Until I started reviewing, I'd never been able to stay on the cutting edge of technology with my computer system. Whenever I upgraded my system, I was usually a generation or two behind. When I finally went Core 2 Duo, it was a 65mm Conroe and they already had the 45nm processors out with the Nehalm on the way. The only thing I've always tried to keep as current as possible has been my video card. I can safely say that since the NVidia Ti 4600, I've kept my GPU up to date. However, any part that I have bought has always been in the mainstream category of parts. This was because I never had the budget to get the best of the best.
Intel has always had a lineup of products that was just outside of my reach. This "Extreme" lineup usually required parts that were much more expensive. The motherboards had a different socket that required more expensive motherboards. The RAM had increased channels, which added an stick and an extra cost. The CPUs themselves were priced 2 to 3x more than their mainstream counterparts. The times are changing, and either my budget has expanded or parts are becoming more affordable. It doesn't seem like much of a stretch anymore to build a high end system.
The Intel i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E Processor puts the socket LGA2011 Intel Express X79 platform within reach. The i7-3820 has been released at a much more affordable price than its $500 and $900 bigger brothers. The i7-3820 still comes with extreme features that place it in the high end category. It is a quad core processor, however, there is Intel's Hyperthreading, allowing 8 total threads. Instead of the extreme 15MB, there is 10MB of Intel Smart Cache on the i7-3820. Clock speed is set at 3.6GHz with the turbo frequency topping out at 3.8GHz. This is constructed with the 32nm process and runs at a Max TDP of 130W. Advanced Intel Technologies are included. There is Turbo Boost 2.0, Intel Hyper-Threading, Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x and VT-d), AES New instructions, Intel 64, and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology.