TR's August 2006 system guide

Recommendations for building the right enthusiast's PCs

MAJOR NEW CPU ARCHITECTURE INTRODUCTIONS don't happen every day. Intel launched the Netburst microarchitecture with the Pentium 4 almost six years ago, and AMD kicked off K8 on the desktop with the Athlon 64 just under three years ago. Another one of those introductions is occurring now: desktop variants of Intel's new Core microarchitecture are hitting stores in the form of the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors.

As we've seen in our review of the Core 2 lineup, these new CPUs pretty much unequivocally outclass the competition in both raw performance and power consumption. They're rather affordable for new introductions, too. The original Pentium 4 1.4GHz started at $644 and required expensive Rambus memory, and the original Athlon 64 3200+ launched at $417. The Core 2 Duo line, meanwhile, starts at a recommended price of just $183. Add in relatively affordable DDR2 memory and some nice motherboard choices at around $150, and the Core 2 Duo is a very exciting choice indeed for early adopters.

Intel's new hotness hasn't left AMD entirely in the dust, though. The Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, and Sempron lines have recently been subjected to massive price cuts make them more affordable than ever before. With those price cuts and the new Core 2 chips in mind, we've decided to roll out a brand-spanking-new system guide—now sponsored by Newegg—to give you guidance in scratching the early adopter's itch.

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