AMD Value Midrange
The AMD value midrange system is built around the new Phenom II 720BE 2.8GHz triple-core CPU. The 720BE is a Black Edition processor, which means it has an unlocked multiplier and can be easily overclocked if you choose. The Phenom II offers better raw performance than the older AMD processors and much better overclocking. In fact, with prices as low as $125 for a Phenom II we can no longer recommend anything less than a Phenom II for a midrange AMD system. As has been stated many times at AnandTech, the Phenom II performance matches Intel performance through the midrange. Unless you are looking for a top-performing and top-priced Core i7 system, you can choose Intel or AMD based on price and features.
|AMD Value Midrange PC|
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE
(2.8GHzx3, 3x512KB L2, 6MB L3 Cache)
|Cooling||AMD Retail HSF||-|
|Video||Gigabyte GV-R485ZL-512H Radeon HD 4850 512MB (After $20 Rebate)||$120|
|Motherboard||Biostar TForce TA790GX A2+ (after $10 Rebate)||$95|
|Memory||4GB (2x2GB) DDR2-1066 Patriot Extreme Performance PDC24G8500ELKR2 5-5-5-15 (after $25 Rebate)||$39|
|Hard Drive||Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000333AS 1TB||$90|
|Optical Drive||LG BD/HD DVD / 16x DVD+/- RW GGC-H20LK||$99|
|Audio||On-Board 8-channel HD Audio||-|
|Case||Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower||$55|
|Power Supply||BFG Tech LS Series LS-550 550W SLI/CrossFire 80 PLUS Certified||$80|
|Base System Total||$723|
|Display||Acer X233Hbid 23" 5ms HDMI Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor (1920x1080)||$190|
|Speakers||Creative Inspire T6100 76W 5.1 Speakers||$80|
|Input||Microsoft CA9-00001 Black PS/2 Standard Keyboard and Optical USB/PS2 Mouse - OEM||$16|
|Operating System||Microsoft Vista Home Premium OEM||$99|
|Complete System Bottom Line||$1108|
The Phenom II 720BE is one step up from the lowest priced Phenom II 710 CPU. The 710 is also an option at just $125, but the extra $20 for the 720BE buys you lot. For just $145 you get an unlocked multiplier, three cores each with 512KB of L2 cache, and the same 6MB L3 cache used in the X4 Phenom II processors. Rated speed is 2.8GHz, which basically makes this an unlocked 920 with a disabled core. In bench testing we easily reached 3.8GHz, about the same as the most expensive 940BE Phenom II, and you will only miss that fourth core in the few applications that actually take advantage of parallel processing. All in all the 720BE is a value buyers dream CPU.
To continue the value theme we have used the AMD stock retail HSF with the Phenom II 720BE. It is perfectly adequate for stock operation and modest overclocking, but if you plan to heavily overclock you should choose a heavy duty cooler like the Tuniq Tower 120. The Tuniq can move a lot of air and it is superb at dropping temperatures in ambitious overclocks. It has been on sale recently for as little as $45, but the best price we could find today was $54.
The Biostar TForce TA790GX A2+ motherboard is a perfect match for the Phenom II 720BE. Those looking to squeeze as much performance out of their money as possible will be very pleased with the Biostar. The board is loaded with overclocking features and it even features integrated AMD HD 3300 graphics with an HDMI/DVI interface and 1080P support. This means very decent performance using the onboard graphics if you need to save the cost of a video card, or upgrade to a video card at a later date. Biostar offers both AM2+ and AM3 CPU support for processors like the Phenom II 720BE when used with cheaper DDR2 memory. Biostar includes 128MB DDR2 sideport memory for improved GPU performance, Realtek ALC 888 HD Audio codec, Gigabit LAN, 16GB memory support, six 3Gb/s ports capable of RAID 0/1/10/5, 10 USB ports, two PCI-E x16 slots (dual x8 CF), two PCI-E x1 slots, and two PCI slots. The BIOS caters to the casual overclocker and this board performs very well in a variety of tests. Performance is similar to the 790FX, though our motherboard editor still recommends the older FX chipset when you are trying to squeeze the very last bit of performance from your Phenom II.
Memory could be the same Corsair choice as the Intel value midrange, but another potential 4GB kit is featured in the AMD system build. The 4GB Patriot Viper PVS24G8500ELKN provides solid DDR2-1066 performance at 5-5-5-15 timings at DDR2-1066. With the current $25 rebate the final price is just $39.
The rest of the component selections are shared between the Intel and AMD value midrange systems. You can find more information on these component choices on page 3, which details the common system components.
Comparing our $1150 systems, we find that performance is a tossup between the AMD and Intel systems. It has been a long time since we could say this about a midrange system, and it is very good for all of us that Phenom II is competitive with Intel midrange. However, just as AMD finally competes in 45nm midrange space Intel is ready to soon move to an even smaller die size. Still, no matter how long or short the parity, the Phenom II competition is good for all buyers.
With the prices of computer components generally trending down, both our AMD and Intel value midrange system builds give you room to grow. This gives you some room to customize some of the components to your liking - such as a keyboard or laser gaming mouse, updated graphics or an even larger monitor.