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)
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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  • ccd - Monday, May 18, 2009 - link

    I am building a system using the mobo and heatsink fan. This is not a good combo for overclocking. The reason is the the Xigmatek is so big, that it blocks the use of one of the yellow RAM slots that the Asus manual states are best for over clocking.

    Just a word of caution.
  • ccd - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    I built the system using the components I previously mentioned and you are absolutely correct: the Xigmatek is so big, it does extend over one of the yellow memory slots and this board recommends the yellow slots for overclocking. It might me possible to squeeze memory in the slot under the Xigmatek, but I would worry about it touching the Xigmatek and getting too hot.

    The other issue with this mobo is the location of the connections for the front of your case. The front case connectors for my Lian Li case are too short as the Asus connections are located at the furtheset possible spot from the connectors.

    Other than those two issues, I am happy with this build. The PC turned on and I had no problems once I realized that graphics cards now need to be directly connected to the PS.

    I'm thinking of adding a second graphics card and upgrading the PS.
  • ccd - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I'd love to hear any comments from more experienced systems builders on the components I plan to use. This is my second build. The first build did not go well. The PC would not turn on and I had no idea where the problem lay. Then I had the extraordinarily bad luck of getting two bad mobos and compatibiity problems between the mobo that finally worked and my PVR card. It cost me $400 to have someone troubleshoot the PC to get it working.

    With the build, I want to use as many parts from the previous build as possible to save on costs and because I know these parts work. That means I am using my case, a Seasonic 400W PS, a graphics card and sound card. The new parts are:

    ASUS M4A79 Deluxe
    AMD Phenon II X4 940 BE 3.0GHz
    Xigmatek Dark Knight 51283V 120 MM
    Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) 240 Pin DDR2 SDRAM 1066 (PC@ 8500)
    WD Caviar Green WD6400AACS 7200

    The choice of boards is based on this guide and comments at Newegg. Seems like a board that has cause very few problems for the majority of people. Also Newegg has a bundle with the AMD chip for a $35 savings.

    The HDD choice is to make sure my 400PS can handle the new system

    Any thoughts?
  • bmuell - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - link

    Does anyone know what Gigabyte's official response is to using dimm slots 3 & 4 instead of 1 & 2 (since reapers won't fit under the Xigmatek)? The manual recommends slots 1 & 2 for dual channel. I'm surprised Anandtech selected these parts (with or without the knowledge) given the compatibility issue... I have to decide whether or not to exchange my heatsink, my memory, or use slots 3 & 4.
  • SHANE44 - Sunday, April 26, 2009 - link

    Whats with all the AMD hate. From reading this article it sounds like AMD has a winner. I personally use intel cpu's and nvidia gpu's but I understand that AMD plays a vital role in both industries. Without AMD who's gonna keep intel and nvidia honest. AMD forces both companies to keep advancing technologically and keep competitive prices. Who knows maybe a few more advances from AMD in the cpu department and my next system might be an AMD. I personally hope the best for AMD in the future. Thanks to Anandtech for the great reviews. I find this to be the most informative sight for all current computer news.
  • Hamlet2000 - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - link

    Does anyone know if the Xigmatek heatsink on the CPU will conflict with the heatsinks on the OCZ Reaper memory?

    I'm looking at putting together a system based off the performance specs and I'm concerned about spacing issues.
  • Summer - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - link

    Depends on how far your slots are from your CPU but I'm almost certain that the first dimm set (row 1 & 2) of most motherboards will be blocked by the Xigmatek heatsink if you plan to use OCZ reaper memory. I have two boards (Asrock AOD790/Gigabyte MA790XT) with s-1283v heatsinks and the OCZ Reaper memory kit will not clear on the dimm set closest to the CPU on either board. However, IMO the S-1283 line is one of the best and affordable air-cooler series out there especially if your case can handle the size.

  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, April 26, 2009 - link

    I haven't had any issues with memory and the Xigmatek, as the fin assembly is raised up a bit on the heatpipes before it can potentially overhang the memory slots. However, I haven't really tried it with the Reaper memory, which was selected because of its fast timings (6-6-6) and effective heatpipe cooling. As you saw in the 955BE launch article, the Phenom II worked better with fast memory timings than it did with higher memory speeds in our OC tests.

    After your question I measured some Reaper samples here and the first slots may be a question mark with the Xigmatek. To be safe you could select:

    1 - Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model BL2KIT25664BA1336 with 6-6-6 tings at $68

    2 - OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P13334GK with 7-7-7 tings at $60

    3 - OCZ Intel Extreme Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3X16004GK at 7-7-7 timings at $53 after $30 rebate.

    These are all standard profile dimms and they snuggle underneath the Xigmatek cooler just fine. The important thing for the Phenom II memory controller is to shop for the tightest timings you can afford with speed of at least DDR1333. For Intel we would probably look for even faster speed, but higher speed does not help that much on Phenom II's memory controller.

  • Hamlet2000 - Sunday, April 26, 2009 - link

    Great, thanks for the reply. It's great that you read the comments and respond. I was looking at OCZ Gold memory at 8-8-8-24 since the price was $44 after the rebate, but I'm reconsidering now . . .

    Thanks again.
  • 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.

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