$179.95 - $337.95
1 Store27 Reviews
Pros: Easy 4.6Ghz overclock on ASRock motherboard. Performs 40% faster than E8400 OC'd at 4.05Ghz
Cons: Defective ASUS P8P67 B3 motherboard, newegg refund refusal, faulty MSI board audio.
I'm posting this review AFTER having spent the past 18 MONTHS testing 2 Intel i5-2500K processors on 6 different motherboards.
Saga began 1/9/2011, 2 days after I visited the Intel booth at the CES Show in Vegas. Bought the CPU at Fry's along with an MSI P67A-GD65 motherboard. Installed 4GB of OCZ DR3 2000 Reaper RAM and loaded Windows Xp Pro SP2.
Only took a few minutes before I sensed problems with the motherboard. Aside from not sensing my RAM correctly (expected) it wasn't properly recognizing the CPU. Installed an updated BIOS from MSI website which allowed proper reading of the CPU but none of the overclocking utilities or BIOS setting changes allowed anything above 3.8Ghz so I returned the motherboard to Fry's and got a Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3P. Having already read a few online reviews about updating the BIOS, I immediately upgraded from F2 to the F6A Beta BIOS. Like magic, I was able to instantly overclock the CPU to 4.5Ghz by simply changing the BIOS multiplier from 33X to 45X. Like the MSI board, I also had to manually change the RAM from 1066 to 1600 in the BIOS.
Everything seemed great until the Intel Recall announcement on 1/31/2011 concerning the motherboard chipsets on ALL the 1155 motherboards, which is what you must have to use any of the new Sandy Bridge processors. Returned everything for a refund and waited to gather more info before trying again.
Several reports suggested that the Intel problem related to only the SATA2 motherboard ports so the voice in my head wondered about the SATA3 ports. Found more info saying that the SATA3 ports are controlled by a chip from Marvel. Raced back to Frys just in time to buy the last i5-2500K they had in stock but the store had already removed all the 1155 motherboards from the displays and shelves. Went online to find that Amazon, newegg, and Micro Center had also removed all the 1155 motherboards. On 2/2/2011, 2 days after the Intel recall, I was surprised to find that Provantage was offering the Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3P for sale, ordered one and it arrived 2/4/2011. The bad news is that it came from from the same batch that contains the recalled Intel chip so I requested an RMA and returned it to Provantage for a full refund but before the actual return, I did a bit of testing.
Gigabyte posted a finalized F6 BIOS which I immediately installed after loading Windows Xp Pro. Rebooted into BIOS and changed 33X to 45X. I typed this part of review on the fastest and most stable desktop PC I'd ever used. I've got a Coolermaster Hyper 212 cooler on the CPU which might let me OC to 5Ghz but hadn't tried anything above 4.5Ghz yet. However, I did a few speed tests to compare the performance of this CPU at 4.5Ghz vs. my other system that has been running an Intel E8400 for the past 2 years overclocked at 4.05Ghz on a Gigabyte EP45 motherboard and 2GB of OCZ DDR2 1200 Reaper RAM.
Using XXClone to backup my entire C drive on my E8400 system at 4.05Ghz normally takes about 44 minutes. The i5-2500K at 4.50 Ghz performed the same task in 26 minutes! In general all my apps open and run noticeably faster and smoother.
APRIL 2, 2011 UPDATE: Despite having purchased $thousands in computer gear from newegg.com, I will NEVER do business with newegg again. Long story short, got an Asus P8P67 motherboard from them with the revised B3 fixes. Board generated a variety of erratic readings so obtained RMA from newegg to return the defective board for a refund. Newegg received the return and then sent me an email saying NO REFUND because the board is defective! From now on, I'll be buying the bulk of my computer gear from Fry’s where there are NO RESTOCKING FEES and NO REFUND HASSLES for defectives. Fry’s Electronics stores have also changed their price matching policy so they will match newegg prices on items in stock. If I had done a Google search of "newegg complaint" before this incident, I'd have stopped doing business with them long ago. I even found a complaint from someone who received a motherboard from newegg that has already been returned to newegg BEFORE they shipped it to him (which could also be what they did to me).
On a happier note, I got an MSI P67A-GD55 B3 and after 4 days of testing I could safely say it is THE BEST motherboard I'ver used (to date) to build a new desktop system. By simply changing the BIOS clock from 33 to 46, this thing is running smoothly 4.6Ghz. As with every other 1155 board I tested, it read my 4GB of OCZ DDR3 2000 Reaper RAM at 1066 which was also an easy BIOS change to 1600. My only gripe with this board (which also applied to the ASUS) is the sideways SATA ports which require attaching SATA cable to the board BEFORE installing it into an ATX case. If you don't need the extra USB 3.0 bracket and can be happy with 2 SATA3 ports (vs. 4) you can purchase the MSI P67A-GD45 motherboard for $40 less and have a board with standard upward facing SATA connections. One thing that I found misleading is the MSI board being advertised as having front USB 3.0 ports. My interpretation was that I would have 2 USB 3.0 ports next to the power & reset buttons on the front of my Antec 300 ATX case. Instead, the MSI P67A-GD55 comes with a bracket that creates 2 extra USB3.0 ports on the back of the ATX case.
APRIL 18, 2011 UPDATE: Although my gut and some research indicated that I would be unhappy with Windows 7, I "bit the bullet", purchased Windows 7 Home Premium and installed it on my new Sandy Bridge system. As fast as this system ran in Xp, it runs even faster with Windows 7. In exchange for the overall speed, I have given up a number of functions and shortcuts that are no longer possible in Win7. In other words, IMHO, Win7 belongs in same group as Windows ME and Vista. As if I needed further proof of my opinion, after installing all my apps and creating a restore point, I installed Windows 7 SP1. Took less than a minute to see that SP1 had damaged some apps. Next "surprise" was uninstalling SP1. Hello BSOD ...which is what appeared after it installed and rebooted.
