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 - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - link

    The problem with quality 500-550w power supplies is that the ones I know about actually cost more than the 650W Corsair we recommended in this Guide. The Corsair is a superb 80 Certified PS that will do the job well for you and cost about $80.

    I did find a new Tuniq Potency 550PS that is $40 after a $40 rebate with an initial cost of $80. You can link to it at newegg at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8.... It is a new PS we have not yet tested, but we generally trust the Tuniq brand and this PS is 80 Certified for your protection.

    Seasonic and hec both have excellent reputations among Power Supplies and they all make many Power Supplies sold under other premium names.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - link

    Well I'm going to be your guinea pig, I couldn't pass up the cheap price. I currently have an Antec Neopower480w from my last build (4 years ago?), which while good (and modular which I loved) surely can't be as efficient or hopefully as stable as the Potency. Let's hope the 500-550w roundup includes the Tuniq Potency 550PS Reply
  • Charger71 - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    So the latest and fastest AMD chips are midrange? What would high end be? dual socket?

    I don't agree with these builds for midrange. But I understand how they fit in your 1-2k price range. Great performing parts are cheaper now days, like I think you mentioned. You really need to adjust your definition of midrange because your selections leave a large bucket of "low-end" parts out there, which doesn't make sense to me.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - link

    High-End is definitely Core i7. We barely managed to build a complete balanced $2000 system with the lowest cost Core i7 920 that sells for $295. There are two i7 processors above that at $600 to $1000.

    For systems below $1000 you can check out our Guide from two weeks ago at http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=348...">http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=348....
    Reply
  • shinpickle - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    if you are just making recipes from newegg without building anything??? nothing wrong with that, but you should explicitly state such, if would I build a system from your picks only to find there's a known incompatibility issue you missed, expect some hate-mail.

    without building you really have no proof of the performance per dollar, these articles are very different from most anand articles based on lab research.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    We really do need an edit function here. I meant the i7/Gigabyte combo has been in our labs. The Foxconn used with the Phenom II 920 has also been in our labs for quite a while, as has the Asus motherboard used with the Phenom II 940.

    Believe me when I tell you Gary and Anand scream loudly if we plan to suggest a motherboard they know has been problematic. Those recommendations don't make it to the web page.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    As you should have figured out from the article description the AnandTech staff has actually used and tested most of the components in the system. EACH Editor has input on what is selected in the guides.

    If I question the initial selections, or we have major shifts like the Phenom II launch, I talk with the Editor affected to make sure the changes correspond to their experience with those components or if their recommendation shave changed. We definitely have experience with all the major components in the system, including all motherboards.

    We have also built systems that are similar, but not exactly the same, as most of these configurations. With Phenom II launched last Thursday Editors have worked with the recommended motherboards in the Phenom II systems, but that was with a 940. We don't have direct experience with the 920 on these boards, but we have no reason to expect it would behave differently than the 940 on these boards. The i7/Foxconn has been in the motherboard lab for quite a while, as has the Core 2 Duo/Gigabyte configuration.
    Reply
  • Zorblack1 - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    I'm sorry this is silly. If Nvidia was to release a new "highest performing" video card tomorrow that gave the same performance as a 2 year old ATI video card with worse performance/clock cycle everybody would be dooming Nvidia and bashing the company. Reply
  • nubie - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    I would quit complaining if I were you, becuase if AMD remains uncompetitive then Intel processors would cost twice what they do now.

    Phenom I was a good processor for servers, Phenom II is a much better processor, and is finally a recommendation for mid-range and entry-level builds again.

    Performance/clock isn't a good metric when determining performance/cost.

    I am not necessarily going to purchase an AMD over a Q6600 clocked at 3.2Ghz, but I might if the performance is better.
    Reply
  • nubie - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    dammit, because ^^ Reply

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