High-end Luxury System

Here we have a screaming edge system lacking any virtual price cap. Every component in the Luxury System guide was thoughtfully scrutinized in order to offer you the most for your greenback. If the additional dough didn't bring about a justifiable performance leap, it didn't make the cut. Let's face it, almost nobody wants to choke up 150% more money to see a 3% increase in umph.

Motherboard:
Asus P6T Deluxe - $320
As technology advances, we are blessed by the Gods of silicon with something that us humans can't seem to get enough of... speed, speed, and more speed. To kick things off with our High-end Luxury System, we're looking to the not-so-distant future for our motherboard pick (among other components).

Built around Intel's debuting X58 chipset, the Asus P6T Deluxe supports LGA1366 Core i7 CPUs, 12GB DDR3 RAM running in triple channel mode (6 DIMMs), Nvidia SLI and/or ATI Crossfire X, three PCI-E x16 2.0 slots, one PCI-E x4 slot, two PCI slots, eight SATA II host adapters, one eSATA host adapter and one PATA host adapter among the other usual ports.

The first X58-based motherboards are becoming available as we speak and our full featured review of this particular model from Asus is coming up soon. What you need to know for now is that we like it enough to be worthy of our recommendation.

CPU:
Intel Core i7 940 - $562 (list)
Given our motherboard selection, we are sure you saw this one coming from a mile away. Headstrong on our mission to keep this "Luxury" machine from being a brag box, we've chosen the quicker of the two mainstream i7 CPUs (instead of the Extreme model); the Core i7 940.

Constructed around the latest LGA1366 standard, the 940 version of the i7 has a 45nm process, clock frequency of 2.93GHz, four physical cores (each able to process two threads simultaneously with hyper-threading enabled), 256KB L2 cache, 8MB shared L3 cache and a QPI throughput of 4.8GT/s (a.k.a the FSB replacement). We anticipate these CPUs to cost at least 10-20% extra than the slated list price of $562 during the first weeks on the market.

As excited as we are about the i7, in an attempt to keep this what it is (a buying guide), we've just covered the essential specifications. For more information, please read our review here.

RAM:
G.Skill 3 x 2GB DDR3 1600MHz - $280
If you are planning on purchasing the Asus P6T Deluxe and a Core i7 CPU, why not get a triple channel DDR3 RAM kit to seal the deal? This G.Skill kit offers up 6GB of RAM running at DDR3 1600MHz, a CAS latency of 9, 9-9-9-24 timings and an operating voltage of 1.5-1.6V.
Graphics Card:
Radeon HD 4870 X2 / GeForce GTX 280 - $420
With ATI and Nvidia stepping on each other's feet all year long, the result today is that we have a wide range of graphics cards offerings in all price segments. Unlike previous guides where Nvidia always had the best high-end solution, currently the best investment is dictated by the games you run.

While the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is arguably the fastest single graphics card you can buy at around $520, the GeForce GTX 280 competes hand in hand in many games and takes the cake in some others. We favor the single GPU implementation on the GeForce, which translates in less driver dependability and improved power consumption scores.

In about 90% of current titles a single one of these cards will do just great with visual settings maxed out, but if you want to go berserk with your wallet, a pair of either card slapped in a SLI/Crossfire configuration will give you the most insane gaming performance, when drivers are up to snuff, of course.

Sound Card:
HT Omega Claro Plus+ - $175
Thinking outside the box, we recommend you pick up the HT Omega Claro Plus+. With 7.1 channels, a sample rate of 192KHz, 24-bit digital audio, an impressive SNR of 120dB, drivers that actually work, and a reportedly solid customer service team this card will serve you and serve you well.

If by chance you prefer something a bit more mainstream or need support for the latest EAX formats, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty might be worth a gander.

Please note, if you are just planning on using the SupremeFX II bundled with the Rampage Formula, realize that it’s not a true dedicated sound card. In reality, it’s nothing more than an expansion card lugging a Realtek HD audio controller chip. It still makes use of the Azalia HD audio integrated within the ICH9R, so if you have the cash to go this far it is likely worth purchasing an independent sound card.

Hard Disk Drive:
Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB - $270
The VelociRaptor is the fourth-generation and latest release of Western Digital's Raptor series. Continuing the trend, the VelociRaptor has a 10,000RPM rotational speed, an average access time of 4.2ms, modest cache size of 16MB, sustained internal transfer rate of 120MB/s and an external host transfer rate of 3Gb/s. With the way this drive performs, it is borderline greedy to ask for anything more, except maybe additional storage capacity.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB - $150
While we realize that the Western Digital RE3 1TB tops Seagate's ST31500341AS in terms of I/O performance, we've selected this drive for one reason; it's the only internal consumer drive available for $150 that offers 1.5TB of storage.

While the VelociRaptor hosts your operating system and applications, the ST31500341AS makes for the perfect storage companion with 1.5TB capacity, 32MB cache, 4.16 latency, 3.0Gb/s external host transfer rate and an internal host transfer rate of 120MB/s or more.

