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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  • mcveigh - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    what about for a storage drive the new maxtors with 16mb cache and TCQ features?

    didn't Anand hint a little while ago there would be a review of them ?

    of course now he has a wife to keep happy....there goes the place! ;)
    Reply
  • Booty - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Just agreeing about the price engine thing - scrolling that far is pretty annoying. If they have to have it that way to earn money and keep the site free, so be it... but if not, I know I'd definitely appreciate it being moved. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Good article, I couldn't really fault any of the suggestions this time :) The only things that might be worth considering as this is a high end system is spending an extra $200-300 and throwing in 2GB of memory, either as 2x1GB sticks if they are just as fast, else as 4x512MB. As I do a bit video capturing and editing, and like many broadband users fill a lot of space quickly (don't ask), I'd definitely go for the Maxtor 300MB drive with 16MB cache for $260. Both of those are only minor points though and overall I agree with the suggestions.

    One thing I've been thinking about for a few days now are dual Opteron systems. A couple of Opteron 250's on a suitable dual S940 mobo would only cost about $1000 more than the FX53 system and mobo. Alternatively a couple of 248's will lower the differential to around $600.

    The important thing is that multi-threaded apps are becoming increasingly common because of HT, and next year when dual core CPUs start appearing it'll be normal for any CPU heavy application to be multi-threaded so as to take full advantage of them. I know you could always replace the FX53 with a dual-core Toledo next year, but why wait for the extra performance when you can get it today with a couple of 250's (and the 250's could be replaced with dual-core Italy's next year giving even more power if desired).

    The extra thousand dollars is a roughly 30% total price increase and is not insignificant, but you'll get considerably more than 30% performance improvement with any multi-threaded CPU heavy application, so its money well spent. In fact its hard not to recommend it as the high end choice as its still comes in under the $5000 limit.
    Reply
  • iversonyin - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    i would rather have dual dell 2001 then 23" apple

    23" apple is nice but also come with a steep price.

    dont we all love dual-monitor here?

    but if anyone can spend $3600 on a computer, what extras $2000 to them
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #3 - Typo corrected.

    I agree the Apple is a nice display, but Apple uses a proprietary Digital interface called ADC instead of the standard DVI Connector. Some enterprising manufacturers have developed some conversion connectors but the converter doesn't work with most nVidia video cards. In the end this is not a solution we could recommend right now.

    There is also the cost difference, since the 20.1" Dell is about $800 and the 23" Apple is about $2000. A 260% price increase to go from a great 20.1" display to an Apple 23" display and converter seemed a bit much. There is also a 30" Apple Cinema display BTW.
    Reply
  • Fr0zeN2 - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Great guide, but...

    Yeah, the pricing engine's been bugging me for a while now too. Honestly, there are sites like pricewatch.com that you can go to to view prices on these, as well as many other similar products. Especially when your listings include products that have absolutely no relevance to the one mentioned (helooo gf5950 prices?).
    Reply
  • kherman - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    #5

    This is a free site. If you like it that way, I'd get used to those advertisements.

    -----------

    Aside from that, 74 gig? If I made a "dream rig" yuo'd be seeing 400 GB+ in RAID 5 (3x200)
    Reply
  • kherman - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Of course, for this rig, get the BFG 6800 Ultra Reply
  • JonathanYoung - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    I just want to add a comment I've been wanting to make for awhile now... would you please add a link to the next page *above* the realtime pricing engine so that people who do not wish to view the pricing engine don't have to scroll alllllllll the way down just to get to the next page? This was especially bad on the "AGP Video" section of this guide. Thank you! Reply
  • shuttleboi - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    Why hasn't Anandtech reviewed any 6800GT videocards??? Reply

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