System Buyers' Guide: $700 to $1700

by Wesley Fink on 7/27/2009 12:00 AM EST


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  • JimGrapes - Friday, December 18, 2009 - link

    I'm wondering why the lower power (95w) i7 860 and the 1156 board isn't suggested in this article and others. Seems to provide a similar performance at less wattage and heat. Reply
  • Halcyon666 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Why is it nearly every component listed in this buyer's guide is now more expensive than when it posted back this summer?

    Isn't this stuff supposed to go down in price over time?

  • skytophall - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    Ya, I noticed that also. I do know that memory sticks have gone way up in price. They were real cheap last summer. I am told that price fluctuations in memory are expected. Such is life. Reply
  • kenfar - Tuesday, October 06, 2009 - link

    I built the AMD performance system using everything that was specified in the guide with the exception of the RAM which was not available. Went with the same RAM except used OCZ Heat Pipe.

    Now about 3 weeks after build and everything has been running fine. The computer about a week ago started shutting down mysteriously every so often. Now it will only boot up for about a minute and then goes to shut down.

    Any ideals?
  • megananda06 - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    really thanks for these guides, since sometimes we really hard to find the right options here in indonesia ...
    thanks once again
  • liquidboss - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    The Super Talent memory recommended in the Intel Performance Midrange section is discontinued. Anyone have another suggestion for a similar price? Reply
  • tbement - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    I have heard that cable length is a problem with the OCZ ModXStream power supplies when used in the Three Hundred (where the ps is at the bottom of the case rather than the top). Is this just a rumor or an actual problem with this pair? Reply
  • bhougha10 - Thursday, August 06, 2009 - link

    Sorry, was actually talking about the AMD Mid Range Base System Total for $1079 that doesn't include the oper system, speakers, etc. Wouldn't you be so much better off going with the system I quoted from a benchmark perspective (Gamming is what I am looking at) Reply
  • bhougha10 - Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - link

    This system below was from direct computer makerand was 100 bucks less. $970 total. I am pretty sure it would bench mark better then the recommended one and we would have 100 bucks to play with. Get a better case, etc. I am just wondering as the the I7 would be better for gammers.

    CASE: New! CoolerMaster Elite 310 Mid-Tower Case with See-Thru Side Panel
    Neon Light Upgrade: NONE
    Extra Case Fan Upgrade: Default case fans
    POWER SUPPLY Upgrade: 700 Watts Power Supplies (SLI/CrossFire Ready Power Supply)
    CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-920 2.66 GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
    COOLING FAN : Intel LGA1366 Certified CPU Fan & Heatsink
    MOTHERBOARD: (3-Way SLI Support) MSI X58 Pro Intel X58 Chipset CrossFire DDR3 Mainboard
    MEMORY: 3GB (1GBx3) PC1333 DDR3 PC3 10666 Triple Channel Memory (Corsair or Major Brand)
    FREEBIES: None
    VIDEO CARD: ATI Radeon HD 4890 1GB DDR5 PCI-Express Dual DVI-I & TVO (Major Brand Powered by ATI)
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - link

    You need to compare apples to apples. The system you quote makes no mention of a monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, or Operating System. That makes it comparable to our our base system price, which is $738 - or some $230 less. I would certainly hope you could upgrade to a Core i7 for for $230. Reply
  • GuruX - Thursday, July 30, 2009 - link

    The OCZ Blade 1150 2x2gb for the Intel value setup doesn't seem to be avalible in sweden. What would be a good replacement? Reply
  • Cepak - Saturday, August 01, 2009 - link

    Any suggestions on a performance oriented mid-ranged system with a smaller form factor (mATX)? A system that can still accommodate all the goodies like the Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition, MSI Radeon HD 4890 1GB OC Edition, a ASUS VW266H Black 25.5" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor, maybe with an external SATA port to connect the LG BD/HD DVD 8X BD read/16x DVD read/write via a external SATA case. It only need two internal SATA HDD bays. I don't care how the case appears because I'm going to tuck it out of sight (space is a premium for me). Reply
  • sebudes - Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - link

