1. Intel Pentium E5200 2.5Ghz
Price: 75.99 on Newegg as of 11/24/08
Though Intel has now debuted the new Core i7 architecture, Intel is showing every sign that it wants to get the most out of its older processors. As a result, Intel has launched numerous new products in the last few months, fitting every possible niche. Some of these products have, in fact, been highly redundant, but some are truly great values. The Intel Pentium E5200 is an example of the later.
What is great about the E5200 is that though it only costs around $80 dollars at most online retailers, it uses Intel's newest manufacturing process. It is a 45nm chip, which means it will run very cool and use relatively little power, and it has access to all of Intel's latest tricks.
Those tricks add up to impressive performance. The E5200 may not have the power of a E8400 or even E7200, and its midget-sized cache also handicaps performance. But not everyone needs a bleeding-edge, fire-breathing processor. Some people only need a solid processor with respectable performance, and for those users, the E5200 fits the bill perfectly. And if you're buying for an enthusiast, but you're onla tight budget, don't despair. Most of these processors can be over-clocked quite a bit, making them significantly more powerful. Just be sure to buy a decent heat-sink as well!