High-end Luxury System
Here we have a screaming edge system lacking any virtual price cap, a dream PC that is down to earth both in terms of price and configuration.
Every component in the Luxury System guide was thoughtfully scrutinized in order to offer you the most for your money. If the additional cash didn't bring about a justifiable performance leap, it didn't make the cut. Neither you or us want to choke up 150% more money to see a 3% increase in oomph.
The P6T has been engineered and marketed as a top-end enthusiast motherboard and is packed to the brim with luxuries which ought to draw in even the most discriminating users. Naturally, the board is built on Intel's X58 chipset and thus carries the LGA 1366 socket. It houses six DDR3 DIMM slots which support a maximum of 12GB RAM at 1600MHz (OC), three PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots at x16/x16/x1 or x16/x8/x8 (SLI and CrossFireX ready), one PCI-E x4 and two PCI slots, six SATA 3Gb/s host adapters, one PATA host adapter, an e-SATA port, eight USB 2.0 ports and two 1394a ports.
Asus P6T Deluxe V2 - $330
Our full review of the Asus P6T Deluxe can be read here.
Although the Core i7 920 is an extreme bargain at $280 and offers a more favorable cost-to-performance ratio than the Core i7 950, we can see the justification in spending a few hundred extra on a 950 - but definitely not the premium for an "Extreme" chip. The Core i7 950 packs the wallop you'd expect from a $570 CPU, featuring a 2.93GHz core clock frequency, 4.8GT/s QPI, 4 x 256KB L2 cache and 8MB L3 cache.
While the Nehalem (Core i7) line has been a major success and is by far the best performer in the market, Intel is cooking up some new chips. They are expected to launch their Lynnfield architecture mid-September and their 32nm line should show early next year. If you can wait until then you may be able to catch what is going to be the top platform in the near future, but the fact is, no system you build is going to be king of the hill forever, and the Core i7 brings top speed your way today.
The Asus P6T Deluxe has a maximum stock RAM frequency of DDR3 1333MHz (with support for higher frequencies via overclocking) and so you may as well aim for triple channel kit with that speed or higher and a CAS latency of 7 or lower. The OCZ3P1600LV6GK kit offers precisely that and at its price range you won't find a better deal right now.
OCZ 6GB 1600MHz DDR3 Kit OCZ3P1600LV6GK - $115
The two obvious choices for a video card in a budget-less monster box are the GTX 295 and the HD 4870 X2. Neither can be said to offer a better value simply because their prices are appropriately scaled. However like we concluded in our GTX 295 review earlier this year, if price is no object and you want the most powerful single card solution money can buy, then the GeForce GTX 295 is your poison.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 - $500
A typical GTX 295 has a core clock frequency of 576MHz, VRAM frequency of 1998MHz, 480 stream processors, has a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 and hosts 2 DVI ports as well as an HDMI port.
If for any reason you want a screaming fast graphics card that only sports a single GPU, it doesn't get much better than the GeForce GTX 285.
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.
HT Omega Claro Plus+ - $175
If by chance you prefer something a bit more mainstream or need support for the latest EAX titles, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty might be right up your alley.
The prices of SSDs have been in a steady nosedive over the last few months. In our last buying guide, we recommended Intel's 80GB drive that was tagged for $370. Today for that same amount you can get your hands into a faster 120GB or 160GB drive, which does sound more respectable for using as your main OS/application drive.
Intel X25-M 160GB (34nm) - $450
Our top pick for the High-end Luxury System is the upcoming Intel X25-M 160GB using 34nm technology. Intel is touting improved performance for their new drives: 25% reduction in latency and twice the random write performance, compared to its older 50nm siblings. This drive was supposed to be selling already, but a small firmware bug had its launch delayed. We are still including it as our top recommendation considering it should be a matter of a week or two until they reappear in stores.
Another solid alternative to the almighty X25 comes in the form of OCZ's Vertex drive (the non-Turbo version). A winner along Intel in our two past SSD round-ups, the Vertex is available in 120GB and 250GB capacities. The latter will set you back a staggering $700, however.
