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Hardware Guides

July Entry-Level Gaming PC Guide

By Housen Maratouk July 29, 2011

A companion to our Enthusiast Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide, this Entry Level PC Buyer's guide has a lower $900 budget and aims to show that you can still build a perfectly capable system for less than a $1,000. This Entry-Level  Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide will offer processor and motherboard suggestions for both an Intel and AMD system, though the other components will mostly remain the same. And while you'll need to make even more compromises with a $900 budget than had to be made with our Enthusiast system, you’ll still end up with plenty of power to get some work, and some gaming, done.


System Case: NZXT GAMMA Classic Series GAMA-001BK Mid Tower
Current Cost: $36

With the old saying of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in mind, we again went with the NZXT GAMMA GAMA-001BK mid-tower case for this build. At a price of only $36, there’s a lot to like about this case.

Measuring 7.48” (W) x 17.68” (H) x 20” (D), this mid-tower should still allow you to fit whatever graphics card you choose to put into your system. While NZXT only included one 120mm fan, mounted in the rear, the case supports five additional 120mm fans and comes with pre-drilled holes for those who wish to go with liquid cooling. And showing that form can go hand-in-hand with function, it sports a design that screams “gaming system.”


Power Supply: Antec Basic BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified
Current Cost: $55

Also returning is the Antec BP550 Plus, a 550w power supply that is 80 PLUS Certified. With its module cable design, three +12v rails, it’s just a hard PSU to beat at this price point.


AMD CPU and Cooling: Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition (3.3GHz) w/ Bundled Cooling
Current Cost: $190

Previously appearing as our recommendation in the Enthusiast Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide, the 3.3GHz Phenom II X6 1100T is now our recommendation for entry-level builds, as well. This AM3 socket processor comes with 6MB of L3 cache and 512KB of L2 cache dedicated to each of its six cores. And as with other Black Edition processors, the 1100T’s multiplier is unlocked, allowing for overclocking.


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