So based on the Anandtech guides, here is what I’m getting for a high end system. This is a system I’d design for video, photo and gaming. Right now, the PC I have is just too slow for video editing and rendering (takes 3 hours to render a 15 minute video, its a good machine from two years ago, a 533MHz Pentium 4 2.4GHz Shuttle SS51G).
h3. Big splurge
This is the machine if you have to have the very best, but socket 939 is pretty expensive right now, so also check out the very fast socket 754 that you can overclock like mad in the overclocker section
* AMD Athlon 64 “3500+”: Yes, these new 939 sockets are expensive, but they are about 9% faster with dual channel memory. Price right now is about $400, so its by far the most expensive CPU I’ve ever bought but performance is pretty ma
* “MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum”: The Anandtech folks rave about this board It’s expensive at $140 but overclocks really well. Also has Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet, the works.
* OCZ 3700EB or “Crucial Ballistix PC3200”: Its just $139 per 512MB stick, you need two for dual channel. The harder to find OCZ 3700EB at $308 for 2x512MB uses the same Micron chips and is reported to overclock more reliably up to DDR500 (250MHz).
* “Western Digital WD740GD”: The Western Digital is the fastest (10K rpm) drive you can buy without going to SCSI and its about $180 so pricey but fast, fast, fast
* “Hitachi 7K400 400GB”: or two Western Digital WD2000JBs . The new 400GB drivers are very fast and are just coming in, they are $300 or about $0.75/GB so not that much more expensive. In comparison, getting a pair of 200GB drives is right now the best price-performance. You can also save about $5 off of $115 and a 5-year vs. 3-year warranty by getting the “Seagate Barracuda 7200.7”: Overall these drives gets you to about $0.52 for EIDE and $0.55/GB for serial ATA. Given that I’ve had two WD drives out of the 6 that I own have failed, the 5-year warranty Seagate offers is a pretty big deal but are a little slower than the Western Digital Caviar SE right now at “3 years”: for OEM drives only (not for retail drivers interestingly enough, so be careful). These drivers are about $105 in EIDE and $113 in SATA.
* BenQ “DW1600A DL”: The state of the art is the 16x speed dual layer writers. The BenQ burned well, but had trouble with backup of some copy protected disks (a firmware issue apparently), but burned DVD+Rs fast at 16x on 8x media and can bit set the type of DVD. The NEC 3500A hasn’t been reviewed very much yet, so can’t tell how good it is. It sure is cheap and it can bit set. The “Pioneer DVR-108 got a great review in “Anandtech”:”Anandtech”: and a terrible review in “CDRinfo”: The Pioneer firmware appears ahead in “DVD Recordable”:, but Anandtech notes that Pioneer can’t “bit set”: ASUS “DRW-1604P”: was mediocre in 16x burning and doesn’t book/bit set.
* “nVidia 6800GT”: which is about $400 on average. This is the 16-pipeline version of the nVidia chip and seems to do well with nVidia motherboards. The alternative is the ATI “Radeon X800 Pro” is the equivalent ATI model. They seem to be about twice as fast as the older Radeon 9800 Pro or nVidia 5900 which areh selling at $200, so the price performance is about right particularly for gaming. They are about 1/3 slower than the very faster processors (6800 Ultra and X800XT) , but about 50% cheaper, so seem to be in the sweet spot of performance.
* “Seasonic Super Tornado 40”: This is a very quiet 460 watt power supply. A little more expensive than the TruePower, but much quieter. You can get from Fry’s apparently as well. Both and “Tweaktown”: like it. has the 400 watt version for $90. “Antec TruePower 550”: 550 Watts of pure power, so never worry again for $100.
* “Cooler Master Praetorian”: 9 drives in a mid tower, wow. Recommended by Anandtech’s high end guide. About $100. If you want a very well ventilated and quiet case, then SilentPC recommends the harder to find Fong Kai FK33 0 which is expensive at $139 from “Directron”:, the Coolcases”: modified ChenBro PC610 for between $60-$120 depending on modifications, and the Evercase ECE4252 or the Yeong Yang YY-5603.
Total system is $1,950 for the dream system or $1750 if you don’t get the fancy case and drop one of the hard drives.
h3. Overclockers dream
If there is such thing as a value high performance machine this is it. Takes advantage of the fact that 754 Athlons are cheap and overclock very well:
* AMD Athlon 64 3000+. $175. In this case, both the Clawhammer Revision CG (2GHz,1MB cache) overclocks to about 2.4GHz or the new Newcastle (2.2GHz, 512MB cache overclocks to 2.6GHz) work well. If you are feeling lucky save $60 and get the 2800+ Newcastle (1.8 GHz, 512MB cache) and see if you can get to 2.4GHz while overclocking
* DFI Lan Party UT nf350-GB. “Anandtech”: thinks this is the most incredible overclocker. $135 from Zipzoomfly this week. Can reach 300MHz FSB speeds and 2.4GHz for Clawhammer overclocking.
* “OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev.2”: These use the very fast Samsung TCCD chips which are very fast and also available from Geil and others. A single stick BTW performs better than two in this single channel machine. $284 for 2x512MB or $142 for 512MB. so quite a bit cheaper than the 3500EB.
* eVGA 6800GT. $400. its a splurge, but it is very fast and overclocks nicely. For $200, get the ATI9800 Pro, for $300 get the 6800, for $500 get the 6800 Ultra, Each increment is about 20% in game performance with the 6800GT probably being the best performance at reasonable price.
* Western Digital WD740GD. $175. A screamer hard drive to go along. You really want two spindles if you are doing lots of video, so get another WD740GD or if you care about being quiet a Samsung Spinpoint 1614N. BTW, on this board SATA drivers overclock very well, not true on others because they don’t lock the SATA frequency well when overclocking. $175.
* Benq 1620 DVD Writer. This is a 16x Dual layer drive. $80
* Ever Case 5252. A great case that should cool well, be very quiet. $60. Give the crappy power supply that comes with it to charity.
* Seasonic Super Tornado 400. $100. The quietest power supply knows about.
Total is $1,485.

One response to “High End System Recommendations”

  1. John Ludwig Avatar

    dude you have to move up from 7200rpm drives and go to the wd 10000rpm sata drives. two of these in a raid zero array for your base system install. the raid controller is on the mobo you’ve picked. the only problem with sata is that xp install is a little more tricky — you need a floppy drive installed temporarily — but it is the way to go!

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