Phenom II Budget

Our aim in the Phenom II budget system is to provide a configuration that allows for a nice balance of performance at stock speeds. This doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money though, as Phenom II prices start at $120 now that the competitive dust has settled. In addition, other component prices have dropped in the past six months and performance for the dollar has definitely increased.

The budget build is around $750 complete with a 1080p LCD Monitor, speakers, Vista Home Premium OS (OEM), and a mouse and keyboard. The basic box is just over $400 with a case and Gold Editors' Choice 550W PSU. If you are pinching pennies, you can go with a name brand case/power supply combo and get the basic Phenom II box below $400. The assembled system is balanced for a wide variety of computing tasks, but final tweaks can tilt it toward gaming and graphics for example, if that is what you aim for.

Generally we consider PC gaming rigs to begin at the next price category (i.e. the low end of midrange), but adding a decent graphics card will definitely make the Phenom II budget system, built around the AMD Phenom II X3 710, a good choice for entry gaming at around $850. Just add the $100 Radeon 4850 from the value systems on the next page.

AMD Phenom II Budget PC
Hardware Component Price
Processor AMD Phenom II X3 710
(2.6GHz x3, 3x512KB L2, 6MB L3 Cache)
$119
Cooling CPU Retail HSF -
Video On-Board -
Motherboard ASRock A790GXH/128M AM2+ $95
Memory OCZ Reaper 4GB DDR2-1066 OCZ2F10664GK ($61 with $25 rebate) $36
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 7200RPM 16MB Cache 500GB $60
Optical Drive Samsung 22X DVDRW/DL SH-S202G $25
Audio On-Board -
Case Cooler Master Elite 330 RC-330-KKN1-GP Mid Tower $40
Power Supply BFG Tech LS Series LS-550 550W SLI Certified, CrossFire Ready, 80 PLUS Certified (After $20 Rebate) $60
Base System Total $435
Display ViewSonic VX2233wm Black 21.5" 5ms Widescreen 16:9 LCD (1920x1080) $180
Speakers Logitech S-220 17W RMS 2.1 Multimedia Speaker $24
Input Microsoft CA9-00001 Black PS/2 Standard Keyboard and Optical USB/PS2 Mouse - OEM $17
Operating System Microsoft Vista Home Premium OEM $99
Complete System Bottom Line $755

The Phenom II x3 710 is the least expensive Phenom II you can buy, but it is still a tri-core design clocked at 2.6GHz with the same L1/L2/L3 cache as the more expensive Phenom II designs. The 710 provides plenty of power at stock speeds, but if you want more the 45nm Phenom II processors overclock very well. If you want a bit more performance, overclocking the 710 should be fine, but if you want to seriously explore overclocking you can spend $20 more for the 720BE that has an unlocked multiplier.

We've paired the Phenom II 710 with the ASRock 790GXH/128M AM2+, a perfect match for those looking to squeeze as much performance out of their money as possible. The ASRock is loaded with overclocking features and includes integrated AMD HD 3300 graphics with an HDMI/DVI interface and 1080p support. This means very decent performance using the onboard graphics. This ASRock board offers both AM2+ and AM3 CPU support for processors like the Phenom II 710 when used with cheaper DDR2 memory. ASRock includes 128MB DDR2 sideport memory for improved GPU performance, VIA VT1708S 7.1 Audio codec, Gigabit LAN, 16GB memory support, six 3Gb/s SATA ports capable of RAID 0/1/10/5, a PATA port, 10 USB ports, two PCI-E x16 slots (dual x8 CF), one 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.

We've chosen OCZ Reaper 4GB DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) in a 4GB kit for just $36 after a $25 rebate. This is a great value in DDR2-1066 memory from a top memory supplier. The extra 1066 speed combined with the fast 5-5-5 timings lets you run your memory at a faster speed or provide reserves for overclocking the CPU. OCZ is a great memory choice, but there are many memory options at great prices today. Quality DDR2-800 and DDR2-1066 RAM from Corsair, OCZ, G.Skill, Mushkin, Patriot, and GeIL are available at any of the major online retailers. Just be sure to look for RAM with better timings if you can afford it.

