Today, we continue with our Buyer's Guide series of AnandTech Guides. 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.


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 system 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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  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    Actually thatsright and Cygni, the only reason I suggested onboard sound is due to the fact that we recommended the ABIT NF7-S Rev.2/AN7, which comes with the MCP-T South Bridge and therefore nForce2 APU (SPDIF and optical out included via the I/O panel). But maybe I'll add a note about adding an add-in sound card next time. Reply
  • Cygni - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    I agree, onboard sound is great for Entry level or Budget systems, but by the time we are hitting mid range, its time to spend the $23. ESPECIALLY when using nice a$$ speakers like those. And especially when you can get a Via ENVY 24HT-S based card for $23 at Newegg. Some of the best sound quality in the business at $23? WELL worth the money, imho. Reply
  • thatsright - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    Great put-together for a mid-range system. Right now, I lean a bit toward the P4 CPU's, but for low-Mid range systems, the Athlon XP can't be beat. But of course, a few suggestions:

    -If your trying to keep the overall price tag below $1K, I would still suggest upgrading the video card choice to the Radeon 9800 Pro. Thought it costs an extra $70 more than the 9600 pro, you get such a HUGE performance jump due to the double pipelines

    -Even a 'old' Sound Blaster Live 5.1 for around $25 is infinitely better (perhaps with the exception of the Nforce Soundstorm chip) than on board sound as it takes away horsepower from the CPU to do it's sound processing.

    -I have the same Western Digital 120GB 8Meg cache HD for nearly a year. BUT virtually all HD's sold today only offer a 1 year warranty. You can get the exact same Western Digital HD from NewEgg for the same price, but it is backed by a 3 year warranty for the OEM drive. The #1 criteria when I buy a HD is the warranty length.

    Thats it, really. I think this is the 1st Anand Tech Weekly buyers guide that I agree with wholeheartedly. Good Job Evan!
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    mkruer, it has been corrected, thanks. Reply
  • mkruer - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    Alright AMD deals listed twice (Once for the CPU and Motherboard Recommendations, and the other for the CPU and Motherboard Alternatives)
    Are you saying that the Alternative is also AMD based? LOL

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