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CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU

System Builder Marathon: Sub-$2000 PC
By , Shelton Romhanyi

system builder marathon

In our opinion, there are two excellent CPU choices for a powerful midrange system right now, and both of them are Intel Core 2 derivatives: the E8400 dual-core CPU, and the Q6600 quad-core CPU, both of which cost about $200.

We’ve chosen the 2.4 GHz Q6600 in this system builder marathon, because it will provide excellent gaming performance as well as superior application performance in software that makes use of the quad cores. The E8400 would probably provide slightly higher gaming performance at stock speeds, because its 3.0 GHz clock rate is pretty high, but the Q6600 should take the lead in applications that are multithreaded. Since this is an all-purpose machine, we opted for the Q6600 this time around.

When both processors are overclocked, we don’t think it will make all that much difference in gaming performance. The Q6600 should reach about 3.6 GHz overclocked, and though the E8400 would probably go closer to 4.0 GHz, the video card will likely be the bottleneck at these higher speeds, not the CPU.

We might try to use the E8400 in our next system builder marathon, to highlight their differences, but in this round the Q6600 will get another chance to show us what its four cores can do at this relatively low price point.

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