Index

Currently, we are experimenting a bit with our Buyer's Guides to see if we can better meet the needs of a wider range of users, both in terms of the components that we recommend and the prices of those components. We will continue to produce an Entry Level, Mid-Range, High End, and Overclocking system every month, but we have also decided to include SFF guides and perhaps a mobile-related guide to our arsenal as well. We will keep with our current format (Week 1: Entry Level System, Week 2: Mid-Range System, Week 3: High End System, Week 4: Overclocking System) until we get a better feel for what our readers want. So far, everything looks to be on schedule for AnandTech's first SFF Buyer's Guide next week. So, if you feel like letting us know what you'd like to see in terms of component picks and price points on those picks in future guides, go ahead and write up your feelings in our comments section, located at the bottom of the page.

With that out of the way, we are still going to continue to evaluate products like we have in all our other guides over the last few months. That is, for every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our 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 (especially for those willing to spend a little more than what we budget for a particular system). To be clear, alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still be assertive enough with a first place recommendation so that new buyers aren't indecisive or confused about what to purchase. 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.com. We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine 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 all by yourself.

Mid-Range

While entry level (budget) systems should mainly be constructed with reliability and price in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration, mid-range systems have a slightly different order of priority. Reliability is still #1 priority, but performance and price are in a sort of a tie when building that mid-range system. Performance isn't of the utmost importance in this type of system, but it's also not ignored nearly as much as a plain, old entry level system is. Similarly, price isn't of utmost importance either, but buyers building a mid-range system must be mindful of the price of components nonetheless. Performance and price don't lag too far behind reliability for mid-range systems, in other words.

With that all said, let's take a look at this week's new recommendations and alternatives.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • Holyhandgren - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    where can i find the K11 case? i've looked around and havent been able to find it anywhere.. Reply
  • Holyhandgren - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • computerfan - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    I am also looking forward to the SFF review. I am going to be building a system around the Antec Aria. I already have a good idea for most of the components except for the big question mark beside the motherboard. I want an AMD mobo that is fast, without IGP. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Reply
  • wardhand - Monday, June 21, 2004 - link

    Looking forward to your SSF round-up. I'm getting ready to build a budget SFF for my wife. I'm looking at the Antec Aria case and a Athlon XP CPU (probably a 2800). I have not decided on the motherboard, so I look forward to your review. Reply
  • Locutus4657 - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    #15 Last maxtor I had was absolutly silent... As is the IBM/Hitachi deskstar I'm currently using as my misc drive. My new WD 120 however I can actually hear which makes it significatly louder than my Maxtor 40GB or my IBM 80GB. Reply
  • Nighteye2 - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    Not a whole lot. Modern graphics cards do most of the visual work, anyway.
    Reply
  • michaelpatrick33 - Saturday, June 19, 2004 - link

    i have a xp 2400 and i just ordered the x800xt platinum for $435.00 shipped online. How cpu clogged will i be until i upgrade to a 3500 or 3800 around september. I have a 9600 pro now. Also what power supply would i need minimum for the x800xt. i have a 300 watt now thanks sorry for a little off topic Reply
  • justbrowzing - Saturday, June 19, 2004 - link

    These are terrific guides & the idea to expand alternatives is a good one. But bang-for-buck performance shouldn't be the only criterion for selection.

    Component noise is important for many people, or should be, because you don't realize it until after you've bought & installed it that it's driving you crazy--those WD HDDs being a prime example.

    Also, flat-screen monitors just simply can't be ignored anymore, and a 17 in. lcd should be included as a truly alternative monitor, not just another crt. You're fighting a losing battle here: crts just hog way too much desktop real estate & look like tech dinosaurs, no matter how well they perform (though lcds have no image distortion).
    Reply
  • Xaazier - Saturday, June 19, 2004 - link

    1200 is high end to me :( Reply
  • SKiller - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    "The Maxtor drive is the obvious choice as it has no whine thanks to its fluid-bearings"

    Hmm not sure which model of Maxtor you're referring to, but the recent models I've seen are pretty loud. Noticeably louder than WD (assuming they're not the defective "whine" ones) and a definitely louder than Seagate's.
    Reply

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