The hard drive is a 500GB Seagate Barracuda at just $59. If you'd prefer a larger drive you can substitute a 1TB Seagate for just $85 - only $25 more for twice the capacity. The DVD burner is a dependable Samsung 22X often chosen for budget builds. If you want alternatives, as always you can look to the other builds for larger drives and Blu-ray support.

The case/PS is the Cooler Master Elite 330 and our AnandTech Gold Editors' Choice BFG Tech LS Series LS-550 550W power supply. The BFG currently has a $20 rebate that reduces the final cost to $60. The BFG is a great power supply, but you could save a few dollars here with an OCZ, Corsair, or PC Power & Cooling PSU, which are often on rebate in recent months. It all depends on the timing of your system purchase.

The LCD display was an easy choice with the full HD Viewsonic 16:9 widescreen for just $180. A 21.5" monitor with 1920x1080 resolution with a 3-year warranty from a major monitor maker is certainly a good value. If you prefer a larger screen, you can find a 23" widescreen starting at $190, though most 24" are $250 or more. If you need to save a few dollars a lower resolution 19" or 20" would do.

If you want more video power for gaming you can add an ATI HD 4830 for just $75-$90. This will get you into gaming and it is a terrific value at this price according to our Graphics Editor. He recommends the Radeon HD 4850 as the start of true HD gaming starting at just $100 after current rebates, or a Radeon HD 4870 512MB which you can find for as little as $155. Any of these three cards would still keep your total well below $1000.  Even with the addition of the powerful 4870 512MB the complete system price would be just $910.

Index Phenom II Value
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  • The Sly Syl - Monday, April 27, 2009 - link

    I'm using the Xigmatek Dark Knight on my FoxConn A7DA-S motherboard with 4 sticks of ram. They all fit fine, Even the Reaper memory with the overly large cooler would fit into 3 of the slots, its only the slot closest to the CPU that might have clearance issues.

    The lower end of the fins are considerably higher than I'd imagine any regular sized stick of ram would ever have to worry about.
    Reply
  • Hamlet2000 - Monday, April 27, 2009 - link

    I ordered the OCZ Platinum 4GB just in case - the last thing I want to deal with is memory that doesn't play nice with my heatsink when I'd rather just enjoy my new build.

    Here's what I purchased:

    AMD Phenom II X4 955 $245
    GIGABYTE GA-MA790XT-UD4P $125 after rebate
    -$20 New Egg combo(CPU/mobo)
    OCZ Platinum 2x2GB DDR3 1333 7-7-7-20 $59
    Western Digital Caviar Black 640MB $75
    XIGMATEK Dark Knight $39

    At the end of the day I'll pay $530 with shipping. I'll use my old case, graphics card, sound card, monitor, etc. Not bad for a top of the line AMD CPU, AM3 mobo with DDR3 memory. And since most of the time the computer is used for gaming, AMD Phenom is a no brainer for price/performance.

    Below is my current build so as you can see it has been a few years - looking forward to today's modern speed.

    Now if only Windows 7 was available today!
    Reply
  • Hamlet2000 - Sunday, April 26, 2009 - link

    Oops I didn't mention the board I was looking at, which is the Gigabyte 790XT, which is what was this site recommended. So if the CPU cooler is in the way of the memory perhaps anandtech needs a new recommended memory module (I'm assuming without looking it up that the Gigabyte 790XT prefers the memory in slots closest to the CPU). Reply
  • tshen83 - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - link

    Two of the top three articles are pumping the Phenom IIs as if anyone with a BRAIN would buy one.

    Seriously? You are recommending the Phenom IIs with "In WIN" Power supplies and Seagate hard drives?

    Why not rename Anandtech.com to PayAnandToAdvertiseJunkTech.com?

    For a value system, I don't see anything that will beat either the Xeon W3520(i7 920) for single socket system or Dual Xeon E5504s on Asus Z8NA-D6C. Ditch the seagate and get the Western Digital Caviar Black, and ditch the "inwin" for an antec or PC power and cooling 750W. Ditch the freaking Radeon for a Geforce GTX275.
    Reply
  • AlexWade - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - link

    Question: How long have you been on Intel's payroll? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - link

    The two articles also clearly said you should buy an Intel Core i7 if you have $290 or more to spend on a CPU. If you want to spend less on a rig then the articles recommend you buy a Phenom II.

