High End is not without price limits, but price is much less a consideration than performance. If High-End means anything for the enthusiast who reads AnandTech, then you can spend a bit more for performance that is really better. With this in mind, the scales tip toward top performance in the High-End choices. Mid-range is where you sweat nickels and measure every component for bang for the buck. For High End, you pick the best.

As in past Guides, we offer a recommendation for every component that goes into a computer. Our recommendation is our First Choice and we will try to explain why we chose that component. For some components, we will also offer an alternative on that type of hardware. We've added alternative hardware picks to our guides because it allows AnandTech to recommend a wider variety of hardware. This is especially true for those willing to spend a little more or to recommend a cheaper component that is of outstanding value. Alternative picks provide you other choices, which, in some cases, will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be.

Most of the prices listed for the hardware that we recommend can be found in our RealTime pricing engine. Any prices not found in our engine can be found on pricewatch. Relevant parts of our RealTime pricing engine are listed at the bottom of every page of our Buyer's Guides so that you can choose the lowest prices from a large variety of vendors.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides, and the changes you are seeing here are the result of suggestions from our readers and Editors. Since we are adding 2 new guides to AnandTech, email your suggestions for new guides to Evan Lieb. Considerations include a Buyer's Guide for SFF (Small Form Factor systems), Gaming System, and Laptop/DTP (Desk-Top Replacement). If you have other suggestions, let us know; the Guides are to help you with your buying decisions.

High End

A High End system should represent the best performance, features, and flexibility that you can buy for a given need. In this case, the given need is defined as a Desktop Computer System built from the best performing computer components that you can actually buy. This differs from other Buyer's Guides, which concentrate on value first. With the extensive testing done at AnandTech by many different Editors, we have personally tested many of these components, and you will see our Editor's Choice components appear frequently in the Buyer's Guides.

With performance as the most important consideration in a high-end system, reliability becomes the second most important consideration. Truthfully, reliability is just as important in most cases as performance, since it does no good to put together an expensive high-end system that you cannot enjoy due to reliability issues. By definition, price is a distant third consideration, but price is not the same as value. Value is always a consideration in our buying guides because we refuse to recommend high-priced components that provide little or no performance advantage over lower priced components. A component that costs 250% more for a 5% increase in performance is not a good value and does not even belong in a high end system.

Anyone who is considering building a top-of-the-line system is quickly faced with the reality that the best performing parts aren't usually going to be the cheapest parts. On the other hand, the value and performance that you get for your dollars in today's computer market are the best in many years in the computer industry. There was a time when the best desktop systems were much more than $10,000; while today, you are hard pressed to spend more than $5,000 on a top-performing system. In most cases, the best performance can be had even less. With this in mind, our only restriction is that our high-end system will cost under $5,000.

CPU and Motherboard
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  • Avalon - Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - link

    #30, the AMD system should be somewhat faster in gaming for you. As for 3D studio max, I'm not sure which. Reply
  • stevennoland - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    The vid card price list does not include the X800 XT! What gives? I've tried to find them, but I'm really beginning to belive they don't exist. Reply
  • stevennoland - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • jjkusaf - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    oh...and would an Intel system be better for gaming and 3D Studio Max? Reply
  • jjkusaf - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    OK...first of all thanks for taking your time in writing this guide.

    I am in the market of building a new computer and will pretty much use this guide to help make my decisions. My computer will primarily be used for gaming (Doom3, N2003, etc) and 3D Studio Max.

    My first question is about the CPU cooler. I take it that the stock cooler was used (I do not intend on overclocking)? I do not intend on buying the FX...but just the plain ol' AMD 64 3800. If the stock cooler is not recommended...then what cooler is?

    Also...any advantages of the N-Force3 over the Via chipset...and vice versa.

    Thanks for the write up!
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #25 - As was stated on the last page (Final Words) of the Geil Ultra X 3200 review, the Geil tops out around 466 on AMD Athlon 64. That is why we selected a Micron chip memory for the A64 in the Guide.

    #26 - typo fixed.
    Reply
  • gherald - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    The mid-range system from last month came to just over $1000. Now you are recommending a $3600 system as "high-end"

    C'mon Anand, that's too big of a price step. Three and a half "mid-range" systems for the price of one "high-end" ?!?

    There should be a guide at around the $2000-2300 mark for this to be balanced.
    Reply
  • danidentity - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Another small typo,

    Page 6, Storage:
    "Anand has shown that there is little performance advantage to SATA 1, but striping is still useful for improving boot times."

    I believe that is supposed to say "little performance advantage to RAID 0", as the link points to a RAID 0 article.
    Reply
  • Andrevas - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    I'm surprised the OCZ Powerstream 520W wasn't chosen for both systems, IMO it is the best power supply, period.

    And I'd like to know how well the new Geil Ultra X DDR400 sticks fair with the AMD 64 platforms in OCing since they were able to hit DDR561 in your review on an Intel platform.

    Plus no mentioning of the Logitech Z680s?

    Other then those issues, I think the components chosen were great except for the case, but that's more of a matter of personal interest.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #14 and #21 - That sentence was a cut and paste error and has been corrected on the AGP video page. The timeline for 925X/775 has also been updated by removing the time reference. Reply

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