Intel Value Midrange

While Intel still owns the very top in CPU performance, the Phenom II has made AMD competitive in the upper midrange to the low high-end. As higher speeds are introduced for Phenom II, that CPU parity will likely move up the CPU scale. That means that midrange to low high-end is now also an area where you can choose Intel or AMD based on the unique features of each platform or expansion capabilities, rather than one brand dominating performance.

The Intel Value Midrange is built around a fast Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. For most applications and gaming, a faster Core 2 Duo is normally a better performance choice than a slower quad-core. CPU intensive applications like video manipulation do benefit from a quad-core CPU, which should be your choice if those applications are important to you. A few recent games are finally taking advantage of quad-core as well.

Intel Value Midrange PC
Hardware Component Price
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale
(3.16GHzx2, 6MB L2)
$188
Cooling XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler $37
Video SAPPHIRE 100259-1GB Radeon HD 4870 1GB $230
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P $137
Memory OCZ Reaper 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2-1066 Dual Channel Kit, $46
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000333AS 1TB $110
Optical Drive LG BD/HD DVD / 16x DVD+/- RW GGC-H20LK $99
Audio Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI $50
Case COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP ATX Mid Tower $80
Power Supply PC Power & Cooling S75CF 750W SLI CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified $80
Display Acer H213H bmid Black 21.5" 5ms HDMI Widescreen 16:9 Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor (1920x1080) $199
Speakers Logitech X-540 70 watts 5.1 Speaker - Retail $79
Input Microsoft CA9-00001 Black PS/2 Standard Keyboard and Optical USB/PS2 Mouse - OEM $16
Operating System Microsoft Vista Home Premium OEM $99
Bottom Line   $1450

The CPU is one of the fastest Core 2 Duo chips on the market. The E8500 at 3.16GHz is just one step below the fastest Core 2 Duo E8600 which clocks at 3.33GHz. It also overclocks exceptionally well, reaching 4GHz and even higher with relative ease. Because of this OC ability and the value goal of this system build, the E8500 has been matched with components that are also excellent choices for overclocking. The E8500 is plenty fast on its own, but if overclocking interests you this Intel Value Midrange will be ready for action - and ready to overclock to wherever your particular E8500 can go.

The big brother to the UD3R selected in our under $1000 guide is the $137 Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P that has a similar feature set but adds a second x16 slot (in place of a PCI slot) for dual x8 CrossFire operation. The board provides an excellent overclocking platform along with great stability. If the second x16 slot is not important to you, we suggest sticking with the UD3R. This P45 chipset motherboard has earned its reputation as a sterling overclocker, while also maintaining excellent stability. It is a good match to the selected Core 2 Duo E8500 or an alternate quad-core Q8200 (2.33GHz).

While the stock Intel cooler is adequate for modestly overclocking a Core 2 Duo, better cooling is needed to push the CPU to its limits. The Xigmatek HDT-D1283 120mm Rifle Cooler did very well in our cooling tests and it is a good match to the E8500. OCZ also markets a similar 120 Rifle cooler and either should work well in this system.

For this Value Midrange system, faster memory with more overclocking headroom was chosen. With the current OCZ rebates some of their best memory is available at truly bargain prices. The choice for the Intel system is an OCZ Reaper 4GB DDR2-1066 (PC28500) kit. With attached heatspreaders and the unique Reaper heatpipes and external heatsink, this 4GB kit is ready for overclocking. The base specs of DDR2-1066 at 5-5-5-18 are also impressive even if you never overclock. Value is good at the normal $76, but with the current $30 rebate the price is an easy-on-the-budget $46.

Index Value Midrange Common Components
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  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, January 17, 2009 - link

    There have been several articles ar AnandTech evaluating the effectiveness of SSDs. The biggest issue in adding an SSD to a System Guide recommendation is the state of Windows Vista, which does not really support SSDs as they need to be supported.

    Windows 7 DOES support SSD technology. With the release of that OS we will all be even more excited about the capability of Solid State Drives. Until then it is diffiuclt to recommend an SSD in a typical entry or mid-range build.

    However, the prices of capable SSD drives are dropping fast. There are several current generation 64GB SSD drives selling for less than $150 and a large number of 16GB SSDs for under $100. At those prices it is hard to ignore the potential of the SSD to improve system performance.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 15, 2009 - link

    An SSD with the 1TB drive is certainly an option worth considering. It is fairly easy to add that SSD to any of these system builds and the cost is much lower today with memory chips selling for bargain prices. We will talk a bit more about SSD options in a future System Buyers Guide. Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    Fail to see why when I add up all the Intel Performance Midrange, I get $2024 and not $1999 Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    The Gigabyte motherboard price reduction and rebate we were expecting have now kicked in, reducing the Gigabyte 1366 motherboard cost from $210 to $200 and $185 after $15 rebate. That change makes the total system price $1999, so we have revised both the Motherboard price and grand total price. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    There were many last minute changes to the guides and prices as the prices are very fluid. Our web editor checked prices when he posted and I made some final corrections and checked totals in Excel. One of the changes was overlooked on the system you mentioned. Your $2024 total is correct and the total has been changed. Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, January 15, 2009 - link

    Ahh okay. I understand that prices change as this system will be 3/4 the price 7 months from now. Just wanted to let you know that the total should still add up. Can't wait to see what will happen with the Intel/Jmicron SSD market. Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    You know, I'd really like to see a followup article here with benchmarks of these systems against the best intel has to offer. Not overclocked mind you .. just stock straight on performance difference. It would give people a very good idea of what their spending their money on and the differences those dollars make. For kicks throwing in last years Midrange system would be nice to.

    Just a thought. Hopefully it's taken under consideration.



    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    Grr didn't have it all typed out before I hit the post button. The thing is .. You have these buyer guides right? The logical next step would be to test them and give people a idea of what their buying. One would think since these items do make it into your buyers guide then perhaps the manufactuer's would be generous enough to supply the parts for the test(s) since they would be in the spotlight and all. :)

    Please consider it. If not now then for future buyer guide articles. I know it's alot of work and all but it's a logical next step to a fuller more complete article.

    Thanks for reading both comments.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    While possibly not practical (sounds like the Anand team is quite spread out around the world), it would be very helpful to see what you are mentioning. Putting a real world head to head comparison would show exactly what price premium is put on the systems, which would allow us system builders to justify an upgrade or feel better about saving some money with a lesser part.

    I'm just willing to bet all the parts aren't in the same room just waiting to be pieced together...
    Reply
  • v12v12 - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - link

    As a current Intel fan, and soon to be Intel Upgrader: Typing on a Turion X2, and gaming on an OLD ass XP2500@2.41.... THANK GOD for AMD's new awakening. A hand out of the grave, reaching for something to pull itself from Hades!

    Though AMD isn't quite "competitive" in reality, it's a damn good start and gives me HOPE for CHEAP PRICES!!! The better AMD does, the BETTER for ALL of us! It's hard rooting for the "loser," but when that loser is going to strike a blow to Goliath and cause another potential price war? COME ON DOWN!!! You're a contestant on the PRICE IS RIGHT!!!
    Reply

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