Asus P8P67 Pro - £136
LGA 1155 Motherboard
As we've seen there's really nowhere to go for an LGA 775 platform in terms of CPU or motherboard upgrades; it's all about a whole platform refit.
Sticking with the Intel setup, there's only one place to go that makes any real financial sense and that's the awesome power of Intel's Sandy Bridge platform. This month may have seen the introduction of a new chipset in the form of the new Z68 motherboards, but in terms of price and performance the P67 will give you pretty much all you need for a straight gaming machine.
The extra niceties of the Z68, such as the Smart Response Technology and the Lucid Virtu software are all well and good for the top-end enthusiasts, or the ecologically minded folk wanting to calm their power-hungry GPUs, but for the gaming upgrader these extras are just pure luxuries.
All you really want is something that will make your new Sandy Bridge processor shine and that's something Asus's P8P67-Pro does with aplomb. It may not have the specific overclocking chops of something like its RoG brethren, but it's still got enough about it to make those K-series chips give a little more performance.
Intel Core i5 2500K - £156
LGA 1155 Processor
The gaming processor du jour is quite simply this: the Intel Core i5 2500K. There is no other CPU that can come close to both its gaming prowess and raw number-crunching power for the money. AMD can squeeze six cores into this price point, but in pure gaming terms the 2500K's four cores knock Thuban out of the ballpark.
For all-round performance its big brother, the Core i7 2600K, is the top dog in Sandy Bridge land, but its eight threads of processing power are a little redundant when it comes to actual gaming. As advanced as modern titles are, there are still very few, The Witcher 2 and Football Manager 2011 aside, that actually take proper advantage of multithreaded processors.
Indeed, head crayon-wielder Paul has recently taken to disabling the HyperThreading of his Bloomfield Core i7 920 when it comes to gaming. He's noticed a not inconsiderable rise in frame rates from cutting out the extra threads. The Core i5 2500K's straight quad-core sensibilities then are all that's required for the average gamer.