Recommendation: ASUS K8V Deluxe (VIA K8T800 chipset)
Price: $139 shipped

The ASUS K8V Deluxe offers several different advantages and features over other Socket 754 Athlon 64 motherboards that make it our recommendation today. First off, the K8V Deluxe's combined performance and price is superb; the K8T800 chipset's outstanding performance combined with features like Serial ATA (RAID), Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 1394 FireWire, SPDIF, and IDE RAID, among other nice features makes the K8V Deluxe a great high end board for the price. Normally, we could care less about the price for a cutting edge system like this, assuming we're not talking over $200, but for $140, it's truly amazing the number of cutting edge features that can fit on a motherboard these days. Of course, this is not to mention the renowned reliability of ASUS motherboards. Having extensively tested the K8V Deluxe, we can assure that you will indeed enjoy a reliable and trouble free experience for the most part. Overclockers may be especially pleased with this motherboard if they delve into Athlon 64 territory.

Recommendation: ABIT IC7-G MAXII Advance (875P chipset)
Price: $147 shipped

Last summer the Gigabyte 8KNXP was our pick for best high end Pentium 4 motherboard, but since then, we believe that the ABIT IC7-G has edged out the 8KNXP due to the fact that it offers virtually the exact same number of features and performance for $50 less, while last summer, the IC7-G was more expensive. Price usually isn't a concern with a cutting edge system like the one we're recommending here today, but saving $50 and getting a motherboard that's basically as good is never a bad idea how ever you cut it. Anyway, the ABIT IC7-G's mix of Gigabit Ethernet, SPDIF, 3 X IEEE 1394 FireWire ports, and Serial ATA RAID among other features, combined with the industry leading performance and stability of the Intel 875P chipset are the primary reasons why we choose ABIT's IC7-G. Another reason why we choose this motherboard for a cutting edge system is because we've tested virtually every high-end Pentium 4 motherboard in existence over the past 12 months, and to this day, we still can say confidently that the reliability and stability of this ABIT motherboard has been excellent. This exact motherboard is used in one of AnandTech's very own computer labs and I have personally built several high-end gaming systems centered on this motherboard. All in all, the performance, reliability and even the price are stellar.

CPU picks... Memory picks...
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  • kherman - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link


    Grado SR-60s for $60. Supposed to be one of the best for the price without an amp.

    Just for those that are curious. As a note, they are better than $100 headphones by big names like Sony, Pioneer, etc...
  • VagrantZero - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    The 76GB Raptor is defintely a better buy than it's little brother. For less than twice the price [its $231 on newegg] it offers twice the capacity plus a sizeable performance increase [2 36Raps in Raid O can't keep up with a single 76Rap]. Here's a short clip from storagerreview's preview of it:

    Enter the second-generation Raptor! Announced September 15th, WD's revised offering promised to address nearly all of the complaints leveled against the firm's first entry. Maintaining the line's unique 10,000 RPM spindle speed, the Raptor WD740GD features the following improvements:

    * 74-gigabyte capacity - perhaps the most significant improvement is the migration to a two-platter flagship design. WD also plans to introduce a revised single-platter, 37 GB unit, though perhaps not until most WD360GD units sell through the market.

    * 37 GB Platters - the aggregate areal density of the new Raptor will remain the same as the first. Linear density, however, has been increased, to achieve:

    o 72 MB/sec outer-zone transfer rates - though STR remains non-consequential in the large majority of uses, some folks were disappointed with the 55 MB/sec that the first Raptor delivered. WD is confident enough with new yields to spec a transfer rate that rivals the best available from today's disks.

    o 4.5 millisecond seek time - the Raptor WD360GD specs at 5.2 milliseconds.

    * Firmware-level TCQ - matching a feature available on all contemporary SCSI drives, the new Raptor will feature tagged command queuing? that is, device-level reordering of outstanding requests for more efficient service times.

    * FDB motors - though quiet from an emitted sound-pressure perspective, the original Raptor emitted a slight high-pitch idle whine that could irritate sensitive ears. WD has been on the slow side when it comes to migrating to fluid bearing motors when compared to other manufacturers. Fortunately, the new Raptor uses quieter and ostensibly more reliable FDB motors.

    NOTE that the 76GBs raptor has come down considerabley since the article was written. As stated before, the OEM goes for $231 on newegg:
  • Dismal - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Cool. Now if the games I wanted to play would just come out I could actually build a system like this. I've never actually put one together myself, so I was very pleased to see these articles posted here. Great job AnandTech! Now if I can just get through configuring all the cpu, memory, and other bios settings that I don't know much about I'll be all set ;-P
  • SDA - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Yeah, like everyone else said, more storage needed, and it's great of you to keep this a system people might actually buy.

    As for speakers, in my opinion, Klipsch Promedias are a liiiittle bit overrated. It would have been nice to see headphone recommendations there as well (in that price range, if you actually used 'em a lot, that'd be, what.. HD580s with an amp? Or is that too high-end), but hey.
  • mostlyprudent - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    A few things?

    1. Why Mushkin Level One instead of Level II? I've read your memory articles crowning their PC3500 Level II the faster DDR400 memory you've ever tested.

    2. I have also read that the new 73GB Raptors are faster, on TomsHardware I believe.

    3. I also agree that you need a second storage drive - perhaps a PATA 250GB Maxtor Diamond max Plus 9.

    4. Lastly, I really appreciate that you were at least conscious of price. I've read other articles calling for system in the $7,000 range. Thanks for keeping this grounded in reality!
  • lisnter - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Exactly (almost) the hardware setup I've been considering!

    I would use two Raptor 74GB drives and a single large (~200GB) data drive and as I don't have time to play games (due to two wonderful little kids) I'd opt for a still plenty fast GeForce 5700 video card (XFX? Gainward?). My main requirement is to support dual LCDs. Any other suggestions?

    Thanks for an informative article and truly excellent site.


  • Evan Lieb - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link


    I know you love SCSI! :p
  • Evan Lieb - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link


    Why WOULD we recommend a Promedia system? What makes them better than the ones we recommended?

    Thanks for pointing out the spelling error.


    I'm not aware of the 74GB Raptor being any faster than the 36.7GB version.
  • mechBgon - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Cutting-edge... with an ATA drive? Where's the 15000rpm Fujitsu MAS-series Ultra320 SCSI drives?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself ;) As you were...
  • BCinSC - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Only 36GB Raptor? 73GB is allegedly much faster and double the space to boot.

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