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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  • Dantzig - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    All in all, I liked your guide. Welcome aboard to Anandtech :)

    Even for a "base" high-end configuration, your case and peripheral recommendations are simply not acceptable.

    The Apevia Aspire X-Cruiser is a riced-out, poorly ventilated, cheaply made and simply obnoxious case. Why not recommend a much more sensible option with better ventilation and construction? You can get many quality cases sans power supply for $60. The Antec recommended in the mainstream configuration is much better suited to a high-end build (although I would still like to see something more sensible and less noisy).

    Similarly, the Creative Labs 7.1 speaker system you recommended (actually the Inspire P7800, not I-Trigue 3300) is just junk. There is absolutely no reason to waste $80 on a crap 7.1 speaker system. A system with that many speakers should be done right or not at all. Also, THX and manufacturer's power ratings are just marketing mean nothing to anyone who knows jack about audio. Just recommend a decent 2.1 system that at least has tweeters. The market for real stereo systems with actual receivers starts around $250 these days. Even a low end HTIB (I like Onkyo) will outperform any computer speakers on the market.
    Reply
  • takumsawsherman - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    So here are a couple of additional comments.

    "The Corsair CMPSU-620HX is a solid offering from a company long known for providing excellent power supplies" - I wasn't aware that Corsair had power supplies at all before a couple of years ago. Also, Why the PC Power and Cooling product over something like a high end Seasonic?

    Now, for the worst part... Thanks to the assistance of the Anandtech forums, I finally found a case that I could put into a business environment that wasn't filled with useless lights, very tasteless appointments on the exterior, or cartoon characters on the side. Antec's cases have been de-improving in terms of accessibility (witness the Sonata II and it's funky air flow system that is a pain in the rear and doesn't seem to improve temps). So I was referred to the I-Star S-8 Storm series. An excellent case, with excellent accessories (Hot swap bays, removable caddys, redundant power supplies) that retails for around $50-$60. No spiderman face, no crazy lights, and the fastest assembly I have ever done. There is one downside, in that they don't like to give you enough screws of any one type, and hopefully they will improve that. Luckily, I have tons of screws left over from other systems built for customers over the years.

    I believe that part of the problem stems from reviewers praising really toy-like cases that have all of these useless features. Yes, the 14 year old gamer might think they're cool. Heck, even some 25 year old gamers may think they're cool. But I think the great majority of people would consider them to be tacky. So, how about a compromise: offer up alternatives for each. One with all the glitter, and the other with a more clean look. We should encourage manufacturers to worry more about ease of assembly and functionality, and something that can be sold to a business customer.
    Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    hahah this is so true most pc case are so tacky, this is why Apple can steal your money with it's well thought out designs.
    I still wonder why these plastics take so much space in retail stores.
    The attraction is a well thought out pc case with high prices that you can at least get away with like a Lian Li.
    Producing cheap plastic case to cut some cost is not a bad idea, but at least hire some designers.
    Reply
  • Martimus - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Most people have considered PC Power and Cooling the best PSU maker for years. They have just been so expensive, not many people usually buy them. They are kind of like the BMW of power supplies, because they don't cut any corners in the design, but you pay for that in the bottom line price. Since the other companies are now charging similar prices to PC P&C, it is much easier to consider them now. Ofcourse PC Power and Cooling was just purchased by OCZ this month (MAY 2007), so hopefully their quality won't go down to the level of OCZ power supplies. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    It's always nice to see Anandtech updating it's price guides, and if the new editor/writer follows Jarred's example then I'm sure he will do fine.

    A few things to maybe keep in mind: I echo the feelings of some others that a $5000 machine needs to have a soundcard. In fact, I would think it makes MUCH more sense to recommend a soundcard rather than a set of speakers for such a system. Next, why keep mentioning overclocking in the article and never advice a aftermarket HSF? I would think every PC in the $2000+ range would be well served, even if only to run it in a low-noise configuration and keep low temps. I assume a midrange guide will appear next, probably after P35 arrives. I hope to see another Overclocking subconfiguration in that atricle, since many of us to OC and the component choices can be rather different.

    Finally, @ Jarred - nice fancy new title and post sig. Hopefully thought you won't be only working on notebooks and displays in the future however, even if you are passing on the Guide articles. I know many of the more unconventional articles you and Gary write are some of the best stuff to appear on the site, and I'd hate to loose you to only reviewing the new Asus notebook or Dell LCD.
    Reply
  • Dave Robinet - Thursday, May 31, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the welcome. :)

    You're absolutely right, both about the soundcard and the HSF. In the $5k system, though, we did include the water cooling solution - but point taken about the cooling in general terms. I'd venture that few people at the $2k range are using stock HSF solutions.

    For the next guide, I'm thinking that there may be some tweaks - you're right about the overclocking part.

    Thanks again!

    dave
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Thanks,

    I'm still managing editor (i.e. posting most other articles, doing final proof-reads, etc.) so no worries. Displays and laptops are simply my primary area of focus these days, just like Derek's focus is GPUs and Gary's primary focus is... well, everything. :) I'll still contribute opinions and such to the Buyers' Guides as well (and Gary deserves plenty of credit for the recommendations in this and other Guides if you didn't know that).
    Reply
  • takumsawsherman - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Page 3 states that "While RAID will not markedly improve performance for the average user, it can improve either reliability (RAID 5, RAID 1), or data capacity (RAID 0)"

    I don't see how RAID 0 improves data capacity. Sure, it will make multiple drives appear as one volume, but the capacity is not improved. Not only that, but the reliability is decreased, as a failure of one drive leads to loss of data from both.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    That's what was meant by improving "data capacity" although it probably could have been worded better. It does improve performance in certain applications to the point that a few people might find it useful (people that worry about the latest ORB results for example....) Reply
  • Latyshev - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link


    In the main review you are clearly goiung for SLI. But in the "alternative" list you never mention any new P35 boards, which are amasing peformers.

    How come?
    Reply

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