Intel says it plans to release next-generation Nehalem Core i7 processors next month, and the rumor has hinted that those chips might cost as little as $284. Telling readers to buy high-end Core 2 systems now would make no sense, but our system guide still needed an update. In the end, we opted to rethink the guide's price targets and focus on cheaper configurations. We had been planning such a move for a while, anyway, because the hardware pricing landscape has evolved quite a bit since we started publishing system guides. We've therefore replaced our traditional $500, $1,000, $1,500, and ~$2,500 builds with more wallet-friendly $300, $500, $800, and $1200 configurations. These new setups are more affordable, and you'd be surprised how much you can get for even 800 bucks these days.
We expect these builds are safely out of the way of the incoming Core i7 tide, as well. Even if Core i7 chips do cost as little as $284, you'll still need to pair them with expensive DDR3 RAM and presumably pricy X58 motherboards. By contrast, our fastest config in this guide includes a $270 CPU, a $130 motherboard, and cheap DDR2 RAM.