iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Sandy Bridge and Lynnfield Quad-Core Processors Compared

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  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
Average 136 144 6%

This benchmark (compiling Ogre 3D sources in Microsoft Visual Studio 2008) is well-optimized for multi-threading, but actually demonstrates quite humble gains.


  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
Average 124 142 15%

This is another test nicely optimized for multi-threading. And the boost is already 2.5 times higher than in compiling. Seems sort of random again. But according to stats we've already collected for this benchmark, Sandy Bridge should be most likely faster.

Web browsing

  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
Google V8 146 167 14%
Sun Spider 196 225 15%
Average 171 196 15%

Numbers are rather average for this review.

Audio encoding

  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
Apple Lossless 113 127 12%
FLAC 124 141 14%
Monkey's Audio 127 144 13%
MP3 (LAME) 135 156 16%
Nero AAC 130 148 14%
Ogg Vorbis 136 157 15%
Average 128 146 14%

Gains range from 12% to 16% (which is humble for this review), although we use a wide range of codecs, proprietory and open-source, all from different developers. Perhaps, the thing is that audio encoding benchmark is one of the most optimized for multi-threading in our test method? Then it means that Sandy Bridge offers considerable gains only in single or few-threaded software.

Video encoding

  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
DivX 128 138 8%
Mainconcept (VC-1) 131 146 11%
Premiere 137 149 9%
Vegas 228 258 13%
x264 132 145 10%
XviD 137 157 15%
Average 149 166 11%

These results seem to be an indirect proof of the assumption above.


  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
Batman 124 128 3%
Borderlands 126 134 6%
DiRT 2 100 111 11%
Far Cry 2 176 192 9%
Fritz Chess 134 136 1%
GTA IV 156 156 0%
Resident Evil 122 130 7%
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 104 107 3%
UT3 146 150 3%
Crysis: Warhead 122 132 8%
World in Conflict 154 168 9%
Average 133 140 5%

And again it's a total mess without any traceable trends. Still, you can see that Sandy Bridge doesn't prodive any gains in GTA IV. The entire gaming test has demonstrated the lowest performance boost so far.


  Core i5-760 (TB Off) Core i5-2500K @2.8 GHz (TB Off) Δ
Average 138 157 14%

Well, we didn't hope this test would introduce some incredible revelations. But don't worry, a much more detailed review of the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture is in the works. It will offer much new and interesting information as well as results of low-level architecture tests. As for now, let's formulate a few more or less reasonable hypotheses based on today's test results.

  1. The Sandy Bridge architecture has been overhauled. We can't say how radically, but it's much more efficient. It offers 14% boost on average, L3 cache being smaller by a quarter, and other things being equal.
  2. Even knowing more details on the new core architecture hardly allows making valid assumptions as to how the performance of specific applications will change.
  3. Even though we tested the processors in a multitude of benchmarks, there wasn't a situation when Sandy Bridge was slower than Lynnfield, core clock rates being equal.
  4. With much caution we can say that in our tests Sandy Bridge more often demonstrated higher gains (over 20%) in tests poorly optimized for multi-threading.
  5. Maybe, just maybe, the previous assumption is related to the smaller L3 cache. So, theoretically, the efficiency of the new core in handling multiple threads may be bottlenecked by such cache size.

The general conclusion is a bit banal: Sandy Bridge is much better than the previous core. Not as much as Core 2 (Conroe) was better than Pentium 4, but it's still a larger step forward in terms of architecture than Nehalem compared with the last incarnations of the aforementioned Core 2.

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