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  • Murst - Thursday, May 06, 2004 - link

    I am looking to build a new system, and I have used this article for a lot of guidance. However, some points I disagreed with. Here is what I have come up with. The case I'm not too sure about yet, as there are also many great choices from other top manufacturers. This does not include a monitor, and I will be looking for an LCD with a fast response time (something good for gaming). Sorry if I left out anything. The prices include shipping.

    AMD Athlon 64 3400+


    Thermalright SLK-948U

    CPU Fan
    Vantec Tornado

    Power Supply
    Antec TruePower 550W

    Cooler Master Wave Master

    1 GB RAM
    OCZ Gold Revision 2 (2x512)

    Sound Card
    Sound Blaster Audigy 2

    Graphics Card
    ATI X800XT
    not out yet

    Logitech Z-5300 5.1 THX

    Hard Drive 1
    WD Raptor 10k RPM 74GB

    Hard Drive 2
    Seagate SATA 160 GB 7200 RPM

    DVD RW
    NEC 8x DVD RW #2500a


  • cK-Gunslinger - Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - link

    D'oh! Looks like I missed the boat on this one. Where have I been the past 3-4 days?

    Anyway, this is a pretty good guide, but I agree with quite a few of the other posts here. I keep up with my own system guides just for kicks, and they have always pretty much mirrored Anand's. The biggest differences seem to be in Storage and Monitors.

    With harddrives so cheap today, why do we still recommend only a single drive? You can get quite a bit of performance increase as well as flexibility by simply exploring multi-drive options. Yes, you may increase the total cost of the system by $100-200 dollars, but you'd probably be better off than you would by jumping up to those $250 speakers you recommend.

    Also, I know these systems are primarily used for gaming, so CRTs are rather entrenched, but good LCDs such as the Dell 2001FP work beautifully for games as well as general desktop usage. Again, this adds to the total cost, but if you are going to be staring at your monitor for hours per day, a 1600x1200 LCD with 16ms response will be easy on the eyes.

    Again, I know these guides are highly subjective, but you've done a pretty good job keeping things in order. I just wish you'd be a little more willing to experiment and explore other options. Keep up the good work!
  • cbcphotog - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link

    1) You made several changes in your latest guide but didn't give any explanation. I'd be interested in knowing why...

    ... The motherboard for the AMD 64 changed from the ASUS K8V Deluxe to the MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R?
    ... The alternate monitor from the Phillips 202P45 to the ViewSonic P225F?

    2) I'm also wondering why you chose the NEC2500A optical drive for this system instead of the NU Tech DDW-082 that recently received you editors choice award.

  • NordicNINE - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link

    There doesn't seem to be many CRT reviews lately. Esp for larger models. I'm looking to get a 21-22". I do play games a few times a week and every other week or so, I play games all night, so I want something that works very well for games, but mainly I want something with razor sharp text. I know that aperture grill monitors have brighter colors, etc but they have lower quality text than a good invar shadow mask. So, would the 1100df be a good choice? I was thinking of the NEC 22" Diamondtron monitors but again I'm worried about the text quality and it seems that anytime you see monitors setup somewhere they're running some stupid looping demo that doesn't show text AND they run through some crappy splitter so all the monitors look bad. Reply
  • Philotic - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link

    I second, third, fifth, eighty-seventh...whatever the hard drive recommendation, but my real question is who only uses one hard drive for storage? I personally store my important data on multiple hard drives based on the type of data. I wouldn't store important information on the same drive as my operating system, that's madness! I would use a WD74Gb Raptor as the OS drive because of speed, but I would only use Seagate drives for storage. I also disagree with the speaker selection; I would recommend the Logitech Z-680s or the Creative Gigaworks 7.1s, perhaps the updated high-end Klipsch Promedia 5.1. Video card? I think everyone agrees that this is a poor time to purchase a video card but the guide must go on! Reply
  • Mackintire - Sunday, May 02, 2004 - link

    Evan Lieb,

    Looks like you saw a couple of my posts. I suggested that Seagates 7200.7 drive would be a better drive. Yes, I frequently visit SR. But as someone who orders near 50+ HD's a month I can tell you my personal experience. With 10 hour a day operating time. I have near 70% of our WD based drives have displayed bearing disfunction, by either failing or grinding within a 6 month period. None of the Seagate 7200.7 series drives we have used have failed so far. We currently have a smaller percentage of Seagate 7200.7 drives in the field. And 3 sets of 30 are over the 6 month point with no apparent problems.
    The 7200.7's appear to be slightly faster in general use. I personally own both types of drives and can confirm the Seagate 7200.7 is quieter and runs cooler then the WD 120g JB. This is again my experience.