    What'll be the benefits of stepping up one notch in the motherboard departement and go with DD3 memory and a "real" AM3 slot? As I understand it, right now there's litte, but will you be happy you did when maybe upgrading CPU or GPU in the future? Reply
  • glenster - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    I've read the LG W2486L, which has been released, is a better monitor yet for less money. And the Silverstone Raven RV02 case has just been released (with a Fortress 2 on the way). Please write reviews of them. Reply
  • zshift - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    I absolutely have to agree with choosing the Logitch X-540 speakers for the midrange. These speakers are amazing for the price. They also sound much better when paired with a good dedicated sound card (for all the nonbelievers out there, I used to think dedicated sound was stupid; then I tried a creative x-fi with these and I don't wanna go back to onboard. Sound is MUCH clearer). These speakers also get VERY loud If you want them to, past 50% volume and I can hear them clearly from outside my house. And the base is excellent, explosions in fps games have a nice deep feel to then, and crashes and engine revs in burnout are amazingly realistic. Reply
  • jpk - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I have that board and it takes DDR3 not DDR2 as stated in the write up. Funny, you can put an AM3 CPU in an AM2+ mobo but you can't put an AM2+ CPU in an AM3 board. Fabulous mobo by the way. Love mine. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    Yes we still need an Edit function.

    "The Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P is indeed DDR3 memory, but when you drop the T in the name to Gigabyte MA790X-UD4P you are describing a Gigabyte motherboard that uses DDR2 memory."
  • just4U - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    I've been recommending the MA790X-UD4P for two months now. It's a solid board that comes in at a attractive price point. One of Amd's strong points..

    Another consideration (since it seems Asus finally noticed..) is the ..Asus M4A78-E which either has come down alot in price or is a new release (not sure which). It's priced in line with the UD4P but comes with the 790GX chipset so onboard 3300 graphics.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    The information in the Buyers Guide is correct. The problem is there are two different Gigabyte motherboards with just one letter difference in the name. The Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P is indeed DDR3 memory, but when you drop the T in the name to Gigabyte MA790X-UD4P you are describing a Gigabyte motherboard that uses DDR3 memory.

    This naming scheme has created more than a little confusion for buyers and reviewers.
  • vol7ron - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I'd like to start seeing numbers with these configurations; something to quantify the performance.

    Usual stuff:
    Encoding Times
    Super Pi
    Load times

    I know benchmarks are created for each individual component, but it'd be nice to see the synergistic effects and then make a decision on value per dollar.
  • ChrisOjeda - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Will onboard video (like ASUS M4A78T-E) be a solid solution for somebody that does no gaming, but would like to make a home theatre box for watching movies, playing music, and viewing pictures using a Windows solution. I have no intention of gaming on the machine and don't want to spend more than necessary for a video card. Assume all other components the same. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Yes. If you're a stickler for audio, make sure it's an IGP that can handle multi-channel LPCM audio output. NVIDIA has had this for a while, Intel added it a year or so back, and">AMD just added it with the R785 (HD 4200). Reply
  • garydale - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    The AMD 790GX chip does pretty reasonable graphics for the non-gamer so I went with the Gigabyte GA790GP-UD4H (or some similar number) board. The six onboard SATA2 ports meant that my software RAID 5 array (4 x 500G) still allowed me to plug in a SATA DVD rewriter.

    With a Phenom II 940 processor, the total build (less monitor - still using an old Dell 21" trinitron) was pretty small. I found a 470watt PC Power & Cooling Silencer on sale last year and stuffed it in a case I'd picked up years ago.

    The processor runs quite cool thanks to the new cooler AMD puts on them - about the same temp I was getting with with an earlier Phenom X4 and a Gladiator Max cooler. It's the hard drives that are running hot, so I'll need to add another fan at the back to pump more hot air out.

    Just waiting for the Blu-ray burner costs to come down. They haven't really moved in the last year, which is disappointing. Does anyone have any idea on why the prices are staying high? I notice the media prices have been dropping, so when can we expect a $100 Blu-ray burner?
  • goinginstyle - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I was surprised that I did not see a AMD 770 or cheap Intel P45 based system with the 4890 as the video card choice for the midrange system. The money you save on the board allows you to upgrade the video card choice and performance looks to be the same. Maybe overclocking is not as good but does it really matter that much.

