Today, we release our eleventh Buyer's Guide in the past 11 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 new 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.

High End

Before we go into a little detail about what you need to know about building a high end system, we need to first reiterate what you should remember about entry level and mid-range systems.
  1. Entry level 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.
For a more in-depth explanation of our thoughts on what you should prioritize with entry level and mid-range systems, take a look at our entry level and mid-range guides from the last two weeks.

Anyway, when building a high end system, performance is usually going to be your most important consideration. That is, when building a high end system, you want to make sure that 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 high end system, it would probably be more appropriate to say that reliability is the #1 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. This guide by no means disregards price altogether, as we aren't going to be building a $10,000 system here. Rather, we are building a system that will cost under $5,000, but with the final price much closer to $1,000 than $5,000.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations


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  • Fr0zeN - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Yeah I just hooked up raid0 on my IDE's and instead of scoring 41mb/s on Sandra, I score 55mb/s haha... I notice like no difference.

    Mushkin Level Ones are disappearing fast, and can't be had for that cheap anymore. As for OCZ Revision 2, OCZ has officially discontinued the product for MONTHS, you can still find 256mb sticks but 512mb sticks? In your dreams. If you're in the market for obsolete RAM, might as well auction for pc3500 level 2 mushkins off Ebay while you're at it. Looks like if you want to build this system you're on your own when it comes to RAM.
  • mino - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    #10 Exactcly, New raptor is Gorgoeus, take note I DON'T like WD, but this product has no match yet, exactly as 7k400 doesnn't have :) Reply
  • Rekonn - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    #7, While raid 0 does improve performance, it's doesn't do it by 40% in general. Typical improvement is more like 10%, see

    If you have extra $$ you're better off getting the raptor than going raid0 with two 7200rpm drives.
  • mino - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Yes, It does have.

    1) 3400+ should be FX-53, since next year there will be dual-core Opteron !!! Great upgrade option!

    2) WD 1200JB is pretty shitty drive(buggy, NOISY, slow), 1x Raptor system + 1xHitachi 7k400 400G for storage

    3) MSI Main ?? It is a Joke, I hope ! It's like recommending ECS to server :)

    And overal I mean that You should extend 4 guides systems to 5 or 6:

    Allways reliability is first but second is:
    1.) <$400 Low End -> price
    2.) <$800 Mid Range ->price/perf ratio
    3.) <$2000 High End ->performance, price/perf (3200+ wil suffice)
    4.) <$5000 Enthusiast ->performance (FX-53 is a MUST)
    5.) <$600 Low End overclock ->price/perf after overclock
    6.) <$1500 High End overclock ->price/perf after overclock

    When last 6th guide is only as an option an both 5th and 6th are now well enough represented by Overclock system guide.

    You will also get one week + time distance in between guides what proves to me to be pretty neccesary after some full cycles of guides since You usually doesn't have what to change.
  • Tokat - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    Whoops! Sorry, i'm new to this forum stuff here! Hey everybody. I just wanted to say that I agree with the stuff about the quicker raptors, and since the recommended motherboard has SATA RAID onboard, why not make it 2xRaptors? That'd be great performance and enough space!... as for somebody talking about 2x1200JB drives in raid mode... does this mobo have IDE RAID?? Reply
  • Pjotr - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I agree with 6, dual 120 GB S-ATA drives are so cheap today, you get in general 40 % performance increase on the slowest part of your system. Reply
  • nigham - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    In my experience, getting two harddisks in a RAID array increases performance much more than say, going from a 2.8 GHz to a 3.4 GHz processor, especially for desktop applications. Why not recommend a RAID array for the "high-end" user? Reply
  • GokieKS - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I have to second the comment about the case. For a system of this stature, a better case is very much warranted. Heck, I personally think even the Kingwin KT-424 is a better case than the K11 (I hate the acrylic front), and that's about the same price. Beyond that, I think the CoolerMasters and Silverstones are worth the increased cost. Even the SST-TJ03 Nimiz wouldn't be out of place. Sure, $270 more (much more) than what most people would spend on a case, but it's such a well-built case with great features (not that you need the Extended ATX support...) that it's warranted for a high-end system. Reply
  • TrueWisdom - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    One thing that has always shocked me is the lack of emphasis put on the hard drive, especially in this latest "High End System" guide. The Western Digital Raptor is the single fastest desktop-oriented hard drive on the market: in single-user scenarios, it is neck-and-neck (and often outperforms!) 15K U320 SCSI drives. I've built computers with a spectrum of hard drives, from 5400RPM 2MB to the Raptor itself, and as far as speed goes, it's like comparing a GeforceMX 200 to a Radeon 9800XT: the difference really is that dramatic. Not even the Special Edition WD drives can hold a candle to the Raptor, and in a high-end system, you can't ignore something like that. Furthermore, the noise difference between the 1st gen (36GB) and 2nd gen (74GB) Raptors is very noticeable. While I understand the desire to keep costs down, please realize that you are sacrificing more than "just a little" performance when you pass over the 74GB Raptor. For verification of everything I've said, go to They have in-depth benchmarks of basically every notable hard drive released in the past 5 years, and then you'll see how badly other desktop drives are outclassed by the Raptor. Reply
  • Mackintire - Friday, April 30, 2004 - link

    I can not fathom the idea of using a Western Digital 1200JB (120G) anymore. Having experienced Seagate's 7200.7 FDB serial ATA (120G) hard drive it is plain and simply no contest. The Seagate drive is faster, quieter, more reliable, runs cooler, and has a higher sustained transfer rate.

    I build near 30 computers a month, and since I have switched to Seagate's hard drives with FDB I have not had a single return due to bearing noise. I had a 3 out of 10 western digital drive bearing failure rate.


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