Index

Today, we release our tenth Buyer's Guide in the past 10 weeks. You can look forward to Buyer's Guides in the middle of every week, and then, after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. Today, we are continuing the refresh of our Buyer's Guides to see what has changed, if anything, in the past 4 weeks. In case you haven't read our Buyer's Guides yet, here's the basic format of them to be released on a weekly basis:

Week 1: Entry Level System
Week 2: Mid-Range System
Week 3: High End System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our alternative on that type of hardware. We've added alternative hardware picks to our guides because it allows AnandTech to recommend a wider variety of hardware (especially for those willing to spend a little more than what we budget for a particular system). Alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still be assertive enough with a first place recommendation so that new buyers aren't indecisive or confused about what to purchase. Most of the prices listed for the hardware that we recommend can be found in our very own RealTime Pricing Engine. Any prices not found in our engine can be found on pricewatch.com. We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine at the bottom of every page of our Buyer's Guides so that you can choose the lowest prices from a large variety of vendors all by yourself.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides. If you feel that we are not including a wide enough variety of systems in our guides, please let us know and we can see if it warrants an additional weekly Buyer's Guide.

Mid-Range

While entry level (budget) systems should mainly be constructed with reliability and price in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration, mid-range systems have a slightly different order of priority. Reliability is still #1 priority, but performance and price are in a sort of a tie when building that mid-range system. Performance isn't of the utmost importance in this type of system, but it's also not ignored nearly as much as a plain, old entry level system is. Similarly, price isn't of utmost importance either, but buyers building a mid-range must be mindful of the price of components nonetheless. Performance and price don't lag too far behind reliability for mid-range systems, in other words.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • GoatHerderEd - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    some how I posted twice. interesting. sorry. Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    9- WTF did you just copy and paste a newegg site? You think you could have at least edited so it would not take nearly that room. And we dont need anything past the total like the shipping info and other links. Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    9- WTF did you just copy and paste a newegg site? You think you could have at least edited so it would not take nearly that room. And we dont need anything past the total like the shipping info and other links. Reply
  • Fr0zeN2 - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    With the recent post of AOpen's nforce2 board with an agp/pci lock that works, I was pretty confident that I'd see the a64 2800+ here somewhere. Sure the half-meg cache hurts, but it can't hurt beyond the 200mhz premium that AMD has put on the upcomin Newcastle (also with half a meg), which you can compensate for by OCing anyway. Sure, the XP 2800+ is half the price, but it's also half the performance =/ Reply
  • jensend - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    7- Motherboards these days are generally good for at most one cpu generation (if they don't get cut off in the middle of the generation because newer processors with the same core require a higher bus speed).

    Trying to organize the guides around tasks rather than performance/budget level would be counterproductive for two reasons:

    1. Half of those tasks are undemanding enough that few noticeable differences can be seen between most machines of the past 6 years.

    2. In the range of machines these guides look at there are very few ways in which task-specific performance deviates from overall system performance enough to make a noticeable difference, and most of them are obvious (eg the importance of graphics cards for gaming tasks).
    Reply
  • wolverinski - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link


    Hey DIYs,
    for one thousand shipped to the door. Matching colors (beige), Antec case (two fans and 350W PS), faster performance than a nForce2/Athlon system, great overclocking potential and future HT upgrade. Don't hear much about the 865P dual channel chipset. For the price hard to beat!




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    ANTEC Performance Series II Mid Tower Case With 350W Power Supply, Model "SX835II" -RETAIL
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    SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON 9600PRO Video Card, 128MB DDR, 128-bit, DVI/TV-Out, 8X AGP, Model "ATLANTIS RADEON 9600PRO" -RETAIL
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    Reply
  • lupis42 - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    While I personally am a computer enthusiast, and gamer, I am also a broke student, and so I tend to try and get 18 months worth of gaming performance out of a system, and I rarely have to put out any mony for displays, kb&mouse, speakers, etc. I've so far managed to get a good track record in gaming performance by spending 1800$, once every 2 to 3 years, but my last effort was slightly mistimed, and stuff is starting to kill my current gaming rig. Ergo, I was wondering, can we get a proposed system for gamers looking to maximize their time in the sweet spot, that is, not overkill hardware when they buy it, but that remains sufficient for over a year?

    Also, given that I still manage email, browsing, etc with no noticable difficulty from an 800Mhz Athalon, and that the only upgrades it has recieved in its 4 year life are 256MB of RAM, and an old 4 gig HD when it's origional (40 gig) died, I wonder what might be found that could replace this system for comparable performance, but with minimal power requirements, and as little waste heat, noise, and wasted space as possible, cheaply. The need for newer and faster hardware to run MS Word on is rediculous. Why not newer more efficient hardware instead?

    I seem to have made this alot longer than I intended to, so ill go ahead and throw in the gist here:
    Firstly, how about giving an estimate of a guide systems usable life, and what it will be usable for across that time?

    Secondly, given that the midrange system seems to be underkill for gaming even 6 months from now, and is kinda overkill for desktop work, and not designed around workstation requirements, what is it for? For that matter, the high end machine also seems to be so totally generic that it's not incredibly useful. More specialized guides might be a better handle on this issue, for example, Budget guide, Gamers guide, Overclocking guide, Multimeda guide, or something. Since I suspect that end uses have a higher impact on most Anand readers than pure performance anyway, when they go to build systems.


    Reply
  • aerobook2002 - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    I suggest you include comments in your systems’ buyer’s guides regarding the system’s upgrade-ability. I personally am interested to know if the recommended motherboards will operate the next generation of CPU’s. So 2-3 years from now when the P4 EE is ~$200 instead of ~$800(?) will my mother board run it? I.E., the ASUS P4P800 Deluxe runs the P4 Northwood and Prescott but will it run the Extreme Edition or whatever is next? Dito for the AMD products (will the AN7 board run the Athlon 64 CPU?). I realize I may have to upgrade other hardware as well, like the RAM.

    Additionally, it would be informative to state what the systems would be best suited for, i.e. surfing & e-mail, office application, moderate gaming, video editing (what I’m interested in), etc. Or maybe you could just orient the system for a specific task i.e. video editing, gaming, office application, e-mail, etc.

    I am enjoying the ‘Systems Buyers Guides” very much, keep up the good work.
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    i concur with 5 Reply
  • Corsairpro - Thursday, April 22, 2004 - link

    #4

    You obviously don't have budget constraints then. To me low end is free - $400, mid is $400-1000, performance is 1000-1500, and overkill is 1500+

    There are infact computer enthusiasts who are poor.
    Reply

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