Buyer's Guide: High End System - May 2004

by Wesley Fink on 5/26/2004 11:00 AM EST
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  • MadAd - Monday, May 31, 2004 - link

    I just wish you guys would do a 'dream' system, money NO object - us geeks like to dream, even if we cant afford fibre raided flash drives and $2000 sound setups ..... it only has to be like once every 3 months or so, just for drooling rights - awww go on :) Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Monday, May 31, 2004 - link

    This comment thread seems to be pretty dead now, but I thought I'd just tack this on...

    Maybe there should be a high-end gaming system and a high-end everything-but-gaming system.

    A lot of newer game engines are SMP capable though, so the two may become one in the near future.
    Reply
  • qquizz - Saturday, May 29, 2004 - link

    GLARING ERROR ALLOWED TO STAND:

    As noted days ago in this forum, I can't believe Anandtech has allowed this error not to be changed yet in this sentence in the storage section of the article:

    "Those concerned about data security more than ultimate speed can configure the drives as RAID 0, or mirroring."
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Saturday, May 29, 2004 - link

    I wish I could just edit one of the posts above... Anyway, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense that the Iwill doesn't support DDR400 though because the memory controller is on the processor die. ???

    But, if the manufacturer doesn't claim it supports it, than it seems reasonable to go with a manufacturer that does. After all, when you're spending this much money on a system, compatibility becomes very important!
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Saturday, May 29, 2004 - link

    Uh, scratch the Iwill board. It only supports up to DDR333!

    Looks like the TYAN Thunder K8W is about the only choice.
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Saturday, May 29, 2004 - link

    Roostercrows, another motherboard that supports all the features listed above is the Iwill DK8X.

    Can't seem to find any others...
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Saturday, May 29, 2004 - link

    #52, If you are considering a dual-opteron setup, than I should also let you know that the only mobo I could find that uses the NUMA (microsoft.com has quite a bit of info on NUMA) configuration and has AGP8X, PCI-X, and legacy PCI is the TYAN Thunder K8W. If anyone knows of any others that have all these features, please post the info. Reply
  • roostercrows - Saturday, May 29, 2004 - link

    #50, Yes, I did read all the posts including #39
    and I didn't mean to imply that you used the term best "bang for the buck". sorry if I gave that impression.
    I'm building a new computer and have the dual raptor hard drives and one maxtor 200 GB, power supply from PC power & cooling, video card X800, monitor (not my white wall #51 but that was funny), case is a coolermaster stacker, I'm trying to decide which processor and mobo to use and this was the first I had heard of possibly using a dual opteron and it sounds interesting as cadcam use is part of my goal but I need to learn a lot more. Thanks for your opinion since the WinXP64 is what I'm building the system for.
    Reply
  • Neekotin - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    yo guys, it just hit me. this is a high-end sys... why not get a white wall and good projector, imagine your monitor as the entire wall. ;) Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    #49, Did you take a look at the article listed in post #39?

    Oh, and I at least never claimed a dual-processor system gives you more "bang for the buck." I do believe it gives you quite a bit more mileage out of the hardware you purchase considering the direction Windows is heading (referring to Windows XP 64-bit edition, of course). Also, the benefit of doubling the memory bandwidth as well once WinXP64 is released (because of NUMA support) should increase performance in all applications, 32 or 64 bit. The legacy PCI bus is a severe bottleneck to all connected peripherals largely due to the fact that they all have to share the same bandwidth. Most of the newer dual-processor boards offer alternatives to just a single legacy PCI bus because of the chipsets they use and features of the AMD Opteron cpus.

    Considering all of the above, I don't believe an Intel dual-processor system contains enough worthwhile features to justify the purchase.

