MicroCenter has the Intel i7-2600k on sale for $280 this week. This is one of the newer ‘Sandy Bridge’ 32nm quad-core i7 CPUs that has a clock speed of 3.4Ghz per core. I have been running an Intel i7 860 (‘Lynnfield’ quad-core 45nm i7 at 2.8Ghz per core) and didn’t really see much need to upgrade- other than my current motherboard only has two SATA3 and two USB3 ports.
However, the price was pretty good and I felt the sudden ‘need’ to upgrade.
Gigabyte P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 motherboard- so I also had to do a little motherboard shopping.
There are currently two chipsets that support the LGA 1155 socket; the P67 and the H67. The P67 does not use the integrated video found on the newer Sandy Bridge CPUs; it must be paired with a discrete video card and most most motherboards with this have multiple PCIe slots (supporting both SLI and Cross-Fire) and have good/exceptional overclocking abilities. The H67 motherboards do utilize the on-board Intel video, and these systems tend to be less expensive and have less features. I am definitely looking to the P67 series.
One thing to note is that the initial release of P67 (and H67?) chipsets are being recalled by Intel due to a physical chipset problem that can affect the SATA 2 controllers. From my understanding, this issue can take years to surface and it will only affect a percentage of the systems with this chipset version. The problem is related to the fabrication of the chips and the only fix is to replace the affected motherboards. The new ‘B3’ revisions of the P67 motherboards have this issue resolved.
I eventually picked up the i7-2600k and a MSI P67A-GD65 motherboard- and returned the board three days later. The Windows install went without issues on this system, but the system had some problems- the system would not come back from standby/sleep mode on two occasions, and on another two occasions it froze up while I was working on it.
I replaced it with an Asus P8P67 Pro; It is a very similar design and has not had any of the freeze up issues experienced by the former board- but I have had a few similar issues with returning from standby/sleep (albeit sleep and hibernate has been disabled in Windows). This particular issue appears to be fairly common and disabling CPU PLL Overvoltage has not resolved this for me; hopefully a future Windows/BIOS patch will resolve.
On another note, the Asus VG236HE monitors are going back; they are so glossy that I am having more eye strain during the day when trying to read text that it negates all the benefits of the 120hz refresh. I am replacing them with Acer GD235HZ models.