    You end up with a single video card on the board but it also allows you to save money on the power supply choice, which might get you a better audio selection or two hard drives. I think having alternatives listed in these guides would be good, otherwise most of the choices were solid.
  • brybir - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I was looking for the 780G as well. I think they were looking for "gamer" boards with the option to Crossfire or SLI or whatnot over strictly budget options since this is a "middle of the road" system guide for both casual gamer types as well as those in the upper end of the price range who want very good system speed.

    If I were building a mid range system (I am going to build one come early 2010 when Intel's i5 line is more flushed out and the new gen of graphics cards are released in oct/now) I would probably pick up a 780G board and use the money to go from the 4870 to the 4890 or even just use the money for a bump in LCD quality.
  • Black Jacque - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    This article makes some good points in graphics and CPU selection. However, it shows the Editors have a poor understanding of PC power consumption.

    By reasonable accounts, all the PSUs in the recommended systems have twice the rated wattage that the parts lists will draw at full core-burning maximum. For the mid-range, a 400W-450W PSU is more than enough.

    The recent, excellent Xbit Labs article "PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?" clearly illustrates that 750W PSUs are a waste of money in the mid-range when not going with SLI or Crossfire. This article shows the trend in PC parts is downward in power consumption.

    When building a mid-range machine, you need to keep your eye on your budget. You are trading dollars for performance in every choice. A 450W PSU is less expensive than a 750W PSU. That difference is one budget bump UP toward either a: faster CPU, an upgraded GPU, or more RAM.

    The high-wattage PSUs in the parts lists show a poor understanding of PC power consumption. Selecting lower wattage, PSUs that perform as needed in high performance situations (and more efficiently at idle) allows for higher performance parts to be used in the price/performance mid-range categories, or generally lower the cost-of-entry to a category. I expected a more canny and not “Big is Best” recommendation of PSUs in this article.

  • The0ne - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    While there's already arguments going back and forth on this it's usually a good idea to buy a beefier but not necessarily more expensive PS. The reason is because many users don't have the capability to determine precisely how much power their system is consuming. Hell, I'm an Engineer and I don't have the tools at home to even do it. So I can't expect the same for your average Joe to be capable of. Secondly, not all low range, mid-range or high end configurations are the same. Some have more components and some have the basics. Having more requires a bit more power.

    In addition, not all power supplies are created equal. Even same power supplies are not exactly the same. And while specs are great to look at chances are if you don't know what you have in the first place it's best if you look for a performance/price deal that is more than what you "think" you need.

    Due to reviews I keep seeing people make comments like "consumers only need 400-450 watt for their mid-range computer!" While this may be true for most cases it is not entirely 100% foolproof. For example, my 600watt PS in my main refuses to run my new 4870 1Gig video card where it's already powering my current 9800GX2. Why, I've no idea. I just know that I had spent hours trying to determine it with little success except the PS is not what the specs are telling me.

    So I pop in the OCZ 700, after doing some research and knowing I would have some good buffer afterward, and my system is running just fine. I'm not maxing it so I really don't have to pay attention to the tight specifications. What matters was that I bought it for $50 when it was on sale and there wasn't a similar PS that came close in price. That's what importantly :)
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - link

    You don't need home tools to determine what PS requirements are, there are tools all over the internet - how about one form the experts:">
    Now they make PS's and you would think they would promote a higher number, but run through it once and you'll likely find a much lower result than you expected.
  • The0ne - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Speaking of PS, here's the one I got...and it's on sale again for $49 after rebate :o">

  • Nfarce - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    "For the mid-range, a 400W-450W PSU is more than enough. The recent, excellent Xbit Labs article "PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?" clearly illustrates that 750W PSUs are a waste of money in the mid-range when not going with SLI or Crossfire."

