What's a viable alternative to the overpriced, overkill Intel Core i7 990X?

Interesting question in today's mailbag:"I want to build an extreme PC but I don't want to spend $1,000 on just the CPU. Any suggestions?"
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Interesting question in today's mailbag:

"I want to build an extreme PC but I don't want to spend $1,000 on just the CPU. Any suggestions?"

Intel's current 'King of the CPUs' is the monster six-core, 12-thread 3.45GHz Core i7 990X. But at $999 it's means dropping a LOT of money on silicon. Without a doubt this is an amazing CPU, but the truth is that few people need (or can even take advantage of) the level of power that it offers. Even if you have $1,000 to blow on the part, you're probably throwing money away. So if that's the case, what's a viable, cheaper, alternative to the 990X?

Well, here's an excellent alternative - the Core i7-2600K. This CPU is a quad-core part based on Intel's new 'Sandy Bridge' architecture and hums along at a stock 3.4GHz and can be hit 3.8GHz in Turbo mode. In fact, the i7-2600K stands up well next to the i7 990X, but there's one place where it totally excels - price.

Like I said earlier, a 990X will set you back $999, but the i7-2600K can be picked up for under $330. In my mind this makes the i7-2600K far better value for money.

What if you prefer giving your money to AMD in exchange for silicon? What does this company have to offer? Well, a lot, as a matter of fact. AMD's six-core Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition processor is a superb high-end piece of silicon. It runs at a whopping 3.2GHz and retails for around an amazing $199 - an absolute steal! Think about it - six cores for under $200 - That’s pure awesomeness!

So there you have it. You can get your hands on a fantastic 'ultimate' CPU without breaking the bank!

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