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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  • agent2099 - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    You need to recommend a "OS" drive, as well as a storage drive. I don't think having just a 36GB drive is practical these days. You could have said 36/74GB Raptor for the OS, and perhaps a WD or Seagate 120-200GB drive for storage.

    Also, no LCD recommendation?
  • buleyb - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    why no high end LCDs? boooo
  • TrogdorJW - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    I lost my post due to some network issues earlier, but I was going to mention that the final price table, while correct, might be better if you pulled the $55 power supply out of the case listing, or at the very least showed the price of the case and power supply as $125 and not $70. Adding up the right column comes up $55 short of the total, and the "$55 for power supply" in the case text isn't that clear. Also, no alternative recommendations for the case or power supply? What gives? I guess Antec is the best PS manufacturer.... [Dons flame-retardant suit.]
  • TrogdorJW - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    #17, I'm pretty sure that's what they plan for the "Overclocker's System". Buy moderate priced parts and overclock for extra performance.

    Anyway, if you're really looking at that price range, here's what I would change from this high-end system:

    1) Drop the CPU to an Athlon 3000+/3200+ to save $150 to almost $200.

    2) Drop the graphics card to the Radeon 9800 Pro to save $200.

    3) Do you need the monitor? If so, go with a 19" instead of 21" to save another $200.

    4) I would really recommend going with one large 160GB hard drive instead of two Raptors. Performance won't be as good, but I personally have about 60GB of files in just my GAMES folder! With movies, MP3s, etc. plus applications and Windows itself, I have about 140GB of data on my hard drives. Two Raptors just isn't going to cut it, especially with their cost.
  • joey2264 - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    First of all, I want to say that I object to anandtech saying that my hotmail account is not a real account just because many others have abused that particular name. If they want to block it, that is fine, but to tell someone to get a real account when thousands of people use hotmail is just absurd.

    I just wanted to mention in this forum, that I really liked the three guides that have been produced so far, but I would really like if Anandtech made a fourth one in between the "mid-range" and the "high-end" guides. maybe in the range of $1500-1600 (this is how much that I want to spend on my system) I'm sure that there are a lot of people who are weary of spending $2200+, but who are also not looking to have a bargain basement system. Thanks
  • Cygni - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    I dont really understand the point of anything above DDR400 on A64 based system, personally...
  • Pumpkinierre - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Why did you pick the Abit IC7-G for your P4 mobo option. In the AT memory articles, AT(Wesley) uses the Asus P4C800-E deluxe which is also the only m'board suitable for DDR550 from Corsair and OCZ ( In other benchmarking articles, AT uses an ordinary Intel mobo also regarded as stable.
    I dont mind I've got an IC7-G and have found it quite stable under stressful conditions. However, both AT and others have said in the past that IC7s have memory stability issues, so I'm intrigued to know why you selected the ABIT over the ASUS for a system where stability has high priority?
  • yc6489 - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Why not the universally acclaimed Z-680 for the speakers? Also I would go with the NEC/Mitsubishi FP2141SB-BK for the monitor.
  • Abraxas - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    i have sennheiser hd500s that i got from amazon for 65 bucks 2 years ago. great headphones, shitty cable... had to replace the cable once about 18 months ago for 12 bucks shipped, and its going out again as well. bad habit of chewing the cable as i play cs :)
  • KristopherKubicki - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Headphones: Sennheiser HD600s :) Better than anything you could buy - albeit you wont exactly be able to share what youre lisetning too.

    Grados are good too though - i have a few pairs.


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