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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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Last I checked, they weren't readily available yet. Considering we explicitly mention this in the text on the first and last pages (as well as in-between), I'm pretty sure we've covered the situation. The official launch is next week, at which time all the websites respecting the launch date (Newegg and ZipZoomFly are usually the benchmark here) will start selling them. I'm not sure most of the sites listing the boards have them in stock and ready to ship today as it stands; if they can't be trusted to follow Intel's launch date, can their inventory claims be trusted?
  • Latyshev - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Ah, sorry, i didnt read the article in detail, just looked over the major points. Thank you for clarification.
  • Tuffrabbit - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Quote " Audigy users may get support in the future, but at present they are left out in the cold. "

    Man what a drag that Vista has been out now four months and still there are issues with sound cards, guess I'll wait some more before upgrading the operating system...

  • AnnihilatorX - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    I don't see why the SLI GeForce GTS is not a good investment. The performance seen in many benchmarks definitely have 40% edge over a single Ultra. GTS 320MB SLI is also very affordable and have the aforementioned performance on resolutions less than 1900 while bearing more performance/$ than ultra/GTX
  • Tilmitt - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    There's no point in including the operating system cost, most of us pirate it. And rightly so!
  • punko - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Pirate? I don't think so.

    Dual boot machine: Linux/legit windows for work/play

    If you're spending the money for a "high end" machine, there is no reason not to go fully legit.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Besides, if you're so cool that you can pirate the software, I'm sure you can handle doing a little bit of math to subtract the cost from the total. I have to say that anyone looking to stiff The Man by stealing $120-$200 of software on a $5000 system needs some counseling about what's important in life.
  • Martimus - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Speak for yourself. I stopped pirating software once I got a real job. When I can't afford to buy the software, I just don't buy it now.
  • yacoub - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    On the concluding page is a list of soundcards (though very little is said about them).

    The Auzentech card has a name though: It's the X-Meridian 7.1 which you can see by going to their website. Not sure why you list it as "AZT-XM71" since I've never seen it listed that way except as the part number part of the heading at NewEgg.">">

    I'm sure it's an awesome card, btw, as I have their X-Plosion DTS 7.1 card and love it. It's been flawless for me in gaming and offers excellence in sound reproduction for games, movies, mp3s, etc.
  • yacoub - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    If you are buying two GTS 640MB, shouldn't the $30 rebate also be counted twice? (I'm looking at the first system.)

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