Intel Core i7 2600S £200
14th Apr 2011 | 15:34
Lower-power, but with the same eight-threaded processing goodness
Intel Core i7 2600S: Overview
Another day another new Sandy Bridge CPU, and another new suffix to get your head around. This time it's the Intel Core i7 2600S.
Many people have heard of the Core i7 2600K by now, the unlocked overclocking demon that was part of the original Sandy Bridge launch, but the Core i7 2600S you may not have heard of.
It's also pretty well known that if a second-gen Core CPU doesn't have a K at the end of the model number, its pretty much game over for any sort of serious overclocking. So what does the S stand for, and does it mean even more features turned off?
Well no, the S models represent more low power units, but just not as low powered as the T models. So instead of the 95W of a standard 2600 part, they have a TDP of 65W, as compared to the 45W of the T series.
Apart from the low power rating, the Intel Core i7 2600S still retains all the familiar features of the 2600 family: four cores, eight threads and 8MB of Smart Cache. But as with all the S class chips, it's clocked slower than the rest of the their family.
In the case of the Core i7 2600S, this means it runs at 2.8GHz compared to the 3.4GHz (3.8GHz max Turbo) of the i7 2600 and Intel Core i7 2600K.
Intel Core i7 2600S: Benchmarks
As with the Intel Core i5 2500T, we ran the CPU graphics at the stock speed of the core and again at 1.3GHz.
The 1.3GHz speed was chosen because it's the fastest we could the Core i3-2100 to run, and it makes a good platform to get like for like benchmark figures before we started to overclock the graphics on the Core i7 2600S.
CPU rendering performance
CPU video encoding performance
1080p CPU gaming performance
Intel Core i7 2600S: Verdict
If we were amazed by how far the graphics could be pushed in the Intel Core i5 2500T, we were stunned by the graphics overclocking capability of the i7 2600S. It was pushed to 1.9GHz before it began to produce artifacts in Just Cause 2.
Unfortunately it still doesn't make Processor Graphics (Intel hates the phrase integrated graphics now) any good for gaming on any of the current crop of high-end games with any degree of high detailing enabled.
And it also doesn't help that currently the HD 2000/3000 GPU parts don't support DirectX 11 either.
But lets be honest, you're never going to buy a chip with integrated graphics (sorry Intel) for a hardcore gaming experience.
Rather you're going to use it because you want the GPU running in a media PC and here Intel have improved the architecture so now H.264 and MPEG-2 encoding and HDMI 1.4/Blu-Ray 3D are supported.
It's also added new technologies such as AVE (Advanced Vector Extensions) to maximise productivity and Quick Sync Video, a really useful tool that makes sure any video encoding tasks go directly to the GPU, leaving the CPU to concentrate on what other jobs you want it to do.
That should mean the days of twiddling your thumbs while encoding a video are long gone. Unless you want to run a discrete graphics card too, but that's another story and another rant.
So while the overclocking of the graphics is impressive, what about the overclocking potential on the other side of the fence, in the CPU itself? Well, once again Intel have put the kibosh on any serious amounts of tweaking by locking the multipliers down.
Even though the Processor Graphics struggled throughout our games testing, they are still are way better than previous generations', especially in the area of video encoding with the combination of the transcode engine and Quick Sync Video making sure that only the GPU side of the processor takes the hit while any video encoding is taking place.
Once again the lack of any form of serious overclocking detracts from what is a very good CPU. What it really needs as well is the faster HD 3000 graphics core that Intel seemingly deems is only fit for the two K series chips.
At £200-odd it's a little pricey for a low-power media centre machine, and definitely over-specced for one. As a low-power workstation, though it could be worth a look.