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
Hardware Component Price
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.

Value Midrange Common Components Intel Performance Midrange


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  • jmvillafana - Tuesday, April 14, 2009 - link

    The article is excelent. Still if you could run benchmarks with the presented systems we could compare what $1,800 Vs $800 provide.
  • Googer - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    I must disagree with your selection of Seagate 7200.11 drives after all the problems they have had with failure reminiscent of the IBM Deskstar (deathstar) 75GXP days. Instead, I'd advise users to go with a WD Velociraptor or WD Black edition or a Nice SSD. Reply
  • Leyawiin - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    I haven't done a ground up build in years. There's always something you can recycle from a previous build if you do this regularly. I was pricing an i7 940 build with a 300GB Velociraptor, 4GB of DDR3 2000, X58 mobo, Coolermaster V8 HS/fan and a GTX 285. Very strong system and using the still good Cooler Master case, X-Fi sound card, DVD drive and case fans it will be less than $1,700. I might be able to pare it down further. Reply
  • Leyawiin - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    Oh and please can the "this is useless unless you live in the US" crap. They can't cover all the international pricing variances - the guides can at least be used as a starting point in your overpriced, uncompetitive locales. Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Friday, April 10, 2009 - link

    Buyers Guide. Buyers. not -USA- Buyers Guide, or System builders guide. so, yes, is kinda useless 2 me.

    also, the "Intel Value" config is total crap. stock cooler? XD here, nubcake...


    XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler $36.99


    Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 $119.99 > @ 3.4 GHZ (FASTER + lower temps, noise, price)

    also just one hdd? then that mobo is an overkill

    3) g31 mobo (ASUS P5KPL-AM) just $37.50 ! thats value (GREAT MOBO, in mot kiding, rock solid, ocs like mad, great sound)

    4) GTX 260 896MB for $159.99 + a real psu not that pos

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    >>>>>>>>>><< anand "tech"

  • papapapapapapapababy - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    useless guide unless you live in the usa. ( im sorry 4 you)
    btw, this is why i always laugh at those American console users, "but the 10.000 computer" " comfy couch" " consoles offer more value" type of guys. they just fail to realize that consoles are super overpriced retro garbage compared to ANY pc . Yes, total garbage, example? console cpu: even a dino like a amd64 3000, or hell even a slow ass barton xp is faster that the " xbox triple core" or the potato of " cell".
  • edgardavids - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    Why do you suggest DDR2-1066 for mid range AMD system? The board can support DDR2-1066 with AM2+ CPU only, X3 720 is a AM3 processor. Is it considered a waste to invest on DDR2-1066? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 09, 2009 - link

    See above: AM3 CPUs work with DDR2, and performance wise there's not a huge difference between DDR2 and DDR3 AMD systems. DDR3 is slightly more expensive, but you also need a DDR3 motherboard. Ultimately, the AM2+ boards seem to offer a nice balance of price, performance, and features - whether you use an AM2 or an AM3 CPU. Reply
  • taruncharles - Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - link


    Nice article once gain. I am planning on using the same kinda rig for my mid-range value PC.

    In the mid-range value setup, you have used DDR2 1066 with Biostar TA790GX 128M. But, I noticed that the specifications for this motherboard say that it supports DDR2 1066 only for AM2+ CPUs. Whereas the CPU in your setup is AM3..
    Will this work properly here. Or should I be using 800Mhz DDR2 with X3 720 and Biostar TA790GX 128M?..


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