Western Digital's hard drives have been a favorite amongst the enthusiast community since the 1980's and they've grown to be the second largest HDD manufacturer in the world. At 2TB the Caviar Green WD20EADS is one of the largest hard drives available today. It features a maximum internal transfer rate of 100MB/s, an external transfer rate of 300MB/s and 32MB of cache.
Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB WD20EADS - $219
The LG GH22NP20 is the same high quality optical drive recommended throughout the guide. It can write to DVD+R media at up to 22x, DVD+RW up to 8x, DVD-R at 22x and DVD-RW at up to 6x. It can also write to CD-R at up to 48x, CD-RW at up to 32x, DVD+R DL up to 16x, and DVD-R DL up to 12x.
Unless you are determined to watch Blu-ray movies on your desktop or really need to burn large amounts of data onto blank BD-R media, you'll definitely get more bang for your buck (not to mention hours of entertainment) from buying a PlayStation 3 console - which now sells at an all-time low of $300.
Pioneer BDR-203BKS - $190
But if you need to have a Blu-ray drive on your desktop PC, the Pioneer BDR-203BKS will write up to 8x on BD-R (25 GB) and BD-R DL (50GB) media and can write to DVD+R media at up to 16x, DVD+RW up to 8x, DVD-R at 16x and DVD-RW at up to 6x, CD-R at up to 32x, CD-RW at up to 24x, BD-R DL at up to 8x, BD-RE DL at up to2x, DVD+R DL up to 8x, and DVD-R DL up to 8x. It will read BD-ROM at 8x, DVD-ROM at 16x and CD-ROM at 32x.
You'll have some excess juice with this 850W PSU, but a little future-proofing never hurt anyone. Its base price is about $140 around the Web and it's readily available with a $30 rebate. The CMPSU-850TX has an >80% efficiency, active PFC, and 60A on a single 12V rail. It ships with all the standard cables and connectors, a 140mm thermally controlled fan, and is guaranteed to fuel a multi-GPU set up.
Corsair CMPSU-850TX - $140
Not long back we reviewed the Cooler Master HAF 932 and immediately fell in love. It is competitively priced for a full-tower chassis and has specifications that match some of the more expensive models out there.
Cooler Master HAF 932 - $140
It ships at a featherweight (for a full-tower) 29.1lbs and features a tool-free assembly, three 230mm" fans (front, top and side), one 140mm" fan (rear), six 5.25" drive bays, one externally accessible 3.5" bay, 5 internal 3.5" bays and much more than you would expect from a $150 chassis.
At breathtaking 30-inches, the Dell 3007WFP-HC 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, 300 cd/m2 brightness, 12ms response time, .2505mm pixel pitch, viewing angles of 178/178-degrees and is backed by Dell's premium panel guarantee.
Dell 30-inch 3007WFP-HC - $1,300
Weighing in at 25lbs, it houses four USB ports, a 9-in-2 media card reader and sits atop an adjustable base (height, swivel and tilt). For the price, we think that the only thing that can top this display is two of them running side-by-side.
If you don't feel the need to use a large 30-inch monitor, there are quite a few good options in the 24" realm that escaped our mid-range recommendation due to budget constraints. These are also prime candidates for running dual displays: Dell 2408WFP, BenQ G2400WD, and HP LP2475w. Also watch out for the newly released Dell U2410, which uses a IPS panel and is expected to deliver similar performance to the near extinct 22" Dell 2209WA.
A $350 investment 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.
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.
Keyboard and mouse - $175
For a wired gaming set up, take a look at the Logitech G15 keyboard and Razer Lachesis mouse. 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 sleek wireless alternative, see the Logitech diNovo combo or the Logitech MX Air Silver mouse.
Other excellent keyboard options are the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 or the Das Keyboard, which is reminiscent of the old IBM keyboards.
Our High-end Luxury System, in a nutshell...
||Asus P6T Deluxe V2
||Intel Core i7 950
||OCZ 6GB DDR3 Kit
||Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
||HT Omega Claro Plus+
||Intel 160GB X25-M/WD 2TB
||LG GH22NP20/Pioneer BDR-203BKS
||Cooler Master HAF 932
||Keyboard and mouse