    Again, as far as the hard numbers, please refer to the URL listed in post #39.
    Reply
  • roostercrows - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    The article was excellent, thank you Wesley, and considering all the informed comments it received I'm not alone in looking forward to reading more of them. Not to add yet another category to what must already be a lot of work for you guys but is there somewhere I could see the entire dual processor systems that have been suggested by some advanced members, after they are built and running of course, including performance/prices and why they feel they have assembled a better "bang for the buck" high-end system? Reply
  • roostercrows - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • Sparkywonderchicken - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Sorry I hit send too fast. I have heard many complaints about DVD-R burning from these units. Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    I agree with #44--A high-end system and an overclocking rig should not be classified as the same.
    Reply
  • Sparkywonderchicken - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Don't you mean NuTech DDW-082?? for the DVD?? Reply
  • bigtoe33 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Overclocking is mainly about what boards and cpu's will do the high fsb's, also what is the most bang per buck as overclockers mainly buy cheap and clock up to gain the speed.

    I would expect Wesley will show some 300+fsb action on A64 as well as the cheap 2.4a prescott running 180fsb+....these are things you will find on an overclocking rig and not a high end ;-)
    Reply
  • azndelite6983 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the response, Wesley. I appreciate that you guys do these guides at all, considering the monumental task of trying to keep up with new hardware.

    What I don't quite understand is that any high-end system would be a terrific overclocking possibility, and although u supposedly have a different guide for that, it might be nice to see some suggestions on oc settings for the high-end system as well as possible mods (cooling mostly). I'm not sure I see the necessity of having an "overclocking system" when the parts remain very close to the high-end system. Also the fact that anyone willing to spend anywhere close to $5000 on a computer should really know what they are doing, but may want some advice on how to get the most out of their already quick setup.
    Reply
  • markz - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    I agree with #40.

    That is all.
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    To correct what I said in #39, more games support SMP now than I had previously thought...
    Link for FAQ:
    http://home.swbell.net/m3tech/hard/smp_games.html
    Reply
  • Murst - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Wesley & Evan,
    First of all, thanks for the guides (this is my favorite part of anandtech and its probably the reason why I've been visiting this site more than any other lately). I do have some reccomendations, however.

    It seems to me that your definitions of low/mid/high are rather difficult to understand. It actually kind of reminds me of intel's new naming policy. Why use words that don't really mean anything when you can give numbers which are descriptive? Here is an exmaple of what I'm thinking (my goal is clarity).

    -------------------------------------------

    Old name: New name:
    entry-level System for under $800
    mid-range System for under $1500
    high-range System for under $2500
    .......... System for under $4000

    -------------------------------------------

    I think this would make your goals in these articles much more clear, as people would understand exactly what goes into making the decisions. Also, my numbers may not be accurate, as I don't have much experience with pricing systems.

    Overall, good work on this article, and I do believe that it is much closer to what "I" believe is a high-end system as compared to the last article.

    I'll be looking forward to the next system reccomendations, especially to what 939 will bring.
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    #37-

    Other than encoding, which is the only area the Intel camp has a lead on the AMD64 chips, a Pentium 4 3.4GHz Extreme Edition is outpaced by the FX-53. How then can you make claims the Xeons would be better? For dual systems, no matter which camp you get your processors from, a single processor-based system of the same type is faster in most of today's games because they don't support dual-processing. Now, the latest and new generations of games are, so purchasing a dual-board with only a single CPU may be an option. However, the Xeons still only have a 533MHz FSB, so memory bandwidth is severely limited with the Xeons in comparison with an AMD FX or Opteron system.

    For some numbers to back this up, check this URL out:
    http://www.techreport.com/reviews/2004q2/opteron-x...

    Good riddance, Xeon.
    Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    #37, I think you're completely wrong on a few points. First of all, the *only* area where Athlon 64/FX don't easily compete (and often beat) Intel is in the encoding benchmarks. News flash: games DO NOT do any video or audio encoding. Secondary news flash: encoding/decoding is one area that benefits tremendously from native 64-bit integers. Hyper Threading? It's okay, but 64-bit is more important in encoding. (Look up some 64-bit benchmarks if you don't believe me.)

