Index

Due to its popularity, we are expanding AnandTech Buyer's Guides. Evan Lieb will continue to make recommendations for the Entry and Mid-Range Systems. Evan will also be launching two new guides in the near future and will be telling you more about those in the next few weeks. Guides for High End System and Overclocking System will now come from Wesley Fink, AnandTech's Motherboard, Memory and Chipset Editor. Once the new schedule gets in full swing, you will see a Guide from Evan every week and one from Wes every 2 to 3 weeks. The final changes to the schedule are still in the works, but the new Buyer's Guide schedule will appear in an upcoming Guide.

It is unlikely that two Enthusiasts would agree on every component in a system, and Editors are no different. Different editors have different ideas of what constitutes a High End and Overclocking System. High End, in my estimation, 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, you will see the scales tip toward performance in my 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 very own 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 or Wes. 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 is put together with different concerns than an entry level or mid-range system.
  • Entry level systems should be constructed mainly with price and reliability in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration.
  • Mid-range systems place reliability as a number one priority, but price and performance are in a not-so-distant tie for second place.
Evan Lieb, our Editor for Entry and Mid-Range Buyers Guides, goes into a more in-depth explanation of the priorities with entry level and mid-range systems in his ongoing Entry Level and Mid-Range Guides that appear each month.

A High End system should represent the best performance 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 Buyers Guides.

With performance as the most important consideration in a high-end system, reliability becomes the second most important consideration. Truthfully, reliability is in most cases just as important as performance, since it does no good to put together an expensive high-end system that you can not 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 needs to realize that the best performing parts aren't usually going to be the cheapest parts. On the other hand, the value and performance you get for your dollars in today's computer market are the best that we have ever seen 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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  • 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

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