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The Entry-Level Rig
Moving from the Budget Box we are spending twice as much on the Entry-Level Rig. This PC would be an excellent companion for running general applications and should make quick work of most games, including demanding titles. Chances are, the components you choose will be from this system or our Enthusiast's PC if you are looking for a good value.
|Intel Core i3-6100
|Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2400
|Gigabyte GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC 3G
|Crucial MX300 275GB
|WD Green 2TB
|Silverstone Precision Series PS09
|EVGA 600B (600w)
|Acer G277HL Abid 27-Inch
|Cyber Acoustics CA-3602
|Logitech Wireless Combo MK345
Core System Total
Core System + Monitor and Peripherals
Motherboard, Processor, Memory
The dual-core Core i3-6100 is perfect for our Entry-Level Rig, providing users with four threads via HT. Time and time again we've found that the Core i3 is able to deliver performance similar to the more expensive Core i5 and Core i7 processors when playing most PC games. Furthermore, the Core i3 is snappy when it comes to general computing tasks.
Given Skylake's solid performance and that its platform is very current, it's hard to recommend anything else, including AMD's Bulldozer chips. If you plan to overclock heavily or need support for multiple graphics cards we suggest upgrading to the i5-6600K and the motherboard in our Enthusiast's PC.
As for the motherboard, ideally LGA1151 owners will want to get their hands on a Z170 board, but because those start at $90, they aren't always the best option for a budget build. If you are happy to spend that much on the motherboard then you will receive a number of noteworthy features such as CPU and memory overclocking, multi-GPU support as well as M.2 storage support.
For a few dollars less a H170 motherboard can be had, though we feel they are pointless as some important features go missing for no real saving. That leaves H110 boards which start at just $56 and the ASRock H110M-HDS caught our eye. This is a MicroATX motherboard and given the price it will allow you to create a very powerful yet compact mini gaming PC on a fairly tight budget.
Usually we allocate ~$150 for the GPU in our Entry-Level System but with Gigabyte offering their awesome little GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC 3G for just $200 we couldn't help but spend a little extra. In terms of performance, this is a massive upgrade from the R9 380 we previously recommended. For $200, the GTX 1060 3GB gets you very playable frame rates in all the latest games at 1080p.
Opinions vary when it comes to the need of a dedicated sound card. While integrated solutions were less viable for serious computing setups a decade ago, we think they're fine for entry-level or even mid-range usage today. If you disagree and you have the cash to burn, by all means buy an audio card.
Our entry-level rig is allotted a budget of around $200 for storage and these days that opens the door to some impressive options. Years prior we were strictly limited to disk drives, but as SSDs have continued to drop in price and increase in capacity, they should be a given even in lower-end builds.
The Crucial MX300 275GB is an ideal SSD for this system as $70 buys you a roomy 275GB model. Since the budget allows for it, we're also going for a larger secondary hard drive, in this case the WD Green 2TB.
EVGA's 600B "Bronze Power Supply" features a 49 amp single 12v rail and as the name suggests is bronze certified. The 600w output is more than ample for this build and at $50 the 600B is hard to beat in terms of value. For peace of mind, EVGA backs this unit with a three-year warranty.
Since we're going for a MicroATX build, the Silverstone Precision Series PS09 seems like a cost-effective little chassis, supporting 156mm long graphics cards (292mm unrestricted), 140mm tall CPU coolers, any length power supply, seven expansions slots and plenty of storage options for a case of this size.
There are tons of monitors on the market suitable for the Entry-Level Rig, but making the right choice simply boils down to your budget and taste.
Our budget pick is a good one to get started with an IPS panel, see the Asus VS239H-P 23". However our pick for the entry-level rig, the Acer G277HL, remains an affordable choice on a larger 27-inch IPS panel for just $190. This is still a 1080p monitor but that's the perfect resolution to use with the GTX 1060 which will provide enough performance nearly any game.
Budget 2.0 and 2.1 setups from Logitech, Creative, and Cyber Acoustics can be found at $20 to $40 and some of the more popular models include the LS21, VS2621, and our recommendation, the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602.
Mouse & Keyboard
The budget-oriented Logitech Wireless MK345 is another keyboard/mouse combo that we very much like and have a lot of experience using. At just $35 it's very affordable given what is included. However at this point ($1,000) you may decide spending an extra $100 on a mechanical keyboard or higher-end mouse is worth it.