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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  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #17 -
    Thanks for the info on Apple's updated interface. While I agree the picture on the Dell is a bit gainy with smearing on analog, I have found the 2001FP to be outstanding on DVI. With this size flat panel I assumed no one would run anything but digital input.
    Reply
  • Hikari - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    On the Apple displays and ADC. That is no longer true, they use DVI now.

    There is some new 23" HP that is based on the same panel as the Apple, and I think it is a better deal. Although the Apple is prettier. ;)
    Reply
  • danidentity - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Few mistakes I'd like to point out:

    Page 3, CPU and Motherboard Alternatives:
    "When Socket 775 was launched a few weeks ago, it did not appear that any of the new 925X/915 motherboards would ever become a recommended Overclockers board."
    ***Socket 775 was launched two months ago, not several weeks ago. Looks like a copy/paste mistake.

    Page 6, AGP Video:
    "We ended up relaxing our rules by including the Gigabyte 6800 Ultra because several vendors are showing availability in the first 2 weeks of July."
    ***July??? This is August, almost September.
    Reply
  • JonathanYoung - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    kherman,

    Who's complaining about advertisements? That realtime pricing engine is hardly an advertisement... it's a long list of prices and vendors in plain text and zero differentiation between vendors. Again, that's hardly an advertisement.

    I'd read AT's disclaimer on the subject if I were you, particularly the following lines:

    "We select vendors to appear in our Price Guides based on two requirements: solid consumer feedback and having the lowest possible pricing."

    "AnandTech does not sell positions on the Price Guide."

    Note the "We select" and "AnandTech does not sell positions."

    Sincerely,
    "#5"
    Reply
  • Aelius - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Actually I own a brand new Apple 20" Aluminum Cinema Display. Dispite the site telling you that it can take a month to ship one to you I got mine in 4 days.

    The stand is increadibly solid. No way to simply knock it over. It's gota be solid metal and most of the weight of the monitor comes from the stand.

    It's very light at around 7 1/2 lbs.

    It's not dinky at all. You can adjust the way the monitor points up and down and it stays the way you leave it. That part is also very solid.

    There are no vents anywhere because the power brick is not built-in and the entire casing is made out of aluminum which absorbs the heat so the top gets fairly warm to the touch after long use.

    The whole thing is increadibly high quality.

    A cool feature of the monitor is that you can adjust the backlight through a + and - touch pad on the right side and the power button is also a touch pad found on the right.

    Far as I know the Apple's come with very few dead or stuck pixles but mine came with 3 dead and 2 stuck blue pixles. Honestly I can't even notice even when I look for it unless it's a black background.

    It's so sharp and bright that it makes my old Viewsonic PF CRT look like an ancient wreck.

    Is it expansive? Oh God yeah and it's worth every penny as far as I'm concerned.

    P.S. There seems to be a quality control issue with 23" displays but mine seems fine and couldn't find any issues with it that others reported on the 23" ones.

    Any questions just PM me as I won't monitor this page.
    Reply
  • ksherman - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #17- agreed, and according to apple, have a response time of 16ms, so maybe it is worth doing a review of, even though it is several hundred dollars more... and is it just me, or does the stand on the apple display seem like it not be able to support the screen? Reply
  • shuttleboi - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #9: your information is outdated. Apple introduced new monitors a few months ago that have DVI. Check their website. Their new 20" LCD is selling for $1299, which is in line with the equivalent Samsung and Planar models. From what I've read, the Dell 2001fp is extremely grainy with a crosshatch pattern on the screen, so I'm avoiding that. Reply
  • behemoth68 - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    I Just put a BFG 6800 ultra into my system and am currently using an antec true power 480 and you seriously need the antec true power 550 especially since its only 20 more online its the smart move my system voltage was fluctuating a little at 480 but i put the 550 in and it worked great! Reply
  • phray - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    about the price engine thingy:

    i agree with kherman on this. if you want this site to stay free, get used to it.
    if you don't like scrolling down all that much, try pressing the 'End' key on your keyboard.
    Reply
  • SMOG - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Great article, I continually am impressed by the quality of the articles here, and find the buyer's guides particularly helpful.

    I did find one strange comment in the artical,
    "We ended up relaxing our rules by including the Gigabyte 6800 Ultra because several vendors are showing availability in the first 2 weeks of July." Are these cards still hard to find? (quick search told me that both Newegg and ZipZoomFly had some in stock, but were sold out on many brands)

    Thanks,
    SMOG
    Reply

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