You do the research on the products. You read all the reviews. You even discuss with friends. But even with all that information, building your own perfect personalized system from scratch can be quite a daunting task. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that we’ve had request after request to provide some system recommendations.
This article represents the second edition of the AnandTech Buyer's Guide and we’ll be providing some system recommendations, including a value and high-end system in 3 categories – small office / home office (SOHO), gaming, and professional. We’ve also thrown in a Dream System that represents what we would buy if money were no object. Remember that these are just a few recommendations from us if we were building the systems. Obviously, each individual’s needs will vary greatly. But that’s the beauty of building a custom system - it can be tailored to fit those special needs.
Every component from the motherboard to the case to the monitor is covered for each system. Sample prices based on a review of popular vendors and price search engines across the web are included as well. Note that shipping is not included in these prices. An OS recommendation is included, but the price is not included in the total system price listed. Components that are not readily obtainable were automatically out of the running for any system in the Buyer’s Guide. Where possible, we’ll link to reviews of the individual products on AnandTech for more in depth information.
This month, we've seen the traditional price drops that we've come to expect and love from the fast paced computer industry. Intel and AMD are both selling CPU's like hotcakes, so prices on the higher end models have remained mostly unchanged. However, the introduction of the Coppermine128 based Celerons had led to some price drops and increased performance in the low end. The upcoming launch of the AMD Spitfires, AMD's budget Athlon chip with on-die cache, means that we'll continue to see this trend of more for your money in the low end.
As you may have noticed from coverage on AnandTech, spring time means that the video card wars are ready to errupt again with NVIDIA, ATI, and 3dfx all preparing to launch new products in the near future. While these cards weren't available in time for consideration in this months buyer's guide, it is worth noting that they are just over the horizon and certainly worth waiting for if you can. Look for the GeForce 2 GTS to be the first out of the gate in the coming weeks. Even if you don't need something that powerful, its worth waiting because along with new products come inevitable price drops on the old models.
One area in which we have seen massive price drops is RDRAM, down almost 50%. As more manufacturers hop on the bandwagon, and yields improve from experience prices were bound to drop eventually. Rambus actually recently relaxed the specifications a bit, allowing for more manufacturers to be certified and higher yields to be possible. Unfortunately, a 128MB stick of RDRAM will still run you about 5 times the price of SDRAM of the same size.
By popular request, RAID controllers have found their way into the high-end systems in this months guide. Since we've been harping on the importance of hard drive speed and its effective on every day system use, it only makes sense to go with a RAID configuration if possible, especailly since RAID has finally become an economically feasible option.
Also be popular request, we've also introduced summary of system components with prices at the end of the article for quick reference purposes. Total system price can also be found in the summary section to make things even easier.
Ok enough updates, let's see those systems!