You do the research on the products. You read all the reviews. You even discuss with friends.  But even with all that information, building a perfect, personalized system from scratch can be quite a daunting task. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that we’ve had request after request to provide some system recommendations.

With the third edition of the AnandTech Buyer's Guide, we changed things a little bit, splitting the Buyer's Guide into two parts, one for value systems and the other for high-end ones. Despite the slight format change, we continue to provide some system recommendations in 3 categories – small office / home office (SOHO), gaming, and professional.  Remember that these are just a few recommendations from us if we were building the systems.  Obviously, each individual’s needs will vary greatly, but that’s the beauty of building a custom system - it can be tailored to fit those special needs.

Every component, from the motherboard to the case to the monitor, is covered for each system.  Sample prices based on a review of popular vendors and price search engines across the web are included as well - these are not the very lowest prices you can find on the web, but rather are intended to be representative of what's out there. Don't forget to check out the AnandTech Weekly CPU & Video Card Price Guide for the lowest prices from reputable vendors on CPU's and video cards. Note that shipping is not included in these prices, but can add up to 5-10% to the total system cost, depending exactly what you get, where you order from, etc. To minimize shipping costs, order as many components as possible from a single vendor or buy things locally where possible. An OS recommendation is included, but that price is not included in the total system price listed.  Especially good deals can often be found in the AnandTech Hot Deals Forum where AnandTech readers regularly post good deals they find.

Components that are not readily obtainable at the time of publication are automatically out of the running for any system in the Buyer’s Guide.  Where possible, we've linked to reviews of the individual products on AnandTech for more in depth information.

This Month

The most obvious change is that memory prices have dropped across the board - that is, except for RDRAM, which remains roughly the same as last month. SDRAM on the other hand has finally begun a downward trend as far as price goes.

While we're on the subject of memory, it should be noted that DDR SDRAM motherboards are still not available for purchase by end users. You can get a complete DDR system from a few OEM's right now, but there's nothing you can do if you're building your own system right now and want DDR. Hopefully all that will change before the end of the year, but that remains unclear at this point.

CPU price drops also mean that we get more horse power across the board for the same price or less. The most significant changes were on the faster Intel processors, but AMD also gave us a nice discount.

The biggest change for the Dream System this month is the introduction of a new monitor setup for the first time since we started the AnandTech Buyer's Guide. Monitor technology doesn't move all that quickly, so it's no big surprise that our Sony GDM-F900R was a solid choice for so long, even if its price meant that it really was just a dream for most of us. The replacement GDM-FW900 is even more expensive, but that much more incredible with its 24 inch (22.5 viewable) FD Trinitron screen.

Cards based on NVIDIA's GeForce2 Ultra are also finally hitting the streets, although they are entirely too expensive for most systems, but not a problem for a Dream System. The problem is the price of the extremely rare 4ns DDR SDRAM chips used on these cards. We don't anticipate the price of such chips dropping any time soon, so expect these cards to remain expensive until NVIDIA's next-generation chip arrives at the very least.

Dream System

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