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. Even though it feels like it has been much longer, we had Part 1 for the value systems two weeks ago, and as promised, here's Part 2 with the High-End systems. As noted in Part 1, the Dream System will be included in the high-end part of the article.

Despite the slight format change, we'll 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. Note that shipping is not included in these prices.  An OS recommendation is included, but that price is not included in the total system price listed.  Components that are not readily obtainable were automatically out of the running for any system in the Buyer’s Guide.  Where possible, we’ll link to reviews of the individual products on AnandTech for more in depth information.

This Month

The biggest news right now is the introduction of Socket-A Athlons from AMD. The Socket-A interface itself isn't anything special, but it means that AMD has finally stopped using the off-die L2 cache that all Athlons have used until now. The introduction of on-die cache helps performance a fair amount and, more importantly, allows AMD to attain much high clock speeds without the diminishing returns we were seeing on the original Athlon. While the Thunderbird, as the new Athlon's core is known internally, is now available, we're going to hold off using it in any of our systems just yet. Currently the biggest thing holding the Thunderbird out of the Buyer's Guide is availability of the CPU itself and motherboards to use with it. We expect this situation to be remedied by the next edition of the Buyer's Guide.

As you may have noticed from recent coverage on AnandTech, the video card wars are in full swing once again, with new products from NVIDIA and 3dfx already here and ATI and Matrox preparing to launch new products in the near future. The Voodoo5 5500 is now on store shelves, while GeForce 2 GTS cards have been available for a few weeks.

Interestingly, we've seen memory prices creap up a bit recently, both on RDRAM and SDRAM. The impact is more significant on SDRAM and our sources tell us the trend may continue as memory manufacturers shift their focus towards other memory types, including DDR SDRAM.

All around, performance has improved in just about every aspect on these systems while prices have actually dropped a few hundred dollars (with the exception of the Dream System that continues to get more and more powerful).

Dream System - 1
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