A companion to our Enthusiast Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, our Entry-Level Gaming PC Guide has a 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 Guide offers 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 when working 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: Antec Three Hundred Black Mid Tower Case (NEW Recommendation) Current Cost: $50
For this edition we decided to go with the Antec Three Hundred Mid Tower case. While it may not be the flashiest looking case available, it's a solid choice that's hard to beat for the money. This case measures 8.1" (W) x 18" (H) x 18.3" (D) and comes with two fans pre-installed (one 120mm in the rear and one 140mm on the top). If you want more cooling than that, you can add up to two optional 120mm fans in the front and one on the side.
Power Supply: Antec Basic BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Current Cost: $65
The Antec BP550 Plus is an 80 PLUS Certified 550w power supply that once again remains our power supply of choice for our budget system. With its module cable design and three +12v rails, the Antec BP550 Plus offers plenty of power and convenience for the price.
AMD CPU and Cooling: AMD FX-6100 (3.3GHz) w/ Bundled Cooling Current Cost: $150 (+$10 from last month)
The AMD FX-6100 is still our choice for a processor in the AMD build. This AM3+ socket processor comes with 8MB of L3 cache and 1MB of L2 cache dedicated to each of its six cores, and those who wish to boost their performance by overclocking should have little to no difficulty in doing so.
PC Buyer's Guide for Entry-Level Gaming -- April 2012