    SSE support? Well, Intel is probably better, but SSE support is still not the be-all, end-all of technologies. (And the 64/FX is a lot better than the old Athlon XP at SSE, partly because it supports SSE2.) Hand-coded SSE is fast, but a lot of people don't bother with hand coding anything. All 64-bit compilers give you 64-bit integer support, but not all 32-bit compilers can generate decent SSE/SSE2 code (if they generate any SSE at all).

    R420 vs. 6800 is an interesting debate, but the X800 Pro is available NOW while the 6800 - ANY 6800! - is still unavailable. As the article pointed out, this battle is not yet decided, but for now the only available cards are the X800 Pros. SM3 may or may not be important - especially considering that some of the games coming out with SM3 patches (Far Cry) are currently running 95% of their effects in SM1. SM2 can do 95% of the stuff that SM3 can do, so SM2 patches might be a better plan.

    Finally, two 3 GHz Xeons might indeed be cheaper than an Athlon FX-53 or a P4EE, but they are only good for SMP capable programs. Encoding would be faster, 3D rendering in programs like Lightwave and 3D Studio would be faster, but gaming would be markedly slower. Either the FX is a great choice for gaming, or a dual-Xeon (or dual-Opteron) would be a great choice for professional work. But you can't criticize the choice of the FX for "future gaming performance" and then whine about the lack of SMP two paragraphs later.
    Reply
  • T8000 - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    With this system, you build something for a future that may never come, because the Athlon FX is build to make todays games run faster, but for tomorrows games it may well be a lame duck, because of its lack of raw encoding power, that could be very important to make games look better, while todays games do not gain much on a fast CPU yet.

    Furthermore, the R420 graphics adaptor may have to run in compatibility mode as soon as next month, when the first patches for PS 3.0 become available.

    Also, fast harddisks are hardly used in real world situations, except for heavy duty encoding, where the chosen CPU lags behind because of its lack of HT and its meager SSE support.

    So I would suggest to wait for the Geforce 6800, because of its (usable) better feature set and I think that dual Xeons will make for a much faster real world experience in about any task, while two 3 Ghz units are less expensive than a single 2,4 Ghz Athlon FX and mainboards are available in the same price range as well.
    Reply
  • tmhartsr - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    SUPERB! High End should be High End and you finally got there. But I still believe that High End should also include 15K RPM SCSI 320 on a fast buss MOBO and that mid-range should include 10K SATA? Drive performance dramatically effects the noticable quickness of a PC and is much over looked by most folks!
    Terry Sr
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    #33 -

    That is why we also have Buying Guides for Entry Level and Mid-Range systems. Yes, at 2.4GHz the FX 53 is faster than a 3400+ at 2.2GHz. It is both a higher clock speed and a Dual-Channel memory processor.

    For every complaint that our High End is too expensive, I have 10 complaining that we haven't spent enough for a high-end system. Value is ALWAYS a real concern at AnandTech, both in reviews and in all our guides. As I stated in the review, performance is my first concern here - within reason.

    You should look at Evan's Entry and Mid-Range Guides for your $500-$1000 budget suggestion.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    #33 -

    That is why we also have Buying Guides for Entry Level and Mid-Range systems. Yes, at 2.4GHz the FX 53 is faster than a 3400+ at 2.2GHz. It is both a higher clock speed and a Dual-Channel memory processor.

    For every complaint that our High End is too expensive, I have 10 complaining that we haven't spent enough for a high-end system. Value is ALWAYS a real concern at AnandTech, both in reviews and in all our guides. As I stated in the review, performance is my first concern here - within reason.

    You should look at Evan's Entry and Mid-Range Guides for your $500-$1000 budget suggestion.
    Reply
  • snipy - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    It seems that we are having issues with the definition of a "High End" system. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Wesley, you have made an overall excellent technical article but what I think people have been getting at is: "How can we use this?"

    When you define High-End as "the best performance that you can buy for a given need," it fails to take into account some issues.

