Intel Value Midrange

Intel owns the very top in CPU performance with their Core i7, but the Phenom II has made AMD competitive through the upper midrange. That means that midrange is an area where you can now choose Intel or AMD based on the unique features of each platform or expansion capabilities, rather than one brand dominating performance. Since Phenom II is built on a 45nm process, even overclocking capabilities are now competitive with Intel with Phenom II.

The Intel value midrange system builds around a fast Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. For most applications and gaming a faster dual-core CPU is normally a better performance choice that 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, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

Intel Value Midrange PC
Hardware Component Price
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 65W 45nm
(3.0GHzx2, 6MB L2)
Cooling Intel Retail HSF -
Video PowerColor AX4850 Radeon HD 4850 512MB (after $10 Rebate) $120
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P (after $20 Rebate) $115
Memory 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2-1066 Corsair Twin2X4096-8500C5 5-5-5-15 (after $20 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 -
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 $763
Display Acer X233Hbid 23" 5ms HDMI Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor (1920x1080) $190
Speakers Logitech X-540 70W 5.1 Speakers - 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
Complete System Bottom Line $1147

The CPU choice is one of the fastest Core 2 Duo chips with 6MB of L2 cache on the market. The E8400 at 3.00GHz is just two steps below the fastest Core 2 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 E8400 has been matched with components that are also excellent choices for overclocking. The E8400 is plenty fast on its own, but if overclocking interests you this Intel setup will be ready for action - and ready to overclock to wherever your particular E8400 can go.

The big brother to the UD3R selected in our under $800 guide is the $135 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. You can currently save a few bucks with a $20 mail-in rebate. 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 E8400 or an alternate quad-core Q8200 (2.33GHz 2x3MB L2).

The stock Intel cooler is adequate for modestly overclocking a Core 2 Duo. Better cooling is needed to push the CPU to its capabilities, or if your CPU choice is an Intel quad-core you plan to overclock. 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 head-room was chosen. With the current Corsair rebates some of their best memory is available at truly bargain prices. The choice for the Intel system is a Corsair 4GB DDR2-1066 (PC2-8500) kit. The Corsair Twin X kit specifies fast 5-5-5 timings at DDR2-1066, which is an impressive spec even if you never overclock. Value is good at the normal $59, but with the current $20 rebate the price is a very easy-on-the-budget $39.

Index Value Midrange Common Components


View All Comments

  • garbageacc3 - Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - link

    retard, that was my GPU score, not VANTAGE score. learn to read.

    and offical vantage score = physx OFF

    where on earth do you get that 4870 512 > 260gtx 216 ?

    only retards think that.

    260 gtx 216 = 4870 1gb

    each wins at some games

    my 260 is clocked at 810/1620/1323. i'd like to see his wimpy ass 4870 512 beat it in any game (@1080p res which i game at)
  • mesiah - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    Dude you are pathetic. All the guy said was he wishes he waited to build his system but he is still happy with it and it is still plenty fast for him. Then you come in flexing your E-peen talking smack about his component choices and how your computer would crush his because you ran some benchmarks and think you are the sh!t. Give it a break, nobody cares are your piece of junk 260 gtx or your benchmark scores. there are plenty of better ones out there. So, 2 things.

    1.) In a mid-range computer build its not about having the fastest thing in town, its about having a computer that does everything you want it to smoothly, and still not breaking the bank.

    2.) Normally when people get so excited by their computers that they feel the need to touch themselves, its because of whats on the screen, not whats in the box. So put it back in your pants romeo.
  • Sunsmasher - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    Great comeback!
  • ifkopifko - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    Maybe... you should get some help, man... Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - link

    I like his system as well. He picked a great motherboard. Not to pricey but not the cheap P5Q with the cheezy heatsinks. Reply
  • Depeche - Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - link

    I personally like his rig. Don't you have anything better to do that criticize people? Reply
  • Depeche - Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - link

    That's a (than) not a that.

    Correction: I personally like his rig. Don't you have anything better to do than criticize people?

    Wish I didn't say that though :O
  • garbageacc3 - Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - link

    i don't mind crappy spelling or crappy grammar, but one thing i do care about is syntax.


    I personally like his rig. Don't you have anything better to do than to criticize people?
  • chrnochime - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    And I'm sure few if any care about what you have either.
    Does that make you feel better? LOL
  • chrnochime - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    BTW, my comment was in response to garbageacc3. Reply

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