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

    Yup. Sorry - missed doubling that one.
  • Dave Robinet - Thursday, May 31, 2007 - link

    Actually, no - rebate terms are "one per household":">Rebate Details
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    I been fighting the urge to just purchase this monitor since price is pretty high. But I hear nothing but good things about it and this seals the deal..

    1080p rez? Yes please! :D
  • Crittias - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    How close are we to a high-def drive being affordable on the PC? I could see myself watching high-def movies on a 24inch monitor if the drives we in the $100 range.
  • rgsaunders - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Please don't mix RMS power ratings and Peak Power ratings in the same review. Use RMS only, its the proper standard for high end audio, peak power ratings are inflated and normally inaccurate, and should only be used on the cheap plastic speakers sold at Walmart as technical specifications are meaningless for them. The figure you quoted is not accurate for this system, you quoted what might be thought to be peak to peak power but actually is not. RMS=.707 peak, peak to peak= 2x peak. Anandtech has normally maintained a relatively high technical standard, please don't change that by pandering to those to whom big numbers are more important than quality.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    We don't normally spend a lot of effort on speaker reviews. The Logitech speakers are all very good for their price range. If you want home theater quality, we don't tend to venture into that market. I'm quite sure there are any number of people out there that know far more about speakers and ratings and such than I do (and probably Dave as well).
  • Le Québécois - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Any idea of the noise level for the Antec Nine Hundred? How does it compare to other case like the quiet Thermaltake Aguila?

    Now I know you don't recommend the HD 2900XT right now but I was wondering what PSU you would chose for a power aungry card like that using PCIe 2.0 connectors? The Enermax Infinity 720W looks good but do you have any other PCIe 2.0 PSU you would recommend?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    I don't know if it's any good (probably), but you might try the Antec TPQ-850 is a 2x8-pin and 2x6-pin PCIe 2.0 PSU. That's the most reasonably priced model I've seen. If you plan on quad core and overclocking along with 2900 CrossFire, you had better get as much PSU as you can find. I think you could probably break 850W power draw with such a configuration.
  • CK804 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link">One last thing to add.

    I would recommend a Corsair 620HX for your configuration. It was the quietest PSU tested by SPCR. I have the 520 watt model and have nothing but good things to say about it.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Sort of like we mentioned on the base configuration of page 6, you mean? Except there is no way I would even think of running quad core with 2900 XT CrossFire with that PSU. A single 8800 GTX or 2900 XT? Sure, but not two.

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