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The Tech Report's February 2009 System Guide

The Tech Report writes: "Three months have passed since we published our last system guide, so it's high time we took another look at the PC hardware landscape. We've seen surprisingly little new hardware come out during our hiatus, with the notable exception of AMD's new Phenom II processors, in both Socket AM2+ and Socket AM3 flavors. The Phenom II X3 720 has turned out to be so competitive that we've actually given it a starring role in our mid-range Utility Player build.

Prices have changed quite a bit over the past few weeks, though: high-end graphics cards have become surprisingly affordable, and Core i7 hardware is now so much cheaper that we've managed to bring a Core i7-920 into our Sweeter Spot system, leading us to abandon the previous guide's $1,600 Crushinator configuration. We've also re-thought all of our other picks to account for pricing changes big and small.

Finally, we decided to mix things up a little more this time by bringing you a new one-off build: the Kitchen PC, which melds power-efficient hardware, a very compact form factor, and surprisingly affordable pricing."

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