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With Intel's latest 32nm processors, codenamed Sandy Bridge, now out in the wild, we decided to build a brand-new PC using the top-end Core i7-2600K processor. We asked Intel for a motherboard, and the company came up with a DP67BG, containing the P67 Express chipset. Intel also sent a heatsink, but we wanted a top-end device that would also fit an AMD chip, so Quietpc.com came to the rescue. Quiet PC loaned us a case, the excellent Fractal Design Define R3, a Scythe Stronger 600W power supply and a Noctua NH-C14 heatsink, the top of whose two 140mm fans takes centre stage here.
Why specify AMD compatibility? Because our plan was to face off two desktop PCs — but AMD declined to take part after we'd placed our order.
Other components include an Intel 80GB SSD, which we already had in the cupboard, an Nvidia 9600GT-based graphics card, a pair of Ballistix 4GB DDR3 PC1600 memory modules from Crucial Technologies, and of course the Core i7 CPU itself.
Photos: Manek Dubash
Inside the unassuming shell of Intel's 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K, which has four cores and an 8MB cache, is a brand-new architecture, the second to be introduced on Intel's 32nm manufacturing process after Westmere. Sandy Bridge is the latest 'tock' in Intel's 'tick-tock' CPU development process. It includes Hyper-Threading, which enables multiple threads to run on each CPU core and so improves overall performance on threaded software, and a new version of Turbo Boost, which allows all cores to overclock simultaneously for ten to twenty seconds if the chip was previously running cool. The Core i7-2600K will boost to 3.8GHz, if doing so will not overheat the chip.