Intel CPU: Core i7-2600K (3.4GHz)
Current Cost: $314 (+$9 from last month)
Rounding out our group of core components that have remained the same, our processor choice for the Intel build remains the Intel Core i7-2600K, a four-core processor with 1MB of L2 cache (256KB per core) and 8MB of L2 cache. And as with our AMD recommendation, this Intel processor offers solid performance that you can improve further by overclocking it.
Cooling: Zalman CNPS9500A-LED 92mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler (NEW Recommendation)
Current Cost: $45
For our cooling needs, we've decided to go with the Zalman CNPS9500A-LED, a CPU cooler that will let you adjust its fan speed between a quieter, "silent operation" mode and a more audible option that provides additional cooling.
AMD Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5 (990FX) (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $174
We've updated our AMD motherboard recommendation as well, replacing our previous ASUS pick with a Gigabyte offering. The company's GA-990FXA-UD5 motherboard has a lot in common with our previous recommendation — it's also powered by the 990FX and SB950 chipsets, and it offers four PCI-E 2.0 slots, four memory slots (with a max of 32GB of RAM), Gigabit LAN, integrated audio and six SATA 6Gb/s connections.
Intel Motherboard: ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3 (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $150
Similarly being tweaked in this edition is our motherboard recommendation for the Intel build. We've decided to go with the ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3, another LGA 1155 chipset motherboard powered by the Intel P67 chipset. The ASRock motherboard offers two PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slots, two PCI Express x1 slots, four memory slots (with support for up to 32GB of RAM), two USB 3.0 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, one e-SATA, one IEEE1394, Gigabit LAN, integrated audio, four SATA 3GB/s connections and two SATA 6Gb/s connections.
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB 2 x 4GB Kit (F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM)
Current Price: $60 (-$15 from last month)
A holdover from our previous edition of this guide, this G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series kit will take up half of the available memory slots, leaving you with another two slots that you can use to add additional RAM in the future if desired.
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1.5TB (WD1502FAEX) (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $160
Crucial M4 (CT128M4SSD2) 2.5" 128GB SSD with SILVERSTONE SDP08 3.5 to 2 X 2.5-Inch Bay Converter (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $144 and $9
You'll notice that we've upped the ante as far as storage goes in this edition of the guide. Thanks to falling prices for some of our other key components, we're now able to step up to a 1.5TB drive from Western Digital, and a solid state drive (SSD) from Crucial that offers twice the space of our previous recommendation. This pairing should help ensure that you end up with a system that offers plenty of speed, plenty of performance and even more room to grow.
Optical Drive: LG WH12LS39 12x BDR (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $80
We've tweaked our optical drive recommendation, going with the LG WH12LS39 12x BDR, a model that includes 4MB of cache and features the ability to burn BD-R discs at 12x, BD-RE at 2x and DVD+R at 16x.
Video Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1460-KR GeForce GTX 560 (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $190
While we're once again recommending a GTX 560, for this edition we're going with the EVGA 01G-P3-1460-KR GeForce GTX 560. This video card comes stocked with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, one mini HDMI port and two DVI ports.
LCD: ASUS VS248H-P Black 24" 2ms LED Backlight LCD (NEW Recommendation)
Current Price: $199
Making a minor change to our monitor recommendation, we've decided to go with the 24" ASUS VS248H-P. This TN display offers a 2ms response time, LED backlighting and a native 1920x1080 resolution. Connections include one analog, one DVI and one HDMI port. It should be noted, though, that this model doesn't come with the speakers our previous recommendation offered.