Optical Drive:
LG Electronics GH22LP20 - $25
The LG GH22LP20 is the same high quality drive used in all of our builds. The LG drive supports all DVD formats, features a 140ms DVD-ROM access time and 120ms CD-ROM access time, 22x DVD±R write speed, 2MB cache and LightScribe technology.

CDFreaks.com summed up their review by saying this about the LG GH22LP20: “...a solid performer and an excellent choice for reliable CD and DVD burning at record speeds. It effortlessly produces quality burns faster than most other drives to date.”

LG Electronics GGW-H20L - $260
With ever-declining costs, Blu-ray media is becoming more practical and obtainable. The LG GGW-H20L reads virtually everything that will sit on its tray, and is capable of writing Blu-ray, DVD and CD discs. Like most new optical drives, it makes use of the SATA 1.5Gb/s interface and has access times of 180ms for BD-ROM, 210ms for HD DVD-ROM, 160ms for DVD, 180ms for DVD-RAM and 150ms for CD. Not only is this one of the cheapest Blu-ray burners available, it's also one of the fastest with maximum BD-R speeds of 6x.
Power Supply Unit:
PC Power & Cooling S75QB - $135
Although PC Power & Cooling was officially acquired by OCZ last May, this PSU is a fine example of their legendary craftsmanship. Rated for a hefty output of 750W, this behemoth has an efficiency of 83%, Active PFC, a hold up time of 16ms and 60A on a single 12V rail. The S75QB ships with all the standard cables and connectors, including six SATA, two 6-pin and two 6+2-pin cables as well as a 5 year warranty.
Case:
Solid case with adequate cooling - $150
Defining a single case pick for this guide is so difficult it's not worth attempting to. Instead, we've allotted $150 to purchasing a solid high-end case. A brief listing of Newegg's top sellers beginning with the most popular include: Antec Nine Hundred, Thermaltake Armor Series VA8000BWS, Antec Performance One P180, Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000BWA, Antec P182 and the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000.

It's also worth mentioning that we loved the Lian Li Tyr X2000 in one of the few chassis reviews we have done here at TechSpot. Why don't we make it our pick? It costs an astronomical $600!

An additional recommendation would be to make sure that the GTX280 will fit in your case selection, as it's a rather long board.

Monitor:
Samsung SyncMaster 305T 30" Widescreen LCD - $1,200
At a breathtaking 30-inches, the Samsung SyncMaster 305T is nothing short of excellence. Displaying 16.7 million colors at a native resolution of 2560 x 1600, it has a contrast ratio of 1000:1, 6ms response time, .25mm pixel pitch, viewing angles of 178°(H) / 178°(V) and 3 year warranty. Weighing in at 26.5 lbs, the display sits atop a robust black base that allows swivel, tilt, and height adjustments.

If by chance you need additional options in the connectivity department, the Gateway XHD3000 is a worthy adversary.

Not interested in a 30” display? There are some exceptional alternatives, two of which are the Samsung 2253BW ($260) and Acer P243WAid ($390).

Speakers:
Logitech Z-5500 5.1 505W - $250
A $230 price tag is what rests between you and being engulfed in heavenly sound waves. The Logitech Z-5500 speaker system has a combined power of 505W, SNR of >93.5dB, 33 Hz - 20 kHz frequency response, and is so feature-dense I'll only touch the tip of what is offered.

Touting THX certified sound, onboard 5.1 digital decoding, a 10" long-throw subwoofer and tuned bass port, aluminum phase plug satellites, digital SoundTouch control panel, a wireless remote and tons more, the Z-5500 is well worth the coin if you have any interest in high quality sound.

Input Devices:
User's Choice - $175
Between the number of possible keyboard and mouse combinations in the high end price range and the various uses you could be making of this system, it’s virtually impossible to recommend a single component.

If you are going to be gaming and don't mind a wired setup, take a look at the Logitech G15 keyboard and Razer Lachesis mouse. Actually in our last gaming mice round-up we also loved the performance of the Logitech G5/G9 and the Microsoft Habu. Should this system be used for HTPC functions or if you'd prefer a nice wireless alternative, see the Logitech diNovo combo or the Logitech MX Air Silver mouse.

Other excellent keyboard options could be the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 or the Das Keyboard that resembles (in a good way) the ancient IBM Model M keyboards.

Our High-end Luxury System, in a nutshell...
Component
Product
Cost
Motherboard Asus P6T Deluxe
$320
Processor Intel Core i7 940
$562
RAM G.Skill 3 x 2GB DDR3 1600MHz
$280
Video Card Radeon HD 4870 X2 / GeForce GTX 280
$420
Sound Card HT Omega Claro Plus+
$175
Hard Drive 1 Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB
$270
Hard Drive 2 Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB
$150
Optical Drives LG GH22LP20 / LG GGW-H20L
$25/$260
Power Supply PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W
$135
Case User Specified
$150
Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 305T 30" LCD
$1,200
Speaker System Logitech Z-5500 5.1
$250
Keyboard/Mouse User Specified
$175
Total
$4,372

Also check out our budget and mid-range system configurations.