Index

As we detailed in our last High End Buyer's Guide, the 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 is in full swing, Wes will have a new guide every 2 to 3 weeks. Evan Lieb will continue the Entry and Mid-Level Buyer's Guides. Evan will also be debuting some new guides, with the goal of a new Buyer's Guide every week once the new guides are launched. The final Buyer's Guides additions are still in the works, so if you have a recommendation for Evan on a Buyer's Guide that you would like to see, then email your ideas to Evan.

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. 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. 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 by emailing your suggestions for new guides to Evan; the Guides are to help you with your buying decisions.

High End

A High End system should represent the best performance, features, and flexibility 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 Buyer's 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 that 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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  • randomly - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Part of what I consider essential in a high end system is a fairly Quiet machine. Especially these days with 480W supplies and the power disappation of CPUs and Video cards getting so high fan noise is getting way out of hand. After years of trying to build quiet fan cooled machines I moved to water cooling. Water cooled cases are vastly quieter than any fan based system. I've also found all my water cooled systems (CPU,GPU,Chipset) to be considerably more reliable and stable, especially when overclocked, compared to my fan based systems. I currently use Koolance PC2-601 water cooled cases as they are very quick to set up, have temperature monitoring, temperature variable fan speed, and overtemp alarms (saved me once so far). They are fairly quiet but I think there is room for improvement. Koolance uses 80mm fans on the top of the case. A system with 120mm fans buried inside the case would have a definite sound level advantage. There are also better designed and made cases than the Koolance, the trick is marrying one with a good water cooling kit. I would love to see your recomendations for cases and water cooling kits that would be appropriate for your High end / Overclocked systems. Quiet power supply recommendations that also fit the power and reliability bill would also be great to see.
    Water cooling used to be restricted to the home hobbiest/handyman types, but with the current kits out there from several manufacturers it has become almost as turn key as installing a motherboard, and the benefits are considerable. I think you should seriously look into it for your reviews. Once you've had a quiet PC, you'll never go back.
    Reply
  • m4trix - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    I saw that. definately good to hear.

    What about the OCZ PC3700 EB? I havn't seen that anywhere. either that or I'm blind :O
    Reply
  • the5thgeek - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Monarch is taking preorders for about $166.
    http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/merchant....
    Reply
  • the5thgeek - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • m4trix - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    I finally found the K8N Neo2 mobo

    And after expecting something NEAR the "$170 shipped" price quoted in the article, I was horrified to discover it's almost $400. there goes that dream. ($389.95 before shipping).
    I hope there are some WAY cheaper retailers out there in the near future...

    http://www.atacom.com/program/print_html_new.cgi?c...
    Reply
  • expletive - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    I should have said, with the Athlon 64 3500+ and the MSI Nforce 3 board...

    What if i wanted to try and overclock at all?

    John
    Reply
  • expletive - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Will this memory be a working substitute in this high end system? I would hate to waste it...

    https://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?P...

    John
    Reply
  • phray - Monday, July 19, 2004 - link

    #38 Parc: I emailed MSI a week ago and i was told by Chad Long (chadl@msicomputer.com) that it would be out "late July to beginning of August in the US." Feel free to email him and see if you get any official date.

    I need to upgrade before Quakecon, but this board may not be out in time...
    Reply
  • Anemone - Saturday, July 17, 2004 - link

    Agree on the 6800U. And as I've commented on the Intel oc article you recently wrote, its quite amusing that well over a dozen sites are all recommending the FX over Intel solutions. Thanks for a great read on what to build :)
    Reply
  • Parc - Thursday, July 15, 2004 - link

    I have been waiting for this board a while. Msi at first told me it would be out the last week of June or first week of July. The first week of July Msi told me it is done but I do not see it any where. Does anybody have any info on waht the deal with this board is? Where is it at and when will I be able to buy it. Reply

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