What processor should I buy? Intel’s crazy pricing makes my head hurt

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    The time has come for me to put together a new PC. The Core 2 Duo E6700 I bought within a few weeks of its release is now five years old, and though it’s served me well, when it comes to playing the latest games and building software in Visual Studio, it’s just not that quick. Both the processor and my video card, a Radeon HD 4830, need replacing with something newer and better. The October release of Battlefield 3 has finally pushed me over the edge: I need a new computer to play that game in all its glory.

    This is going to be a major upgrade. I’m going to keep my hard disk, beloved Dell clicky keyboard, and twin Dell U2410 monitors, but everything else is going to go; motherboard, CPU, RAM, video card, TV tuner, optical drive, and case are all up for replacement. Optical drive, too; I have enough old games on CD and DVD that ditching optical media isn’t really viable yet.

    Many of the component choices are easy enough. But when it comes to processors and motherboards, I’m flummoxed. Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors have the clear performance lead, so they’re the natural choice for any system build. But then I fall foul of Intel’s pricing scheme; which one should I buy?

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    What processor should I buy? Intel’s crazy pricing makes my head hurt

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