Hot Hardware Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006
Overclocker's Dream System
Overclocker's Dream System
CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
Although nothing can replace the additional two cores found on the flagship system's Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700, the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 is armed with enough cache and overclocking headroom to give the flagship Intel processor a run for its money in many of the applications on the market today. Unlike the Core 2 Duo E6400 which has 2MB of cache, the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 bumps that cache size up to 4MB. Operating at 2.4GHz the E6600 runs 530MHz slower than the flagship dual-core X6800 though there are countless reports of people getting this processor running well over 3GHz with little effort saving you hundreds of dollars and offering higher performance.
Motherboard - eVGA 122-CK-NF68-AR
Based upon NVIDIA's new flagship nForce 680i chipset, the eVGA 122-CK-NF68-AR motherboard is one of the fastest and most feature-rich enthusiast motherboard currently available for the Intel platform. Armed with a 6-phase VRM, countless ports, an array of passive heatsinks for all chipsets, and three PCI-E x16 slots the eVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard is one of the most robust boards we've ever tested. Add to this the fact that the nForce 680i SLI chipset is proving to be an excellent overclocker and you have yourself a rock-solid foundation for anything you care to throw at this system.
Memory - 2GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 1066
Although lacking the new heatspreader design found on the flagship Dominator series of memory, this Corsair XMS2 memory is gathering great popularity with overclocking enthusiasts thanks to its ability to handle very high voltages and return hugh frequencies with solid timings. In addition, these modules feature the Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) which are taken advantage of by the nForce 680i SLI chipset meaning the system will offer exceptional performance right out of the box, and even better performance once some BIOS tweaking is completed.
Graphics - 2 x BFG Tech GeForce 8800 GTS
Although it features slightly lower clock speeds, fewer stream processors, and a bit less memory than the flagship GeForce 8800 GTX, the GeForce 8800 GTS is anything but a slouch in terms of performance. Here, the GeForce 8800 GTS retains the stellar G80 architecture complete with unified shaders and a wealth of performance optimizations and features. Although nearly all GTS cards on the market are identical as vendors are using the same reference PCB and heatsink assemblies, the BFG Tech models are equipped with a lifetime warranty. Using two of these cards in SLI will provide excellent performance out of the box, though they will truly shine once they're overclocked. Given the solid yields G80-based GPU's seem to be getting, there should be ample overclocking headroom for these cards, which will help them approach 8800 GTX frequencies.