The pace of PC innovation continues to quicken, and today’s high-end systems contain technologies that few people could have imagined even a handful of years ago.

From speedy dual-core desktop processors to 64-bit operating systems and superpowerful graphics that employ a tandem of brawny video cards, if it’s computing power you want, you can have it–for a price.

As our roundup of super PCs and workstations shows, high performance doesn’t come cheap. Nevertheless, even the budget conscious should pay attention to what happens at the top of the proverbial PC food chain. Today’s cutting-edge computer will be tomorrow’s affordable desktop. All you have to do is wait.

In the PC World Test Center we examined six of the best-equipped PCs on the market today: Alienware’s Aurora 7500, Apple’s Power Mac G5, Polywell’s Poly 916NF4-SLI, Sony’s VAIO VGC-RA842G, Voodoo Computers’ Omen DCC A:221 Opteron workstation, and Xi Computer’s MTower X2 AGE-SLI. (See “Power Mac G5 Is Fast, Yet Easy to Support” for details on that machine.) We also examined HP’s Xw4300 Workstation; see “Should Your Next System Be a Workstation?”

This roundup includes high-powered gaming systems, consumer multimedia systems, and commercial workstations, all equipped with an assortment of the latest processors, dual SLI graphics cards, and high-speed hard drives using RAID configurations.

More here.