    As you briefly touched upon in your article, for every increase in performance, you spend significantly more... eventually you have diminishing returns, as putting in $100's yields a tiny percentage of performance gain.

    (But when you allow for $5000 in spending you will confirm again and again to our great surprise that the most expensive parts will indeed yield the best performance).

    When I come to AnandTech.com, I come for two things: technical information, and judgment calls from very experienced and knowledgeable people.

    What I want is YOUR judgment call. Should I pay hundreds more for an A64FX when there are A64s (or P4's, or AthlonXPs, etc etc) that are so close in performance? Would you be able to easily justify such a cost? Where on the price/performance curve should we target?

    There are no easy answers to these questions. These questions are tough to answer. I definitely appreciate that you are trying to give solid, fact-based advice that is hard to dispute. But that is not why people read guides.

    The thing is: if you can't/won't answer these questions, how can people who have a fraction of your experience be able to? So what I want is for you to go out on a branch and say "I think this is the best point on the price to performance graph, therefore this product is best."

    What I think would help you focus is to tackle the problem they way a buyer does: Allot a budget. What I mean by this is: "I want the best [gaming, workstation, etc] system I can get for [$500, $650, $800, $950, $1100, and so on]."

    Why make increments so small? Well, I think the toughest buying decisions are in range of 500-1000. To get the most out of their systems, people need to know where to spend the money.

    I know that working under the constrained budgets will make these guides HUGELY helpful. When people set out to buy computer parts (or most things for that matter), they typically work out what they can spend first, and THEN go to buy the best they can get.
    Reply
  • snipy - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    It seems that we are having issues with the definition of a "High End" system. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Wesley, you have made an overall excellent technical article but what I think people have been getting at is: "How can we use this?"

    When you define High-End as "the best performance that you can buy for a given need," it fails to take into account some issues.

    As you briefly touched upon in your article, for every increase in performance, you spend significantly more... eventually you have diminishing returns, as putting in $100's yields a tiny percentage of performance gain.

    (But when you allow for $5000 in spending you will confirm again and again to our great surprise that the most expensive parts will indeed yield the best performance).

    When I come to AnandTech.com, I come for two things: technical information, and judgment calls from very experienced and knowledgeable people.

    What I want is YOUR judgment call. Should I pay hundreds more for an A64FX when there are A64s (or P4's, or AthlonXPs, etc etc) that are so close in performance? Would you be able to easily justify such a cost? Where on the price/performance curve should we target?

    There are no easy answers to these questions. These questions are tough to answer. I definitely appreciate that you are trying to give solid, fact-based advice that is hard to dispute. But that is not why people read guides.

    The thing is: if you can't/won't answer these questions, how can people who have a fraction of your experience be able to? So what I want is for you to go out on a branch and say "I think this is the best point on the price to performance graph, therefore this product is best."

    What I think would help you focus is to tackle the problem they way a buyer does: Allot a budget. What I mean by this is: "I want the best [gaming, workstation, etc] system I can get for [$500, $650, $800, $950, $1100, and so on]."

    Why make increments so close? Well, I think the toughest buying decisions are in range of 500-1000. To get the most out of their systems, people need to know where to spend the money.

    I know that working under the constrained budgets will make these guides HUGELY helpful. When people set out to buy computer parts (or most things for that matter), they typically work out what they can spend first, and THEN go to buy the best they can get.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    #30 - I have not ignored the Stacker at all, and I'm also impressed with the Stacker design. I did consider it, but it is pretty industrial-looking and better suited for the Overclocking System in my estimation than for the High End System. Overclockers tend to hang on to cases and move a lot of hardware through a case so the ATX/BTX makes a lot of sense in that situation.

    What I'm saying is I would buy a stacker for myself, but I would more likely recommend the elegant Praetorian or maybe even the slick blue-lighted Wave for a High End system.

