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I'm working out the best setup for a programming/testing computer. I am looking at two processors:

Both Sandy Bridge running Win7 x64:

Core i5-2300 & Core i7-2600

I know about the SATA issue, this system will be purchased in a couple months.

I will be programming in an IDE and testing in multiple browsers. Due to the nature of Internet Explorer, I need to setup a couple virtual instances of IE to test for different version (6, 7, & 8). I know I can hack IE to run on the same system as different versions, but I need IE as close to my clients as possible.

Other than a slightly larger cache (6MB vs 8MB), faster clock speed, & Hyperthreading enabled for the Core i7, the two chips a the same.

Are there any other solid reasons to choose i7 over i5?

Or will the Hyperthreading make virutalization that much better and I should go with i7?

The price difference ($185 vs $300) isn't that big a deal to me.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

From what you've described, your VMs are largely going to be idle unless you're actually using them to test a site. In this case, HT will probably provide very little benefit.

If the budget is a concern at all, your money would probably be better spent towards getting an SSD over the CPU. If one is already in the budget, then I don't think it's that big of a deal.

There are some other things which may swing the pendulum one way or the other.

First of all, according to the AnandTech review, only the K-series CPUs will have the higher end integrated GPUs. The i7s also have a higher maximum CPU clock. Finally, only the i7-2600 (not the K), i5-2500 (again, not the K), and i5-2400 support VT-d, which may have some effect on virtualization. However, I'm not sure what that actually gains you in real-world usage.

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