    We also chose the WD 1TB for the Performance rig with a discussion of the issues with the early Seagate and the advice to choose the WD at $105 or the Seagate at $85. As for the nVidia 275 it is $30 more than the 4890. We also like to use AMD GPUs with AMD chipsets and processors if it makes sense - all else being equal.

    Did anyone pay you to post your accusations here? We hear that one of your recommended brands has paid staff whose primary job is to make accusatory comments that question the integrity of websites that recommend anything other than their brand. Since you always have something accusatory and blatantly nasty to say about every review lately we have to wonder. Our integrity is beyond reproach - can you say the same?
    Reply
  • C'DaleRider - Sunday, April 26, 2009 - link

    I guess since I am graced with having a MicroCenter close enough to make shopping there a viable option, I don't have to put up with the Newegg price gouge on Core i7 920 cpus and can buy them for $230, and even get the luxury of having a B&M store to do instant and easy returns for items, instead of the typical 2 week ship-return-reship boogie you have to play with Newegg.

    Given that a Core i7 930 is $230, which undercuts the Phenom II 955, I'd think that in this particular instance the Core i7 becomes the better value and buy.....esp. if buying either the Phenom II or Core i7 would require buying new mb and memory. I'd honestly rather invest the $$ in my wallet in an architecture that has a distinct performance advantage and a longer longevity outlook with the Socket 1366.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, April 26, 2009 - link

    Best price I can find on a Core i7 920 is http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=I7-920&ref...">$266 at eWiz, which is quite a bit more than $230. Not sure how MicroCenter is supposed to be so great... their online site doesn't even list Core i7 CPUs that I can see. Perhaps the pricing is for employees only? Reply
  • tshen83 - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - link

    Hey, I can guarantee you that intel doesn't pay me to spread fud. Their CPUs deserve to be praised for technical leadership. I know my comments are usually negative, but ask yourself this question: did you guys deserve it? Anandtech isn't the same when anandtech got started , everyone knows it. Pumping inferior technology makes you look stupid that is all. Anyone recommending AMD platform right now over the nehalems has to really look deep into their heart and see if their intentions are honorable. Europeans are overly AMD biased because of Dresden fab.

    Right now AMD's business practice is dishonorable at best. Look at the way they flush their broken CPUs down consumers' throats. No, the phenom 2 955 is not that impressive: their uncore imc clockspeed is still castrated compared to their opteron line, and Istanbul will only exacerbate the problem.

    Why don't you do some real reviews, like how much ass the xeon e5504 e5520 and l5520 kicks over anything amd has on a performance per watt per dollar metric? Even in the consumer space, phenom 955 just barely caught up with 95w q8200 and it is only 100 dollars at microcenter.
    Reply
  • Proteusza - Monday, April 27, 2009 - link

    So I go to this page http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...

    And I look at the graph. 3.2 Ghz Core i7 = 87 FPS. 3.2GHz Phenom II = 86.4

    So, tell me why I would spend a few hundred dollars more to get 0.6FPS increase? Oh, I know why, its because you are paid by Intel to recommend them, to cause trouble. But one problem though - since you post in such an offensive and obviously trolling manner, your posts generally do the opposite of what you intend. People look at them and think, "Man whatever that guy is recommending, I'm having NONE of it, look how angry he is"

    Besides, if Anandtech really were shills, who has more money - AMD or Intel? Who could afford to pay Anandtech to shill more?

    Yeah, if you gave me another $500 I'd consider a Core i7. Until you do that, I'll put my money where it makes sense - right now thats AMD, but if Intel drops prices on their C2Q's they would get my vote. I really dont care about brand names, I care about performance and price. That you get so offended at the idea of a Phenom 2 recommendation is laughable - Phenom 1 I agree was a piece of crap but Phenom 2 is leaps and bounds better.

    So crawl back under the bridge little troll.
    Reply

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