    Uhm, yes and no. As someone who recently build an E8400 mid range gaming system who also has the Corsair 750W, there are things you need to consider other than pure wattage. For instance there are hardly any quality power supplies in the 450-550W range that offer 2 6-pin PCIe connectors (a requirement to run HD 4870/90 and GTX 260/275 cards). Finally, the ones that do aren't that much less expensive. If you are going to spend $75 on a minimum requirement power supply, it makes good long term sense to throw in another $25 and get a more powerful PS for your future upgrade needs. Power supplies, unlike other PC components, don't really drop in price over time.
  • Black Jacque - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    >For instance there are hardly any quality power supplies in the 450->550W range that offer 2 6-pin PCIe connectors (a requirement to run >HD 4870/90 and GTX 260/275 cards).

    Like the Seasonic S12II-430 Bronze (1xPCIe-6, 1xPCIe-6+2)?

    In addition, most GPUs come with a Power Cable to adapt the standard Molex to PCIe-6. The recommended MSI HD 4890 comes with two Power Cables.

    > it makes good long term sense to throw in another $25 and get a >more powerful PS for your future upgrade needs.

    The Xbit Labs article clearly states the trend in PC parts power consumption is downward, not upward. Besides, I'd rather not spend US$25 that I didn't have to. I could use that money to upgrade to a Q9400 or an E8500, something I could use rightaway.
  • Nfarce - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    "Like the Seasonic S12II-430 Bronze (1xPCIe-6, 1xPCIe-6+2)? "

    Not real familiar with that brand. Try finding one in the range I mentioned built by Antec, Corsair, OCZ, Thermaltake, or PC Power & Cooling. And 430W? I have that in a five year old P4 system. I don't think so. I'll spend the extra few clams on something future proof, and apparently others agree. If you have to worry about spending another $25 on an $850+ PC build, then maybe you need to reconsider your spending priorities.
  • Black Jacque - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    >Not real familiar with that brand. Try finding one in the range I >mentioned built by Antec, Corsair, OCZ, Thermaltake, or PC Power & >Cooling.

    Seasonic can be found providing OEM service on various model lines for: Antec, Corsair, PC Power and Cooling, and of course under their own Seasonic brand. Actually, the PSUs that Seasonic either designs or builds for Antec, Corsair or the old PCP&P are not as high quality as the PSUs they build under their own brand label.
  • Nfarce - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the info Black Jacque. I did not know that, and I now verified that fact. Of all the PS research I did prior to my build, no reviews mentioned that fact. However, I will still stand by spending a little more on a future proof power supply so as one less thing to have to upgrade. My Corsair 750W will take me into next year's planned Lynnfield build and the new DX11 cards with SLI (hopefully). Reply
  • haplo602 - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    the article is one from the "how much power do we need" round that almost every major hardware review site did.

    however it was more or less questioning the need of 700+ W PSUs for the normal systems (i.e. average home PC).

    you have to account also for the usage pattern. this site is aimed at the hardware enthusiasts. they tend to buy informed or tend to change components often. in the first case, they will ignore the PSU recommendation, in the 2nd case, it comes in handy in the future.

    also have a look at power consumption on overclocked components (f.e. CPUs increase quite dramaticaly with added voltage). IIRC the xbitlabs article did not take into account overclocking (I might be wrong, did not read into details there).
  • brybir - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    You keep referring to that article and after raeding it I do find it interesting. But all it says is that usage is trending downword. That trend is based on events that have already happened and then assuming what future events will occur with power draw based off similar past events.

    First, just because the trend is in one direction does not mean that it is going to continue that way in the future. That is to say that the past predicts the future which is simply not true.

    Second, it makes sense to me to spend $25 on a larger power supply than I need "right now" so that I do not have to worry about replacing the power supply later on. You can say that the general power draw will decrease over time but in each individual case that is not going to be necessarily true. I just went from a system with a 65W CPU and a ATI 4670 to a 125W CPU and a 4870 OC using the same power supply. Had I bought the power supply that exactly fit my previous system I would now have to buy a new power supply. So in my case buying a larger power supply has been a great idea and will save me from spending another $70 this time around. Who knows, since its a 550W supply maybe it will last me another three years.

  • Black Jacque - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    >First, just because the trend is in one direction does not mean that >it is going to continue that way in the future. That is to say that >the past predicts the future which is simply not true.

    You are joking, right?">

    If you understand how the past can predict the future, its no surprise that AMD improved their process and shaved 30W off this part's (AMD Phenom™ II X4 945) power consumption after a bit more than 5-months of production. (BTW, this part costs US$1 more than its 125W sibling at ZZF.)

