Budget overclocking is back!

Written by Antony Leather

November 30, 2009 | 10:50

Tags: #budget #core-2 #core-i5 #core-i7 #overclocking #upgrade

Companies: #amd #bit-tech #intel

I’ve felt a little lost over the last six months or so. AMD still hasn’t come back with a definitive answer to Intel's Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs and even they have been prohibitively expensive for many looking to upgrade from a Core 2 system.

Gone, it seems, are the days of the Core 2 Duo E1200 which could be bagged for less than £40. After a 100% overclock, it could turn into something that gave £150 CPUs a run for their money. I've used the CPU in several systems that I've built for people over the last few years, coupled one of the many budget uberclocking LGA775 boards that were pushed off the production lines.
In fact even the likes of the Asus Maximus II Formula and the Q6600 seem like bargains compared to what you’d have to fork out for an LGA1156 or LGA1366 system.

With Issue 76 of Custom PC now in the shops and featuring a mammoth labs test of funky peripherals and loads more besides, James and I have turned our attention to finding out if some of the new, cheaper LGA 1156 motherboards are worth a stab. Focussing on the sub £100 category, we’ve taken a look at ten of the blighters. I have to say I’m suitably impressed with most of the boards too, with many capable of overclocking a Core-i5-750 to 4GHz and beyond.

Budget overclocking is back!
The creation of awesome LGA 775 overclocking motherboards such as the Maximus II Formula mean that Intel will have to drop Core i5 prices if more enthusiasts are to upgrade from their 'tried and tested' Core 2 systems.

I’m also relieved, because until now the thought of upgrading my Core 2 system was filling me and my wallet with dread. That said, Core i5 still has a little way to go before it can be considered bargaintastic, as the bottom-end CPU, the Core i5-750 still costs £150 (not quite an E1200 or E5200 killer) and you’ll probably have to fork out for some DDR3 memory too, although as Richard showed us recently, there’s little need to spend mega bucks here.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had some decent Intel motherboards through the labs for less than £100. While Core 2 will probably be at the heart of my system till well in to 2010 (mainly because I can’t be bothered to pull apart my recently pimped watercooling), recent benchmarks we’ve done here at bit-tech have clearly shown that there’s some serious performance boosts to be had from these newer CPUs.

While there's light at the end of the tunnel, I suspect cheaper CPUs will start the real upgrade-fest from Core 2 though as the Core i5-750 is far from cheap enough to win the hearts of budget overclockers. After all, half the fun in overclocking is getting something affordable and turning it into something that might otherwise be out of your financial reach.

Are you sticking with Core 2? Are you planning to upgrade soon and if so, to what? Would cheaper LGA 1156 motherboards persuade you to part from with your trusty Q6600 or E8400? Let us know in the comments.
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