    To be frank, I am reworking the audio and speaker sections for the next Guide, it is just the Guide is huge and I decided to delay a rework of those sections until the next installment. There will also be further updates to the Monitor section.
    Reply
  • azndelite6983 - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    I have to say I enjoy reading the System Guides as a way to stay on top of the top performaing hardware, but I find that some of the really new stuff is overlooked and future technologies are sometimes ignored, which could result in buying a $3000 system that will be outdated in months.

    I also cannot see how you can leave out the Klipsch Promedia Ultra 5.1's in your audio systems. At a price less than half of the GigaWorks, they offer top end performance greater than any existing logitech system and have available SWS sub daisy-chaining.

    On a similar note, you have ignored the availability of the first BTX compatible case, the CoolerMaster Stacker, which is not only a fantastic and well built ATX case, but can be reconfigured into the BTX format for later use.

    Also Dell's 19" lcd has a lower 16ms response time and has IQ much higher than most others, while not breaking the bank at about $800.
    Reply
  • Modal - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    RE #25:

    I just built a system with two 74GB raptors in RAID 0, and I can tell you that they are, surprisingly, not that loud. I'm using a Thermaltake 480W PSU with a fan speed controller; when I have it cranked, I can't hear my hard drives at all. When I have the PSU fan turned down, I can hear them a little, little bit, but its nothing like a 'jet engine.'
    Reply
  • KenRico - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    #23 and #24 make good points on structure and the $5k target.

    If the Display Speaker and KB&Mouse are removed it gives alot more latitude in the System Components with the $5k ceiling.

    The FX53 is going up +$66 dollars 06/01 a little bird told me. Hopefully the Opteron 150 will remain the same as it is showing at $600ish
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    Oh, I forgot to clarify something...

    The reason I said AMD was the obvious choice is that the only motherboards available now with support for AGP 8X, PCI-X, and legacy 32-bit PCI currently only support AMD64. Why? Intel doesn't seem to want us to have it all just yet. AMD's chipsets gives us the technology, now.

    Disclaimer: I used to be a die-hard Intel fan, then after doing a little research I found out that AMD is by far the technology leader for the x86, and not just because of the AMD64 chips.

    I guess I couldn't stay off my kick for long...
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    I have to agree with #23. There are a lot of possibilities with a $5,000 limit, and a lot of biases toward certain brands among the readers (Intel or AMD).

    So, since AMD is the obvious choice for the "Uber" system, what about throwing in an Adaptec 2810SA Hardware RAID controller and setup 8 74/36GB Raptors as one RAID 5 array using hot-swappable bays. Of course, you're going to need a serious case for this as well.

    Noise? You can't be concerned with noise when it comes to the "Uber" system. Maybe some sound-dampening measures could be taken, but other than that... Besides, could you imagine the sound of 8 10K RPM raptors all churning together? POWER. SPEED. PERFORMANCE. That's the only mantra for the "Uber" system.

    Alright, I'll get off my kick for now...
    Reply
  • Frallan - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    I love reading your guides I don't always agree on choises but that is not the point is it? Just getting a thought through well argumented article to read in an area where I myself have alot ideas and thoughts is very valueble. So therefore Thx for these guids. (Btw #21 pls read up b4 starting to shout your head off).

    Now to the issues:

    1. Re: the overclocking guide (where I really have an interest) Pls. incl. a top performer kit - means not only the best OC in terms of how OC-able but also a maximum performance OCed kit.

    2. Re: The choise of the 10.000 rpm HD:s I have not have the guts to get these drives yet since I have to be in the same room as the box. Just how loud are they in this system? (2*10.000 rpm makes my Jet-enging warning alarm to go off.)

    Thx and keep up the good work - you have picked up the slack where other hardware sites have deterioated the last year :).
    Reply
  • Mackintire - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    Great job on the guide, I really disagreed on Evan's previous choices. You definately are at least in the ballpark. What confuses me is the $5000 limit. If its a $5000 limit you could do alot more, that would be the only gray area I saw. .............................................otherwise Great Job! Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    Welcome to the System Guide section, Wesley. Now you, too, can get lambasted every time you put together an article by people like #21. No complaints from me, though: I understand that there are always choices to be made. However, that said, I really doubt many people will really consider buying a $3000 PC. The $2000 high-end systems of the past were at least potentially affordable. Please try not to go much higher (despite the $5000 "limit").

