A companion to our Entry-Level Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, our Enthusiast Gaming PC Guide offers processor and motherboard recommendations that provide the best bang for the buck in a system with a $2000 budget. With a $2000 budget, you won't be able to choose every top-of-the-line component you can think of, but you will be able to build a system that can handle just about anything you're likely to throw at it.
We provide suggestions for both an Intel and an AMD system, although most other components will remain the same for each of the systems. Quite a few new components make their debut in the May edition of the guide, including updated motherboard selections for both builds as well as new cooling, storage drive and video components.
System Case: COOLER MASTER HAF X (RC-942-KKN1)
Current Cost: $179 (-$6 from last month)
Few of the component choices you make will have as significant — and as enduring — an impact on the system you end up with as the system case. Given how long you'll be living with this selection (potentially through multiple system builds and upgrades), you don't want to skimp here; at the same time you also don't want to break the bank.
This month we're sticking with Cooler Master's COOLER MASTER HAF X, a recommendation that first appeared in our last edition of this guide. The HAF X (High Air Flow X) is a full tower case that weighs in at 31.6 lbs, and is sized at 9.1" (W) x 23.2" (H) x 21.7" (D). Included are two 200mm fans at the top and side of the case, a 140mm fan in the rear, and a 230mm fan in the front, illuminated by a red LED. The case offers six 5.25" drive bays, five 3.5" bays and nine expansion slots. Its front ports include two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, one IEEE1394 port and audio ports.
Power Supply: Corsair HX Series CMPSU-750HX 750W ATX12V 2.3
Current Cost: $139 (-$5 from last month)
Also appearing once again is the Corsair HX CMPSU-750HX 750W. Our longest-running recommendation, this 80 Plus Silver certified modular unit that will help keep things from getting cluttered while still providing all the power you can expect to need in an enthusiast gaming system. Backed by a seven year warranty, this is a unit that demonstrates how Corsair earned its stout reputation in the industry.
AMD CPU: FX-8150 (3.6GHz)
Current Cost: $250
For our AMD build, we're sticking with AMD's FX-8150. This eight-core 3.6 GHz AM3+ socket processor comes with 8MB of L3 cache and 1MB of L2 cache dedicated to each of its eight cores. And if its out-of-the-box speeds aren't good enough, overclocking it should be a breeze, allowing you to get even more bang for your buck.