CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 CPU
Our mid-range system was destined to be an Intel CPU; AMD doesn't offer any viable alternatives right now, although things might change when the updated Phenoms with B3 stepping are released.
With the new Core 2 Penryn CPUs difficult to find at retail, our real options were the existing Core 2 Quads: the Q6600 for $240 or Q6700 for $540.
With the Q6700 more than twice as expensive as the Q6600 for a mere 260 MHz speed increase, the Q6700 is a hard sell. Indeed, we used a Q6600 in our last system builder marathon to great effect.
However, since the system builder marathon machines are competing in multiple arenas - application speed in addition to graphics speed - we decided to give the Q6700 a shot and invest extra money in the processor. From a pure value standpoint the Q6600 is certainly superior, but we have some room under the $2000 price limit and we are very interested in seeing if the Q6700 will provide significant gains over our last mid-range machine. And we really want to find out if it can overclock any better than it's slightly slower Q6600 brother.