Due to its popularity, we are expanding AnandTech Buyer's Guides. Evan Lieb will continue to make recommendations for the Entry and Mid-Range Systems. Evan will also be launching two new guides in the near future and will be telling you more about those in the next few weeks. Guides for High End System and Overclocking System will now come from Wesley Fink, AnandTech's Motherboard, Memory and Chipset Editor. Once the new schedule gets in full swing, you will see a Guide from Evan every week and one from Wes every 2 to 3 weeks. The final changes to the schedule are still in the works, but the new Buyer's Guide schedule will appear in an upcoming Guide.

It is unlikely that two Enthusiasts would agree on every component in a system, and Editors are no different. Different editors have different ideas of what constitutes a High End and Overclocking System. High End, in my estimation, is not without price limits, but price is much less a consideration than performance. If High-End means anything for the enthusiast who reads AnandTech, then you can spend a bit more for performance that is really better. With this in mind, you will see the scales tip toward performance in my choices. Mid-range is where you sweat nickels and measure every component for bang for the buck. For High End, you pick the best.

As in past Guides, we offer a recommendation for every component that goes into a computer. Our recommendation is our First Choice and we will try to explain why we chose that component. For some components, we will also offer an 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. This is especially true for those willing to spend a little more or to recommend a cheaper component that is of outstanding value. Alternative picks provide you other choices, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be.

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 pricewatch. Relevant parts of our RealTime pricing engine are listed 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.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides, and the changes you are seeing here are the result of suggestions from our readers and Editors. Since we are adding 2 new guides to AnandTech, email your suggestions for new guides to Evan or Wes. Considerations include a Buyer's Guide for SFF (Small Form Factor systems), Gaming System, and Laptop/DTP (Desk-Top Replacement). If you have other suggestions, let us know; the Guides are to help you with your buying decisions.

High End

A High End System is put together with different concerns than an entry level or mid-range system.
  • Entry level systems should be constructed mainly with price and reliability in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration.
  • Mid-range systems place reliability as a number one priority, but price and performance are in a not-so-distant tie for second place.
Evan Lieb, our Editor for Entry and Mid-Range Buyers Guides, goes into a more in-depth explanation of the priorities with entry level and mid-range systems in his ongoing Entry Level and Mid-Range Guides that appear each month.

A High End system should represent the best performance that you can buy for a given need. In this case, the given need is defined as a Desktop Computer System built from the best performing computer components that you can actually buy. This differs from other Buyer's Guides, which concentrate on value first. With the extensive testing done at AnandTech by many different Editors, we have personally tested many of these components, and you will see our Editor's Choice components appear frequently in the Buyers Guides.

With performance as the most important consideration in a high-end system, reliability becomes the second most important consideration. Truthfully, reliability is in most cases just as important as performance, since it does no good to put together an expensive high-end system that you can not enjoy due to reliability issues. By definition, price is a distant third consideration, but price is not the same as value. Value is always a consideration in our buying guides because we refuse to recommend high-priced components that provide little or no performance advantage over lower priced components. A component that costs 250% more for a 5% increase in performance is not a good value and does not even belong in a high end system..

Anyone who is considering building a top-of-the-line system needs to realize that the best performing parts aren't usually going to be the cheapest parts. On the other hand, the value and performance you get for your dollars in today's computer market are the best that we have ever seen in many years in the computer industry. There was a time when the best desktop systems were much more than $10,000; while today, you are hard pressed to spend more than $5,000 on a top-performing system. In most cases, the best performance can be had even less. With this in mind, our only restriction is that our high-end system will cost under $5,000.

CPU and Motherboard


View All Comments

  • roostercrows - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    The article was excellent, thank you Wesley, and considering all the informed comments it received I'm not alone in looking forward to reading more of them. Not to add yet another category to what must already be a lot of work for you guys but is there somewhere I could see the entire dual processor systems that have been suggested by some advanced members, after they are built and running of course, including performance/prices and why they feel they have assembled a better "bang for the buck" high-end system? Reply
  • roostercrows - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

  • Sparkywonderchicken - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Sorry I hit send too fast. I have heard many complaints about DVD-R burning from these units. Reply
  • Ma10n3 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    I agree with #44--A high-end system and an overclocking rig should not be classified as the same.
  • Sparkywonderchicken - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Don't you mean NuTech DDW-082?? for the DVD?? Reply
  • bigtoe33 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Overclocking is mainly about what boards and cpu's will do the high fsb's, also what is the most bang per buck as overclockers mainly buy cheap and clock up to gain the speed.

    I would expect Wesley will show some 300+fsb action on A64 as well as the cheap 2.4a prescott running 180fsb+....these are things you will find on an overclocking rig and not a high end ;-)
  • azndelite6983 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the response, Wesley. I appreciate that you guys do these guides at all, considering the monumental task of trying to keep up with new hardware.

    What I don't quite understand is that any high-end system would be a terrific overclocking possibility, and although u supposedly have a different guide for that, it might be nice to see some suggestions on oc settings for the high-end system as well as possible mods (cooling mostly). I'm not sure I see the necessity of having an "overclocking system" when the parts remain very close to the high-end system. Also the fact that anyone willing to spend anywhere close to $5000 on a computer should really know what they are doing, but may want some advice on how to get the most out of their already quick setup.
  • markz - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    I agree with #40.

    That is all.
  • Ma10n3 - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    To correct what I said in #39, more games support SMP now than I had previously thought...
    Link for FAQ:
  • Murst - Friday, May 28, 2004 - link

    Wesley & Evan,
    First of all, thanks for the guides (this is my favorite part of anandtech and its probably the reason why I've been visiting this site more than any other lately). I do have some reccomendations, however.

    It seems to me that your definitions of low/mid/high are rather difficult to understand. It actually kind of reminds me of intel's new naming policy. Why use words that don't really mean anything when you can give numbers which are descriptive? Here is an exmaple of what I'm thinking (my goal is clarity).


    Old name: New name:
    entry-level System for under $800
    mid-range System for under $1500
    high-range System for under $2500
    .......... System for under $4000


    I think this would make your goals in these articles much more clear, as people would understand exactly what goes into making the decisions. Also, my numbers may not be accurate, as I don't have much experience with pricing systems.

    Overall, good work on this article, and I do believe that it is much closer to what "I" believe is a high-end system as compared to the last article.

    I'll be looking forward to the next system reccomendations, especially to what 939 will bring.

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