Throughout the past few CPU articles we've mentioned that now is an absolutely wonderful time to be building a new system thanks to incredibly competitive CPU prices. The AMD/Intel price war has really paid off in making the marketplace more competitive. The fact that you can buy a very fast quad-core processor for less than $300 is just incredible.
At the same time, it's very easy to get caught up in recommending the higher end parts simply because they are priced so low now. AMD's entire Socket-AM2 product lineup can be had for under $300, but we've primarily focused on the $150 - $300 range, when both AMD and Intel have some very powerful CPUs available at or below $100.
For many, these processors are great for primary systems built on a budget, but for others they make a solid foundation for a good second or third system, file server, or machine for a friend/relative. Price/performance means everything, but you don't always have the luxury of choosing a $160 processor over an $80 one, despite the incredible value of the former. At the same time, power consumption and noise matter tremendously, especially if you're building a Home Theater PC or file server, where CPU performance isn't necessarily the most important thing but building a quiet, power efficient system is.
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