When I noticed my pc was getting a bit slow a few years ago, I put a $20 Hyper 212+ cooler on there and overclocked it +45% to 3.5 Ghz. Had to raise the Vcore all the way to 1.6V, enough to make people on overclocking forums wince, but the thing is _stable_ and has been for years. I did the math and this "105 watt" rated cpu is sucking down 191 watts now. Absolutely amazed at how cheap good CPU cooling is today.
Paired with a Radeon 7850 I picked up for $180 a few years ago, it's good for 40+ fps on anything but the most poorly optimized single-threaded games I play. Any Crysis, any STALKER (even with punishing community-made mods with extra pretty everywhere), World of Tanks, Deus Ex:HR... had a blast playing all of them! At this point, pushing and prodding my el cheapo system to get a good frame rate in my games is half the satisfaction of gaming to me
Every once in a while I spec out a new build and see if it's worth it to me to plunk down a few hundred for an upgrade. So far, it just hasn't been worth it. Modern games are pretty good about using 3-4 cores; video encodes (the only other demanding thing I do) are embarrassingly parallel, and now that I have an SSD in my pc it hardly ever has a "senior moment". If I were building a new pc right now I'd probably go with an AMD vishera build. Never mind the tech is a few years old... they're cheap, they're FULL-FEATURED, they're FULLY OVERCLOCKABLE, and AMD doesn't play dirty like Intel, who rigs compilers and sends out PR shills everywhere. Or maybe you think the solution to hot chips is to spend millions on shills to insult AMD rather than just make an appropriately sized heatsink/fan that would cost another dollar to ship to the customer.
I've probably used enough Intel hate buzzwords to summon Hairyfeet to this thread, haha. But the man speaks the truth. This "Intel rules AMD drools" sentiment among gamers makes me wonder how many have tried fueling up thier Honda Civics with 100-low-lead airport gas -_- MAKES IT GO FASTER!!