With the official availability of Windows 7 release candidate and Finalizing the date of Windows RTM by Microsoft on 22nd October 2009, I thought to spec out a high performance PC suitable for Windows 7 64-bit, This system would also be a great Windows Vista system.

Note: Just to clarify that this is a “high performance” PC, and not a “sky’s the limit, money no object” system. I am therefore choosing parts that offer the best bang for the buck at the high end, and not the very best, bleeding edge components.

Here’s the Specs

CPU Choosing an Intel CPU is a no-brainer when it comes to high performance PCs. Intel’s current Core i7 silicon offer the very best performance going. However, if you go for the top of the line 965 Extreme Edition then you are going to be spending a thousand dollars on the CPU alone. While some people are happy to spend such sums on just the CPU, I feel that the cost outweighs the performance gains and that the cheapest Core i7, the2.66GHz 920, which retails at a more reasonable $290 is a better option.

The 920 still offers plenty of performance and if combined with the right parts you can always overclock the system to get even more horsepower.

Price: $290

Motherboard With the Core i7 processor in the bag, we now need a compatible motherboard. A Core i7 CPU needs a socket LGA 1366 motherboard sporting an X58 chipset, and fortunately there are plenty to choose from.

For this build I went for the ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 board. There are three reasons to like this board:

  • Support for 24GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Triple PCIe 2.0 x16 slots
  • Excellent overclocker

Price: $290

RAM While the ASUS P6T can support up to 24GB of RAM, that much memory is overkill and a waste of money. A good compromise for a Core i7 system is 12GB. For this build I went for 12GB (in the form of 6 x 2GB modules) of OCZ DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) high performance RAM. Price: $220

Graphics card While this system can take three NVIDIA graphics cards in a triple-SLI setup, I’m only adding one card to the initial build. The card I’m adding to this system is NVIDIA’s excellent EVGA GeForce GTX 285 GTX 1GB GDDR3. This is an excellent card and is a solid performer at a reasonable price (for a high-end card). It’s also quiet and the cooler is very effective. Price: $340

Hard drives A high performance system needs lots of fast storage. Unfortunately, solid-state drives (SSDs) haven’t fallen to a price point where you can get a decent amount of storage at a decent price.

I’m picking two drives for this system

  • 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black ($110)
  • 2TB Western Digital ($300)

Plenty of fast storage! Price: $410

Sound card This is a pretty simple pick - it has to be the Creative X-Fi Titanium PCIe card. Price: $135

Power Supply Unit (PSU) While I don’ see the point of over-spending on a crazy PSU, a system like this does need a power supply that has enough overhead to cater for both future upgrades and the demands of any overclocking. With that in mind I’ve chosen a 700W SeaSonic M12 SS-700HM. This is an 80 PLUS certified unit that makes use of modular cabling to help you keep the cables under control. All SeaSonic units I’ve handles are also well made and very reliable. Price: $160

Miscellaneous A few final bits and pieces

  • Sony BWU-300S Blu-ray drive - $360
  • Noctua NH-U12P CPU cooler - $75
  • Case (up to the individual, so I’ll set a price limit) - $200

Total price of the High Performance Windows 7 PC $2,480

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