Intel Core i5 2500T £150
14th Apr 2011 | 15:08
Intel delivers some low-powered gaming muscle
Intel Core i5 2500T: Overview
Hitting the low-powered, green gamer is Intel's Core i5 2500T. We've already had a good look at Intel's Core i5 2500K processor; it's getting a reputation as the go-to chip if your budget won't quite stretch to an Intel Core i7 2600K.
Although it's getting all the attention as the flagship chip in the second generation Core i5 line-up, there are a couple of other interesting family members. Not because of their overclocking ability – they don't really have any – but because they're low power chips.
The most interesting one of these is this Core i5 2500T.
It's the T part of the name that's the important bit – it means that the chip has a TDP of just 45W. That may still sound like a fair old chunk of power, but it's a remarkable 50W lower than the 2500K.
On the flip side, unlike the 2500K, the multipliers aren't unlocked so there's not a lot you can to improve on the default 2.3GHz (3.3GHz with Turbo) clock speed.
It's not the only lower-power member of the family – there's also the 2500S. The S series of chips have slightly higher TDP of 65 Watts.
Intel Core i5 2500T: Benchmarks
The latest crop of Sandy Bridge CPUs all have different graphics core speeds. The Core i7 2600S has base and maximum frequencies of 850MHz and 1,350MHz, Core i5 2500T 650/1,250MHz and the Intel Core i3 2100 850/1,100MHz.
We tested them all at their default speeds and then, because the i3 2100 could only make it to 1.3GHz when overclocked, this speed was used as another line in the sand to test the graphics cores, with the i7 2600S having its graphics core underclocked to get to that level.
CPU rendering performance
CPU video encoding performance
1080p CPU gaming performance
Intel Core i5 2500T: Verdict
Usually when you see the words 'low power' next to a CPU it brings up thoughts of poor performance. The thinking is that every high-performance component is compromised to allow the processor to carry the 'low power' banner.
Well, its pleasing to say that the Core i5 2500T doesn't cut many corners at all, and in fact holds its own in the majority of our tests.
It's actually only just beaten by the two Core i7 processors in a few of the benchmarks.
Of course it helps no end that, unlike the Intel Core i3 2100, the i5 2500T is a fully paid up member of the quad-core brigade, with 6MB of L3 cache to back up its 2.3GHz clock speed.
Despite the lack of the i7 quad's HyperThreading, you do get Turbo boost, which can push that lowly core speed as high as 3.3GHz.
But – and there always has to be a but – Intel has locked the multiplier on the Core i5 2500T, so the overclocking options on the CPU part of the core are limited. But then this is a CPU really aimed at system builders or home users looking to build a quiet yet fairly powerful system.
On the other hand, there's quite a degree of tweaking to be had on the graphics side of the core. We were able to get it up to 1.65GHz before running into problems with Just Cause 2.
That's a pretty impressive overclock of 400MHz on the standard maximum Turbo speed of 1.25GHz.
Pricing details for the 2500T are a bit sketchy at the moment, but even if it does come out around the £150 mark, another £50 on top of the i3 2100, then it's still another nail in the coffin of the low-performing i3.
The Intel Core i5 2500T performs very well in our benchmarks, even with its low-power nature.
It would be the ideal CPU to base a media or HTPC around, since its low TDP means you could get away with using just a small quiet fan to keep it cool.
You can be pretty sure this chip will be high on the want list of many a quiet system builder.
Once again Intel has decided to lock down the 2500T, so its overclocking options are pretty limited. But unlike the i3 2100, the 2500T has a lot of performance built in.
There's also the fact that it's got the lower-spec HD 2000 graphics chip inside it, rather than the K-series' HD 3000.
The Core i5 2500T performs so well you can almost forgive Intel about the lack of overclocking potential... almost.