You can tell the holiday season is nigh by looking at hardware prices: processors, graphics cards, and memory are cheaper than ever. We thought this would be a great time for a new system guide, but we faced a bit of a dilemma. You see, Intel says it plans to release next-generation Core i7 processors next month, and the rumor mill has repeatedly hinted that those chips might cost as little as $284 when they come out. What to do?
We opted to rethink the guide's price targets and focus on cheaper configurations, so we've replaced our traditional $500, $1,000, $1,500, and ~$2,500 builds with more wallet-friendly $300, $500, $800, and $1200 configurations. These new setups are more affordable, and they should be safely out of the way of the incoming Core i7 tide. You'd be surprised what kind of system you can get for even 800 bucks these days, however.