SP1 had changed and deleted some critical DLL files in windows/system and system32 folders. Way to go Microslop! Keep it up and my next build might be running a Google or Apple operating system. Despite my moaning about Windows 7, I will admit that I was able to fix the SP1 damage and in general this system is without-a-doubt the fastest Windows PC I've ever used.
MAY 6, 2011 UPDATE: Now over a month & still running my i5-2500k silky smooth at 4.6Ghz overclock on air. Life is good!
JUNE 22, 2011 UPDATE: I keep this system on 24/7 but reboot every few days to regain RAM that some apps refuse to release. Instead of doing clean reboots with the reset button, I had to do a complete shutdown to avoid BSOD in Windows 7. That plus mounting frustrations with Win7 (things I could easily do in WinXp), I pulled the hard drive with Win7 and went back to Windows Xp Pro. Like magic, it eliminated the reboot problems and (call me crazy) Xp Pro seems to be running faster than Windows 7. More importantly, I've been running the i5-2500K at 4.6Ghz on air with the MSI board for over 2 months and experienced ZERO problems with this overclock setting.
NEWEGG UPDATE... In April I disputed the $172 on my credit card and provided proof that the item was returned with prior authorization from the merchant. Two months later, newegg wants to fight me on this. As a matter of principle and after reading numerous complaint posts from other newegg victims, I intend to do whatever it takes (legally) to win this war and warn as many people as possible. If you're considering purchasing ANYTHING from newegg, consider this fact: Search the terms "newegg defective" with Google and you'll see HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PAGES, some filled with customer complaints reporting multiple and repeated defectives from newegg.
NEXT MOTHERBOARD: The gadget-aholic in me almost ordered a Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD to see what kind of speed difference the 20GB SSD delivers. Then I found several other brief online reviews that point out the limitations of a 20GB SSD and several benchmarks which suggest that speed gain over my MSI P67A-GD55 B3 would be negligible.
NOVEMBER 21, 2011 UPDATE: Ten months later, I still see no reason to change anything (other than an annoying audio glitch with the MSI board) because even the newer Intel and AMD processors with more cores are barely running any faster than my overclocked i5-2500K which could be why the price for this CPU hasn't gone down.
MAY 28, 2012 UPDATE: Sixteen months after assembling my i5-2500K system I started noticing some erratic behavior so I rebooted into BIOS and was shocked to see that my normal 50C to 55C temp was now over 95C ! Without a clue as to the cause, I tore open my Antec 300 case and started cleaning all my fans. I also reduced my 4.6Ghz overclock back to the 3.3Ghz factory spec for this CPU. Both actions resulted in temps in the 55C to 60C range so I knew there was still a problem. Went to my local Fry's and was ready to install a new motherboard & CPU. First surprise was seeing that after a year & a half, the i5-2500K price hasn't gone down by even $1. Then I got lucky when i found a salesperson named Joshua. When I explained my temp situation, he suggested that my Arctic 5 paste may have turned to dust after more than a year which would mean that my Hyper 212 cooler wasn't able to do it's job. Joshua was 100% right! When I removed my cooler from the CPU I saw grey and black bits of dust instead of paste. I cleaned cooler and cpu surfaces with rubbing alcohol, applied new Arctic 5 paste and reassembled my system. Bottom Line: I'm once again running 24/7 at my standard 4.6Ghz overclock and temps are staying below 55C under load. Now you know what to look for if this ever happens to you!
MAY 31, 2012 UPDATE: If you're a gadgetaholic, you'll understand why I'm constantly looking for the latest & greatest. That said, I sepnt a few hours doing some research on possibly upgrading to a Z77 motherboard and i5-3570 processor. What I found was surprising. General concensus is that unless you've been brainwashed into thinking you need the upcoming PCIE3 features, the best choice & best value today remians to be the i5-2500K with a board like the ASRock Z68 Pro3 Gen3 (which I just ordered from amazon @ $104.99 as an ugrade from my MSI P67A-GD55).
Best thing I found today is that if you're in a city with a Micro Center store, you can get the i5-2500K for $169.99 which beats any current online retailer price. For the record, reasons i5-2500K outshines the i5-3570K (according to concensus) is higher OC capability and cooler running.
JUNE 3, 2012 UPDATE: Replaced MSI P67A-GD55 motherboard with ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 and wish I had discovered ASRock sooner because:
1. Fastest boot time I've ever seen with my i5-2500K in ASRock Z68.
2. Coolest CPU temp at overclock. Was 55C with MSI @4.6Ghz, now
49C at same overclock, same Hyper 212 cooler & Arctic5 paste.
3. Better SATA connections and narrower board. The sideways SATA connections on MSI are royal pain in my Antec 300 case. ASRock has "normal" upright facing connnections and narrower board much easier to install.
4. Better placement of fan connections.
5. BIOS is easier to use and navigate.
6. ASRock cured an audio problem with my MSI board that I could never fix, no matter what drivers and settings I tried. Now I can listen to music, watch videos or enjoy youtube without sound delays or gaps!
Bottom Line: ASRock and Amazon ROCK! Amazon delivered my new $104.99 motherboard in 1 day with free delivery and if I did have a problem, I could return it without the Newegg hassles, restocking fees or return shipping cost.