    Overall, I really like the recommendations with some explanation of other alternatives. It almost seems like we should have four "high-end" system recommendations, though. One for those where money is no concern, a second for those where money is somewhat a concern, and then double that with AMD systems and Intel systems. (There are people out there that will *never* buy AMD and others that will *never* buy Intel.) So we could get an Athlon FX-53/Dual Opteron 250 system, an Athlon 64 3400+ system, an Intel P4EE/Dual Xeon system, and an Intel P4C/P4E system (depending on how things develop in the future).

    Not sure how feasible this is, but it seems like you really only need to list CPU, motherboard, and RAM for the four separate configurations. The remaining components could remain as they are, with two recommendations on each item (the "uber" component, and the "good" component).

    And finally, I complained about this on other guides, and the high-end guide certainly deserves this complaint as well: why is there no alternate case/PSU recommendation? Surely the Coolermaster with Antec Truepower 430W isn't the only possibility. I would like to see something more silent as a perhaps more expensive option. A case supporing 120mm fans and/or a fanless PSU might be a nice addition.

    Overall, though, great job. It's nice to see things mixed up a little after Evan Lieb's choices. Just don't get too set on the choices each month - maybe you two should alternate on the system guides each month? :)
    Reply
  • VagrantZero - Thursday, May 27, 2004 - link

    The X800Pro has been shipping for a few weaks now [not in mass quantity but if you want it you can buy it]. It's the XT and 6800U that still hasn't debuted. Reply
  • KenRico - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Anandtech Rocks...but these guides still don't.

    Another gentleman already posted but I agree that the OPTERON 148 is a better price/perfomer for the high end. About $20 more than AMD 64 3400+ with Dual Channel action ready to go.

    So kind of the guide author to post a video card that is not shipping yet either.

    I waded through all the RAM links of "Best Pricing" and the Corsairs specified in the quide are linked below.

    I learn nothing from the guides. They specify High End but still look for "value" in onboard NIC ect...then don't post price performance for CPU.

    Do we really need a guide to show us an Expensive Processor and Video Adapter?

    Where are the benchmarks on this dream system? With no OS quoted this is a collection of parts.
    Reply
  • IsThatTheTime - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    I agree with the 200Gb Seagate option, contrary to what was said earlier, they are blisteringly fast compared to their 160Gb and below versions. See Toms Hardware. I just bought four of them for two PCs.

    Couldn't agree more about the Coolermaster Praetorian, I've two and the solid build quality is breathtaking.....just change all the fans for SilenX one's for a quiet life.

    I think a good high end system should have a totally quiet profile too and would suggest the new "Etasis" 0DB! Fanless! PSU (300W) using heatpipe cooling. Totally awesome! and totally quiet. Luxury low environmental noise should come with a luxury £2000 PC.
    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    At first, I was shocked at your choice of FX53 as a cpu because this is the last of the Sckt940 FX and upgradeability to later FXs would not be possible. Upgrade ability is not one of your criteria but it certainly is mine as I expect an expensive mobo to span two generations of cpus, video cards and even memory. But really Skt940 is more trustworthy (and possibly cheaper) than even 939 as other posts point out because it is the server cpu-opteron. So the mobo might handle the dual core opterons next year. After this revelation I thought the FX51 might cut a few dollars but your price list has it $20 MORE than its bigger brother! AMD go figure?!

    The FX is still a rip-off and the new Skt 939 3800+ looks like its got a lot of grunt, according to the french article below, but runs hot (104Watts, 50-60C) and this is 130nm- Prescott anyone?:

    http://www.x86-secret.com/popups/articleswindow.ph...