    Looking into my crystal ball, I predict ~3 GHz 65W quad CPUs by either AMD or Intel within a year.
  • haplo602 - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    each system has at least a 2x PCIex16 board, so the higher watt PSU is an "insurance" for future upgrades.

    anyway the builds are unbalanced in my view. they get away with far too cheap displays.

    my current planed build is 1:1 in components vs lcd cost. My total component cost is about 600 euro, the display will cost me around 500 euro :-)

    but I am more looking at photo editing than gaming.
  • Black Jacque - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    >so the higher watt PSU is an "insurance" for future upgrades.

    "The recent, excellent Xbit Labs article "PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?" clearly illustrates that 750W PSUs are a waste of money in the mid-range when not going with SLI or Crossfire. This article shows the trend in PC parts is downward in power consumption."

    I can't even accept the idea of adding a second GPU later when they get less expensive. The general trend is the next generation of GPU outperforms the previous generation in Crossfire or SLI at a lower price.
  • erple2 - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I suppose that's true. However, it's also true that the next generation of GPU also tends to consume more power than the previous generation. Normally, not 2x the power, but 20-50% more power isn't unheard of.

    Though, you're right. Buying a power supply strictly because it makes the PSU itself a little bit more future proof doesn't necessarily make that much sense. How often does the midrange buyer upgrade their systems? Every 2 years? 3 years? What's the reasonable lifetime of a PSU? 3 years? 5 years? Is it enough to last through a full upgrade cycle? If the answer is "yes", then it's certainly possible that buying a slightly higher end power supply can be worth it. You pay the extra 25 dollars now, but save 75 dollars for the next upgrade.

    Unless the next generation of chips use less power than the current gen, which I don't think is going to be the case (the only exception that I can think of in the x86 world was the move from Pentium 4 to Core2Duo), then buying a slightly larger power supply than necessary isn't necessarily a bad idea. Now, going with 750 Watts with a non-SLI, non-XFire setup does seem a bit silly.

    If you overclock, I don't know how that impacts the power consumption of the system, either. Maybe a study on that would be interesting?
  • erple2 - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    To be fair, the article also suggests that you can add a second graphics card for more performance at almost every step of the way.

    While it's true that 750W is substantially more than you'd need at these performance levels, please also see:">

    There's some (though not that much) more subtlety to the choice than just picking for max wattage.

    I suppose the argument could be made that you'd like to pick the PSU such that it's maximum efficiency is reached along where the system will spend the vast majority of it's time. The choice at the low end of the midrange seems spot on with 500-600W PSU's - they tend to reach their peak efficiencies in the 150-350W range, exactly where these lower midrange systems will consume from idle to maximum usage.
  • C'DaleRider - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    About the comment, "The Editors' Choice BFG Tech LS-550 power supply has been discontinued."

    You'd better tell BFG about this....they're still listing it on their website and, at least according to JG, product manager for BFG power supplies, they've just introduced a new updated LS-550.


    (Hint: just because Newegg doesn't stock it doesn't mean it has been discontinued.)
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    The current model that we tested and gave the Gold Editor's Choice award has been replaced with an updated model we have not tested. Newegg and others report the model we have tested has been discontinued.

    We often see "updated" power supplies performing very differently than the models they replace. Until we have some experience with the new LS-550 model we prefer to recommend power supply brands we know well like OCZ and Corsair.
  • Noya - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I bought the UD3p and a Q8200 off eBay last year when live cashback made it a steal. With the xigmatek s1283 I was able to hit 3.3ghz (475x7) without even pushing the temps. Then the blue screens started a few months's now at stock 2.33ghz and still has a random blue screen once a week or more. Why you ask? Cheap ass Crucial Ballistix (DDR2-800), the ones that had great reviews in a memory shootout last Nov/Dec here or Toms. Now I have 8gb's of shite memory and reading about 'lifetime warranty' replacements sounds like I'll have to RMA every 3-6 months :( Damn you appealing rebates! Reply
  • Summer - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    ... just THIS weekend $20 price increase! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - link

