The AnandTech forums are often visited by users looking for advice about upcoming hardware purchases. With the blistering pace of product introductions in the technology marketplace, it's little wonder that people have a hard time choosing between components. Since our last high-end guide was released in October of 2006, major changes have taken place (or are about to take place) in virtually every part of this market segment; this guide will briefly examine those changes, while making recommendations on the best approach to spending your hard-earned money.

As far as the platforms themselves go, little has changed in the past seven months in terms of overall architecture specifications. Intel continues with the venerable Socket 775 platform, while AMD's relatively new AM2 promises to be used for some time to come. The NVIDIA 680i and Intel 975X chipsets own the performance arena for the Intel Core 2 processors, while the NVIDIA 590 chipset leads the AMD Athlon race.

The landscape is about to be transformed for Intel, however, with the pending release of their P35 chipset. The P35 should offer some performance benefits over existing P965 systems, and will officially launch on June 4th from a number of manufacturers. AnandTech has done a preview of several of these motherboards, which can be read here. This guide, however, can only focus on what is available in the market today; for those who want to update their system now and wait for any launch issues with the new chipset to be sorted out, this guide is for you. If you should choose to wait a few more weeks, the major changes will only be in the area of motherboards for socket 775, and possibly RAM should you choose to go the DDR3 route.

Processors, for their part, have seen a substantial amount of activity both in terms of introductions and pricing. In addition to the well-publicized foray into quad core processing from both major competitors, Intel's price-slashing of its Core 2 line has been met with similar measures from AMD. The graphics arena has also seen two very important launches, with the G80 from NVIDIA and R600 from AMD/ATI slugging it out at the high-end of the market. With complete flip-flops occurring in terms of who the performance leaders are, this High-End Guide is long overdue.

As has been the case in our recent Buyers' Guides, we will be addressing the case, power supply and peripherals separately from the main system components. In keeping with AnandTech tradition, we will price an "entry high-end" system at approximately $2,000 (including peripherals), and then expand the selections to see what we can get for as much as $5,000 (give or take). There is definitely room for some mix-and-match to hit the in-between price points.

Basic High-End AMD System
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  • rtrkudos - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    You were wrong on the Dell 30" LCD. The newer HC model they ship now has a grey-to-grey of 8ms which is what matters for gaming. They never updated their website to the newer specs. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    I made some clarifications on the LCD selections. Having personally used both the old Dell 3007WFP and one of the new "high color" 30" LCDs, I'm pretty comfortable in saying that very few people would actually noticed the difference in practical use. I know I couldn't. Besides, the 3007WFP-HC actually costs $1500 as opposed to $1300. Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    While I very much enjoy Anandtech's Buyer's guides, I have noticed lately a disconnect between what is recommended in the Buyer's guides and what is reviewed in the other articles. For example, I do not think I have ever seen a review of the Samsung hard drives, yet they show up quite often in recent buyer's guides. Also, the Crucial Balistix used in the ultra high end system. Have we seen a review of these?

    My point is that if I were to go back through Anandtech motherboard, hard drive and memory reviews - pick out the best performers/editor's choice winners - I would come up with a very different system than what you recommend in Buyer's Guides.

    If your goign to recommend a different motherboard, hard drive or memory from what your recent reviews have identified as the "cream of the crop," then give me some benchmarks or other details (not general statements) that demonstrate why.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - link

    quote:

    f your goign to recommend a different motherboard, hard drive or memory from what your recent reviews have identified as the "cream of the crop," then give me some benchmarks or other details (not general statements) that demonstrate why.


    We will have the Samsung drives in a review in June. They are not the fastest drives per say in the benchmarks (close enough as not to matter in most applications) but they do offer a great combination of speed, low noise levels, and price per Gigabtye. I was throughly impressed with the latest 500GB model and thought it would be a good choice for a storage drive when matched with the Raptor. In regards to the Crucial DDR2 memory, we are finding it to be an excellent choice once again based on the price to performance ratios in early testing (easily doing DDR2-1140 at 4-4-4-12 timings with 2.25V on the P35 boards). By the way, both of these products were purchased and were not supplied to us for reviews. We do go out and buy components that we identify as being interesting for our readership. ;) Just wish we had the blog sections working so we could discuss/provide details quicker.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Most of the choices are made with input from the other editors. I know some of them (Wes and Gary) have at least done some preliminary testing with parts that are mentioned in this article. Gary specifically recommended the Samsung drives as being worthy of inclusion. The Ballistix RAM is (if I have this right) Micron D9, which makes it roughly the same as most of the other D9 RAM when it comes to running faster than the rated speed. Reply
  • Comdrpopnfresh - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    In any of the first four situations in the article, would adding a third-party soundcard add any performance gains, or have better quality? Say you added an x-fi to the striker extreme. How does the onboard compare to what you'd get with the x-fi? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Depends on if you're running XP or Vista and if you want to jump through hoops in Vista. At this point, I would rate a sound card as an optional accessory, pending fallout from the Vista update. I have to think that Vista is hurting Creative, since it sort of leveled the playing field. Reply
  • hubajube - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    In the article:
    quote:

    The 5600+ gets the nod over the more expensive 6000+ due to the favorable situation with AMD's on-die memory controller for this processor. The added cache of the 6000+ generally doesn't improve performance enough to warrant the extra money - investing the money in other areas will generally help more.


    I thought the cache was the same and only the clock speed was different. Confused.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    yep indeed correct, so many readers and yet only few that notice this wrong statement

    The 5600+ gets the nod over the more expensive 6000+ due to the favorable situation with AMD's on-die memory controller for this processor. The added cache of the 6000+ generally doesn't improve performance enough to warrant the extra money

    the 5600 has 2mb cache and a 2800 clock
    the 6000 has 2mb cache and a 3000 clock

    main difference is current tdp 125W, will change in a few months to 89W, from that moment a 6000 will be a nice buy / competitor against e6600 unless you oc offcourse.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    My bad - I got the 5400/5600 confused with the 6000 situation. I guess there's no "5800+" 512K 3.0 GHz part out there. :) Reply

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