From case to CPU, our guide shows a companion to our Enthusiast Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide, this guide has lower $900 budget and aims to show that you can still build a perfectly capable system for less than a thousand dollars. 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 even more compromises will need to be made 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
All these months after it first appeared in this guide, the NZXT GAMMA GAMA-001BK remains our choice for this build. At a price of $36, it’s just hard to beat for an entry-level gaming system’s case.
Measuring 7.48” (W) x 17.68” (H) x 20” (D), this mid-tower has room enough for just about anything you’re likely to put into an entry-level gaming 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: $66
The Antec BP550 Plus, a 550w power supply that is 80 PLUS Certified, similarly remains our choice to power this system. With its module cable design, three +12v rails, it offers plenty of power and convenience for the price.
AMD CPU and Cooling: Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition (3.2GHz) w/ Bundled Cooling
Current Cost: $170
In our efforts to balance out higher hard drive prices, we’ve dropped our AMD recommendation slightly, this time around, to the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition. 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.