Fantasy Friday: Intel Core i5-2500K

In this new series, Fantasy Friday, I look at some drool-worthy hardware we would all like to own. This can be anything, from PC components to peripherals to something completely unrelated but still a part of technology. Today, we’ll spend some time gazing at the lovely Intel Core i5-2500K

Model photo courtesy of Photostock

Debuting in January last year, Intel’s Sandy-Bridge parts required new motherboards and a new socket change for those who had LGA775, LGA1366 or LGA1156 boards already in their rigs. While initially released at a price of $215, this has since not changed as the 2500K has no competition in this area. The benefits of Sandy-Bridge were multi-fold: lower power requirements, higher memory bandwidth, more PCIe lanes to be abused and a longer-lasting upgrade path than the Lynnfield and Clarkdale processors. For those of you still on the older platforms – it’s high time you move with the times, as Intel has ceased production on all LGA1156 chips, and all but a few LGA775 chips remain from their old catalogue.

The i5-2500K was released to a huge amount of praise from critics and gamers worldwide. While it is a lower-priced product, it easily keeps up with the ageing i7 920 and 990 Extreme chips, and has incredibly long legs once overclocked. For most people it won’t make any sense buying the i7-2600K, as the performance difference can be covered through the use of the i5’s unlocked multiplier.

Over the past year AMD has brought the fight to Intel with the Phenom X6 chips, attempting to usurp the 2500K from its throne through the use of extra cores and better value for money. Sadly AMD’s efforts were for naught. Many online publications have examined competing chips at length, and even though a Phenom X6 1100T overclocked from stock wins on the performance front, it is still less efficient than the Sandy-Bridge processors. Today the best value for gamers looking for great performance is the i5-2400, while the 2500K represents better value for overclockers and extreme enthusiasts.

In light of AMD’s APU range, only the A8 3870 can be considered a competitor, but it loses in performance thanks to the weakened architecture that AMD hopes to mature in Windows 8 environments. The FX series likewise puts up a good fight, but efficiency loses to raw muscle. The AMD FX 8120 comes the closest, but doesn’t have the same kind of punch the older Phenom chips had once overclocked. Likewise the FX 6100 suffers from the same problems, and costs about the same.

So in conclusion, if you play games or work with photos, videos, programming, CAD, anything remotely intensive and want the ultimate performance in most applications you’ll run, complete control over your performance and the ability to extract more; all for a nice, low price entry don’t go for anything AMD sells – the Core i5-2500K is the best bet for most scenarios, and will easily last you two years or more until you find something worth upgrading to.

Full review: HardwareCanucks

Buy it: Core i5 2500k