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With high-end processors going for over a thousand dollars, care needs to be taken when choosing a CPU to make sure that you're getting the latest technology without breaking the bank.
Right now, my silicon of choice comes from Intel, and I believe that the best bang for the buck is offered by the quad-core 3.2GHz Core i5-3470 with built-in HD 2500 graphics. You get cutting-edge 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge technology at a price that won't break the bank.
At $200, this is a lot of silicon for the money.
Since I've gone for the Intel Core i5-3470 processor, I need a motherboard that supports the Socket LGA 1155. This is a popular socket, so there's a lot to choose from.
The motherboard that I've had good experiences with lately is the Asus P8Z77-V LE. For $150 you get a rock solid motherboard offering SATA 6GB/s, USB 3.0, and all the ports and connectors you expect from a top-class board. The board also comes with a host of overclocking features, and is ready for Windows 8.
Any powerful PC has two brains, in the form of a CPU and a GPU.
The stand out GPU at the moment in the Nvidia Geforce GTX 660. This card offers you the latest GPU technology for about $250, and can churn out well over 30 frames per second for any modern game title that you care to throw at it.
Of all the Nvidia GTX 660 cards out there, the Gigabyte GV-N660OC-2GD stands out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of performance and reliability.