The time has come again for new system guide. In the two months since we last outlined system specifications, AMD has rolled out B3-stepping Phenoms that banish the TLB erratum that plagued the processor's initial release. Intel's 45nm quad-core chips have become available en masse, bringing with them a wave of price cuts that makes a Penryn-based CPU more affordable than ever. And Asus has busted the sound card market wide open with the introduction of its Xonar DX. There has been action on the storage front, too, with Western Digital's latest Caviar SE16 offering what we think is the best all-around value in a Serial ATA hard drive.
Naturally, these new products feature heavily in our latest system guide, which packs more goodness than ever before. We've revamped everything from our Econobox, which now offers loads of gaming power for just over 500 bucks, to our Double-Stuff workstation, which packs more parallelism than should be allowed by law. Between them, our Grand Experiment and Sweet Spot configs offer tremendous power for their respective price points. We've even included a fifth system this time around: the Couch Potato Mk. 2. This latest take on the ultimate home theater PC combines HD tuning capabilities with Blu-ray playback support all wrapped up in a quiet, power-efficient package. Keep reading to see which components made the cut for our recommended system configurations, and more importantly, why we selected them.