    They only found 0-5% increase with dual channel for same speed cpu and it had problems with four dimms- dropped to 2T timing or to DDR333 with DS modules. And the price may be expensive with AMDs habit of selective release from the high end like previous a64s:
    http://www.overclockers.com/tips00588/

    With the Skt478 P4 you're limited as an upgrade to P4EEs coming down in price unless 3.6 N'wood or Prescott skt478 appears (which is hardly worth while anyway)- neither of which is likely.

    So the Sckt940 is not a bad option. If only those FXs would drop into the $500 range.
    Reply
  • SHO235V8 - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    I agree that there seems to be a huge spread, but I also assume it will be adjusted in the next mid level guide. I too have been waiting for the 939 boards, but I may not wait much longer considering VagrantZero's points regarding new M/B technologies and DDR2 which will be commonplace by the time I upgrade in a year or two. Besides, there are sometimes issues with the first release version of new technologies. Anyone else know of a better reason to hold off for the new boards? Will dual channel memory be that much faster? Reply
  • Dismal - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    I was a little scared at first that the non-FX Athlon 64's would be completely forgotten about when opening the guide. But I was glad to see some mentioning in there. Hopefully they will still stay in the guides. I want good performance but I just can't spend the kind of cash to buy an FX. Recommendations in the mid-range guide don't seem to fit the kind of performance I'm looking for either. (I agree with rdclark's post above about the gap between mid-range and high-end). I don't think I'm savvy enough to go with overclocking. The price of the Athlon 64 3400+ seemed to be a good match for me. Hopefully they'll still remain in the guides. Reply
  • JKing76 - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Aluminum cases don't dissipate heat any faster than steel. Reply
  • Locutus4657 - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Well I have to say, you did finally remove one of my biggest bet peives with these guides. I never could understand why Evan kept recommending 120GB drives for a high end system, Personally I'm considering getting 160GB for my system, and right now I just have an entry level computer ( AXP 2200+ ). One can never have enough hard drive space! Reply
  • GokieKS - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Great choices, and it's nice to finally have a truly good case being recommend. But since there's still such a big part of the $5K budget remaining, why not something even more high-end, like the SilverStone SST-TJ03 Nimiz? ;)

    The 193P is an excellent monitor, no doubt, but as one of the 19" LCDs limited by a 1280x1024 resolution, the extra $150 or $200 of the Viewsonic VP201 is definitely worth it. And if you have two of them... ^^

    Other than that, just about everything seems fine, even if I personally would go for the A64 3200/3400 instead of the FX53, and pair it up with a nForce3 250Gb mobo.

    ~KS
    Reply
  • Da3dalus - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Seems like good choices. The only thing I'd choose differently would be the case and the alternative 200GB HD, I'd choose the S-ATA version of that instead of the IDE version. The price difference is really tiny and S-ATA is just plain nicer (I hate those big IDE cables). Reply
  • rdclark - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    I'd like to see some performance benchmarking of these systems, especially as this high-end guide's system costs a cool thousand more than the previous high-end guide's. How much of a difference is there, or are you just buying expensive bragging rights?

    The new guide also leaves a fairly large gap between the mid-range and the high-end system; the mid-range is still suggesting an XP2800+, while this jumps right to the highest of the high-end. That removes a valuable basis for comparision (and decision-making) in the Athlon 64 3xxx space, which (IMO) seriously lowers the value of these guides.
    Reply
  • cosmotic - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Why not reccomend the DDW-082 instead of the DDW-081? Reply
  • VagrantZero - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    I wouldn't rec you getting 2gb of ram. There's nothing [aka games] out there that uses it, not even D3 or HL2. I doubt 2gigs will really become a good thing until U3 [2006] and by then DDR2 should be coming into its own making your DDR obsolete. I'd say save $300 and get a 3400+/3700+. From x86's article [foreign website, here's the translated url http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F...] the 754 3400+ was outperforming the 939 3500+ in the majority of benchs. I'll wait and see how the 3700 handles the 3800, but if it wins I'm sticking with the old socket [I'd have to upgrade my mobo eventually anyways thanks to PCI-E, SATA300, and DDR2 so 939 isn't anymore future proof for me than 754]. Plus there was talk of 104W power requirments [THAT'S MORE THAN THE PRESCOTT!] and that the new socket chips ran almost as hot as intel offerings. It's just one article so take it with a grain of salt, but I have my suspicions.