    And the $30 rebate on the 4890 recommended is not only 20, so it's $180 AFTER rebate, or $200 bucks plus shipping, plus the hassles with the paperwork.
    Good timing for again for red rooster fans - amazing.
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - link

    And the $20 rebate on the 4870 recommended is GONE - it's $150 now. Reply
  • Summer - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    BTW, great article. I thought the mentioning of stretching the mid-level budget to get an i7 was dead on. The 920 is easily within reach if you're already pushing money into a similarly priced Phenom 955. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I was really hoping NVIDIA would find a way to compete with ATI before the LGA-1156 + back to school sales start, but with $170 4890's it's not looking good.

    Hopefully they'll have at least one competitive product by Christmas - the lack of real choice in the GPU space is getting boring. :)
  • erple2 - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Right now, Gigabyte has a GTX275 available for 185 with a 20 dollar MIR. That's at least somewhat competitive with the 4890. only about 10-15% more expensive. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - link

    The idea that the 4870 or the 4890 beats the GTX275 is a FANTASY.
    If you're spending $700.00 to $1,600 dollars and a $15 difference on one of your most important components, the videocard, makes your mind up for you... well...
    NVidia often has 1 or TWO free games with it at the egg - while the red card far less often has just 1. There's another $50 - or $100, going with Nvidia - because of course with either card that makes it a GAMING system - and one would need some games.
    I wasn't surprised that EVERY CARD in EVERY SYSTEM recommended was the red rooster card - considering where we are.
  • Mirrorblade - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Hiya, for HDD choice you write
    "While there are differences between hard drives, outside of running benchmarks most people aren't likely to notice the difference in performance between Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung, Hitachi, and other major brands." -

    but for memory, you recommend an overclocking memory set, where you could easily save some money (and you don't even give an alternative "for the people that will never want to overclock at all).

    .. I don't see any point in advising only overclocking stuff. Sure one might want to overclock, but in this case you could add something as an alternativ, not recommend the OC stuff in general.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Even if you never overclock the low-voltage designs of the memory we recommend in the Guide will perform well and last a last time. You can certainly substitute lower cost and lower spec'ed memory if that better meets your needs.

    Search for a standard like DDR2-800 for the DDR2 systems and DDR3-1066 or 1333 for the Performance mid-range systems. Name brand memory with a real warranty is the better choice - even at the low end. If anything goes wrong quality memory suppliers will replace the bad memory quickly and many better companies offer a lifetime memory warranty.

    In comparing memory at the same price choose the one that has the tighter timings, like 5-5-5 instead of 7-7-7. At the same timings and price the one that is specified with the lower voltage is generally the better choice.
  • nafhan - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I think they recommended overclocking memory because they are recommending overclocking in general at this price point. Notice the processor and motherboard choices are geared towards overclocking as well. If you are definitely NOT going to overclock the value midrange, you could buy cheaper memory, motherboard, and (on the AMD side) a non-black edition CPU. You'd save about $100, and still have a fast, reliable system.
    It might be interesting if they listed a non-overclocking alternative for those parts (Mem, CPU, MB). Although, that may just push things down into the "budget" system range.
  • IlllI - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    can anyone tell me if the OCZ ModXStream Pro is better than the ENERMAX PRO82+"> ? they are both about the same price

  • The0ne - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I don't know about the enermax but I've researched before purchasing my OCZ 700W PS. Their lower wattage PS have good reviews except for this one but with the recent updates it's gotten better reviews. It was below average before. Sorry I don't have the link to the website that reviews PS.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if you're not really going to use the max wattage then I wouldn't worry about it. Also, it's best to know your system configuration and try to get a PS with some buffer wattage just in know like when it ages :)
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Today's price on the OCZ Modular 600W is $50 after a $20 rebate, or an initial cost of $70. The Enermax is a decent PSU, but current cost is $60 after a $50 rebate or an initial cost of $110.

    The OCZ slightly higher power rating, modular design, and 3-year warranty tilt the value toward the OCZ. Both units are 80 Plus certified, and OCZ has an excellent reputation for Customer Service.
  • C'DaleRider - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    That OCZ ModXStream isn't even in the same class as the Enermax Pro82+. Interior construction----the OCZ uses Chinese off-brand capacitors while the Enermax uses high quality name brand Japanese capacitors.

