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Processor And Memory

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $2000 Performance PC
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CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K

Intel’s Sandy Bridge-based processors have the highest per-core, per-clock performance of any desktop CPU we could buy. These are also some of the most scalable chips Intel has ever produced. Unfortunately, achieving a high overclock requires an unlocked K-series model, of which only two are available (and the other is a Core i5). We snagged the flagship Core i7 version.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-2600K


The advantages Intel’s Core i7-2600K has over the Core i5-2500K include Hyper Threading technology, which enabled two logical cores for every physical core, an extra 100 MHz of clock rate, and 2 MB of shared last-level cache.

We’ve heard that Core i7-2600K also gets Intel’s top-binned parts, so that might give this one a little extra overclocking capability. Added together, those advantages need to be worth at least $95 to cover the difference in price.

Memory: G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 9

We’ve been using G.Skill’s low-cost DDR3-1600 CAS 8 for a few builds, but those parts were out of stock when we ordered today’s system. We chose its F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL DDR3-1866 CAS 9 kit as a suitable replacement, though we didn't necessarily count on this kit giving us better memory.

Read Customer Reviews of G.Skill's F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL DDR3 Kit


The price difference between the formerly-used parts and this higher-rated version was only around $5-$10—depending on the day of the order. But this order was placed immediately prior to our most recent round-up. We can only hope that these parts overclock better than that story's fastest award-winning model.

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