    Thank you for your response.

  • Mackintire - Sunday, May 02, 2004 - link


    The drive you are refering to is Seagate's 120gig Barracuda V. The Barracuda V based drives are know to run hot. The Hard drive I am speaking about is from Seagate's 7200.7 series. The 7200.7 series are one of the coolest running drives on the market.

    I know about vowing never to buy another XXXX brand drive again. After returning near 40+ drives to WD I was almost ready to count them out.

    But I gave them another chance by purchasing a 74gig Raptor, and I couldn t be more pleased with it. For now I will stay away from WD normal drives untill they fix them.

    Please be a little more specific next time about what hard drive model you had bad experiances with.

  • Evan Lieb - Sunday, May 02, 2004 - link

    TrogdorJW, good call, we’ll include an Alternative for the case next time around. We really don’t get much responses for cases, as everyone has their own priority. Look is very subjective with a case, something we don’t have to worry about with HDDs, CPUs, etc.

    Ducsauce, try

    Mackintire, most user’s experiences are different. Take a look at’s database of user reviews on WD, Seagate, etc. HDDs. You’re exaggerating the tangible differences in performance as well.

    TrueWisdom, you, like Mackintire, are vastly overemphasizing the real world difference between a Raptor and a JB drive in single user desktop scenarios. Not everyone is going to notice the difference in performance, and certainly not enough to justify a $125+ price delta.

    Nigham, depends what type of RAID array you’re referring to, not to mention the fact that you have to buy a second HDD. And your performance will increase anyway with two HDDs not in RAID, anyway.

    n4v3k, a 480W PSU is not mandatory, we’ve tried lower wattage PSUs with a 6800 Ultra.

    00aStrOgUy00, we’ve tested both speaker systems plenty, and probably more than you have. ;) Also, the whine does not apply to all WD drives, notice we didn’t say ALL drives have this problem (really, no one besides WD truly knows what percentage of their drives whine). Then again, many users will care less with the case we recommended, since it effectively funnels the noise. The Barracuda’s are quieter, but are not faster (and if they were in select scenarios, it isn’t noticeable in the real world), and there’s no hard data that says Barracudas are more reliable than Caviars either. Our experience says both are about the same reliability-wise.

    As for those recommending an FX-53 or dual Raptors in RAID….this isn’t a dream system, this is a high end system. We clearly explained why we didn’t want to recommend A64 FX or P4EE processors, and why we didn’t want to recommend a Raptor. They are not bad choices, just prohibitively expensive for the small benefit in real world. And of course, the accepted definition of “High End” has never been “Fastest hardware on the planet without regard for price or reason”. :)
  • AtaStrumf - Sunday, May 02, 2004 - link

    I tested a Seagate 120 GB SATA drive a long time ago and vouched never to buy one! Why? Because the damn thing got so hot I could fry eggs on it!!! The HSF on an Athlon XP with its fan off is the ONLY thing in a PC that gets hotter than that drive. I really don't see where you get off saying it runs cooler than a 120 GB WD. Reply
  • 00aStrOgUy00 - Sunday, May 02, 2004 - link

    I also forgot to mention, you said the hard drive has an infamous whine. Why recommend it if you know it has this problem? Reply
  • 00aStrOgUy00 - Sunday, May 02, 2004 - link

    Why do the speaker recommendations give no comments on the sound quality, and just gives useless information such as, this has 100W and this has 150W...
    Seems like you've never even heard the speakers you're recommending.
  • yz426 - Saturday, May 01, 2004 - link

    I would like to see them indicate where they buy the products for the price they claim. Where can you get. quate the Recommendation: 2 X 512MB Mushkin PC3500 Level One Dual Pack (CAS2)
    Price: $239 shipped. Stop blowing smoke up my a** and say where you purchase the components for the price you say.
  • Mackintire - Saturday, May 01, 2004 - link

    I shall REPEAT

    The Seagate 7200.7 is quieter, faster, runs cooler and does not have the habit of destroying its bearings.