    Efficiency----not even a contest, the Enermax by a landslide.

    Voltage regulation and ripple/noise suppression----again, the Enermax trounces the OCZ.

    In all, the OCZ is a mediocre power supply that failed testing when subjected to temps above 40C. On the other hand, the Enermax is better constructed, more efficient, and flew through testing despite being subjected to temps in excess of 40C.

    You make the call.
  • jonup - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    First the Enermax comes with $50 MIR. Which is a turnoff for many.
    Second, I just bought OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W (it should ship today) and I did some reading before I bought it. Non of the reviews had an issue with the performance. It performed as rated or better with stable voltages.
    Third, for a midrange system it should be running in less then 400-450. At such output the OCZ if working 2 85-86% efficiency. I am not saying that it is better than the Enermax, but in worst case the OCZ will be behind 1-2% which is immaterial.
  • erple2 - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    My system (non-overclocked E6750, radeon 4890, 2 memory sticks etc) eats about 325 W at the wall when running at or near full tilt. Factoring in even the highest efficiency available for my PSU (85%), the system is using about 275W of power. I think that the midrange systems listed here (particularly the lower midrange ones) will be chewing through about 300W at full tilt. So I think that the 600W psu should be more than enough.

    Yes, you can play games with specific efficiencies at specific wattages, but for that you're going to need to see the charts to make that fine-tuned an estimate. But, most power supplies that I've seen reviews for hit max efficiencies between 30 and 60% utilization.

    Also, does that extra few percentage of watts make that much of a difference? I dunno. Turn off a light instead. That will save you more power.
  • JonnyDough - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I had no idea AMD had 45nm parts. Partly because I'm broke, partly because I've been really busy with life and work and was taking an interest in worthless women instead of keeping up on important stuff like tech I can't afford - and that was partly because I was getting tired of computer component naming schemes. I wonder when we'll be getting the Athlon XP II X3. I just hope it says "Super Mach Turbo Shizam!" on the decal that comes with it so I know it's really fast. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Just FYI, as is often the case several items listed in the original guide have gone out of stock at one vendor, so I have changed the links to another vendor with a similar price. You may find minor differences (less than $10) and no updates have been made to the text, but the original math at least works out. :-)

    --Jarred Walton
  • Regs - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Under Intel Value system your have the case linked to a blue-ray rom. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Reply
  • jonup - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Jarred, Microcenter carries CPUs at very discounted prices (unlike most other stuff). They had the Q9550 for $169+tax which is close to the price of your e8400. And their i920 is $199 + tax. I am not questioning the choice of processor, just suggestion to squeez an extra buck out of the build.
  • bigboxes - Saturday, August 01, 2009 - link

    Just wanted to say thanks for the heads up. My mobo, which is almost 3 years old, wouldn't post after I returned home after a week away on business. So, being the tech guy I am decided to finally build a new machine. After five AMD boxes I have finally returned to the dark side. There's just no equivalent in the performance range. I got the i7 920 for $216 ($199 + tax) from the Microcenter here in North Dallas. I will be getting the rest of the parts in the next couple of weeks. The cpu was $280 at newegg and @$200 I just couldn't pass up the deal. Reply
  • Nfarce - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    "They had the Q9550 for $169+tax which is close to the price of your e8400. And their i920 is $199 + tax."

    They still do actually.">">

    These prices are good for the entire month of July, so if you were ever debating on getting one of these, now is the time.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Problem is, they're in-store-only offers, which means you need a Microcenter in the area. There are plenty of readers that don't have that option, but if you do Microcenter's deals on CPUs are always worth a look. Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    They are always in-store. Most people can't get them because MicroCenter B&M is very few and far between. Heck there's only one I know of here in Southern CA and it's about a 2 hour drive to get there! :) Reply
  • jonup - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - link

    I can say the same for Fry's. We do not have any in Michigan and shipping usually spoils the deal. Reply
  • jonup - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I must have overlooked that. I thought you could order them online. Anyways, I have a store couple miles away from my house and I have my eye on the q9550. :) Reply

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