how is this going to play out in the real world? I guess it depends on who you ask. The new method certainly simplifies overclocking, as you no longer have to worry with adjusting BCLK to overclock. All you need to do now is adjust the multiplier, feed the CPU some more voltage and paired with a good CPU cooler, shoot for the stars.

Not everyone will welcome this new method with open arms, however, and rightfully so. Intel has effectively limited overclocking severely on all non-“K” chips which means you can't buy a low end Core i3 and push it to crazy heights. If you want a fully unlocked CPU, be prepared to throw down just over $200 for the i5-2500K.

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