The next line of processors is finally unveiled officially as Sandy Bridge processors, or the next generation i-Core processors have been revealed ahead of CES.
There are a total of 29 processors coming out from high to low and from 2 to 4 cores giving you a very broad range of processors to pick up. The Sandy Bridge processors are also marked with a letter and the K parts are the ones that gamers and enthusiasts want to pick up as those are unlocked. You'll be paying about $10-$20 more on the same locked part, but I hear you'll get pretty awesome gains on just the standard air cooling to definitely make it worth your while.
Some of the parts will have embedded GPUs, but these guys are going to be OK performers and compare to the $50 price range of discrete video cards out there. While the CPU alone won't make it a fast game machine, it'll perform OK for those on a budget.
Quick Sync will make transcoding of video a lot faster and produce some solid picture quality. I've seen tests where it outperforms discrete GPU transcoding in both speed and quality. Let me say, I want an i5 Sandy Bridge on a laptop so that I can transcode video at E3 and CES for upload a lot faster and with better quality in a nice compact package.
Intel ALMOST got the CPU as a perfect HTPC part, but its hardware won't let it run video at 23.976 FPS making it display slightly jittery pictures every 40 seconds. Most movie content is filmed at 23.976 FPS and not 24 FPS. You can get by this limitation by using a discrete GPU such as the Radeon 5000 or 6000 series, but that defeats the purpose of having the CPU do it all and having a small, quiet box in your room.
You'll need a brand new motherboard with an LGA-1155 socket to be able to use Sandy Bridge CPUs so factor in that cost to a new upgrade if you have an Intel i-Core desktop right now. You're looking at around $320 for an i7-2600K
for the top of the line, non-Extreme processor right now and about $220 for an i5-2500K