Today, we release our third Buyer's Guide in the last 3 weeks. Again, for those new to our Buyer's Guides, you can look forward to them every week, and after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. The basic format of these guides are as follows:

Week 1: Budget System
Week 2: Mid-Range System
Week 3: Cutting Edge System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we pick our favorite piece of hardware as well as our runner-up piece of hardware. We've added runner-up 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). At the same time, we can 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 In addition to our Buyer's Guides and RealTime pricing engine, we suggest that you peruse our Price Guides so that you are not only informed about the best hardware for your computing needs, but also where to find the best deals on that hardware.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides. If you feel we are not including a wide enough variety of systems in our guides, please let us know and we can see if it warrants an additional weekly Buyer's Guide.

Cutting Edge Computing

Before we go into a little detail about what you need to know about building a cutting edge system, we need to first reiterate what you should remember about budget and mid-range systems.
  1. Budget systems should be constructed mainly with reliability and price in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration.
  2. Mid-range systems place reliability as a number one priority, but performance and price are in a sort of not-so-distant tie for second place here.
For a more in-depth explanation of our thoughts on what you should prioritize with budget and mid-range systems, take a look at our Budget and Mid Range Guides from the last two weeks here and here.

Anyway, when building a cutting edge system, performance is usually going to be your most important consideration. That is, when building a cutting edge system, you want to make sure you're picking the hardware that performs the best for the programs you use the most. While you could say that reliability is the second most important consideration when building a cutting edge system, it would probably be more appropriate to say that reliability is #1a priority. Understandably, price is a distant third consideration. This should be pretty self explanatory, as anyone who is considering building a top-of-the-line system needs to realize that parts aren't going to be cheap, obviously. This guide by no means disregards price altogether, as we aren't going to be building a $10,000 system here. What we are building is a system that will cost under $5,000, but with the final price much closer to $1,000 than $5,000.

With that information in mind, read on to find out our picks for best cutting edge components this week...

CPU picks...
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  • Modal - Friday, March 5, 2004 - link

    I'm a little bit confused as to why you recommended the Asus K8V Deluxe for the Athlon 64. From what I can tell, its a great board but, you guys (AT) gave the AOpen AK86-L a glowing review a couple of weeks ago, so I'm wondering why the Asus board was picked over this one.
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link


    I would recommend the Phillips. :)
  • Tulklas - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    Mr Lieb,

    I am in the market for a higher end monitor and am very interested in your reply to Bricksters question:

    "I wanted to refer specifically to your monitor selections, and wanted to incur why you chose the Samsung 1100DF over the Philips 202P45?

    Price being equal, which monitor would you recommend?"


  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link


    I got your email and replied, thanks. :)
  • Brickster - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

  • Brickster - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    Mr. Lieb,

    I wanted to refer specifically to your monitor selections, and wanted to incur why you chose the Samsung 1100DF over the Philips 202P45?

    Price being equal, which monitor would you recommend?

    Just a but confused as you seem to tout the aperture grille a bit more in your runner up.

    Thanks for your help!

  • yc6489 - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    joey2264, I also happen to run a page on computer configurations for 4 different budgets. My mid-range system is around $1500. Take a look:
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    That's IC7-G MAXII Advance, not MAX AdvanceII. :)
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link


    1) Not really available and not worth the extra cost.
    2) Yes, they are, my mistake for saying they weren’t in my previous post. Price difference makes it illogical to pay double the price though assuming you don’t need more than 30GB+ of space. If you do, like I said in the guide, there’s nothing wrong with going with the slightly faster 74GB Raptor
    3) Yup, I mentioned that as an option for users who needed additional storage. A big secondary ATA drive is not a bad idea by any means if you need space.
    4) No problem. $7,000 is just insane. :)


    Thanks for pointing that out, I must have had a brain fart regarding the speed difference in the 36 and 74 Raptors. Duh.


    We recommended the z640s in our mid range guide here:


    It’s a tough choice either way, but ABIT comes out on top for slightly better features for the same price, not to mention great reliability. The new P4C800-E’s are tough to beat, but the IC7-G Max Advance II is by no means a slouch. In the end it’ll come down to personal taste. And those memory issues are long gone, that was only with early BIOS revisions.


    It’s not, unless you overclock, that’s why we stated so in our memory section (with regards to the OCZ GOLD modules).


    We could do that for a system between budget and mid range, but that would probably be pretty redundant. The best way to shave off a few hundred bucks is by opting for a 9800 Pro instead of a 9800XT, a 955DF instead of the 1100DF, and a 3000+ instead of a 3400+ A64. There are other ways too. :)


    Price and performance.


    It’s definitely practical, it just might not be as fast. There’s a point you get to where you have to ask yourself if there’s any point in spending another $200 for barely noticeable speed increase.


    Yes, all prices are listed in USD.
  • prazv - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    out of curiosity are the prices listed in american funds ?

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