The AnandTech forums are often visited by users looking for advice about upcoming hardware purchases. With the blistering pace of product introductions in the technology marketplace, it's little wonder that people have a hard time choosing between components. Since our last high-end guide was released in October of 2006, major changes have taken place (or are about to take place) in virtually every part of this market segment; this guide will briefly examine those changes, while making recommendations on the best approach to spending your hard-earned money.

As far as the platforms themselves go, little has changed in the past seven months in terms of overall architecture specifications. Intel continues with the venerable Socket 775 platform, while AMD's relatively new AM2 promises to be used for some time to come. The NVIDIA 680i and Intel 975X chipsets own the performance arena for the Intel Core 2 processors, while the NVIDIA 590 chipset leads the AMD Athlon race.

The landscape is about to be transformed for Intel, however, with the pending release of their P35 chipset. The P35 should offer some performance benefits over existing P965 systems, and will officially launch on June 4th from a number of manufacturers. AnandTech has done a preview of several of these motherboards, which can be read here. This guide, however, can only focus on what is available in the market today; for those who want to update their system now and wait for any launch issues with the new chipset to be sorted out, this guide is for you. If you should choose to wait a few more weeks, the major changes will only be in the area of motherboards for socket 775, and possibly RAM should you choose to go the DDR3 route.

Processors, for their part, have seen a substantial amount of activity both in terms of introductions and pricing. In addition to the well-publicized foray into quad core processing from both major competitors, Intel's price-slashing of its Core 2 line has been met with similar measures from AMD. The graphics arena has also seen two very important launches, with the G80 from NVIDIA and R600 from AMD/ATI slugging it out at the high-end of the market. With complete flip-flops occurring in terms of who the performance leaders are, this High-End Guide is long overdue.

As has been the case in our recent Buyers' Guides, we will be addressing the case, power supply and peripherals separately from the main system components. In keeping with AnandTech tradition, we will price an "entry high-end" system at approximately $2,000 (including peripherals), and then expand the selections to see what we can get for as much as $5,000 (give or take). There is definitely room for some mix-and-match to hit the in-between price points.

Basic High-End AMD System
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  • dilbertcompguy - Thursday, March 13, 2008 - link

    Since when are these computer speakers $5000? Am I missing something here or is this paragraph from like 4 years ago?
  • Super Nade - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - link

    While the Silencer is a good unit, there are several less expensive alternatives that are built equally good if not better than this one.

    Some that come to mind are:
    -Ultra X-Pro series (Andyson)
    -Silverstone Zeus ST56ZF (can run 8800GTX SLI with NO problems), 75ZF (Etasis)
    -Seasonic S12/M12 nad Corsair
    -Zippy GSM series (not less expensive but will out-regulate Seasonic built units)

    Maybe you could have offered at least two or three options. Good job though!

    S-N, OCForums

  • Dave Robinet - Thursday, May 31, 2007 - link

    Thanks a lot, Super Nade.

    I actually had the Silverstone in there as one of the original suggestions, but Gary Key (having had the benefit of testing a huge quantity of these in the past) said he'd send me a bunch of dead ones if I included it in the buyer's guide. Not wanting my wife to have a bunch of dead power supplies to yell at me over, I backed off. :) Personally, though, I've not had one go South on me yet.

    Your choices of supplies are really good - any of those could have been chosen for the guide. People will pick at the X-Pro's efficiency rating a bit, but honestly, the rest of it is brand preference.

  • Super Nade - Saturday, June 2, 2007 - link

    Thank you for taking the time to read through this. :)

    Silverstone employ several OEM's, Enhance, Etasis, Seventeam and a relatively new but interesting Impervio Electronics from Taiwan. Not all of them are built equal. The Etasis and the Seventeam builds are based off of server platforms and are less likely to cause problems. I have not heard of mass failure but there have been problems with coil while on the DA and OP series. IMO, it does not warrant having to completely exclude Silverstone from the mix. ;)

    Best wishes,

    Super Nade, OCForums.
  • overzealot - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - link


    ... and as we suggested on the previous page we recommend Windows Vista over Windows XP when it comes to 64-bit Microsoft operating systems

    I saw no such thing on the previous page. You only said that you'd choose MCE for 32bit, or Vista because everyone will change to it.

    I know Vista is the future, but I live in the present - and when I spend this much on a computer I want it to work as well as it can RIGHT NOW.
    Can we have an honest pro/con shootout between XP64 and Vista64?

    I'm happy to start off with a few:

    Better disk caching

    8800 drivers still suck
    No EAX, no ALchemy for anything but X-Fi
    Some games/programs won't work, others don't work well
    Larger footprint
    Older hardware doesn't have drivers

    Drivers are as stable as XP
    Games run as well as XP

    Some obscure apps don't work (VoiceChanger is the only one I can think of off-hand)
    Older hardware doesn't have drivers
    No DX10

    Personally I'm willing to sacrifice DX10 and Aero for EAX and speed now. Are you?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - link

    Most of the cons of Vista are applicable to both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Our point is that if you're going to get DX10 hardware and a high-end system, you might as well bite the bullet and move to Vista. If you're moving to Vista, you might as well make the jump to 64-bits as well. My understanding is that the XP-64 drivers are still not as robust or available as the XP-32 drivers, so if you're going to have some driver issues anyway... might as well go the whole hog and run Vista! :)

    FWIW, I'm only running Vista under dual-boot mode or on certain test systems. It's okay, but there are enough nitpicks against it that I'm not ready to make a complete switch just yet.
  • overzealot - Friday, June 1, 2007 - link

    Availability is a problem, but only as much as with Vista.
    They're robust, have been since about 2 months after release.
  • jzodda - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - link

    We all know that what we consider to be "computer monitors" these days stops at 30" unless you are willing to shell out more then the price of a high end system just for the display alone.

    There is one larger display that I think bears serious consideration for a high end rig. Its the Westhinghouse LVM-37W3 37" 1080p display. The W3 version is the one that you typically will not find in stores, and makes an flat out amazing monitor.

    It has an 8 ms response and 8 bit Super MVA panel made by Chi-Mei, and plays games at 1920x1080 very easily if you have a good vid card. 37" of screen space makes the 30" look small and the 24" look puny by comparison.

    Its also priced around the same as the 30" screens mentioned, and usually comes in somewhat cheaper, especially when there are good deals on shipping. There is a huge thread on this display here. Amazing find, and Maximum PC recently did a little write up on this display and they loved it.">
  • Kougar - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Surprised me to see this recommended, and I got to say great call. I have one of these that just arrived infront of me, and to my surprise it has been modified to offer 2 8-pin + 2 6-pin PCIe connectors for overclocked HD 2900 Crossfire setups. You might wish to update the guide with this info. ;)

    I guess it explains why this PSU was certified for R600 Crossfire use, while (The otherwise excellent) 850watt GameXstream PSUs couldn't take it. Only the $285 1010watt GameXStream model PSU made the certification for R600 Crossfire, and it costs $85 higher still than the Quad Silencer. The high price is for a product that offers as much oomph as products outside it's class, and it can now power any kind of SLI or Crossfire setup that can be thrown at it.
  • Rike - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Crucial Tracer Ballistix Rebate is a one per household rebate. If you get two, you'll need to work the system some how to get both rebates. It's a great deal, but you might want to warn folks up front.

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