Meeting Sandy, it was love at first sight... Ok, I am lying. It was more a love-hate relationship so far, for the simple reason that Sandy Bridge has so many new features that really take a huge amount of digging until you finally get it right. And there is no way of just starting a benchmark and then walking away to come back later and jot down the score, because she'll throw a curve ball one way or the other. Particularly the Turbo Boost2 and Intel's Extreme Tuning Utility are definitely something else and if you don't pay attention, you miss the most important parts. And then, there was the issue of obtaining a copy of Photoshop Elements 8.0 that threw another monkey wrench into the equation. But as they say, all that ends well is well.
Right now, it feels just about right to wrap up this article as the first part in what'll probably turn out to be a trilogy with the next parts looking more into some of the benefits of AVX and, more importantly, the integrated graphics. For now, though, this is about the end of my attention span.
We did not spend too much time trying to squeeze the last little bit of frequency out of the two processors we have here. The reason, after running Extreme Tuning Utility should be obvious, there is no real incentive to hit a frequency that does not add to performance and only increases thermal dissipation. Suffice it to say that we were able to hit 4.9 GHz on air at ambient RT but that was under circumstances that would probably never allow to boot at that setting. And running at 4.1 GHz without having to worry about anything other than the electric bill also has some major advantage. Plus, Extreme Tuning Utility allows to maintain all power-saving features such as P and C states, which means that the overclocking only kicks in when there is a need for it, otherwise, the processor idles just like at default settings, which means, at ultra low power. Seriously, that is good.
To wrap this up, on-die GPU or not, just the actual processor portion of Sandy Bridge sets a new mile stone in performance. Clarkdale is dead, Nehalem is on life-support and Sandy Bridge rules.
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