Today, we release our tenth Buyer's Guide in the past 10 weeks. You can look forward to Buyer's Guides in the middle of every week, and then, after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. Today, we are continuing the refresh of our Buyer's Guides to see what has changed, if anything, in the past 4 weeks. In case you haven't read our Buyer's Guides yet, here's the basic format of them to be released on a weekly basis:

Week 1: Entry Level System
Week 2: Mid-Range System
Week 3: High End System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our alternative on that type of hardware. We've added alternative 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). Alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still 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 We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine 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 all by yourself.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides. If you feel that 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.


While entry level (budget) systems should mainly be constructed with reliability and price in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration, mid-range systems have a slightly different order of priority. Reliability is still #1 priority, but performance and price are in a sort of a tie when building that mid-range system. Performance isn't of the utmost importance in this type of system, but it's also not ignored nearly as much as a plain, old entry level system is. Similarly, price isn't of utmost importance either, but buyers building a mid-range must be mindful of the price of components nonetheless. Performance and price don't lag too far behind reliability for mid-range systems, in other words.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations


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  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    That's not true, Evan:

    5900XT for $175. ;) Of course, that's still $28 more than the cheapest 9600XT cards, so people may or may not want to take that route. Really, though, I know some people that wouldn't touch ATI cards. (They're all Linux geeks, though. Heheh...)

    Also, on the case, the Antec SLK3700-BQE cases kick some serious ass, depending on your taste. Very quiet. I repeat: VERY quiet! The 120mm fan that comes with the case is near-silent, as is the power supply. Yeah, it's more expensive, at $75, but that power supply is going to be hard to beat for the price. Most Antec 350W PS cost at least $40, if not $50.

    And hell, let's be honest: pre-modded cases with a window on the side are okay for some, but others really prefer a classy look. Matching the silver case with beige parts looks tacky, as does the window. Gamers might thing it's cool, but many prefer a silent case that doesn't scream "LOOK AT ME!" (Yes, I'm 30+ now, so I no longer need a cool looking car or computer to feel good about myself.)
  • Evan Lieb - Sunday, April 25, 2004 - link

    Grishnakh, you cannot find 5900XT's for lower than $180. 9800 Pro cards can be had for $196. The difference in performance and IQ is worth the extra cost of the 9800 Pro. The 9600 Pro is considerably less than both, though performs noticeably slower. Problem is, we don't want to recommend video cards in the $200 range when lots of mid-range users will not need more power than a 9600 Pro.

    Also, the 2.8C is 20-30% faster than the 2800+, though closer to 20% in most instances. The "C" stands for 800MHz FSB in the U.S. by the way, I'm not sure what it stands for in your country.

    Ballistics, yes, guides are not recommended for fanboys. ;)
  • Grishnakh - Saturday, April 24, 2004 - link

    This "Midrange" is going to high
    Yes, Athlon XP 2800+ + 9600 Pro + 512MB seems reasonable..., however, C/P is low
    Additionally, if you partially change VGA alternatively to 9800 Pro for $196...or, tell you the truth.. In Taiwan, an Aopen Aeolus GFFX5900XT... is just $150

    "ATI has either led or has had a clear lead over NVIDIA in terms of performance and price" seem cannot be applied on 5900XT vs 9600Pro/XT

    Anyway, finally it would under 1000 with
    Athlon XP 2800+ + FX5900XT even R9800Pro...the cost is midrange... but the performance is topping...
    Exclude GF6800, Even Athlon 64 3400+ with 9800XT hardly yield a 30% performance boost in general.

    This is still a good guidance, especially for general public, however, there is 2 untruth in this article.

    1. P4 2.8CG did not as 20%~30% fast as 2800+...
    Do you know which CPU in P4 CG line is 20%~30% slower than P4 2.8CG...the answer is NO... because there are no P4 2.3CG or P4 2.0CG.
    An Athlon XP 2800+ is clocked in 2.083G...Even P4 2.4CG just slower than that...Is P4 2.4CG slower 20~30% than P4 2.8G?
    So, Yes, Athlon XP 2800+ is slower, but only about 10%

    2. FX5900XT, especially Aopen, providing a extremely low price for this...
    You just deliberately ignore the truth that the best buy in following three card.
    9800Pro in $200/ 5900XT in $150 / 9600Pro in $125
    Obviously, the answer is NVIDIA 5900XT.. neither 9800Pro nor 9600Pro
  • Grishnakh - Saturday, April 24, 2004 - link

  • Ballistics - Friday, April 23, 2004 - link

    Oops! AMD was processor of choice. :)

    I commented on last months mid-range system and was not happy that nVidia did not even get a mention. I jumped to the vid card section only to be once again surprised that nVidia is being portrayed as having inferior video cards compared to ATI.

    The FX5900XT is TWICE as fast as the 9600XT in most every benchmark. Does it cost twice as much???? NOOOOOOO! $189 shipped!!
  • Ballistics - Friday, April 23, 2004 - link


    Some people despise ATI and their buggy drivers. Some people will not build an AMD box. Why not try and reach out to everyone by offering an Intel and AMD solution, as well as an ATI and nVidia solution? The GeForce FX5900XT runs CIRCLES around the paltry 9600. I beleive that it has the best price:performance ratio.

    BTW AMD and nVidia rule!!

    It's OK to be a fanboy, unless you are writing for the masses.... If you are a fanboy, and write for the masses, at least have the courage to identify yourself as a fanboy! :P
  • IceVoltageccs - Friday, April 23, 2004 - link

    Evan the Antec SLK3700 is Sonatas little brother which is one the the best mid-towers in the market it is a very easy case to build with that has a great ps. (and a three year warrenty)Also the AMD Athlon 64 2800+ is avable in retail packages for around $184.00 add that with a Asus K8V Basic for $100.00 and you have a great system for the same price of the p4 2.8 sys you have. Reply
  • IceVoltageccs - Friday, April 23, 2004 - link

  • Evan Lieb - Friday, April 23, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    yanon, we didn't recommend the CaseEdge's PSU for this guide. And the SLK3700 is actually $35 more than the CaseEdge, while offering absolutely nothing useful for a mid-range system.
  • yanon - Friday, April 23, 2004 - link

    I don't know why they keep on recommend that $40 CaseEdge case with a cheapo powersupply. For $20 more, one can get an Antec SLK3700 with a 350 Watt Antec powersupply. Most likely a user can reuse (unless manufacturers decided to switch away from ATX) a computer if he/she decided to do major upgrades on the computer 2 to 3 years from now. Thus, spending a little more on a computer is well worth it. Reply

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