System Builder Marathon: Day Two

The Components

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600

Clocked at 2.40 GHz, Intel's cheapest "big" 4 MB cache Core 2 series processor is still an excellent performer. The Core 2 Duo E6600 comes clocked "only" 22% slower than the highest-speed Core 2 Extreme X6800 of the same design, yet costs 76% less. Overclockers can find even more value in this modestly-priced model, as the ultra-expensive X6800 has little additional overclocking headroom.

Though recent price drops have placed the slightly faster E6700 firmly within the mid-priced category, this E6600 was on order prior to Intel's latest price drop. The previous price difference had made the E6600 a far easier selection, a coincidence harkening to Don Woligroski's comment yesterday about high end parts quickly falling to budget market status.

The E6600's reduced price of around $230 causes no regret when considering longevity and future upgrades. Intel plans to keep LGA775 around a while longer, allowing lots of room for a future Core 2 Quad upgrade once the E6600 loses its shine.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX

Intel's boxed cooler would have done the job, but the Hyper TX does it a little better, and with lower peak noise levels. This becomes an even greater concern when overclocking, and overclocking is one reason we've used the Hyper TX in so many reviews. We could have chosen a cooler with even more capacity, but the Hyper TX also holds a value leadership position, with a price of around $30.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.