In January 2012 the time has come for my old PC to die. For a day or so I was confused to identify the root cause—as I thought it could be the video card fault due to the BIOS beep pattern (endlessly repeating two short and one long) —but it turned out to be my super-hot (literally) motherboard ASUS A8N32-SLI. I assembled the PC in 2006, back in Switzerland, and since then I upgraded only the hard drives. Obviously, together with motherboard the other important components were doomed: CPU and memory. It was an old AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 for socket 939 working with DDR memory. But I thought it would be a good chance to upgrade. So I would keep my roomy ATX Thermaltake Swing Case, Gainward GeForce 7800GT PCX 512MB with fanless design, Thermaltake Toughpower 600W PSU, and all the hard drives. As this breakdown was unexpected, the budget was going to be miserable, very thin in fact. I also understood it had to be reasonable, as I was not going to buy crappy stuff. So I went down to the exploration part on the internet.
AMD new Bulldozer offer did not impress me at all, it was a fake cores feeling somehow. Intel on the contrary has opened new vistas with their successful 2nd generation Core CPU line. I was thinking about something close to 100$, and I found the fastest 3.30 GHz Intel Core i3-2120 Processor with 3M Cache.
The motherboard became a nice AsRock H61iCafe in LGA1155 ATX package with cool AMI UEFI BIOS, SATA3 ports, USB3 and other good stuff for less than 100$. CPU and motherboard are both based on new Sandy Bridge platform. But AsRock reinforced Intel H61 chipset with USB3 and SATA3 support, which is great for saving money.
The rest is DDR3 8Gb (2x4Gb) 1333MHz DIMM Kingston [KVR1333D3N9K2/8G] and a Cooler Master Hyper 101 PWM. Again altogether for just 300$.
Then couple of hours for hardware assembly, getting Windows 7 Sp1 64-bit installed, and here we go—almost new computer:
Eventually I will change the video card as well, but not now.
CPU-Z screenshots as well:
Here a link to a good Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Sandy Bridge Processor Review.