    For a Hard Drive IN THE SAME CLASS there is no comparason.
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    You know what they really need to do to appease everyone? They need to have this "high-end" system target the $2000 price range, and then they can put together a "dream" system in the up to $5000 range. Then maybe people would stop whining about the choices. :)

    For relatively high-end, this setup would be hard to beat. 10-20% more performance from the hard drives for more than twice the cost (you would need two 74 GB Raptors to equal the space offered by the 120GB) is a luxury most aren't able to induldge in. Same with the Athlon FX-53 - it's almost twice the price of the 3400+ and maybe 10% faster on average. It would also need registered DIMMs and a 940 motherboard, which would probably increase costs another $100 or so. So you could get a PC put together that would be 20% faster or so, but it would run closer to $3000 and would still only be the king of the mountain for a few months at best.

    Anyway, I think the guide has a lot of good recommendations, but I still don't understand why alternatives aren't listed for some of the items (case) while the sound card had two options with very little difference in price or performance. No need for the four paragraphs extolling the virtues of the Inwin case (again) - list three or four good choices with a short blurb on each!
  • n4v3k - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Don't you think that it would be wise to advise that people get a 480+ watt power supply since you mention the GeForce 6800 Ultra in your review and even suggest that it might be wise to wait for it? Reply
  • SonicIce - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    two drives in raid 0 would generate alot more heat and noise than just a single, bigger drive. Reply
  • IceVoltageccs - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I see no point in using the WD120JB if you have the abilty to use SATA do it its up to you as far as which company you want to go with the 120JD is a fast drive and so is the seagate also sence this is a high end system why not. Also why not a Lan-Li or mabye a Thermaltake Case. Evan i just dont understand you case choices also how about some ram that you can find. Reply
  • IceVoltageccs - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

  • Gnoad - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Yeah. I agree, bad choice on the hard drive and the case. Also, where's the FX-53? That must be better than the 3400+. Reply
  • Mackintire - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I agree about using the raptor drive. I do think that this article should be relabled mid-high end.

    I have the 74gig WD raptor drive. And yes it does blow the WD 120JB out of the water. But for a machine sitting in my room on all night. I still would prefer the seagate 7200.7, possibly in raid 0. That would still saturate the PCI bus, just like the raid Raptors. Good Idea!
  • Fr0zeN - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Yeah I just hooked up raid0 on my IDE's and instead of scoring 41mb/s on Sandra, I score 55mb/s haha... I notice like no difference.

    Mushkin Level Ones are disappearing fast, and can't be had for that cheap anymore. As for OCZ Revision 2, OCZ has officially discontinued the product for MONTHS, you can still find 256mb sticks but 512mb sticks? In your dreams. If you're in the market for obsolete RAM, might as well auction for pc3500 level 2 mushkins off Ebay while you're at it. Looks like if you want to build this system you're on your own when it comes to RAM.
  • mino - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    #10 Exactcly, New raptor is Gorgoeus, take note I DON'T like WD, but this product has no match yet, exactly as 7k400 doesnn't have :) Reply
  • Rekonn - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    #7, While raid 0 does improve performance, it's doesn't do it by 40% in general. Typical improvement is more like 10%, see

    If you have extra $$ you're better off getting the raptor than going raid0 with two 7200rpm drives.
  • mino - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Yes, It does have.

    1) 3400+ should be FX-53, since next year there will be dual-core Opteron !!! Great upgrade option!

    2) WD 1200JB is pretty shitty drive(buggy, NOISY, slow), 1x Raptor system + 1xHitachi 7k400 400G for storage

    3) MSI Main ?? It is a Joke, I hope ! It's like recommending ECS to server :)

    And overal I mean that You should extend 4 guides systems to 5 or 6:

    Allways reliability is first but second is:
    1.) <$400 Low End -> price
    2.) <$800 Mid Range ->price/perf ratio
    3.) <$2000 High End ->performance, price/perf (3200+ wil suffice)
    4.) <$5000 Enthusiast ->performance (FX-53 is a MUST)
    5.) <$600 Low End overclock ->price/perf after overclock
    6.) <$1500 High End overclock ->price/perf after overclock

    When last 6th guide is only as an option an both 5th and 6th are now well enough represented by Overclock system guide.

