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 - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - link

    The following is with CrossFire X1950 XTX:

    QX6700 idle @ 1.60 GHz = 195W (sitting at the desktop)
    QX6700 100% CPU load @ 2.67 GHz = 285W (running Folding@Home SMP)
    QX6700 100% CPU + 3DMark06 = 488W (Folding@Home SMP and 3DMark06)
    QX6700 100% GPU = 441W (running just 3DMark06)

    The same system with the processor now overclocked to a 1333 FSB:

    QX6700 idle @ 2.00 GHz = 250W (sitting at the desktop)
    QX6700 100% CPU load @ 3.33 GHz = 341W (running Folding@Home SMP)
    QX6700 100% CPU + 3DMark06 = 545W (Folding@Home SMP and 3DMark06)
    QX6700 100% GPU = 476W (running just 3DMark06)

    As I mentioned below, if you were to put Radeon HD 2900 XT cards in place of the X1950 XTX cards, it appears the total power draw when running 3D applications would go up almost 150W.
  • Caligynemania - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Please stop reccomending computer speakers for high end systems. Computer speakers are simply sub-par. Anytime you are spending more than $100 on speakers, people should be looking at Sound&Vision, not Anandtech. Please start advising people to look into real audio solutions rather than the shit for tweets on computer speakers.

  • Martimus - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    I agree with you there. Just plug into a good reciever with nice speakers. No need to buy made for computer speakers that are supposedly "high end".
  • maan8517 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    My recommendation for computers would be a sub $100 2-speaker combination for whenever you want to show someone else something on the computer and then burn the money on a good set of headphones. The Sennheiser HD650 for example is excellent for the non-price sensitive, and the Koss Headset SB45 is OK for its very low price.
  • Emryse - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    I have to admit that I am only dissappointed as I've just purchased my new build a few days ago (and therefore makes this article impracticle for me).

    Other than that - a great article with the usual clear, reasonable explanations for choices made; hey, a few of my components even made the list!

    I just wanted to add that you might consider ammending the ASUS P5N32-E mobo to the alternative from the "Striker Extreme" for those who perhaps want the same core experience of that lineup without some of the "extra" features. That is, unless there is some problem with this mobo, in which case I would need to:

    a.) hear from you about any problems with the board

    b.) return to vendor from whence it came

    c.) purchase new board from list

    At any rate, thanks and keep it up! (Oh, and welcome aboard Dave!)
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Hi everyone,

    Say hello to our new contributing editor, Dave Robinet! As always, we welcome your comments and feedback, and hopefully we will be able to get new Buyers' Guides out in a more timely fashion. Try to go easy on him, as we don't want to scare him way after one pilot article. Or just flame away as usual.... ;)

    Take care,
    Jarred Walton
    Senior Editor, Displays and Laptops">
  • Dave Robinet - Thursday, May 31, 2007 - link

    Thanks, Jarred, for the introduction, and thanks, everyone for reading and providing comment. :)
  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - link

    Howdy Dave and Jarred,
    I'm always curious as to what Anandtech recommend for high end or low budget, but how come the high end system never include a LianLi case. Ever sinces the 8800gtx came out with it's arm's length, Lianli case is ready to answer this with it's modular approach.
    Also a Lianli's case is fancy on the eyes don't you think?
    Just my 2cents, i owned 2 Lianli cases and i'm a big fan of it.

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

    Lian Li cases are great, and that was suggested by a couple of other editors. Cases (assuming they haven't made any catastrophic errors in terms of airflow or quality) generally come down to preference - they could just have easily been included in the Guide.

    Thanks again!


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