    Also, if you don't plan to OC Corsair XMSPC3500s would be a great pick.
    Reply
  • ghoti - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Thanks for these Guides! I sure appreciate them.

    I'm about to build my first system.

    Anyone know when the MSI K8N Socket 754 MB (mentioned in the Guide) will be available?

    Also, assuming I get the MSI K8N, I plan to use the AMD 64 3200, and would like to put in 2GB(?) memory. Considering possible FUTURE use (in a dual channel application), I guess I'd get a PAIR of 1024's. In checking the MSI memory compatability table, I don't see anything I recognize. Do I need to worry about that? Can I just go ahead and get one of the highly-reviewed brands/ types (e.g., Mushkin Pro). I don't plan to OC, but considering possible FUTURE use in/ with some other MB/ processor, does it make sense to get a higher speed than PC3200?

    Thanks for the input.
    Reply
  • hifisoftware - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Good to hear about the changes, hopefuly giuides will even be better with more time dedicated to them.
    Great review, nice choices.
    I would choose few componenets differently though:
    1. Secondary choice for the HD. Samsung seems to be faster then Segate in real world benches (From xbitlabs testing). Segate is one of the worst performing brands in their tsting.
    2. DVD I like NEC DVD writer more since it cost about the same (+/- few $), but there is a hack to convert it to double layer version.

    Still a great guide, lots of usefull info. Cool
    Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    For a total budget of $5,000 or less, why not opt for a mobo that can support two Opteron 250s, but only purchase one initially. The TYAN Thunder K8W supports AGP 8x/Pro, has 4 PCI-X slots (hardware RAID anybody?), and a legacy 32-bit/33MHz PCI slot. Also, the onboard gigabit ethernet chip is connected to the PCI-X bus... absolutely no bottlenecks there. And when the Windows 64-bit Home edition comes out you can slap in the second processor and 4 more DIMMS and effectively double your memory bandwidth, due to the NUMA support in Windows 64.

    My point is, if you're going to invest so much in a high-end system, why not make it as future-proof as possible by leaving open extreme expandability paths.

    PCI-X rulez.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    My bad wesley I was comparing the $404 Opteron 148 (2.2) to the $728 FX 51 (2.2). However I'm building this system with the $210 Opteron 144;) and hope to get the FX53 speeds for 1/4 the price....
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    #2 - The same speed Opteron is the 150 at 2.4GHz. It is a bit cheaper at $620 but it is hardly half the price. It is also multiplier locked where the FX is completely unlocked. If overclcoking is not important to you, then the Opteron 150 and 3200 Registered memory would be a good choice and save about $150 total.

    Your point about the Saphire Radeon 9800 PRO is well taken, and I have changed the Alternate to the 256-bit model, which I did find on Pricewatch for $192 shipped.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    #1 I agree or go for one of LG/Philips's 20" 16ms IPS LCD branded by Dell, Viewsonic, NEC, amoung others. At around $700-$1200 it's pretty competitive. Reply
  • Azmedaj - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Typo on the storage page: "Those concerned about data security more than ultimate speed can configure the drives as RAID 0, or mirroring", it Should be Raid 1 Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    Opteron is half the price as FX and is the same but for top locked multiplier, but with that ram recommedation you can OC with ease, if that's a concern.

    Also 128MB Saphire Radeon 9800 PRO for $175 shipped is the 128bit verison aka LE, I would get the 256 for $209 shipped.
    Reply
  • JGF - Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - link

    I like everything except for the CRT monitor. I would swap the samsung out for a 21" mitsubishi diamond pro 2070 or the equivalent NEC model the FP2141SB. Reply

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