    You will also get one week + time distance in between guides what proves to me to be pretty neccesary after some full cycles of guides since You usually doesn't have what to change.
  • Tokat - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Whoops! Sorry, i'm new to this forum stuff here! Hey everybody. I just wanted to say that I agree with the stuff about the quicker raptors, and since the recommended motherboard has SATA RAID onboard, why not make it 2xRaptors? That'd be great performance and enough space!... as for somebody talking about 2x1200JB drives in raid mode... does this mobo have IDE RAID?? Reply
  • Pjotr - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I agree with 6, dual 120 GB S-ATA drives are so cheap today, you get in general 40 % performance increase on the slowest part of your system. Reply
  • nigham - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    In my experience, getting two harddisks in a RAID array increases performance much more than say, going from a 2.8 GHz to a 3.4 GHz processor, especially for desktop applications. Why not recommend a RAID array for the "high-end" user? Reply
  • GokieKS - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I have to second the comment about the case. For a system of this stature, a better case is very much warranted. Heck, I personally think even the Kingwin KT-424 is a better case than the K11 (I hate the acrylic front), and that's about the same price. Beyond that, I think the CoolerMasters and Silverstones are worth the increased cost. Even the SST-TJ03 Nimiz wouldn't be out of place. Sure, $270 more (much more) than what most people would spend on a case, but it's such a well-built case with great features (not that you need the Extended ATX support...) that it's warranted for a high-end system. Reply
  • TrueWisdom - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    One thing that has always shocked me is the lack of emphasis put on the hard drive, especially in this latest "High End System" guide. The Western Digital Raptor is the single fastest desktop-oriented hard drive on the market: in single-user scenarios, it is neck-and-neck (and often outperforms!) 15K U320 SCSI drives. I've built computers with a spectrum of hard drives, from 5400RPM 2MB to the Raptor itself, and as far as speed goes, it's like comparing a GeforceMX 200 to a Radeon 9800XT: the difference really is that dramatic. Not even the Special Edition WD drives can hold a candle to the Raptor, and in a high-end system, you can't ignore something like that. Furthermore, the noise difference between the 1st gen (36GB) and 2nd gen (74GB) Raptors is very noticeable. While I understand the desire to keep costs down, please realize that you are sacrificing more than "just a little" performance when you pass over the 74GB Raptor. For verification of everything I've said, go to They have in-depth benchmarks of basically every notable hard drive released in the past 5 years, and then you'll see how badly other desktop drives are outclassed by the Raptor. Reply
  • Mackintire - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I can not fathom the idea of using a Western Digital 1200JB (120G) anymore. Having experienced Seagate's 7200.7 FDB serial ATA (120G) hard drive it is plain and simply no contest. The Seagate drive is faster, quieter, more reliable, runs cooler, and has a higher sustained transfer rate.

    I build near 30 computers a month, and since I have switched to Seagate's hard drives with FDB I have not had a single return due to bearing noise. I had a 3 out of 10 western digital drive bearing failure rate.

  • ducsauce - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I've been reading your guides on mid-level and high-end systems for a while and have been hunting for the OCZ 3700 gold revision ii recommended in this guide. this product seems to have disappeared. is this because they're running out of low latency chips or just the product coming to the end of its life cycle. either way, shouldn't you guys make recommendations on stuff that can be easily found on the internet? is there an alternative to the OCZ chip? i'm planning to build a system soon but the mushkin 3500 level I doesnt give me much headroom and i kind of missed out on the level II sticks last year.


  • TrogdorJW - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Wow... no comments yet! Well, I'll just toss in my two cents.

    I realize you guys are big fans of the Inwin case, but can't we at least get *one* alternate recommendation? I mean, this is high end, so potentially you could look at the $200 cases. Yes, price is still a consideration, but there must be at least one other case worth considering. Really, I'm just getting tired of seeing the same case in almost every price guide. :)

    For mid-range, I like Antec's SLK3700-BQE. On the high end, though, I'm not really sure. The Inwin is really still a mid-range case, if you ask me. $120 with a power supply is not too expensive. So go nuts, and recommend something really good as the alternative. Maybe the Lian Li, or maybe a Cooler Master, or whatever.

    Otherwise, I like the setup. It's just too expensive for me. (Although I did pick up that exact same Mushkin RAM not too long ago - great stuff!)

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